Monica Zanetti: Zooey The rebound cat

 In Podcast transcripts, Queerstories

Monica Zanetti is an AWGIE nominated screenwriter whose credits include the film ‘Skin Deep’ and the TV shows ‘Sisters’, ‘Tonightly with Tom Ballard’ and channel 10 series ‘My life is Murder’ starring Lucy Lawless. Her most recent project has been writing and directing a High School, LGBT Rom-Com called ‘Ellie & Abbie.’ Monica performed this story in Sydney.

 

*Audience cheers and claps*

In November of 2012 I had my heart broken by an AFL player from Adelaide. We’d hooked up at the failed revival of the music festival ‘Homebake’.

*Audience laughs*

At first, we had some lively text banter. Memes had just come into my life and I was excelling at sharing them.

*Audience laughs*

But quickly I began to feel the familiar pangs of disappointment as I realised our conversation was becoming one-sided. After 24 hours with no reply, I first did what we all do when we get ghosted, checked my vagina with a mirror to make sure it wasn’t in someway terrifying and had scared her off.

*Audience laughs*

To this day it’s hard to say.

*Audience laughs*

I had no queer friends back then, only my first ex and there was no Tinder, only RSVP which cost $10 to send an email and I was an unemployed aspiring writer, so my options for rebounding were pretty slim. Not to mention Adelaide girl had been a rebound to begin with from said Ex, so I was pretty fucked.

*Audience laughs*

I sat on Facebook, resisting the urge to stalk the two women I was in love with when suddenly a photo popped up. It was a picture of a small cat. She had been left behind at a block of flats by her previous owners and desperately needed a home. Now, I may have had limited experience with Queer culture at this stage, but what I had picked up from my favourite closeted lesbian (Sabrina The Teenage Witch.)

*Audience laughs*

We all know.

*Audience laughs*

It was that that cat was gonna save my life. Within an hour I was on my way to pick her up, well before I’d checked with my roommate to make sure it was ok, which it wasn’t, I had to move out.

*Audience laughs*

But she was mine.

 

Our first night together can only be described as a disappointment. What I needed was affection to distract me from my unrequited loves. What I got was a Cat on heat.

*Audience laughs*

Yep, she spent the night rolling on the ground in unbearable sexual agony, while I tried to distract her with string.

*Audience laughs*

Yet as I watched her, in this state, a state that would only end by being impregnated or desexed, I looked at her and I realised, “you win, cat, you’ve got it worse than me”.

*Audience laughs*

The next day I took her to get desexed, it cost the same as sending 20 RSVP emails.

*Audience laughs*

 

I then realised I have always named my pets after women I had a crush on. When I was 9 I got a cockatiel which I named ‘Linda’ after ‘Linda Twist’ from ‘Round the Twist’.

*Audience laughs*

Season 2 exclusively.

*Audience laughs*

I also got a Guinea Pig which I named ‘Juliana’ after a guest character on the Channel 10 smash drama ‘SeaQuest DSV’.

*Audience laughs*

Niche.

*Audience laughs*

When I was 11, we got a dog and I realised this time, I was going to have to be a bit more careful as my friends had nervously started to notice the ‘lack of men’ appearing in posters on my wall. I called the dog ‘Pepper’. Nice, but an alias.

*Audience laughs*

I knew the dog’s real name was Piper. That is another curveball, see ‘Piper’ wasn’t the person I had a crush on. Piper was the name of Gillian Anderson’s daughter.

*Audience laughs*

That’s right, I secretly named my dog after Gillian Anderson by giving her her daughter’s name and changing one letter.

*Audience laughs*

Yeah. Don’t feel bad for me, you should be impressed.

*Audience laughs*

I tried out a few names with my cat. For a few days she was “Little Dorrit” The Cat, which is a Claire Foy reference, look it up.

*Audience laughs*

But finally, I settled on the crush every 2012 lesbian in her early 20’s had, Zooey Deschanel.

*Audience laughs*

And so Zooey ‘the rebound cat’ was named.

 

A couple of years went by before Zooey was given another chance to step up to the plate ‘as heartbreak support animal’. It was my first adult relationship where we said ‘I love you’ after 4 weeks and while we didn’t move in together after 3 months I absolutely would have. And then suddenly it was over in a dumping that I didn’t see coming. I returned home from the break-up which took place at Cooper’s on King St.

*Audience groans*

And that is all I will say because they are definitely in this room and that is queer culture.

*Audience laughs and cheers*

All I wanted after that was to hold my cat and cry. Would she be able to tell I was in pain? She could tell when I needed to go to the toilet, so sure. I burst into the lounge room to find my younger brother but no cat. ‘Where’s Zooey?’ I sobbed.

‘Not here?’ my brother said. Had I forgotten a friend had her because we were having a party the next night. I had and so I cried even harder. My brother, bewildered at the state of me, tried his best. ‘You know what we should watch right now?’ He said. ‘Rake.’

*Audience laughs*

And so he just put it on for me and then left.

*Audience laughs*

 

Then 5 years ago, I went on a second date with a girl who I really liked, she seemed to maybe like me. So for this to go well, all I had to do was take my heart off my sleeve for one evening and try not to reveal that I was the type of person who fell in love with an AFL player from Adelaide after 1 hook-up. I did not succeed, the night ended in me getting so drunk from nerves that I got kicked out of Stonewall.

*Audience laughs*

Where she decided to stay. I’m also not sure how I got home that night but I do know from my call log that I called her 15 times on the way.

*Audience winces audibly*

Just to chat. She did not answer. Because she was at STONEWALL. So, no one was more surprised than me when she messaged me the next day. No one.

*Audience laughs*

We moved in together after dating for a year and a half, no one said I love you until at least the 3-month mark. Yes, it was me.

*Audience laughs*

We created mutual friends, became aunties, lost loved ones, did groceries on a Sunday, took our mums to lunch and built a life over 5 years that was the simple monogamous bliss that I never thought I’d get. Zooey the rebound cat just became Zooey the cat. There were to be no more rebounds. Well, that was the plan.

 

I only learnt the name Internalised Biphobia a year ago. Before that, we didn’t have a name for her pain.  I watched helplessly as throughout our relationship she struggled to feel comfortable both within the community and outside of it. I watched as she saw counsellor after counsellor who didn’t know how to help her as the awareness around internalized biphobia is so limited, I watched as oblivious friends told her stories about women who ‘used to be gay but are now with a man,’ completely erasing her identity in front of her. I watched as my own refuge in our community which I so desperately needed & loved made her feel more isolated. And finally, I watched as her crippling self-hatred was topped only by the shame of realising that the societal pressure of being in a same-sex relationship was too much for her. And she couldn’t do it anymore.

 

I returned home after our breakup and barely made it through the door before collapsing onto the ground. And as I lay there sobbing, I felt a little furry face pushing up against mine. There she was, Zooey the rebound cat reporting for duty at last, not only giving me her love and attention but almost seemingly wailing in solidarity with me. What had actually happened is that I hadn’t fed her the night before so she was really just fucking hungry.

*Audience laughs*

I mean, like, she did have dried food left in her bowl from yesterday, but like, cats aren’t great with nuances like that.

*Audience laughs*

Anyway – as I lay there crying, she lay there ALSO crying, the horror at having to eat yesterday’s dried food just all too much, I looked at her and I thought, ‘you win cat, you’ve got it worse than me.’ And so I got up and I fed her, and just like that, me and Zooey the rebound cat, we started again.

*Audience claps and cheers*

 

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