A few years before I relocated to New York City, I met a photographer in Houston at my high school's fiftieth year anniversary. She was smitten with me, but the only thing that registered was New York. I'd previously thought I'd relocate to Los Angeles and work on television dramas, sitcoms, and eventually movies, but shifted my focus to Broadway's bright lights.
When she offered, "If you're ever in New York, I'd love to photographed," I readily took her card, shook her hand, gave her my requisite theatrical grin. I'd later figure out how I'd make it to NYC, but for moment I had a contact that I could call upon.
I scheduled an audition at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and she volunteered to let me crash at her apartment on West 72nd Street, a few feet away from the entrance of Central Park.
Prior to the night in question, I'd been allergic to bobtail cats, and to my surprise she had two robust and or overweight cats reminiscent of feline linebackers. The building exterior was swanky, but the one-bedroom apartment was cramped.
The audition is a blur now, but I still remember the minuscule, almost not there kitchenette, the bump-my-knees into one too many pieces of furniture in the living room, the clawfoot bathtub, and the exposed wooden four poster bed. These many years later, I probably wouldn't recognize her if I saw her on the street. She had red hair back then. She was accommodating in a familiar southwestern, hospitable way. I had full reign of the apartment, or so I thought (more on this later). She packed a bag and stayed with an upstairs neighbor.
My first trip New York was one week, but one of the nights that will forever be etched in my memory is when her two psycho cats, perhaps unsure of who I was, or fed up with my presence in their mother's absence, began a slow and methodical stalking of me as I rearranged my clothes in my suitcase.
Before I realized it, both cats had crept into the bedroom, a la National Geographic stalking their prey. Was there power in numbers? The primal, coordinated attack underscored by in stereo growls, hissing, and yowls was proof positive. A simple flick of my hand, "Shoo cat. Get on outta here and leave me alone," wouldn't work on this night. I had invaded their territory, and the spoiled felines weren't having me.
At this point, the yowls intensify. Sitting atop the log legs, glowing eyes locked on me, my heart began to race. I ran through several scenarios in my mind-all should result in their remaining alive even though I contemplated knocking them both off their perches with my deodorant, shampoo, or tube of toothpaste. They were house cats. Shouldn't they back down, scurry away, leave me in peace?
Not these two cats. They stood their ground, and my fear intensified. I was actor after all, and my face was my calling card. I wasn't going to risk a kamikaze cat attack to my arms and face while trying to defend myself, and not injure my host's pets.
I remember abandoning whatever was I was doing, and hightailing it into the bathroom and closed the door in the nick of time before a paw with sharp, exposed claw swiped underneath the door. It was on now!
Safe inside the locked bathroom, I felt like a fool. Safe, but foolish. How in the hell did I allow two cats to get the better of me? Those beasts wouldn't let up. They paced back and forth just outside the door, voicing their displeasure with my presence. I didn't care if they shredded my clothes, as long as my skin remained intact.
I can see the bright white lights in Caroline's bathroom now. I can see one too many bottles of cosmetics, bags of cotton balls, or her female products littering the countertop and shelves as I stand with my back at the door, again trying to figure out what to do.
There would be no letting up that night. I wouldn't be returning to the bedroom for a solid night's rest. I settled into my temporary home until she'd return the next morning. I spied some of her plush, over-sized bath sheets, and her very comfortable five-star hotel robe. I unfolded two or three of the bath sheets, slipped on her robe, stepped into the bathtub and fell asleep to the feline sentries' dismay.
It was as if nothing happened the next morning when she arrived, called out to them, and poured their morning food into their bowls. I had to be safe with her in the apartment. When I made my way to the living room looking worse for wear, she promptly laughed at me, disbelieving my previous night of torture. Those cats were possessed, and I was to have been their sacrifice to whatever dark force they worshiped.