When I first got to grad school, I subsisted on a diet of peanut butter, jam, franks & beans, and a mysterious substance called scrapple. I was destitute. I was starting the divorce process and running around trying to figure out what grad school was all about. The Gray Menace, sensing that my poverty would compromise his epicurean standards lost no time finding friends in our apartment building. Mrs. Schockley, the building’s manager, lived down the hall, and the Menace soon discovered that he could be an honored guest every evening at dinnertime. So my duplicitous cat gained weight as I lost it.
Finding ways of making money, short of learning lithography, and becoming a forger were entertained daily. But as a first-year grad student, the goal of the university was to keep that student running.
Soon the Grey Menace was known as the go-to guy in the building if there were mice. He grew sleek on special treats offered by his admiring clientele. I became lean and began to feel pretty mean about the situation. Notes appeared on the door to alert me to whom he was visiting. He was much more popular than I was.
As the school year progressed, my finances improved, I found a local shop that prepared the local sandwich specialty – the cheesesteak hoagie- with incredible generosity and quality. Then one night in walked the cat after an evening of sponging at Mrs. Shockley’s apartment. He fairly reeked of tuna, but smelling the odors of steak, cheese, and other goodies, he jumped on the table to share some of my dinner. I lovingly put him down and firmly indicated that this was mine, not his…perhaps he could visit the Smith’s, or perhaps Loretta? Or maybe he could eat crow and leave me to finish my cheesesteak in peace?
For several nights I drove him crazy. I indulged in his favorite, roast beef subs with all the fixings and hots. I did not share. Thin sliced beef and hots was something his erstwhile friends were not likely to provide. He was a gourmand of anything containing beef. He’d eagerly eat your tuna, turkey, or even chicken, but beef in all its myriad forms was his favorite. So the inconstant little sod continued his trips around the apartment building but made his way home for dinner in the hopes of thin-sliced beef with hot peppers.
He had his culinary standards to maintain.