From the category archives:

Fun with mama and papa

Good News and Also Bad

by Marinka on February 23, 2014

Look, you can have the greatest friends, the best support system in the world, but there will be times in your life that you will realize that you are completely and utterly alone.

I had that realization over the weekend, after Mama called me to tell me about her newly adopted cat.

“Does he even have a name yet?” I asked. She had considered Snorring, but now was toying with Alyosha, in honor of Alyosha Karamazov, the hero in The Brothers Karamazov. But then the cat killed a mouse and Mama decided that she should name him Raskolnikov after the murderer in Crime and Punishment. I assumed that it would just be a matter of time before the cat did something Mama didn’t approve of and would be named after the title character in The Idiot, since apparently this cat is destined to have a Dostoyevsky tie-in.

“Not yet,” Mama told me. “These things take time.”

“Well, my kids don’t understand what’s taking so long,” I said. It’s true that I didn’t understand either, but I attributed the questioning to the kids because they are more adorable than I am and Mama is much less likely to disinherit them and even if she does, that’s their problem.

“Tell them that we didn’t name you for months,” she instructed. “So a week is not a long time.”

Obviously Mama was immune to intergenerational naming-pressure, having other things on her mind.

“He is incredible cat,” she told me. “You should see him in the litter box.”

“I should?” I asked.

“Yes. If you ever need to dig a flowerbed or a grave, he can do it. He digs in that box for hours.”

“Maybe he has some kind of a scatological obsession,” I offered, thinking that Scat had a nice ring to it.

“No, he just likes to do good job,” Mama explained, “Also, he is affectionate. He is most affectionate cat I ever had. The other cats we had were almost like animals.”

I sat with that tidbit for a second, but just a second, because then Mama dropped a bomb.

“He may be a sex addict or a rapist,” she lowered her voice.

“Oh?” I asked, thinking desperately of ways to stop this runaway train.

“Last night he grabbed the blanket with his teeth and started humping it.”

“Is that…how sex works?” I asked. What do I know, maybe they changed things in the past few months.

“Haven’t you ever seen cats having sex?” she asked, as though cat sex had been part of the Core Curriculum.

“I haven’t,” I confessed. Cat porn is one of those things that I keep trying to get to, but there are just not enough hours in the day.

“Well,” Mama felt the thrill of having a live one on the line. “If you think that the boy cat lays the girl cat on her back and then gets on top of her in -what you call that?”

“Missionary position,” I said, teeth clenched.

“Yes, missionary. Cats don’t do it missionary position, they do it from the back, perversionary position. Is that how it is called in this country?”

“Mama, please-” my voice was weak and yet evocative of the scars I would bear.

“You know, sex from back– doggy style, right?”

“Mama, I beg you, stop talking about cats having sex doggy-style.”

“So sensitive,” Mama scoffed. “I thought you were a feminist.”

“Yes,” I mumbled, “very feminist.” Although I would have happily given up the right to vote just to have avoided this particular discussion.

Eventually Mama had to get off the phone. NoNameKa was doing something adorable or perverted and she had to tend to him.

And I was left all alone. With my thoughts that could not stop conjuring images of cat doggy-style sex.

I’m not sure those particular lambs will ever stop screaming.


A Name

by Marinka on February 20, 2014

I planned to spend Presidents Day figuring out once and for all if it’s President’s or Presidents’ or Presidents Day and also watching Scandal, because I’m a patriot.

But shortly into my plan, Mama called.

“We are going to adopt a cat,” she told me. Their Sly died over the summer. “Stay near the phone because we will give your name as reference.”

“You can count on me,” I reassured her. “I will not say a word about the decades-long experiments you’ve been running on cats.”

“Don’t joke like that with shelter,” she admonished me. “they rescue cats not laugh.”

The next call was from Papa.

“They will call you soon,” he said. “Don’t mention that we have a dog.”

“Why can’t I tell them that you have a dog?” I asked.

