Cat's Meow: A Novel

Cat's Meow: A Novel

by Melissa de la Cruz, Kim DeMarco

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Overview

Cat McAllister grew up as a Hollywood child star, spent her adolescence modeling in Japan, and now, as she celebrates her twenty-fifth birthday for the fourth time, she lives for velvet ropes, Moët & Chandon, gold-leaf invitations, and other fashionista prizes. But on her way up the social ladder, making her way past the who's who and the what's what, Cat finds herself stuck in that seventh circle of celebrity hell.

What's worse, her funds are running dry.

What's a girl to do?

Marry rich. And so the ruckus begins, taking us from China for a baby adoption, to Paris for the couture shows, to the "it" world of Gotham. And that's just the hors d'oeuvres.

Punctuated with Kim DeMarco's illustrations, Cat's Meow is a spectacularly witty novel about a young woman looking for love, clothes, and what will make her truly happy in life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439143339
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 06/15/2010
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Melissa de la Cruz is the #1 bestselling author of books for readers of all ages, including the Witches of East End, Blue Bloods, and Descendants series.

Read an Excerpt


from Part One: 1. introducing the quixotic cat

My name is Cat McAllister. Tonight I will celebrate my twenty-fifth birthday for the fourth time. Things I like: birthdays. Things I don't like: liars.

I'm the kind of girl who laughs loudly, smokes incessantly, and appears to be hell-bent on destroying herself, but stylishly. Really, I should have tragically overdosed by now. Or else succumbed to some harrowing disease brought on by vodka tonics and Tic Tacs. So the least I can do is refuse to age gracefully -- to defy it every step of the way, just like Melanie Griffith.

I used to be famous -- well, maybe famous is too strong a word. I began my career as the smiling baby on the side of the Pampers box, an auspicious beginning considering Jodie Foster started out as a bare-bottomed Coppertone kid. But unlike Jodie, whose preeminence in Hollywood began through roles in movies like Taxi Driver, Freaky Friday, and Stealing Home (a rare stumble), and who ultimately garnered double-fisted Academy Awards, I auditioned for the role of Gertie in E.T. but ended up the poor man's Punky Brewster. My specialty was variations on orphan roles: on Miami Vice I played a spunky street urchin, on Growing Pains the Seavers' stray before Leonardo diCaprio usurped my role with that bowl haircut and dimple of his, and on Webster, where I became lifelong friends with Emmanuel Lewis. The apex of my career came when I starred in my very own network vehicle. I played the precocious adolescent adopted by Pat Morita and Dyan Cannon, but our little "dramedy" failed after one season. Apparently theworld wasn't ready for Party of One.

As a teenager, I was set to reign as the Gisele of the day -- the ruling model of Paris, London, and Milan -- but instead I became an Asahi beer calendar girl in Tokyo. In fact, I'm the sixth Spice. I tripped on my five-inch platforms on the way to the MTV shoot and missed out on the taping of the "Wannabe" video. I'm stuck in that seventh circle of celebrity hell where I'm just recognizable enough that people think they know who I am but on second thought can't place me for the life of them.

Oh, well.

Maybe the reason I turn twenty-five every year is that I feel like I'm in a holding pattern. Because while I've done almost everything and been almost everywhere and I know almost everybody in New York, I'm nowhere on the New York Observer's yearly sociopopularity index. My one consolation is that I own the appropriate wardrobe should Annie Lebowitz ever come calling -- a closet full of designer labels, ostrich feathers, fox stoles, tulle underwear, silk kimonos, sequin shifts, and cigarette holders. I even own the pink dress Marilyn Monroe wore in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Madonna has a knockoff).

Things you won't find in my closet: shoulder pads, tie-dye, wash-and-wear.

My life just wasn't supposed to be so...stagnant. Everyone who's anyone has certainly moved on from the impromptu-striptease-on-the-dance-floor stage -- now either glowingly pregnant and happily married while launching their own clothing line or making their directorial debuts at Sundance or overseeing billion-dollar cosmetics companies -- the jet set is simply so talented now (days of lolling about in chair sedans decidedly over) -- but the only thing I seem to have accomplished is the ability to shop while blindfolded. How utterly humiliating to realize that I still haven't made a handsome match while saving the world with a cure for cancer, or at least hosting a benefit for the cause.

