Recent Work By Matty Byloos

Dear Former Friend: Help With Your Impending Kitty Dilemma

Matty – (323) ### ###
Carrie – (949) ### ####

Emergency for Animals in Neighborhood:

Cat Hospital of Portland (503) 2XX 7XX5
The Cat Doctor
(503) 8XX-6XX2

Feel free to Google this or ask someone in the building – they all have pets, and we haven’t needed one…yet. We hope.


1) Kitty food is located in brightly-colored bags on top of the larger refrigerator in kitchen. There is a new bag for each of them –- and it’s pretty clear which is cat, and which is kitty food. If not, refer to the pictures on each bag. One has a cat, which is “large” when speaking in a relative manner, against a backdrop of “kitties” which are much “smaller” even though on the other bag, in terms of quantity, there is probably more “kitty girth” pictured, so one could argue that the “kitty-ness” might in fact be larger. But go with your instinct, if all else fails. The cat on the cat food bag is larger. Should be simple enough. Cat food goes in bowl in kitchen with fresh water from refrigerator door. There is only one bowl on the ground with food, even if it’s empty when you get there. The other one will be full of water, even though from a distance, and possibly in poor lighting conditions, it may at first appear to also be empty. It’s not. Unless the cat drank all of his water, with some help from the kitten sister, but that never happens, so please disregard. Kitty food goes in mini bowl in bedroom, with fresh water there too in mini bowl of water. So, recap: full size bowls go with full size cat food from the bag on top of the full-sized ‘fridge. Bag with full sized cat on it. Mini, down the line, replace cat with kitten and put food in bedroom, not kitchen.

2) Kitty litter box is in closet, tucked under the shoes just outside the bathroom door. There is a fresh box next to it, but I just changed it out Friday. Scooper on top, little dust broom and pan there too if they get out of hand. By which I mean, either tons and tons of cat/kitty shit (quantity), or else really kind of absurdly large cat shits, like bordering on dog-sized, which we have seen. This would be a quality example of getting out of hand, I think. I left a couple of plastic bags on top in case it needs a cleaning, which it may by Sunday night or Monday morning. The cats tend to poo more vigorously when we leave. Some system shut-down, possibly, or else they get bored and this is how they express themselves when there’s no one around to hear them meow and cry. Which is not a guilt-trip to try to get you to stay over every night, but remember giant piles of shit, and how that might mean you will end up having to wheel the trash bin up from the street because the garbage bag full of cat feces may be too heavy and in that case, would probably bust before you made it down the stairs to the garbage area by the street. But it’s your call. Sleep there or don’t. But one cleaning should be good around that time. The garbage cans are on 32nd Pl. outside the building. There is also a shallow box top full of litter in the bedroom that you will see next to the kitty food. It’s cute. Even the stuff in it (if you’re into that — don’t worry, Carrie didn’t tell me anything about you. And everyone, I mean everyone, has weird little interests that border on fetishes, in a clinical sense, so don’t worry).

3) Kitty will behave like a kitty (always keep this in mind) –- four hours of non-stop sleep, then 35 minutes of play, mostly hassling Patchen (cat), who at this point has a 0 tolerance policy, like the cops. His noises might sound scary, like a mountain cat, but he’s harmless and just warning her. She typically gives up, but if you hate it, then spray them both gently or grab her off of his neck and she’ll be easily diverted with a piece of crumpled up paper or her fish toy. No matter how tempted you might get, or how convincing the larger cat will be, do not throw her out of the window. We’ve tried. She comes back. Dirty.

4) Kitty has become what we lovingly refer to as “a climber.” We try to leave the windows open, but have found that she’s very good at scaling the drapes. I hate pet owners who write long ass descriptions of what their pets do and ridiculous paragraphs about this little detail or that. Anyway, I’m an effing hypocrite now but she will climb the drapes to impress you when she’s in her 35-minute spaz routine. Absolute no no, especially if the window is open. Make sure when you leave, all windows with drapes are fully closed. If, for some reason unclear to us and most likely not more complicated than you are a complete and total idiot with absolutely zero respect for us or what we’re trying to do here in the way of raising a decent, loving and healthy little kitten, and she ends up scaling the drapes on your watch and gets out the window because as I said earlier, you were stupid enough to leave them open, then deal with it. Run outside, track her down, bring her back, if she gets hit by a car, revive her, or if she dies in that last scenario, God rest her little precious and dander-covered soul, then bury her for chrissake and find us a new one that, for the most part, looks and acts exactly like her. Which is what any respectable kitty sitter would do. Shit. We would. But we wouldn’t be idiotic enough to leave the windows open in the first place. But accidents do happen, we understand. Listen. Just be careful. The whole time.

