Friday, February 1, 2013

Love Bites

Irena Dubrova’s Key to the Zoo’s Panther Cage (inspired by Jacques Tourneur’s 1942 film, Cat People) – Vintage 1920s art deco glass lithographed picture frame; vintage lion “Master Lock” security key; black and white print of art deco panther illustration by Major Felten; black and white prints of cage bars, distressed tile work, cement with claw marks

God made the cat in order that man might have the pleasure of caressing the lion. Fernand Mery

Man is an animal, as much as he might try and deny it.

Darwinian theory aside, man has the same needs, the same wants, the same desires as all our mammalian brethren—food, warmth, safety, sleep, and sex.

And think of the zoological similes which abound!

Stubborn as a mule.
Blind as a bat.
Busy as a bee.
Sly as a fox.
Poor as a church mouse.
Strong as an ox.
Sick as a dog.
Dead as a dodo.
Happy as a pig in…well, you get the idea.

And as we head into spring, that proverbial mating season, rutting males of the human genus are classified as wolves, young studs, or horny old goats (randy men used to be compared to hares in March, because those wild rabbits went crazy during those thirty-one consecutive days in their attempts to propagate their species—thus the term “Mad as a March Hare” and that’s why the March Hare’s bonkers in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but I digress).

And women—don’t think you’re getting off scott-free—you’re minks and minxes and currently if you’re on the prowl for younger meat, you’re cougars.

This seems an apt way to begin our amatorial tale for this Valentine’s Day.

Meet Irena Dubrova, a Serbian-born stunner—sleek dark hair, almond-shaped eyes, slinky shape, a true catch in any man’s book. But now I’ll let the cat out of the bag…

Irena has—shall we say, a slight problem when it comes to the subject of love. It appears that when Cupid’s little arrows strike her, and her hormones are raging, she has the nasty habit of transforming into a black panther, one that has the capabilities and compunctions to devour her mate.

Oops, fellas, better cancel that dinner date!

Poor Irena. She does her best not to let her heart rule her head—that’s until she meets Oliver, and she falls head over tail for him.

But Irena has a rival for Oliver’s affections; Alice, a beautiful, smart and savvy co-worker of his, and before you can say Fancy Feast, the green-eyed monster of jealousy rears its ugly head and softly-treading, padded paws are following Alice to the YWCA swimming pool—and you know how much cats like water. Picture it: Alice, alone, doggy-paddling in the pool, the lights go out, a low growl is heard, and—what’s that?—a long, skulking shadow flickers across the tiles, here, then there and…

Alice screams.

The shadow darts away, vanishes.

Alice leaps from the water, the lights snap on, and she comes face-to-face with—Irena, who claims she’s looking for Oliver. Alice’s left believing she’s just imagined the whole thing, until she finds her bathrobe mauled and shredded.

Things just go from bad to worse—Oliver proposes; Irena accepts in spite of knowing what awaits. The marriage goes unconsummated—and mercifully, Oliver goes unconsumed—but Irena’s spending far too much time pussyfooting around the zoo’s panther cage than what could be deemed healthy. Her pet kitten hates her and the entire cute and cuddly inventory of a local pet shop freaks out—howling and hissing—the minute she walks through the door, the sweet little old lady of a proprietor intoning wisely, fatefully, portentously that animals always have an instinct about people, and then a creepy, catlike woman in black satin materializes at the happy couple’s wedding reception, asking in Serbian whether or not Irena is moya sestra, “my sister”. Sheep are soon found slaughtered, the bloody paw prints left behind by the predator incrementally changing into the imprints of a woman’s shoes. Anybody see a pattern here, or is it just me? Finally, professional help is called in—a psychoanalyst, Dr. Judd, who’s certain that he can cure Irena of her felinic delusions.

But, as they say, sometimes the cure’s more dangerous than the disease—and Dr. Judd’s soon reduced to mincemeat. Mortally wounded in the attack on her shrink, Irena flees back to the zoo, where she releases the caged panther, and where her body is later discovered by Alice and Oliver…

So, in the end, Irena Dubrova sadly learned the hard way that sometimes…

…love bites.

Happy Valentine’s Day!