It's terribly unfair, because I was made for paparazzi stalkers and tabloid headline notoriety. After all, I was born on Park Avenue and baptized just down the street from the holy temple of Bergdorf Goodman. Daddy was an up-by-his-bootstraps kind of guy, a self-made businessman from Queens whose success bought prime beachfront acres in East Hampton. Mummy was a woman of devastating beauty and outlandish charm -- she was a flight attendant. They met over first-class cocktails sometime in 1970. Back then Mummy wore a smart little Yves Saint Laurent uniform made of blue polyester with orange trim, but she soon graduated to Saint Laurent couture. Yet for all her efforts to penetrate the Mortimer's-American Ballet Committee-Rockefeller Foundation crowd, Mummy was always too nouveau even for the nouvelle, who saw her as a vulgar interloper (this was before the eighties, mind). When my father lost a sizable amount of his net worth through a series of bad investments -- million-dollar restaurants that never gained more than one star in a New York Times review, waterfront property for a baseball stadium that never materialized, a controlling interest in Betamax -- she stopped trying to fit into New York society altogether.

I was eight years old when my parents divorced. Daddy found solace in a series of young blondes who didn't seem to mind that he had been downgraded from billionaire to millionaire, while Mummy took up with a succession of men of descending importance in the political and entertainment fields -- from Academy Award-winning directors and Republican congressmen to Latin American playboys and Norwegian parfumiers. Mummy also retains a marginal hold in the public eye by writing an astrology column for the National Enquirer.

* * *

I live for velvet ropes and open bars, aviator sunglasses and seaweed scrubs, Hello Kitty lunchboxes, pony-skin handbags, peacock-feathered shoes, and gold-leaf invitations to VIP events. The kind of exclusive fete frequented by glossy-magazine editors, DJs, models, photographers, stylists, kindersocialites, the several pseudocelebrities "cajoled" into showing up (Gary Coleman, Sylvia Miles, Monica Lewinsky) as well as the legions of assorted fashionable hangers-on -- aggressive party crashers who more often than not spend their days manning the M.A.C. counter at Bloomingdale's -- star-struck kids with a talent for self-invention who have just arrived in the city from Florence...or Fresno.

I'm happy to report I'm booked every night of the week, except on Friday and Saturday nights, of course, when the city is filled with a strange kind of people. Those who hold jobs. Not that my manic partying isn't work. That's why weekends are devoted to maintenance and television. It's the only time I can devote myself to Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Popstars, put on my oxygen mask, and practice my breathing. Sometimes I'll even do all three at once.

So where did I go wrong? In the back of my mind, I always thought that by the time I reached thirty, I'd have something: either a rich and successful husband who kept me in couture or else a fabulous and fulfilling job that garnered me the respect and envy of my peers. But instead of ascending up the New York circles via legacy or meritocracy, I spend my days in Madison Avenue dressing rooms and my nights in the unsavory confines of certain nightclub bathrooms. It's all getting to be so predictable and surprisingly tedious, and loneliness, as Bryan Ferry croons, is a crowded room.

Perhaps I should mention that my erstwhile fiancé, Brockton Moorehouse Winthrop the Third, or "Brick" for short -- recently broke off our on-again-off-again engagement. He dumped me for a Victoria's Secret supermodel. One Pasha Grigulgluck -- otherwise known in the press as the "Tits from Transylvania." Pasha was a high school dropout and runaway from the national figure-skating team. Two months and two silicone injections later, "nineteen"-year-old Pasha was pouting down from a billboard on Times Square and had my ex-boyfriend wrapped around her little finger.

Brick is a polo-playing venture capitalist, an extremely busy and successful man. We dated on and off for years. Oh sure, we rarely saw each other -- he was always racing his hot-air balloon somewhere over Uzbekistan while I was shopping on Carnaby Street, but that was the point. We kept in touch via speakerphone -- Brick would dial me from his Gulfstream V, so his voice always sounded vaguely far off, as if he were some kind of god. But I don't really miss Brick as much as I miss the idea of him.

