It has been a while since my Auntie B has taken an interest in me – a pleasant consequence of exhausting the full spectrum of her disappointment. I have survived her pressure about my lack of marriage and kids, and now that the writing career isn’t going too badly, am no longer subject to suggestions that I train as a dental hygienist.
Until recently. “Saw on Twitter that you’re ‘desperate’ for a cat,” she said, smiling and air-quoting desperate. “Funny that.”
Good old Auntie B, never one to let a grudge go. This jibe was a reference to the early days of her joining . Each day she would post a picture of her food and tag me, hoping I would engage. I tried to explain it was annoying that “photos of Coco” on my profile just brought up pictures of her Weetabix combos, but she carried on. Eventually I snapped, sniping that food pictures were nearly as sad as pet pictures, “the classic sign of a boring life”.
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How things change. Living in city shoeboxes that don’t allow pets has made me yearn for a cat. I grimace at the time I’ve wasted on videos of them knocking things off worktops or getting scared by toasters. Surely I have better things to read than another article asking if cats really love us (no: they only love food). I pore over pictures I used to roll my eyes at. “Actually, my sneering days are behind me,” I say to Auntie B. “These days, I think it’s quite sweet to take pleasure in small things. If you’re proud of your brunch, post away,” I add, trying for once to connect with her as an adult female – an equal. “Because it’s not sad. It makes you happy and I should be happy for you.”
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I should have known better. “What?” she replied, confused. “I just mean, it’s funny you like cats. You know what they say about unmarried women and cats, right?”