Exploitation is fine until cats are involved.

Exploitation is fine until cats are involved.

A Story by Coltron


exploitation is a beautiful thing until cats are involved

My Dad sent me a rather amazing and bizarre video today through one of those chain-emails that I filter into a separate folder and avoid.  I think I might be able to set up gmail to sort religious inspirational chainletters, pictures of dogs doing quirky things, pictures of soldiers doing touching things, and ebaumsworld videos each into a separate folder, while email from  my parents that I actually want to read remains in the inbox.

Anyways, he forced me to watch a video [http://youtube.com/watch?v=ypMl2RFTC9Y] about a woman who trained her cat, Tessa, to eat at the dinner table using a fork.

My first impression upon hearing about the video is that anyone with the spare time and dedication to teach a cat to eat using a fork could learn three languages and cure cancer in that time.

Says the owner, "on a scale of one to ten [she] would rate [Tessa's] table manners as probably a seven or an eight."

It's not a good feeling to think that a cat has better table manners than some of my extended family.

Why did she do it?  "It all started when Faye Murrell's kids left home, and she was left with only her husband, Bill, for company during mealtime."

TERRIBLE.  It takes a CAT to make dinner alone with this lady's husband bearable?  This guy must feel like s**t.  Notice the dead silence on his part during the scene where Faye and Bill walk together.

"For several months, Faye worked closely with Tessa, using a technique that she's not sharing with anyone."

"I'd like to say it's a family secret."

I think know Faye's secret.  It's a combination of successive approximations, insane levels of patience (or boredom, or zealous greed - take your pick), velcro, and veritable cruelty to animals. That scene with the "handwashing?"  That's not handwashing, it's punishment for refusing to eat with a fork. I'm going to try that on my children.

Child abuse aside, the video quickly zooms in on a can of sardines in the fridge, as if they hold the key to Tessa's training program. No amount of sardines alone could do that, as delicious as they are - especially in mustard sauce.  Poor Tessa has to go against every instinct she has, just to eat.  Then again, we humans are pretty good at doing the opposite of what comes naturally to us as a race.  Just look at the classic American dream. Natural instincts never compelled anyone to shamelessly exploit pets for money, and no, the desire to succeed by getting rich is not an instinct; it's a weak social construct.  The desires to live and f**k are instincts.  Though, if you'd like to be more bold, and a little bit less cynical, you might find "wearing clothing" a more apt analogy to training your cat to eat with a fork.  Naked feels so good.

At least Tessa eats well: "[Faye] taught her to eat the most expensive food on the market."

Faye also taught the cat to eat noodles with chopsticks, and proudly explains that "[she] thought it would be a good gesture, since [they] were going to Korea."

I'm not sure whether that good gesture, if truly earnest, is something entirely practical and sane; or perhaps if Faye has absolutely forgotten that her cat is inhuman, and that Korean cats probably eat cat food.

The narrator explains it thus: "now, when Tessa has a yen for noodles, she chows down... using chopsticks."  I've replayed this a few times, and I'm not sure if he actually said "yen."  If so, what the hell?  Does "yen" mean something relating to appetite in Korean, or is the narrator referring to the japanese currency?  If the latter is the case, kudos to the producers for writing the script with the first asian sounding word that came to mind.  This is an awesome and clever move, especially with the accompanying sound clip of a gong being sounded.

Tessa also eats ice cream.  I'm unsure of what to say here, except that eating ice cream with my cat could be a terrific bonding experience, and possibly a little bit unhealthy for my cat.

Any ulterior motives that were glaringly obvious before are nearly stated outright when Faye proposes that "Tess's table manners have opened up a whole new future."

And what sort of future awaits this miracle cat, excepting a questionable death linked to a certain jealous and neglected husband, or a liberation attempt by PETA?

Faye elaborates. "Tess has dreams. She would like to meet Tiger Woods, and David Duval. She would like to have a meal with Oprah Winfrey, and she would like to be a movie star."

The clip ends here, but I'm sure the action continues.  This is the part where Bill cancels their subscription to The Golf Channel.  Understandable, considering the insecure state she's probably left him in upon abandonment for sake of a cat.  It's pretty obvious that the aforementioned list of Tessa's aspirations is basically a showcase of Faye's celebrity crushes, fantasy TV appearance, and greed typified, and I hardly feel that needs to be stated, but hell if it's way too hard to wrap my head around this.

There's a parallel here that serves as both a wonderful example of life imitating art, and as a testament to the magnitudes in which Thomas Hardy kicks a*s.  Mr. and Mrs. D'urberville, with aspirations ambitions of wealth and nobility, send Tess D'urberville to claim nobility and work for the shady characters at Tantridge, leading to a downward spiral of terribly unfortunate, if somewhat contrived, events.

Meanwhile, Faye d'Tampa, with ambitions of wealth and... well, just wealth, f***s up her cat.

© 2008 Coltron

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register


This is by far my favorite. This appeals to me on so many levels. Your strife over e-mail. Your guilt over feeling obligated to read parent's mail, but wanting to just delete it all. I love how you can put so much emotional effort into understanding the motivation of the crazy woman who dotes in a obsessively over that poor unfortunate cat. You get that it is so not about the cat, but her empty life and lack of connection to her husband. I love your thought process. Completely entertaining and descriptive in a Stephen King sort of manner.

Posted 13 Years Ago

This is an accurate piece. I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Also, in Soviet Russia, Cat teaches manners to you!

Posted 13 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

I know the description is cut off, but for some reason, I can't edit this piece.

Posted 14 Years Ago

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


3 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on February 5, 2008



Colorado Springs, CO

Still learning. Please give honest criticism; I'm not one to take offense. more..