India says I'm being silly, because how can I be lonely when I have her in my life? India Morgan Beresford-Givens is New York's reigning postoperative transsexual. In other words, a drag queen who's gone the distance. She's also my best friend in the whole world. India swears she's descended from the Astors, as well as being a bastard cousin to the British royal family. Her life has been one of scandal, intrigue, painful hormone treatments, and invitation-only Chanel sample sales. I've known India forever. We've gone from New Wave groupies with asymmetrical haircuts and Duran Duran fixations, to clown-suit-wearing club kids in ski masks, to Gucci-clad fashionistas tripping over nail-heel stilettos. India doesn't understand loneliness, mostly because she never sleeps alone. I, on the other hand, can hardly stand the thought of soiling my five-hundred-thread-count Frette.

"Cat, is something wrong?" India asked, horrified. "You've hardly touched your vodka tonic." We were having our usual late-afternoon liquid lunch at Fred's, the restaurant in the basement of Barneys.

"I know," I mourned. "What's wrong with me? I detest angst. I've done angst. I've been to college."

"What you need," India chided, "is a new man. Look at me, I feel fabulous. Invigorated." India had a new man every other week. "You've got to stop whining about Brick and the supermodel. You need something new -- more specifically, you need someone new."

"But who?" I asked, hiding behind oversize sunglasses that used to belong to Jackie Onassis. India knew as well as I did that I was hopeless when it came to men. My relationship with Brick lasted for so long because we didn't have real conversations. Brick was the King of the Monologue, and expected the Nancy Reagan treatment at all times. I highly suspected I didn't really want a man -- not for all the typical reasons, anyway. I wanted a "handbag" -- something that would look nice on my arm. Sometimes I wished I could just skip the whole relationship thing and proceed straight to the alimony checks. So much easier that way.

"Well, obviously, it's got to be someone worthy. You can't just end up with some regular Joe Schmoe off the street," India said.

"Obviously," I agreed, rolling my eyes at the very thought.

"What about a de Rothschild? A Whitney? A Vanderbilt? A Whitney-Vanderbilt? A Rockefeller?" India threw out last names like clothing labels -- which wasn't too far off, when you thought about it. A Louis Vuitton lifestyle funded by a princely American fortune -- isn't that what a modern Manhattan marriage was all about? Except all the new billionaires were over in Silicon Valley, and God knows I would never move there. I mean, where would I have my hair done?

"Darling, doesn't your mother know anybody nice?"

I gave India a look.

"Oh, that's right, dear. I keep forgetting."

My mother flitted about so much, exchanging men like foreign currency, that the only way to keep track of her movements was by consulting an international collection of dubious celebrity magazines. "There was a small mention in Paris Match about some sort of birthday party for her pet poodle last week," I said. Sometimes I did receive the occasional cablegram inquiring about my health. Mummy on e-mail? She didn't even know how to dial long distance!

But it was useless to complain, as Mummy did what she could. For my fifth birthday, she threw an authentic barnyard bash -- at the Waldorf-Astoria, just like Elsa Maxwell -- complete with real animals -- cows, pigs, goats, and chickens. "But, madam, we cannot have livestock in the ballroom!" the scandalized concierge had protested. But they did, by custom-making felt slippers for the animals' hooves. The hit of the party was Elsie the cow, who milked champagne and vodka from her udders.

"I've got it!" I said, quaffing my cocktail in a gulp, finally understanding what it was I really wanted in a man. "Von und su!"

"The right possessive pronouns," India agreed, impressed.

"A little Thurn und Thaxis."

"De or du."

"Or better yet -- an 'of Something'! Not even a last name -- just a country!" I was inspired.

"With an HRH in front."

"Hmmm..."

"Hmmm..."

"But what about -- egads, HRH Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece?" I asked.

"Err -- it does give one pause." India nodded.

"But I suppose I could live with it," I decided. "I've got it! Stephan of Westonia," I said, remembering a recent conversation with social gadabout Cece Phipps-Langley.

"The Royal Prince of Westonia?" India asked, cocking an eyebrow. "Hmm...could be a good prospect. And not bad-looking either, even with the eye patch."

"Oh, it's all about the eye patch," I said. "By the way, where is Westonia exactly?"

"Somewhere in the Baltic, I think, near the Balkans. Or is it Bavaria?" India mused.

