Jay Z. Catsby throws the sickest parties on the Jersey Shore. His neighbor Dick has heard all the rumors: Catsby killed a man. He’s richer than Blue Ivy. He’s Hugh Jackman’s butt double in the X-Men movies.
As Dick soon learns, the truth is far stranger. Catsby is a “furry” who spends his days and nights in a cat costume, pining away for Dick’s cousin Dandelion, a manic-pixie Brooklynite with a brutish husband. Will Catsby’s romantic obsession cost him all nine of his lives?
“The funniest take on a bestseller since Harvard Lampoon’s Bored of the Rings.” — CNBC on Shaffer's Fifty Shades of Grey parody, "Fifty Shames of Earl Grey"
|Publisher:||8th Circle Press|
|File size:||428 KB|
About the Author
Andrew Shaffer is the New York Times bestselling author of the essential survival guide, How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters, and the Goodreads Choice semifinalist Fifty Shames of Earl Grey. He has appeared as a guest on FOX News, CBS, and NPR, and has been published in Mental Floss, The Philosophers' Magazine, and Maxim. He has professionally reviewed romance, erotica, and women's fiction for RT Book Reviews magazine. He writes in multiple genres, including humor, science fiction, horror, and literary nonfiction. Shaffer attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for a summer semester and studied comedy writing at Chicago's The Second City. An Iowa native, Shaffer lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, novelist Tiffany Reisz. He is the owner and creative director of Order of St. Nick, the greeting card company whose cards have been featured on The Colbert Report.
Read an Excerpt
In my younger and more innocent years, my father gave me some advice that's served me well: "Never rub another man's rhubarb."
No, wait — that was Jack Nicholson in Batman.
What was it my father told me? Oh, yeah: "Not everyone's had the advantages you've had in life, Dick. Unless you want to become a world-class asshole, you'll need to learn to check your privilege."
He explained that as an upper middle-class white male, I'd won the privilege lottery. We lived in a posh, gated community in the Chicago suburbs, free of crime and poverty. While this probably sounds idyllic to the modern reader, it was, in practice, very boring.
Don't get me wrong: My upbringing certainly had more ups than downs. I just sensed there was a more interesting world out there, one with conflict and drama. Growing up, I wasn't exposed to this other world through TV — my mother watched Friends, my father watched Seinfeld — or through the Internet, which was deemed too treacherous after my parents caught me ordering my own baby food on Amazon. It wasn't until I went to kindergarten that I realized just how much I was missing out on.
The school library's shelves were lined with thousands of novels, each a window into another world. Books were my escape from the prison of privilege. With books, I could be anyone, go anywhere, do anything. The book I remember being the biggest revelation was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Although the school's copy was heavily bowdlerized, it was still quite a powerful tome. In the sanitized edition of Mark Twain's timeless tale, a boy befriends a stray orange tabby named Jim. Together, they boat down the mightyMississippi.
Reader, I literally couldn't even.
We didn't own any pets, but oh how I longed for one! A dog or cat would have introduced a little excitement into our household. Alas, it was not meant to be. My mother hated dogs, because one had bitten her face off as a child. Cats were out of the question as well — my father was allergic to them. Every time he saw one, it would cause him to break out into obscenities and kick wildly at the poor creature. I once suggested he see a doctor for an antihistamine, and he started kicking at me. I guess he was allergic to children too.
But back to books. My love affair with the written word continued long past Huck Finn. In high school, I read all the classics: Catcher In the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Hunger Games Book Two: Catching Fire. When it came time for college, there was only one school on my short list: the University of Iowa, home to the venerable Writer's Workshop. I didn't want to write at the time, but in my mind the campus was a mecca for book lovers. My parents were understandably wary about sending their only son to a public university. At least I only wanted to read books, not write them! After I purposefully bombed my SATs — thus ensuring no Ivy League school would touch me with a hazing paddle — they relented.
During my first week on campus, I learned firsthand why Iowa had such a stellar reputation amongst writers: It was also one of the heaviest drinking schools in the country. It should come as no shock to the reader that I fell madly, wildly in love with alcohol. My four years passed by in a blur. The only thing I remember reading was the labels on my beer bottles.