5) If kitty freaks, you can always lock her up in the bedroom. She has everything she needs in there, especially if the two need to be separated. Remember the window. There’s one in the bedroom. See #4 if you forgot / forget. And this would also mean that you will probably have to sleep on the couch, which does not, at this point, have bedbugs. Please keep it that way.

6) TV – I’ll spread out the “remotes mayhem” on the coffee table. Water spritzer will also be there in case they act up. Tiniest remote, hit power and the TV will turn on. Thinnest remote, next up in size, hit power and the DVD player will turn on. It’s a sensitive one and sometimes slow, so just hit a button and then be patient. Again, don’t get frustrated, because if you give it too many commands, then the whole thing goes haywire, and you’ll be sitting there all pissed off without a movie, and really, it will pretty much be your own fault. No one else to blame. So don’t take it out on the kitty or especially the cat. He bites sometimes. He a biter. Forgot to mention that up there. He also hates it when he has to watch someone clean out his litter box. I think I forgot to mention that too; probably should have been a part of item number 2. You’re probably not even going to read the note this far, so maybe it’s better that it’s in here closer to the bottom. Never mind. Back to the movies and television. Largest remote on the coffee table is for the receiver. Hit power to get sound. Manipulate the volume on the TV with the remote there, or the right dial on the actual receiver. You’ve looked at TV before. Movies are in the closet on the bookshelf next to the kitty litter box. You will definitely know where that is by the time you’re done with the five days of kitty sitting and sleeping over every night that we’re planning on you committing to.

7) Eat whatever you want in the fridge or freezer. Oven and range are self-explanatory. Kitties like it when you leave the gas on in the apartment. Of course, I am serious. I mean kidding. I’m not serious. But we did do that once by accident, which like I said does happen to everyone, and we noticed a serious lapse in the pooping cycle, especially of the bigger one. And the biting subsided really, really nicely for a day or two there, so maybe only if you get absolutely desperate, consider this an option. But put the kitten in the bedroom during that time, because when we had our accident, it worked out really badly for the kitten. She handled it totally differently than the big cat. The first kitten handled it totally different. We’re pretty sure it’s more of a general-kitten problem rather than something specific to a condition or whatever of the first kitten. So make sure this one’s in the bedroom. Maybe crack the window in there, too, if you plan on running the “experiment” for more than a day or so.

2B) Back to number two. Feel free, yourself, to poop as much as you want, but bear in mind there has been a little situation with the plumbing. Nothing big at all, just what we’d probably call, like I said, “a situation.” You’ll be fine.

8) Fresh sheets and pillow cases have been taken care of for you, as we know you’ll be sleeping there all five days. Whatever you do, and I mean whatever you do, do not take home some asshole from one of the great little hipster bars in the neighborhood, and then have sex with him in our bed. We mean this, no exceptions. Carrie, when she first started college, had a boyfriend back then, who was studying criminal forensic science, or something like that, and he stole one of those luminol-detector thingies. Meaning, we tried it already on the bedding before we left. Meaning, we still have it, and it still works. Meaning, I watch CSI. A lot. Though I am partial to Law and Order, hands down, any of the four versions, with actually any pairing of detectives, doesn’t even matter. Even though I do like The Who quite a little bit. No semen stains, anywhere. So if you do decide to break Rule #8, and bring some douchbag home for a little throw around the ol’ bed, we’ll know it. Charts and graphs, baby. Science don’t lie, even if you do.


Just as a final thought, thank you from the bottom of our collective heart for doing this. Call us if anything goes wrong. It’s going to be great! Promise!

Matty & Carrie (but mostly Matty).

Word to the wise. If you receive an email, the subject line of which reads with some version of the following: “Finally — there is really something for everybody…” consider yourself warned, and maybe don’t open it. This is not an official Phishing scam warning, here, and bear in mind, by my own logic, I am terribly unwise. But I’m not concerned. It is these very emails that have in the past allowed me to exercise my deepest love, and that is the investigation into the greatest mysteries of the human condition.

The Fence or the Centaur -- Have We Not Crossed Enough Boundaries Here Already?

Now if you know me and or my writing, then you already know I’m interested in WTF moments of nature and culture — the kinds of occurrences that you have to look at and wonder, What in the hell is going on here; that’s a human too? I’ve tackled a few oddities already in a kind of gonzo journalistic cum fiction fashion, so the last time I received an email with the aforementioned subject line, I was actually excited. And what did I find out? The divine world of centaurs is alive and well, perhaps only thriving in an alternate universe much like our own.