"Cece said he keeps homes in Buenos Aires, Baden-Baden, and Beverly Hills...and that brokers are taking him to look at penthouses on Fifth Avenue and beachfront cottages in Sag Harbor," I said. Cece never gossiped about anyone who wasn't important. "Apparently his title dates back to the Holy Roman Empire and he can trace his ancestry to all the royal houses in Europe, the imperial court of Russia, as well as Oliver Cromwell, Napoleon, Franklin Roosevelt, and, um, Serge Gainsbourg."

"So what does he do now?"

"Mmm...I don't know for sure. Some sort of financial thing with a Wall Street bank, I'm sure. Don't they all? Supposedly he has gazillions. Not one of those all-castle-no-cash kind of things. He's only thirty-five and -- get this -- unmarried," I said in a breathless rush.

"And he's not gay?" India asked keenly.

"No, I don't think so. Cece said he just came out of a secret relationship with Princess Caroline."

"Of Monaco?" India asked, impressed.

I nodded eagerly.

"Well, then, how...serendipitous indeed." We silently contemplated this minor miracle. Rich. Titled. Single. Straight. Parfait!

"And you know what they say. A good man possessing a great fortune should soon be parted from it through marriage," I said to India. "Or something like that."

Was it Socrates who said an unexamined life is not worth living? Possibly. But as the advent of a twenty-four-hour Reality Channel (which broadcasts the minutiae of ordinary people transplanted into extraordinary circumstances, the reward of surviving their ordeal a seat on David Letterman's couch) has proved, it's an undocumented life that's not worth living. If one's every move isn't gossip-column fodder or fan-website worthy, does one even matter in the grand scheme of things? And darlings, I wanted to matter. I wanted to matter very, very desperately. Therefore: Stephan of Westonia. My ticket out of B-list obscurity. Understand, it's not that I really wanted to be married. Prenuptial agreements and clothing allowances just weren't my style. Look at what four marriages did to Patricia Duff. OK. Bad example. But you know what I mean. If I were somehow able to position myself as Stephan's bride, I would ratchet up the ranks faster than you could say Gwyneth Paltrow.

"What do you think?"

"You know what I've always thought," India replied. "You'd be perfect for Bill Gates, if only he were divorced, or JFK Junior, if only he were still alive, or Rupert Everett, if only he weren't gay. But since there's no other option, I approve."

"But how do I meet him?" I asked. It's not like I bumped into exiled royals at Barneys all the time.

"What about a party? Isn't it your birthday soon?" India asked. "I do enjoy celebrating your twenty-fifth every year."

Oh, of course, of course. What better way to attract New York's most dashing bachelor than at a dazzling birthday party feted by a chorus of celebrities? I was getting thrills up and down my back just thinking of it. It was going to happen. Even if I had to bankrupt my trust fund to pay for it. I'd just explain to my accountant that it was an investment in my future.

I would send my mother an invitation to my birthday party, but knowing her, she won't be able to make it and would merely send along a nice card and a check for $20 for "a glass of bubbly."

Who I am: Cat McAllister. One of People's fifty most beautiful people (1982).

What I do: live in the moment.

What this book is about: me, silly!

Text copyright © 2001 by Melissa de la Cruz

from Part One: 2. plus one

There must have been a time, long ago in Manhattan, when birthday parties were something of a private affair -- maybe a corner table at Elaine's with one's family, and if well-wishers like Barbara Walters and Liz Smith happened to stop by, it was only because they were dining there that night. That's not the case anymore. Everyone from Kate Moss to Jennifer Lopez to the Olsen twins has the kind of birthday party that merits national media coverage and the usual trappings of a colossal social undertaking: clipboard-wielding attack girls, VIP rooms, even corporate sponsors.

Thanks to Heidi Gluckman, the one-woman publicity genius who made dining in supertrendy restaurants serving bad food and outrageous attitude a full-contact sport in Manhattan, I was going to host the Mercedes-Benz Cat McAllister Fourth Annual Twenty-Fifth. Heidi had all the qualifications of her profession: she was blond, incomprehensibly accented, and had all the city's top gossip columnists on her "secret" payroll.

