It was late last Tuesday night. The cashier at Trader Joe's and I were sharing some small talk as he scanned my groceries. As he rang up a couple cans of cat food, he asked the name of my cat.
"Simon," I say.
"That's a great name!"
"Yeah, thanks! He's... sassy."
"Sassy? I wouldn't have thought that about a cat named Simon," he said as he continued to scan my groceries. He was right.
"You know what, actually," I said, "He's really sweet. He isn't sassy... I don't know why I said that."
As I confessed, my stomach tensed with crazy cat lady fear, a feeling exclusive to cat owning women of today. It's a very specific "just be cool and do the opposite of whatever a crazy cat lady would do right now," feeling.
I was fighting the urge to ask the cashier if he had a cat. It would be a hopeful and quiet plea for him to say, "Yes! His name is Buttons!" and then I would know he is a cat person. I could tell him all about how Simon has adorable floppy paws from a botched de-clawing he got before I rescued him. Or about how he will tap you on the shoulder politely, if you're not giving him enough attention.
Before I could ask if he owned a cat, the ring on his finger caught my eye, and my anxiety-ridden mind started to race. He was wearing a ring, so he probably didn't have a cat. Because cats are only for women, everybody knows that. Maybe he'll go home and tell his wife, "Honey, this girl came in, and she was wearing leggings as pants, and this crazy sweater, her hair was super frizzy and she had all these fancy organic cat food cans! I asked her about her cat and she just wouldn't shut up! Like she was waiting for someone, anyone, to ask about her cat!" I don't want to be that girl.
We finished the transaction in silence, then he said, "have a good night," and I said the same, and headed towards the exit.
Looking back, I do know why I called Simon sassy. I said it to cover up how much I love that cat, because cat people are weird and everybody is too busy talking about their dogs. Dog people: The perfectly acceptable public obsession. They walk around with them, show pictures of them, make them do silly tricks, I get it. I love dogs, I do. But oftentimes, people who label themselves as dog people are thrown into the same pile as cat haters. But there is no way cat haters actually hate cats as much as they claim. Because sure, dogs may rule in the real world, but everybody knows cats rule the internet. Everyone has LOL'd at catz, even dog people.
So maybe cat people do have a chance to be equal to dog people. Maybe the internet's embracing of cats can break down these crazy cat people walls. Maybe there can be a... Catvolution.
On my way out, I turned to look at the cashier one more time. My eyes fell to the floor with regret. Then I saw it, on the side of his Dockers, near his ankles. Cat hair. From a cat that had likely rubbed around this morning, as he opened a can of premium, organic, fair trade, wet cat food.
So, I'm sorry, Trader Joe's cashier. Let's never be too afraid to talk about our cats again. Let's start this Catvolution.
Next time. We'll get ‘em next time.
This article first appeared on @SarahKleg's Medium page.
Follow Sarah Klegman on Twitter: twitter.com/sarahkleg