Your wife isn’t allergic to cats, so she’s at the party, playing board games that pair well with red wine, getting fur on the black leggings she wears under her floral skirt, and you’re at home watching a two hour special about pharaohs on the history channel, closing your eyes during toothpaste and car-insurance commercials, considering those allergy shots you saw on a poster at the doctor’s office ten years ago, trying to remember what a needle feels like, trying to distract yourself from the paranoid thought that maybe your best friend adopted three cats this past month just for this reason, to keep you out, to keep you breathing calmly in bed, to get your wife into his house while you’re at your house—what a fantasy—to get her playing one of those board games that’s only fun if you’re drunk, to get her scared of getting some fur on her black leggings so that maybe she’d take them off and just wear the skirt. And now you’re in the medicine cabinet doing the math on just how many anti-histamines it would take to make you immune to cat dander without overdosing. Six, you decide. And you take it with whiskey, because you have to catch up to the party. But you should have taken it with coffee because you’ve multiplied the sleepy side-effects of Benadryl by six. You put on your best clothes and grab your car keys and open the door and buckle up and fall asleep for sixteen hours; and you never know what time it was when your wife came home. She’s gone to work and her black leggings are in the wash, soaking, now spinning, now drying on the line. And you pick off with your fingers what the machine and what the lint roller couldn’t get off, and you feel the fur between your fingers, looking it over like evidence, and you feel a sneeze banging on the tip of your nose; and you hold it in, just how you do so many things.
Darren Nuzzo is the coauthor of I’ll Give You a Dollar If You Consider This Art (Tallfellow Press), a collection of stories, essays, and comics. He has work anthologized, featured in, or forthcoming with Wigleaf, Gone Lawn, and Crack the Spine. Sometimes he wears a hat.