Pay Heidi enough money and you, too, could be a star. On a dare, she once transformed a common shop girl into one of the city's most visible socialites. It got to the point where the shop girl began to believe in her own tear sheets -- so much so that she actually stole a bona fide socialite's husband. So if Heidi could turn a hayseed into Holly Golightly, why not a pseudocelebrity into the real thing? This was going to be my comeback of sorts -- the coronation of a new Manhattan diva!

It's terribly important to leverage successfully an appreciation of one's "brand" in society. As I explained to Heidi, I wanted to position myself as the "people's socialite." Less tragic than Jackie Onassis, more accessible than Babe Paley, more substantial than Carolyn Roehm -- able to leap large puddles in a single stiletto bound! After all, the media loved extravagance -- who could forget Malcolm Forbes's million-dollar birthday party on a private island, complete with calvary charge? Or Saul Steinberg's, in Quogue, which included tableaux vivants of his favorite Flemish paintings? If Heidi succeeded -- and she would -- my birthday party would bring immortality -- or at the very least a mention in the party pages of Vanity Fair -- hmmm...maybe Mummy would even see it.

Heidi's plan for my fantabulous fete required a crew of several hundred cater-waiters, a reception tent, and the services of a top society florist whose showroom spent several weeks crafting American Beauty roses out of delicate silk ribbon. The party would be the perfect setting for an introduction to the mysterious, handsome, eye-patch-wearing exiled European prince.

The guest list was limited to five hundred of my closest friends. The party was to be held at the hottest club of the moment. The hottest club of the moment is understood to be a club that hasn't even opened yet -- to the public, at least. It's gotten so bad that Keith McNally's latest venture, which opened when Madonna was still in her Indian charka phase, still has an unlisted reservation number today. I briefly considered a place that was so new it was still a sweatshop! "Garmentos will love it!" the club's publicity director promised. "Set up the bar next to the sewing machines -- so Kathie Lee ironic! And don't worry about the Chinese women -- they'll be gone by ten p.m."

Tempting, but I decided to pass. I thought it best to head for less edgy pastures. In the end, I decided on a fail-safe option, a club owned by a consortium that included the New Jersey Mafia, a Colombian drug lord, and a former celebrity money manager.

But first: an outfit. The right dress is integral to any event -- it sets the tone, it makes a statement -- but what statement did I want to make? A demure Giorgio Armani beaded evening gown? Or a thigh-high dress with matching panties from Donatella Versace? Perhaps I could cajole my personal shopper at Gucci to send me the plunging-neckline silk jersey dress that everyone would be wearing next year. Or perhaps I could wear a little something from Alexander McQueen, it was sure to be insane. Choices, choices! Finally, I settled on an outfit that was flattering as well as politically loaded -- a mini-chador, the latest rage from European runways. Plus it was just the thing to wear with Catherine Deneuve's djellabah.

My standard hours-long preparation involved a meditation tape, a disco nap, and practicing bons mots with my personality coach. When I was finally perfumed, moisturized, sanitized, and depressurized, I slipped into my couture chador. It was difficult to see out of the thing -- much less use a cell phone. But as Debbie Harry says, true beauty involves suffering. On my way out, I called India from the car.

"Are you just about ready? We're here in front of your building. Do you need me to come up?" I asked. India lived two blocks down from me, but we never walked to each other's apartment. That's what Lincoln town cars are for! (Stretch is très gauche!)

"Oh, do come up, darling," she replied. "I'm just about done."

When her maid let me into her apartment, I was shocked. India was still in her bathrobe, her wig in electric curlers -- an affectation she picked up from Andy Warhol, who used to get haircuts for that white mop of his.

"Darling!" I squealed, agonized. "You lied! You're not ready at all!" I started to panic. Very soon, I was expected to blow out some candles in front of a rather large and varied crowd of New York's most unforgiving social butterflies, at a party that was sure to launch me out of TV Guide's "Where Are They Now?" shadows and into the bold-font universe. After all, I'd paid Heidi dearly to secure Dominick Dunne. Since mine still wasn't a name people recognized, Heidi had to wrangle in celebrities the old-fashioned way.

She lied to them.