When I moved back home, my parents asked if I had any plans for the rest of my life.
I did not.
They made it clear that a lot had changed in four years. It's like that old saying: You can't go home again, because your parents have become swingers and they've been using your bedroom for their bi-weekly key parties.
After some Googling, I discovered the only thing my English degree qualified me to do was work in publishing. My parents agreed to finance my East Coast excursion for a year, which I figured would be enough time for me to secure a real job as whatever it is people in publishing do. Based on my willingness to work without pay, one of the big New York publishers — Fandom House — hired me as an intern.
When the big day finally came, I hugged my father at the door. He handed me a rectangular white device about the size of a phone. The screen took up only a third of itsface.
"It's a first-generation iPod," my father said. "They don't even make these anymore."
"For good reason," I mumbled. "What am I supposed to do with it?"
"It's for listening to music. I loaded it up with all of my favorite songs — there's a little Alicia Keys, some Train ... When you have a kid someday, you add yours and pass it on. It'll be like a family heirloom."
I muttered a barely audible thanks. Perhaps I could find an antique store in the city and pawn it.
My mother embraced me next, crushing me with a powerful bear hug. "I'll ... miss you ... too," I choked out, coughing for oxygen. An x-ray would later reveal she'd cracked three of my ribs. Despite the pain, I would miss her. Who was going to cut the crust off my PB&J sandwiches?
Once I arrived in New York, however, I was too busy to miss the comforts of home. There were plenty of other things to occupy my time ... other things like drinking. I wasn't alone in my love of alcohol. All of us drank too much. That was the tune of the times. These were the years just following the Great Recession, when the economy had begun to rebound. Just when you thought the stock market had hit a record high, along came another record day to blow it out of the water. The parties were bigger, the liquor cheaper, and the twerking looser.
The tempo of the city quickly wore me down. When I returned to the Midwest less than a year later, I was disgusted. Disgusted with myself, disgusted with everyone. There was only one person exempt from my disgust.
Or rather, one feline.
Jay Z. Catsby.CHAPTER 2
The history of my first and only summer in the city really begins the night I had dinner with my cousin and her husband Tucker Boobcannon.
Tucker and I were in a psychology course together our freshman year of college. I remember him leaning over my shoulder one day. We'd never talked before, but I knew he was a bit of a jock. I thought he was going to kiss me. It seemed like the sort of thing a macho man would do, at least in my mind. Instead of giving me a peck on my cheek, he started copying the answers off my exam. We were both busted for cheating and put on academic probation for a semester. He bought me a beer for causing me trouble, and — for reasons I still can't fathom — we became fast friends. I don't think he had many friends, to be honest, on account of him being something of a prick.
Miley was my first cousin. She was born and raised in Louisville, so I didn't see her that often until we both ended up at Iowa. I introduced her to Tucker one night, and before I knew it they were hooking up. Right there in front of me. It was an uncomfortable night.
After college, they moved to Park Slope. If you had money and children — both of which they had in terrifying abundance — it was undoubtedly the part of Brooklyn to be in. As I emerged from the subway, I marveled at how different the neighborhood looked from my own. I was renting a small beach house on the Jersey Shore. Even though they were only an hour's train ride apart, Brooklyn was light years ahead of New Jersey in terms of fashion and dining. In New Jersey, people were eating quinoa. In Brooklyn, people were wearing it.
I followed Apple Maps to the Boobcannons' address. Two hours on foot later, I found myself in Queens. I cursed the ghost of Steve Jobs. I settled into the backseat of a taxi in a pool of sweat. As we traveled back to Brooklyn, the little TV screen in the cab assaulted my senses with an endless loop of Jimmy Kimmel clips. Finally, just as I'd reached the point that I wanted to Kimmel myself, the car pulled to a stop.