Correct. Half-man, half-horse. More than any other half-whatever combination, this particular iteration not only has the fantasy element working for it, but at this point in human evolution, it also has the pre-advanced-technological-mobility nostalgia component working for it as well. These creature fantasies only take into account a human’s ability to walk upright, bipedally, or to mount a horse, and giddy-up on four hooves. No cars, buses, mopeds or anything else featuring motors or wheels. So there’s that, which in my mind makes it a lot like having a fetish for gingham and trying to resurrect Anne of Green Gables times in your own family. But I may be a little bit off in the head. Not sure.

Centauring. That’s correct. I clicked on the link and entered a secret world that combined this half-man half-horse fetish with other seemingly strange body-modification fetishes, which included men with two sets of legs, multiple sets of genitals, etc. Not sure where your mind is supposed to go in order to fill in the “etc.” here. But wherever it wants to go, I suggest you take that ride.

The pictures on the site aren’t so much the interesting part — I mean, clearly they’re Photoshop proof that photo-retouching skills have applications beyond the totally professional ones that might land a person a decent job with the FBI or something. Don’t get me wrong. I dig the photo up there. I mean, it’s a centaur standing next to a fence, rife with interesting analytical possibilities. I went to art school. I was born to deconstruct. Personally, I gravitate to the fence immediately. This is a world being described where there are only a few possibilities. There is the open meadow, “over there.” You can live there by yourself, and not deal with centaurs at all, ever.

Or you can be “over here,” on the “home team,” cajoling and prancing with centaurs, learning from their care-free ways of wisdom, trying to glean exactly how it might feel to exist between natures. And he’s beckoning, slyly, so of course you’re supposed to want to be on that side of the fence.

And there is always a third, perhaps less discrete option. You can go for a ride. You can, in fact, hop on the centaur’s back, after which point, “jumping over the fence” into that meadow “over there” becomes not only an option, but in fact a real serious probability. You’re on a horse. You’re already being transgressive, because you’re holding on to a human torso or else some human hair, not a set of reins. What is being suggested here, not very conspicuously at all, what with the verdant pastures and that fence there, looming in the not too distant background, is to take that ride. Which leads me to think that the centaur fetish has something to do with breaking free, enjoying a third possibility, a liminal state of being wherein one might enjoy not just being themselves, and not just being “other,” but being both at the same time.

And then I read the fiction on the site. My favorite depicts a scene wherein two guys are hanging out doing laundry. Three paragraphs in and I was punching myself in the leg that I had not thought of the scenario before this writer. If I were teaching a class, the prompt to my eager writing students might have sounded like this: “Two men are doing laundry together. They are interested in expediting the chore. Use mythical elements to assist them in completing the task. Now write!”

Apparently the two guys share a secret together — and one that involves body morphing. One guy tells the other the magic word, which he only has to say in order to activate this “other world” where they might perform their household task with that much more efficiency. Blam. He says the word and an extra set of limbs grow. Folding laundry, obviously, is more easily done with four hands. Idiot. But what happens when — Blam! He says the magic word again. And then again. And… again? You bet. Centaurs happen. And the following bit of dialogue, as well:

“‘We can carry some of this laundry on your centaur back,’ I suggested.

‘Why don’t you just ride me and put the laundry between you and me, and I can carry the extra stuff with all of my arms.’

That was just like David; so sensible, even when he was crazy-horny with two erections.”

See what I mean? Maybe you don’t and this is just my odd curiosity misbehaving again. I don’t know. The best part of the story is just how much enjoyment these two guys have doing the most mundane of things. The centaur fantasy isn’t about hanging out playing canasta with unicorns and leprechauns. One doesn’t embark on this journey to get to the other side of some fantastical rainbow. One invites a centaur into their fictional world (or if this was memoir, and not fiction-fantasy, then one invites them into their basement to help them fold clean laundry), to just hang out. To be in the pasture, eating grass and drinking milk together, maybe prepping receipts for tax season or else watching the first episode of this season’s Mad Men.

After laundry, they dance to country music, and it’s wonderful to watch the creature dance in the living room, given the extra feet to look at. Merely sitting down on the couch becomes an act worth marveling at in this world. They climb on kitchen stools and open up beers together. They joke about never being able to lovingly kiss all of the hands present in the room there, on the centaur.

Centaurs... Are... America.

Maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all. I mean, who couldn’t use an extra set of hands, or a few extra sets, around the house. And it might not be so much of a sub-culture either. Roger Daltrey went centaur for an album, you know. So did Pierce Brosnan, and I don’t think a single career move in the last decade has done more for his professional reputation. And what about Mad Men, anyway. Why not have a client come in to the new partners’ office this season, with a brand new product: the Centaur Pants. I could see Don Draper goin’ to town on that one, something like: “It’s not about horses. It’s not about men. It’s about the pasture, and that fence over there. Men sit behind their desk all day, just one magic word away from being half a horse. This is about freedom. Centaurs… are… America.”