She told the Miller sisters the Lauder sisters had already RSVP'd, told the Boardmans the Ronsons were definitely going to be there, and once the word got out that both Aerin and Samantha were definites, everyone else fell in line: the de Kwiatkowskis, the Hiltons, Marina Rust, Ahn Duong, Brooke de Ocampo, Eliza Reed, etc., etc., etc. She told Vogue that Harper's Bazaar was going to be there, told Harper's Bazaar that Vogue was sending three of their editors. She told 'N Sync Cosmo Girl was sponsoring the party, told Cosmo Girl that 'N Sync would throw a free concert, and now the band was scheduled to serenade me at midnight! Heidi's staff even dropped hints that Madonna was my new best friend. Thanks to her masterful machinations, the prince's arrival was all but a lock.

"Oh, calm down," India soothed. "It won't be a party without you. Really, don't be ridiculous. We've got a lot of time. Now let me look at you," she commanded.

I twirled around in my gorgeous robes, gauging her reaction by peeking out of the eye slit.

"Gorge!" she enthused.

"Reverse chic!" I pronounced.

"Fashion oppression."

"So low it's high."

"So bad it's good."

"So clean it's...dirty!"

"As Andy Warhol would say -- Wow."

"You think?" I preened.

"Simply beyond," India declared.

"Genius!" I agreed, pulling a Diana Vreeland. Things we like: DV, Diana Vreeland's autobiography, Liza Minnelli in Cabaret, irrelevant references to historical fashion icons. Things we don't like: Prozac Nation, cowboy boots, plus-size models.

"Now, darling," she commanded. "I've got a bottle of gin on my dresser. Why don't you be a sweetie and make us drinks?"

I checked my watch. Hmmm. We did have some time. And I did want a drink to calm down. My stomach was aflutter at the prospect of talking to Puff Daddy. I never had anything to say to him, and "Who's suing you now?" seemed terribly rude. A few preparatory cocktails were certainly in order.

"First, help me out of this thing. It's rather stuffy in here. I don't know how those models manage it," I said, taking off my hood.

India and I first met in Tokyo. I left Hollywood at thirteen when my sitcom was canceled, and by default -- since Daddy didn't seem to mind and Mummy was off in Monte Carlo for the season -- I declared myself an Emancipated Minor just like Drew Barrymore and left for Japan to make my fortune. But I didn't go to record bubble-gum teen pop, like Jennifer Love Hewitt. I went to model.

Back then, India was still allowed in the men's room (and certainly nothing stops her today). Tokyo was a relatively minor market for models in the early eighties. It was where they sent you if you weren't tall enough to work in New York or Paris, but were pretty enough to convince the Japanese to buy car wax and Asahi beer. I lived in the Shinjuku section with several other girls in a "model apartment," bunking with a fifteen-year-old redhead from Puerto Rico and a seventeen-year-old corn-fed blonde from Iowa. Deanna rolled her r's and could drink anyone under the table. Staci was a Miss Iowa State Fair and determined to become a spokesmodel. By the time I arrived the two of them already had their share of yakuza boyfriends and brushes with horny French photographers. I lost my virginity during my first photo shoot, with a nineteen-year-old from Grenoble. Jean-Luc had dark hair and a way with a camera. He retouched the photos of me to make it look as if I were wearing no underwear, then sold them to a skin mag. Welcome to Tokyo.

I spent most of my time shopping and hanging out with touring American rock bands. I'd throw druggy, five-day parties, rent motor scooters, and spend my weekends smoking pot in Bali. With Daddy's monthly allowance checks, I was able to float this lifestyle for several years since I made almost no money from modeling for magazines like Portuguese Vogue and North Korean Cosmopolitan.

India lived next door to us. A narrow youth of nineteen, back then she looked not unlike a Japanese animé character, with a platinum pixie haircut, bad skin, yellow teeth, and an oversize floppy head supported by a scrawny little body. I would have killed for her waistline. She professed to have only her education to thank for her androgynous appearance. India was the product of a British public school, an institution firmly entrenched in nineteenth-century ideals. Gruel, corporal punishment, and substandard heating were de rigueur, resulting in a student body of underfed, malnourished, and anorexic boys. Who needs Leptin? Just send the obese over to jolly old England! After flunking her O levels, she hightailed it to Japan, where she auditioned to become the frontman for a Japanese New Wave tribute band called Barbarella Ballet. They played Depeche Mode covers and Yaz synth-pop. The Japanese kids in her band were beside themselves. Who needed Haircut 100 or Kajagoogoo when you had India in blue eye shadow and a ruffled poet's shirt? She was hired immediately.