I stepped out onto a beautiful tree-lined street. Row after row of charming, two-story townhouses extended in either direction as far as the eye could see. I rang the Boobcannons' doorbell. As I waited for an answer, my eyes drifted to their neighbor's house to the right. In the second story window, a curtain was drawn to one side. A furry figure clad in a maroon-and-black Star Trek uniform stared down at me. I raised my right hand and parted my fingers. The odd creature snapped the curtain closed without returning my Vulcan salute.
The door in front of me swung open. Tucker swallowed me in his arms with a giant bearhug. "Dick! How long has it been, old bro?"
"We graduated two months ago."
He set me down and gave me a wary look. "Too long, my bro. Too long!"
I followed him inside. "You have some interesting neighbors. The Star Trek fan nextdoor...."
Tucker rolled his eyes. "Catrick Stewart?"
"Wait. That was Sir Catrick Stewart?"
"Is there another? Not only does he dress up all the time in that stupid cat costume, but he also wears that ugly leotard over it. We get dozens of nerds every day walking by, gawking at him and hoping to catch a glimpse of his royal highness. The sidewalk's just lousy with nerds at times."
"Listen, Dick. I know you were always into books, but you were never a nerd. One of these days I'm going to go berserk and use my fists to beam one of these Trekkies straight to heaven."
"Are you complaining about nerds again, honey?" a woman called from the next room.
"Your cousin is here," Tucker shouted. Then, to me, "Miley's been dying to see you. Want a beer?"
I hesitated. I was twenty-one days sober — not by choice, but by necessity. Since arriving out East, I'd done nothing but work, commute, and sleep. The few hours of free time I could find were usually spent reviewing manuscripts at home for my bosses at Fandom House. It was my first real job; if things didn't let up soon, I would throw in the towel and make it my last. I was lucky to find a few hours to sneak away to visit the Boobcannons. Did I want a beer? Absolutely. My big worry was that I'd fall back into the same pattern from college: one beer would turn into two, and two would turn into three hundred.
"I think I'm good," I said, declining Tucker's offer with a wave of my hand.
He recoiled in horror. "Dear lord. Who are you and what have you done with DickNarroway?"
I sighed. "You know what? I'll take one. Just one."
"That's my boy," Tucker said, grinning. He ushered me into the living room, where he left me while he went to grab our beers. I glanced around the room; Miley was nowhere to befound.
A hand shot up over the couch, which faced away from me. "Is that my dear cousin, Dick Narroway? You're late, darling. So late."
"I'm still trying to find my way around the city," I said, peeking over the couch to find her stretched out. Miley wasn't alone. A tall, shapely brunette rolled off her and onto the floor.
"Whoopsie," the girl said, getting back to her feet.
Miley introduced us. "Dick, this is my bae, Cordon Bleu."
I shook Cordon's hand. Although this was our first meeting, I knew who she was — everyone did, in those days. Cordon Bleu was the reigning women's champion of competitive hot-dog eating. Not only had she won the women's title at the annual Statham's Hot Dog Eating Contest four years in a row, but last year she'd beaten the men's champ by downing more wieners than a cam girl trying to pay off her student loans.
"Nice to meet you, Ms. Bleu," I said.
Miley leapt off the couch and onto my back. My legs buckled out from under me, and she hit the floor with a thud.
I helped her to her feet. "How much have you two had to drink, Miley?"
She held her finger and thumb an inch apart and giggled.
"You never drank in college. What happened?"
"Kids, Dick. I have eight kids now. No — nine. I don't even know all their names. It's awful, so awful."
"You look great for giving birth to nine children," I said. For once, I wasn't lying to a woman. Miley still had the same thin waist she'd had just a few months ago. She had some bass (no treble), but didn't look like she'd given birth anytime recently.
"My nipples look like dog park chew toys. It's horrible."
"You're still breastfeeding? Should you be drinking?"
"She didn't give birth to the kids," Cordon said dismissively. "Her surrogates did."
"They were my eggs!"
"You're not even raising them," Tucker said, entering the room and handing me a glass boot filled with beer. "The nanny's doing all the work."
Miley shot her husband a nasty look, and he stuck his tongue out at her.
