Steve came home early. He had a secret sorrow at that time and so did Helen. She was nervous because she felt she was not attractive to him because she was fat. The pressure from the reality show brought these feelings up. Then she hired Tiffany to be a live in trainer and cook, but if anything, that made things worse because Tiffany was quite thin. Not to imply that Helen was jealous and catty. I agree with Van Vechten that that is a terrible expression. For what would a catty woman be except a catlike woman, reserved and graceful, redolent of the mystery of love? Steve's secret sorrow was that he was not the rich one in the family. If I haven't already explained the intricacies of old Calvin's will that left Helen her fortune, then let me do that now.
Anyway, Steve did have his chance at redemption - the initial public offering (IPO) of his small software company, IDK Industries. They made iPhone and iPad apps. Hidden object games were very popular and his White Trash Treasure was a smash. (Find the wedding rings on the brother and sister, find the blocks--under the truck of course, etc.)
Helen had gone into town to drop Winston at the vet's. She came home before dinner. She had a conversation with the Captain and me that showed her great kindness, compassion and classiness. She only allowed the reality show because she wanted to promote the cause of black companion animals. She had an Etsy shop that sold tuxedo collars. It was a fact that in some parts of the country, animal shelters would immediately euthanize black cats and dogs upon admission because they were so hard to adopt out. One of the reasons people gave for not liking black animals is that they found our coloring "boring." Helen felt that her collars alleviated that problem and could save lives. [I need cover art for this book with a black cat in a collar of course]
"Look," the producer said in greeting. "We gave the cook the night off and arranged a lovely dinner for you." Helen was torn. On the one hand, she was hungry so she was happy that dinner was ready. On the other hand, she was worried that everything was spinning out of control and even her employees weren't following her orders. The reality show's presence was still a constant source of upset of course, the invasion of privacy, the continual reminder of her not having a television figure, the fact that they always avoided filming anything to do with black cat collars and specifically avoided filming me because they said it ruined their white balance. "Who are you to give the cook the night off?"
Elliot was right there filming the exchange. I think they provoked her on purpose so they could film the reaction.
"Well, she's here if that makes it any better," the producer said.
"Oh, yes, I'm here," Tiffany, the personal trainer and cook, said, coming downstairs. "I'll serve dinner as usual even though I didn't cook it."
As usual, huh, she never served dinner before the cameras showed up six months ago. She cooked the meal and ate with the family. Now she was wearing a French maid miniskirted uniform. A makeup artist was just finishing up with her and started coming up to Helen, brush in hand.
Helen swatted her away. Then she unconsciously smoothed her dress. She's always worried about her weight, especially since the Keeping Up With the Dingleheuserberries started airing.
"We brought our best person in to prepare the meal," the makeup artist said. "I've worked with him many times. He's terrific."
The meal was brought in, a lovely large Turkey that had been cooked for 15 minutes and coated with a mixture of instant coffee to give it a beautiful color. Other standard TV food was served. Helen got even more angry than usual. The only thing more colorful than the food was Helen's language. She isn't one to swear, but she makes a special effort when she wants to ruin a scene. Helen lashed out at the makeup artist. "I thought you said you'd eaten his food before?"
"No, I've worked with him on photo shoots. Doesn't the food look wonderful?"
There were fireworks, which Helen doesn't seem to that understand the camera crew loved. During the argument Brooks complained bitterly about my black color messing up the white balance. The makeup artists then started to paint me. Helen explained angrily that cats groom themselves and will ingest anything that gets on their coats. I reflected on a quote about the cleanliness of cats as I scratched the makeup artist and drew blood. The conversation took an idiotic turn where they tried to bring race into the issue. The butler (who always chimes in with Dan Brown-esque trivia in a fake English accent) chimed in with any of the following facts that have not yet been discussed: most shelter cats are black, melanin's has effect on personality, there is recent genetic predominance of black cats in urban area, and the fact that in many Bible-belt (for some reason) states, black cats are immediately euthanized upon intake at shelters because they're so hard to adopt out, easy going male cats have a genetic advantage because while aggressive males are fighting for the right to mate, the easygoing Toms are getting in there and mating.
The lawyer who administers the trust came by with some very fancy take out food. Much of it was fattening and Helen of course hated herself for not being able to resist. They set out the food and started eating. After a while, he asked for a place to change. I seconded that motion and my mind was drawn to Mark Twain's words, i.e. that there was no quality of a cat that man could not emulate to his benefit. But that was not the change the lawyer meant. He wanted to change clothes. I heard him wander into the morning room and snoop around, then Blandings directed him to a spare guest room.
He dallied in the room, not changing, then came back to the family, took a look at Tiffany's svelte figure and at Steve and smirked. Then he whispered to Steve, "I know your secret." [We think the secret is that they're having an affair, actually the secret is that Steve has a stash of BBW magazines.]
After eating, Helen was in a good mood again and the crew filmed a friendly scene. We saw some hint of romance between Madeleine and the lawyer. I overheard them talking privately. Then it occurred to Helen that the lawyer knew that the dinner would be a fake and she wondered why everyone else seemed to know what's going on in her house but her. She got angry again. She went looking for the lawyer to have it out with him, but couldn't find him. Then she started in on the cook. I thought she was going to fire the cook for sure this time. She's threatened to before, but received too many death threats from the audience. She hired Tiffany as a first rate personal trainer and cook. She never wore a uniform before in her life; she always ate with the family. It was only after the filming started that she began rocking that Rocky-Horror Picturesque fetish maid outfit.
She was about to start looking for the lawyer again, but the doorbell at the gate rang. It kept on ringing. Everyone had forgotten it was Halloween. Helen had eaten all the candy in the house. She gave away quarters instead, and then she started hearing shouting in the street, "She's giving away money!" Normally, we wouldn't have Treat or Treaters. It's a very large estate, but people were coming to the area in cars in hopes of getting rich rewards. Helen loved Halloween, so she was answering the rings herself for a while, but got angry when the camera crew trotted out bowls of promotional material and having the kids sign media releases. The also persisted in leaving the front door open, so I wandered out. The cameraman asked Helen if she would consider a gray or tan cat if I were lost. He expounded on the benefits of both colors. Then Kitten saw me, and got angry that the door was left open. Clearly, they were hoping that I would run away. We never heard Helen's reply to the question because the camera crew was getting angry at the smaller children for not being able to sign their signatures and not knowing their last names. So that distracted Helen as she got into more conflict with the crew. Helen finally turned off power to the exterior lights to discourage treat or treaters.
Finally there was a quiet period. Helen calmed down and so did Mad. As long as nothing else happened, they could both fulfill their goals. Helen felt that most of the stupid crap had already been filmed and that the show would have no choice but to give some attentions to the blight of black pets at some point. Margaret and Mad were back from shopping. Margaret had prevailed upon Mad to buy many lovely bathrobes and was convinced that deep down Mad was a respectable, modest woman who had finally learned to ignore the siren song of the camera. As long as no other bad influences arrived, Margaret was certain her daughter would follow the straight and narrow.
Steve and Helen were being affectionate. I was sitting between them, being petted. Mad quietly dressed. The camera people were bored and had wandered off. Everything seemed like it was going to be alright.
Elliot came into the room without his camera. "Where's the lawyer guy?" he asked.
Helen was wondering that too. "I think he was going to change into a costume to give candy to the kids. No need for that now. He's been away for a while." She got up to look for him.
She went to look for the lawyer, and she found him. He was dressed in a clown suit. I guess he also had been planning something fun for Halloween. He was at the bottom of the cellar stairs, with a broken neck.
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