“Because in form, if you check dog, there are many other questions to answer. It’s like Immigration and Naturalization over here,” Papa sounded like someone who gets detained by the INS and transported to their holding area in Gitmo on a regular basis.

“They won’t hear about the dog from me,” I assured him. This was America. They could waterboard me or put me in B-613, I will not mention any dog. Unless they offer me a chance to win an Amazon gift card. Who can resist those?

I settled in to receive the call.

It was from Mama.

“We found a cat, but he was missing part of ear,” she said.

“VAN GOGH?” I gasped.

“Oi,” Mama said. “You are right, he is van Gogh! How did I pass on van Gogh?” Mama felt the type of remorse that happens when you don’t adopt a cat that can paint fortune-fetching-at-Sotheyby’s masterpieces during his spare time.

Mama didn’t adopt van Gogh because a Tuxedo cat caught her eye.

With the exception of Fedya, our orange tabby in Leningrad, all of my parents’ cats have been black and white Tuxedos.

“They’re very straightforward,” Mama “explained” once.

This one, Mama told me, had just been castrated, so his testicles were enormous.

“I’m not sure that’s how castration works,” I told Mama, but she insisted.

“They are enormous because they are swollen from being castrated. Then they will calm down and become normal testicle size.”

“What are you going to name it?” I couldn’t change the topic fast enough.

“I think Snorring,” she said. “After the Icelandic Viking.”

“I have no idea who that is,” I confessed. Ever since Obamacare and legalization of gay marriage, my knowledge of Icelandic history has been really spotty.

“Oh yes, you know,” Mama insisted. “He came to Massachussets once.”

“At…the same time that I did?” I asked carefully.

“No, during 16th century. Maybe the 17h,” Mama suddenly appeared doubtful. “But I don’t want people to think that he snores.”

“If you name him Snoring, that is definitely a possibility,” I leveled with her.

“I will have to think,” she said.

It’s been three days.

The cat still doesn’t have a name.

No update on the testicles.


I have been working on a book post, but it’s exhausting and time-consuming and I can’t possibly devote myself to it during Bachelor season. So it will have to wait, but I have to give a thumbs up to The Time Locket by Deborah Quinn. It’s a young adult novel about time travel and I absolutely loved it. Read-in-the-middle-of-the-night loved it. Check it out!


I’m Right, You’re Wrong: Coffee

February 11, 2014

You know how this works, right? Come on, we just had one this month. Can you at least pretend you’re paying attention? Ok, so I’m Right You’re Wrong is a semi-regular feature here where I try to settle a loving dispute I’m having with a loved one, OR THE WORLD AT LARGE, by presenting the […]

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Things I Learned

February 6, 2014

Last year I learned something so shocking that it has taken me up until now to discuss it with you. I learned that literally now also means figuratively. And not just according to people who don’t understand how language works and have been using it incorrectly for years. No. According to the dictionary. This makes […]

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Exciting Business Opportunity!

February 3, 2014

A few weeks ago I had a brilliant idea. It shone so bright that I had little choice but to accept the fact that it was inspired by nothing less than genius. I decided to share it with Mama and Papa and Russian Aunt, Mama’s sister, who is visiting from Russia for a few months. […]

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Learning English

January 22, 2014

I went to the dacha this past weekend with my parents and my mother’s sister, who is visiting from Russia. She has been taking English classes in St. Petersburg so we were excited to practice the language with her. Unfortunately, shortly after her plane landed, she took a vow of silence where English was concerned […]

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Emails from Mama

August 13, 2013

This year, for Mama’s birthday, Papa bought her a tablet. It was a bold move, considering that Mama is a proud luddite, still hasn’t mastered the cell phone and I suspect hopes that the internet is a phase. I’ve never seen Mama use the computer, and any time I’ve responded to one of her questions […]

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Mid-Summer Advice

July 14, 2013

Next month Mama and my 15 year old daughter are going on a two week trip to Scandinavia and Russia. They are both really looking forward to it, and my son is planning some sort of Unfairness Litigation against them since he is being Left Behind. They’ll probably seek Snowden-type asylum in Russia to avoid […]

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