"Young love," Cordon said, flashing me a devilish smile.
I nodded, and sipped my beer. It was like drinking the piss of angels. Delicious. "You live around here?" I asked Cordon.
"Just in town for the summer. I'm a Chicago girl."
"So's Dick," Tucker said. "Except he has a penis. Not that that means anything these days."
"Chicago? That's fab," Cordon said.
"I assume you're competing in the hot dog contest next month?" I asked.
"I see my reputation proceeds me."
"Precedes," I corrected.
Cordon glared at me. I wasn't sure if she wanted to slap me or rip my cardigan off. I raised my eyebrows with a smirk, indicating I was game for either scenario.
"You said you're new to the city?" she asked. "Do you live in Brooklyn?"
I shook my head. "I work at a publishing house in Manhattan, but commute from the Jersey Shore. I heard that's where the best parties are."
"Is it true?"
I shrugged. "Haven't been to any yet. Work is killing me."
"I hear Catsby throws the sickest parties."
Miley broke away from her silent little battle with Tucker. "Catsby? What Catsby?"
Cordon spun around. "Why, Jay Z. Catsby. Is there any other?"
The color drained from Miley's face. Her husband felt her forehead with the back of his hand. "You feeling okay, sweetcakes?"
"Fine," she mumbled.
Cordon sighed. "Are we ever going to eat? I'm so hungry I could eat a horse."
"Do you want horse?" Tucker asked.
"Wait," I said. "They serve horse in Park Slope?"
Tucker crossed his arms. "I can get us a horse."
Cordon thought it over for a moment and then shook her head. "I can get that anytime back in Chicago. I want something fun. Something interesting."
"Cronuts!" Miley yelled, falling back onto the couch.
"No cronuts," Tucker said.
"Dossaints?" Miley asked.
"Now you're just making things up." Tucker pulled his phone out and began scrolling through his contacts.
Miley sat up. "Who are you calling?"
"The loony bin. I'm having you committed." Tucker turned to me. "Do you like chopped salad, Dick?"
"I like salad."
"I'm talking about chopped salad."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean they take a salad — all the ingredients like lettuce, and eggs, and tomato, and ham, and salad dressing — and they chop it all up for you."
I shook my head.
Miley looked at me incredulously. "You've never had?"
"I guess I've never had."
"But it's so marvelous, Dick! You know how sometimes you're eating a salad and you don't get every single ingredient in every single bite? Like, sometimes you get all lettuce and dressing, but no egg. Or no ham. It's just horrible. So horrible."
Tucker's eyes lit up. "Chopping the salad solves that problem. They take big knives and dice it into tiny pieces." He swung his hands through the air as if he was carving an enormous salad.
Miley nodded enthusiastically. "And in each bite, you get just the right amount of every ingredient."
I couldn't tell if they were putting me on or not. Cordon seemed bemused by the discussion. "So it's like someone else is chewing your food for you?" I asked.
Miley and Tucker glared at me as if I'd just called Taylor Swift a talentless hack.
"We're getting chopped salad for dinner, and then you'll see," Tucker said, putting the phone to his ear. "Yes, I'd like to place an order."
I turned to Cordon. "What about you? Have you ever had chopped salad?"
She shook her head. "I'm more of a tossed salad girl."
I narrowed my eyes. "Was that a ..." "Euphemism? You bet it was," she said with a wink.
What a filthy, disgusting woman.
I was in love.CHAPTER 3
We ate our chopped salad in silence until Tucker's phone buzzed in his pocket. He glanced at it under the table and excused himself.
A solitary tear rolled down Miley's cheek. "I'm getting another wine cooler," she said, excusing herself from the table.
Once she was gone, I turned to Cordon. "What do you suppose that was all about?"
"You don't know?" Cordon said, lowering her voice. "Dick's got a side chick in Williamsburg."
In the next room, I could see Tucker speaking into his phone in hushed tones, a broad smile on his face. "You think he's talking to her right now?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Catsby"
Copyright © 2016 Andrew Shaffer.
Excerpted by permission of 8th Circle Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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