India saved my life in Tokyo. It turned out my roommates were routinely signing checks on my already overdrawn account, leaving me with an eviction notice and foreclosed on the motor scooters. I was too embarrassed to ask Daddy for help, although I did try to contact Mummy, but she was living in Iran with the Shah at the time and had her own problems. India was the one who saw me through it all -- lending me enough money to buy an airline ticket back to New York and hiding me in her apartment before the Japanese police could find me and throw me into their...educational system. I was having warm, nostalgic thoughts about that time when India broke my reverie.

"So have you thought of what you're going to say to Stephan?" India asked as I pulled the stays of her corset tighter. Urrrgh. Scarlett O'Hara and Mr. Pearl could boast eighteen-inch waists but India surely did not.

"What about 'hello'?" I asked. How hard could it be? Bat eyelashes. Drop handkerchief. Find oneself at Harry Winston.

"Darling, you're going to have to do better than that. You know, Cat, the art of small talk is sorely underrated," she chided.

"It is?" I panicked. This whole seduce-and-destroy theory was getting too complicated for my liking. With Brick I hadn't needed to do any of that. When we met I was eighteen, winsome, and his girlfriend's best friend -- a true turn-on for the ages.

"What does he like? What turns him on? What doesn't?" India mused. "You're going to have to play geisha a little bit. Remember to laugh at all his jokes and to have subjects of conversation that are light, topical, and will hold his interest," she said, sounding like a headmistress at finishing school.

Oh, dear. I was never good at playing the enraptured coquette and as far as I was concerned, geishas belonged in Japan. Shopping was so much more gratifying than sex, anyway. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like sex. I just can't abide mess. With Brick, I scheduled our intimate moments in between a strict regimen of enemas and meditation. Romance was an icky-smelling Ralph Lauren perfume, and I always had more fun in a Manolo Blahnik boutique than the boudoir, anyway.

"Now, what do we know about Westonia?" India lectured.

"Um, nothing?" I ventured.

"Right," India agreed. "Boot up the computer, darling. You can find everything on the Web these days."

Keeping my fear of carpal tunnel syndrome at bay, I logged onto India's iMac and surfed for any information regarding the kingdom of Westonia. "There's nothing," I griped after several failed attempts. "And we're getting late for the party.

"Oh, wait, here's something. It's his personal home page!" I said, excited. Stephan-of-Westonia.com included hyperlinks to illustrated maps of the country, which looked like it was located somewhere in the Austro-Hungarian hinterlands near Greece, Turkey, Bosnia...and Moldavia? The map was awful fuzzy and hard to read.

"Darling, do you think he might be related to Catherine Oxenberg?" I mused. "Isn't she some sort of Eastern European princess?"

India shrugged.

I continued to click on the links. "Here's something about his family." There was a very small picture of grim-looking people wearing tiaras. "Apparently they were thrown out of the country in the revolution of 1918. The royal family was shepherded into some farmhouse and massacred. Only a son survived -- Wilhelm the Second. And like a lot of deposed royals, he relocated to Argentina. Stephan is his great-grandson and the heir to the throne. Except there isn't a throne anymore. There's a military junta. Oh, this is all so fascinating."

"Anything else?" India asked.

"No." I checked again. Apart from the map of Eastern Europe and the small picture of the doomed royal family there was nothing.

I checked the time again. Oh, no! We were late! I put on my chador and hustled India out of the apartment. As a last-minute confirmation, I rang Heidi just to make sure everything was under way for my grand entrance.

"Is everyone accounted for?" I demanded. "Richard Johnson? Rush and Molloy? Aileen Mehle?"

"Oui," Heidi said crisply.

"Aerin Lauder? Li'l Kim? David Blaine?"

"Ja."

"Stella McCartney? Plum Sykes? George Wayne?"

"Sí."

"And what about," I asked breathlessly, "Stephan?"

"Mmmm..."

"Excuse me, I didn't quite hear you, Heidi."

"Ah..."

"Stephan?"

