Rendered Fat Content


Cornelis Huysmans: The Hollow Road (c. 1700)

" … we're resigned …"

Our mostly feral cat Molly supervises the day-to-day operations around The Villa Vatta Schmaltz. She tends to be the first to notice whenever something, anything's changed. She's sniffing scornfully around the difference, just as if to determine who might be to blame for this latest outrage. I'm convinced that she'd rather everything just stay the same from day to week to year. She insists upon regular meal times and comes sniffing around should I somehow miss the deadline. She's capable of moping when she's denied her way. She's loving, in her fashion, which sometimes means she's slashing at a hand that was only trying to reassure her. She trusts no human.

The times when The Muse goes away for a few days upsets Molly most.
An absence cannot ever be explained to her satisfaction. Her whole world gets upset. She's suddenly not keeping regular hours, not sleeping in the same place, not even demanding her supper. She might even, as she did this morning, cuddle up to me on the bed while I'm sleeping, a rare event even when The Muse is present, almost unprecedented in her absence. The Damned Pandemic upset the regular rhythm to The Muse's absences. Before, during exile, she'd reliably disappear at least a week each month, either off to the head office or to visit her primary client, gone for the whole week, usually. I 'held fort', as I came to call it, tending cats and keeping up appearances. These cats, Molly and her brother Max, came to live with us just before The Damned Pandemic came, so they never knew The Muse as a sometimes absent presence. They seem to take her disappearances personally, now that they've begun again.

For me, I never particularly liked what I think of as the HollowedDays, the ones where I'm batching it. I have learned to do it, but not to like it. There remains, of course, that sense of unbridled freedom when she leaves, like I could get away with anything without her knowing a damned thing, but I've outgrown the interest in getting away with much. I could still sneak a cigar if I wanted, but I grew tired of the hassle of fumigating my mouth after, not to mention my clothes, and The Muse always seems to know, anyway, like Molly always does. I never learned to play poker, so I can't invite The Boys over to gamble, as if I even knew any poker players. I'm a private person but I prefer my solitude bounded, some presence in the next room or down the hall. The house just feels hollow when I'm the only one home.

My usually excellent meals become a bottomless pot of beans, reheated breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My usual strict-ish routine gets garbled. I manage to maintain the bare minimum functioning, but I mostly just take a few days off, as if I can't fully perform without an audience. And while Molly's certainly still here, sniffing her displeased nose in my direction, I find little satisfaction in even maintaining my regular routines, let alone tackling any special projects. I suppose that these admissions clearly peg me as a hard-core dependent. I no longer ache for any sort of independence. Living alone just seems a kind of lonely I can't quite understand.

I believe, at least partly, that I'm here to experience the whole array of possible sensations, not simply the sweet ones, but also the sour and the bitter flavors, and to learn how to savor each. The HollowedDays I find particularly difficult to swallow and I doubt if I'll ever come to savor their tinny flavor. Molly, neither, and not Max, either. We're one sad troika through these HollowedDays. We'll survive again, like always, but not very warmly anticipate any repeat performances. The Muse, though, maintains a life beyond this place. It takes up more space than even The whole Villa Vatta Schmaltz can accommodate, so we're resigned, I guess, these partly feral cats and I, to somehow survive these gratefully infrequent HollowedDays.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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