Beauty Fades – Ugly Lasts Forever

Long before Amelie’s traveling gnome, and long before Phoebe Buffay’s Smelly Cat, there was… an object of rare distinction which kept a handful of Dallasites entertained all throughout the nineties.

Once upon a time I fulfilled the duties of Petit Big Cheese at an animal hospital. I got to be the Cheese which suited my Napoleonic complex to a T, and I got to enforce Big Big Cheese’s unpopular policies which felt singularly against nature. Neither here, nor there. My management philosophy incorporated a good deal of prank components. I believed that keeping the troops silly entertained once in a while fostered camaraderie and generated a better climate in the work place.

Mr. A, a patron of the practice, seemed to all like a man of irreproachable taste. Always dressed impeccably and exuding sophistication, he simply exemplified class. Sadly, his beloved kitty succumbed to cancer despite our best efforts.

A week after the cat’s tragic demise, Mr. A. showed up at the practice bearing a gift for the Big Big Cheese. She unwrapped the beautiful silk paper, opened the box, delicately removed the soft tissue papers and came face to face with this:

Ugly Yellow Plastic Cat

Big Big Cheese paused. Was Mr. A. playing a trick on her or was he actually serious? She opted for erring on the side of caution and thanked him profusely for his beautiful present. He told her that the cat’s green glass eyes reminded him of those of his belated cat. Unthinkable acts originate from unbearable grief.

Ugly Yellow Plastic Cat lived at the hospital for years. We re-gifted it amongst ourselves at each birthday. By the time another celebration came about, we would have completely forgotten about the ugly beast and were always surprised when we opened the box.

Nothing could instantly relax the atmosphere of a stressful day as well as Ugly Yellow Plastic Cat.

A nurse who had a bad day would monitor the boarding webcam and suddenly the yellow cat would appear out of nowhere.

Ugly Yellow Plastic Cat would get x-rayed and the film would be left on the viewing box of an exam room just before a doctor stepped in with a client.

We would find him in the cage of the dog that barked incessantly and the unnerving situation would be instantly diffused.

He would help with difficult feline pre-anesthesia procedures.

Our electrician contractor even caught him once fornicating with Piglet in the wiring closet.

After 9/11, Ugly Yellow Cat morphed into an extremely patriotic creature and began to exhibit disturbing anti-Old Europe sentiments.

I decided to take it home to Belgium for Christmas. I figured it would be interesting to see how many people I could convince to pose with the ugliest yellow plastic cat that ever existed. At the airport, he posed with the shoe shiner.

He also posed with the National Guard which was a bit of a tour de force, don’t you think?

Once in the plane, he had to meet the captain. I don’t think that right after 9/11, Ugly Yellow Plastic Cats were supposed to visit the cockpit, so I’ve somewhat concealed the identity of the aviator in the photograph.

Brussels unfortunately did not do much for Yellow Ugly Plastic Cat. The snow and gloomy gray skies bore on his soul like a ton of bricks.

We emigrated to the Island of Porquerolles in the south of France, and in the sun Ugly Yellow Plastic Cat thrived.

We went to the Vigiles, and he posed one last time with the Mediterranean sea as backdrop, before heading to Nice to catch our plane back to Freedom land.

All good things must come to an end. Back at the hospital, Ugly Yellow Plastic Cat became a bit of a nuisance. Big Big Cheese thought we spent way too much time fooling around with it. The straw that broke the Cheese’s rind happened a day where stress was at its peak, and, out of sheer hysteria, we dangled the poor Ugly Yellow Plastic Cat in front of Big Big Cheese’s surveillance monitor.


The statuette was retired to a drawer. Years later, when I left the practice, I could not help but catnap Ugly Yellow Plastic Cat. I get attached to uglicious objects. Today, he happily resides on my mantel with white glow-in-the-dark gnome. It is a lovely conversation piece.

While my last wishes do not include internment with the plastic monstrosity, Ugly Plastic Yellow Cat remains a prized possession. A symbol of a decade of fun in a tensed work environment. There were many other pranks along the years including a male stripper I hired to pose as a deranged new client of very very conservative Big Big Cheese. I don’t think he would have fitted on my mantel quite as nicely though.

23 responses to “Beauty Fades – Ugly Lasts Forever

  1. Classic 🙂 I love these kind of things. I have a few uglicious objects in my bathroom that somehow fit in quite nicely there.
    I had an ongoing gag with a friend for a few years: on a holiday I sent him a postcard, then on my next holiday I sent him a photo of me posting the original postcard, on my next holiday I sent him a photo of me holding the photo of me sending the postcard. I did this 5 or 6 times before it got kind of boring 🙂

  2. Brilliant! I had a munky much the same although he sadly got swept out to sea via strong gale force in Cardiff, poor little thing I do miss him greatly!

