by Suzanne L. Beenackers
When cafe The Fuzz opened its doors it was a breath of fresh air. Originally run by both father and son, the male grungy energy set it apart from all the fresh, light, frumpy lunch cafes. Even now, four years later and with half a dozen vegan, eco friendly establishments entering the market, The Fuzz still only serves bread (and was one of the first in the city to offer pastrami) and toasted sandwiches, with an amount of cheese that can only be digested by the fiercest of stomachs. The Fuzz is warm and welcoming but it has that edge that makes it so much more pleasant than mainstream lunch cafes.
Meanwhile, humans were not the only one drawn to this. Bert, a ginger cat, who was over ten years old at the time, immediately included The Fuzz in his list of daily hang-outs, which also included a hair dresser and an accountancy firm. He lived in a nearby neighborhood, but every morning he crossed the busy street to hang out in the inner city of Nijmegen. After half a year, the people from the Fuzz found out Bert had stopped going home. That’s when they started feeding him, to make sure he would eat enough. They have also been the ones who have saved his life at least twice, over the course of four years.
Last summer Bert would sleep at the Fuzz (see picture: this is how he would greet the male owner every morning) but currently he doesn’t sleep at the Fuzz, nor do I see him at night when I cycle home. From what we know from past stories, he has sleeping addresses all around the block, always with women, and usually in their early twenties.
There have been women falling in love with him and missing him. At one time Bert was gone for days and when he returned he was wearing a collar. Clearly someone tried to tie him down, which was of course a lost cause. The collar you see on Bert now, was from a later date. The Fuzz owners gave it to him, as a sign he was taken care of.
What I realized is that Bert’s behavior is entirely human, and matches how men behave (or would like to behave). Bert hangs out with the boys during daytime, yet he spends the night either with young women or by himself. And without making any commitments. Even on the street he behaves manly, since he can’t multitask; if he’s on his way, for example to the hairdresser (who always leaves his door open) Bert needs to focus on traffic and on the journey ahead. He doesn’t want to be petted. But if he’s just hanging out on the pavement, or on the chair next to the entrance of the Fuzz, he’s cool with a little extra attention.
I remember a conversation I had with a man. I was fascinated by him, but I knew he couldn’t commit. He wasn’t honest about his whereabouts, but it most likely included a whole string of women who were all still crazy about him.
“I can’t get with you,” I said. “You’re bad news.”
He was offended and said:
“I want you to understand that I would never, ever, do anything against your will.”
And I laughed and answered:
“Of course not. That’s for amateurs.”
And I realized it was crazy to fight this, because I love men who behave like Bert. They don’t do anything against your will and you eagerly go along. The terms of the agreement are completely irrelevant. You’re under their spell.
And you know that even if you somehow manage to put a collar on it;
it’s not going to change even the slightest thing, about their ways.
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