Janeane Garofalo is almost 45 years old and wants you to know, “I don’t give a shit. I’ve mellowed.” We’re seated in one of L.A.’s most popular vegetarian restaurants, but I can’t give its location lest it becomes less popular. Nevertheless, Garofalo seems at ease with the diners trying to figure out just who she is, but she has an answer for that. “The Truth About Cats and Dogs,” she says. Why? “Because I don’t believe in having pets, but beyond that, it was a slam at me, a typical role. I was the dog. And the only reason the guy fell in love with me was my personality. Yeah, right. That’s a bunch of fucking bullshit. Never happens. You see me with Brad Pitt? No, I’m eating with an unknown writer and watching people trying to remember having watched The Truth About Cats and Dogs. And to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit.”

She seems almost joyously at ease with her edgy machismo. I ask her how she copes with aging. “I don’t cope. I lope. I mope. But I don’t cope. I don’t believe in coping. It’s a kind of lie, to cope. Who copes? Nobody copes. People take Xanax. That’s their way of coping. They blind themselves to the truth, and the truth has nothing to do with cats and dogs, though it would if they stopped coping so goddamned well. Right now, I shelter six hundred cats. They’re not pets. They’re refugees. They should be protected by international treaties and the Hague. But they’re not. Now I’m a cat lady.”

What about her career? Is finding work tougher these days? “I scored a role on 24, or it scored me. I’m an easy score. I’d like to get in Kiefer Sutherland’s pants, but look at me: I’ve got low self-esteem. You know what low self-esteem is? It’s about not being able to get into Kiefer Sutherland’s pants when more people have seen his woodwork than Jeff Goldblum’s. Did you know Jeff Goldblum is six foot, four and a half inches tall? What’s that tell you? I probably couldn’t even make it with Charlie Sheen, for Christ’s sakes. But I’m glad I’ve got 24; without it, I’d have to reduce the cat population. Just in case I’m killed off the show and this is my last role on TV or elsewhere, I’ve considered the most humane thing to do. I have a van. With a hose. That’s all I can say.”

And her political beliefs? “What political beliefs? Every time I say something, it’s political. If I said, ‘I better scoot on over to the little girls’ room,’ they’d say I’m being political. ‘Oh, look, she announces she’s urinating. How political.’ Well, bullshit. The truth is not political. The truth is superior to politics, because politics is temporary, while the truth is universal. No one calls the universe political. I’m spiritual, not political. I believe humankind’s spirit will evolve or we will all die like dogs. I have an Obama tattoo. I suppose that’s political? It’s a work of art that has nothing to do with politics. I’m not even sure why I’m telling you this. Are you political?”

I hesitate before nodding.

“Good for you. Politics ruined my career. Thanks for bringing that up. You can wipe your ass with politics. That’s what I say. You want the truth about cats and dogs? They piss everywhere and they don’t give a damn. I’ve got to move soon and I’m going to get charged up the asshole for piss stains. There’s your politics. PETA? I’d rather have a pita. As for 24, if I’m too old for the producers, they can suck me. I’m trying to make it in this town.

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PAUL A. TOTH's Airplane Novel, already a Midwest Book Review Reviewer's Choice and the 9/11 novel, is available now. His other novels include Finale, Fishnet and Fizz. Click here to visit his sites.

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