So I was minding my own business the other day, and into my inbox pops a message from the divine Mary Robinette Kowal – regarding our mutual friend Jay Lake. As many of you no doubt know, Jay has been battling colon cancer since 2008; and recently the news has been less than fabulous on that front.
In short, the cancer has gotten worse rather than better, and now he’s on his fourth round of chemo – with results that could best be described as “meh,” and doctors who are running out of suggestions.
However, there’s a new technology that might prove helpful to Jay’s condition: full genome sequencing of the cancer, which could possibly lead to better, more targeted treatment.
I don’t want to blow anyone’s mind or anything, but the sequencing is expensive and – I’m sure it will astonish you to learn – not covered by insurance. So Mary (along with Catherine Shaffer) got the idea to throw a fundraiser on Jay’s behalf, and she asked if I would contribute One Act of Whimsy to the effort.
Of course I was more than happy to be part of the hootenanny, but to be perfectly honest, I am kind of whimsy-deficient. When I confessed this tragic moral failing, Mary immediately shotgunned me a list of whimsical services I could hypothetically render, as if perhaps she had been giving this a lot of thought or something.
At the top of the list: A goth or steampunk fashion show featuring my pets, Spain the Cat and Greyson the Oversized Puppy Monster.
This was a great suggestion, for it smiled upon my innate laziness! I take pictures of my pets all the time! And I have oodles of goth and steampunk accessories at my immediate disposal! This will be a cakewalk!
I pounced upon the idea. I can’t remember if I was drunk.
Surely I must’ve been? I mean, do you have any idea how hard it is to get a cat into a tiny Dracula cape?* And how risky, for someone with such a rare blood type as mine?
But you know what? For Jay – it was totally worth the wrestling, fussing, cajoling, cookie-feeding, begging, and bleeding. Because ladies, gents, and the otherwise affiliated … I give you … the saga of Spain the Cat and Greyson the Oversized Puppy Monster.
I tried the cat first, because she seemed to be in a pretty laid-back mood and she was hanging around within easy reach. Which is to say, she was sitting on my lap. But look, I’m not going to lie to you: this is pretty much the only shot I got of her actually wearing anything.
(The aforementioned Dracula cape, which I applied with the reverse side showing because hey, black cape on a black cat gets you a black blob.)
I spent forever trying to get her to hold my wee copy of HOW I DID IT, by Victor Frankenstein, but she flat refused and alas, all you have is my word to take for the effort. Believe me, I did try. And she did give me the big furry finger.
But then I thought to myself, “Self, I have a lovely Venetian mask with silver and gold swirlies and lots of fringe. That’s pretty goth, if only by virtue of the fact that I’ve worn it to the occasional Vampire: The Masquerade event. I wonder if I can get her to hold still and let me affix that lovely thing to her fluffy little mug.”
You can probably guess how that went down.
Until finally, she successfully writhed free – at which point she was content to hang around it, looking pretty.
I wondered if I might have better luck putting a hat on her, but the smallest hat I own was big enough for her to sit in, so that didn’t pan out either.
Yes, I know that “tiny hats” are kind of a steampunk “thing” but I don’t own any. I don’t have a tiny head. So I don’t have any tiny hats.
And that’s just math, y’all.
But you know who has a head big enough for my hats? Greyson! Yes! Our newest family member, who is coming up on 11 months old and 70+ pounds. That kid has a head like a cement block.
However, as I had completely forgotten upon trying to execute my cunning plan … he also has a wild, inexplicable fear of hats.**
EVENTUALLY. With the application of many loving reassurances plus half a box of banana-peanut-butter-flavored dog cookies … I got him to try on a smaller hat. The cat-rejected bowler, now with some fancypants goggles affixed thereunto. The results, I don’t mind telling you, were a hoot.
I want to caption every one of them with Tom Waits lyrics (adjusted). Starting with: “My owner has been drinking… not meeeee.”
Next we moved on to the goggles. Equally offensive, as far as Greyson was concerned, but further judicious application of dog-cookies and tummy rubs produced this shot of woe. I mean, really. WAS EVER A DOG ASKED TO SUFFER SO MUCH FOR THE SAKE OF INTERNET HILARIY…
Funny enough, he didn’t really seem to mind the leg-warmers – though he’d only consent to one at a time, meaning that if this were a serious cold-ankles situation he’d be 3/4 shit-out-of-luck. (Wait: Do dogs have ankles?)
But yes. Legwarmers. What? Legwarmers are totally steampunk. I mean, if they are if they have kicky little clockwork buttons on them.
Noooo! Greyson! We do not eat our kicky clock buttons!
Maybe the leg warmers weren’t such a good idea. Let us move on to … waistcoats!
Okay, no. Right. Something else, then.
How about … fancy utility belts!
He actually liked this one a lot; he pranced around the guest room in it, like he thought he was a real Sexy Beast.*** It made me wonder if maybe he wouldn’t approve of some kind of non-waistcoat-type vest, perhaps a dog vest with pockets or something.
He could be my back-up purse in case of hiking or camping. Little monster can carry his own water bottles to the dog park. Hmm.
ANYWAY. That’s all I’ve got, because, well, that’s all I’ve got. Partly due to the following disclaimer: No pets were harmed in the course of this dress-up photo session. They were not folded, spindled, nor mutilated. They were bribed and inconvenienced, but only within the reasonable limits of their tolerance. The cat is at least 13 years old (maybe older), and her patience is, shall we say, limited. I didn’t want to stress her out or hurt her with fanciful coercion. The dog is pretty hardy, but he’s also a sensitive soul who shoots guilt-rays out of his eyes, and I am weak against them. So these are the pictures you get. Do not fear for the critters. They are beloved and spoiled. And I wish I didn’t have to post a paragraph like this, but a dozen years on the internet tell me that if I don’t, I’ll get Emails Of Outrage Or Concern. So there you go.
A few outtakes of the shoots are available over on my Flickr page.
And while you’re down here, at the bottom of this post, still reading even though I’m out of pictures – by all means consider donating to Mary’s fundraiser for Jay. Details available here … and yes, they’re over the goal, but they’re leaning out for the stretch – in hopes of buying Jay a leave-of-absence from work. Yes, he’s been working a full time job (and writing books!!!) throughout the whole cancer ordeal.
Go show the man some love, would you?
* I have a cat-sized Dracula cape because I own a cat-sized Bela Lugosi doll dressed as Dracula. If you must know.
** And umbrellas and swooshy scarves. Maybe he was menaced as a wee pup by that guy from the Gashlycrumb Tinies.
*** In fact he is a Neutered Beast. (Spay and neuter your pets!)