"Ahhh...haf bad noose, Caf," Heidi groaned. "Stephan ees coming. Mais, ploos on!"

Stephan of Westonia PLUS ONE. A date! The Westonian prince had RSVP'd for my party with a date! A guest! A plus one! It was bad news indeed. It seemed the most eligible bachelor in New York was not so eligible after all.

"Plus one!" I moaned.

"A mere technicality," India tut-tutted. "This is Manhattan, my dear. Every woman worth her Vuitton waiting list has her heart set on that man. The debutantes are sharpening their manicures as we speak. Surely you didn't think this would be easy, did you?"

"You're right; of course you're right."

I was about to follow her out, but passed a hallway mirror on the way. Aiiieeeeee!!! Who was that black shroud? Momentary panic as realization dawned, then turned into a paralyzing flash of fashion self-consciousness! Le shroud c'est moi! I mean, I've always dressed outrageously. When John Galliano ushered in "homeless chic" for Christian Dior I was all for it -- donning a tattered newspaper dress and stringing it with empty Coke bottles. I've had to enter doorways sideways because of my addiction to Philip Treacy's monumental hats. But perhaps Muslim chic was not the smartest choice for the evening? Could it be possible that instead of looking like a fantastic, gorgeous, right-off-the-runway fashion phantasm, I looked like nothing more than a Bedouin goat farmer? Eeeek. This would not do at all!

"I'm going back home to change," I told India. "You go on ahead."

Text copyright © 2001 by Melissa de la Cruz

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Cat's Meow 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading this book, I was getting madder and madder, getting angrier and angrier at this 20-something generation until I finally realized---Duh! This author is not serious! It took me until I got to the part where our main character went to a doctor to try to get her legs amputated as amputee fashion was very hip.
Abigail127 More than 1 year ago
This book took everything in me to finish reading. It jumped around not very well wrote at all. Did not like!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love fashion and celeb gossip, this quirky novel fits the bill. A bit disjointed and totally nonsensical, it's a fun escape from the tedium of reality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I for one liked this book. It was a nice, simple, easy read. A good book for a long car ride :).
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finally got to read Cat's Meow during the holiday break. I thoroughly enjoyed the light humor with lots of irony about high living in Manhattan. The author knows the names to drop and drops them to support her story. The fast flow of details rendered in hip style reminded me of the Park Avenue socialites I only got to read about, watch on TV or see from a distance during the 7 years that I lived midtown. They looked glamorous and attractive to me but I never imagined being with one of them, or even wanting to have any of them. Cat's Meow depicts the emptiness of their lives. For this alone, I rate this book a 5-star.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It`s a book so obsessed with shopping, after reading Cat's meow, you may not just need to expand your closet ....you might have add custom temperature controls!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Do yourself a favor and read this book! Cat's Meow had me in stitches the entire time. Melissa de la Cruz's quick-witted and irreverent humor will delight fashion plates, fashion victims and victims of fashion victims alike. This is required reading for every fashionista, New Yorker, tranny, Chelsea boy, Cosmo girl, Jane girl, paparazzo, celebrity hound, and anyone who thinks that Nicole Kidman's eyebrows stole the show in 'Moulin Rouge.' I can't wait for the next book to come out!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finished it in one night! Cat's Meow made me want to move to New York. I felt completely immersed in ever nuance of the New York fashion culture. Cat's Meow is limitless in its detail and humor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i've been a regular reader of melissa de la cruz's column on hintmag.com and am so excited that cat's meow is going to be published! i'll be one of the first in line when it gets released. go girl!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cat's Meow kept me up until 4AM!! I read it in one night!! I think it's hysterical. Cat's Meow is about a fellow fashion victim in New York, a bankrupt social butterfly who'll do ANYTHING to be trendy. She adopts Chinese orphan, snags a prince, and lives in a renovated campground! Thoroughly delightful and engaging and a goofy, crazy look at a crazy world of temperature controlled closets. If you enjoy the National Enquirer, the E! channel, and Vogue, like I do this is THE book for you!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please read my story at pol all results! I try to come out with new chapters at least every other day!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Glowclan is a small clan that needs more cats and a med cat! It is at abcte res. 3. Also, I have a joke: Q: a man walked into a bar. What did he say? A: ouch!