    I think I would’ve paid my last few rands (worth nothing anyway) just to see the look on the conservative Big Big Cheese’s face when the striper arrived! True brilliance and scarily like something I would do!

  3. Apparently someone has too much time on her hands…

    You should come to Cincinnati and take pictures of our city! I’ll even buy ya a fruity drink with an umbrella in it. And then you can take family photos of me and my family with that cat in the background (maybe way out in the distance? Say…Cleveland?).

    Just a thought…

  4. P.S. That shoe shiner picture is freakin’ hysterical! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  5. The surveillance picture cracks me up. I laugh every time I look at it.

    I don’t care if it’s ugly – when it has a story behind (like the dearly departed feline), I can’t help but treat it like a priceless objet d’art.

  6. Oh that was excellent! I did enjoy it. :o)

    (And thanks for sending Jason over to help me with my bee/fly enquiry!)

  7. Ok, first things first, what is that Seinfeld guy doing over your mantle?

    second, Love the color of your living room walls.

    third: this reminds me of that YOUTUBE video that has had a gazillion hits with the guy doing the crazy dance all over the world. He started asking people to join him in the crazy dance and he’d get citizens of the whatever country to join in.

    This reminds me of spud, except better looking.

  8. When a friend of ours had a baby, some deranged aunt brought her this hideous little music box. It’s a child’s shoe with a cherub poking out the top. It sways from side to side when the music plays. (guh! cold shivers!)

    It has been re-gifted to at least 5 other new moms. It now has an accompanying note explaining to the lucky recipient what their duties are (pass it on) and the initials of all the new babies written on the bottom with the birth dates.

    “Hideous” isn’t even close to strong enough to describe this thing.

    -Turkish Prawn

  9. You’ve exceeded your quotient of fearless with this one.
    The cockpit!
    The National Guard Guy?
    The shoeshine man!!??!
    Jeez, woman you are beeeeyond ridiculous and I hope you never run out of ideas.
    This was just too fantastic- you’ve busted the lunatic-o-meter on this one.

    That you’d even sacrifice precious luggage space to take U.Y.C. to Brussels tells me there’s no limits on what you’ll do for a good shot.

    I think Pat’s on to something here- SPUD and U.Y.C. doing a world tour.

  10. Yeah Ross, I saw your uglicious toilet paper in your bathroom. I’m not sure it fits that well! If you still have the negatives of the pictures you sent your friends, I think that would be material for a great post. You used to inject much more personal stuff at your blog beginnings and some of your posts were very touching (i.e. your mom’s recipe box.) I wish that once in a while you broke the current format and delivered another one of these pearls. Pretty please?

    SanityFound, we slipped the stripper a declawed cat in the parking lot before his “appointment.” When the vet asked for the reason of his visit, the stripper-client told her he had brought the cat to the clinic down the road to be neutered, that they had taken his claws out instead, and that he wanted the claws back. At this point, she came out of the room and grabbed a nurse, thinking the guy was nuts. She really freaked out when he took the handcuffs out of his pocket…

    Allan, if I could ever manage to find a cheap way to travel city to city, I would like to do a Who’s Behind the Blog portrait series. If I ever come to Cincinnati, even without the cat, you can still buy me drink, no? I’ll bring you a picture of the cat in Cleveland.

    El Weenie, you do not know the meaning of priceless object d’art until you have witnessed the morning light softly laying a lazy ray on my Cat’s halo. It’s a religious experience.

    Nezza, sending Jason to you was a pleasure. I have never met bigger nerd in this whole wide world.

    Pat, 1) I alternate art on my mantel. Sometimes it is George Costanza’s boudoir session. First, second and third date, Kramer, George, Cat and Gnome emigrate to the garage, and I put something more generally accepted as art (unless the dude is really cool… but, er, I live in Texas…) 2) When I bought the house, it was all white! Looked like a friggin’ hospital. I picked colors that reminded me of south of France. 3) You may want to think of a halo for Spud. It’s very becoming in the morning.

    Mr. Prawn, I love your story, especially the part where all the baby initials are inscribed on the uglicious music box. Of course, If I had had a child and had received it, it would have to be pried off my fingers on my deathbed. There is no way I would have ever relinquished it to someone else.

  11. Bonnie, nothing is too ridiculous in my family! I think it was passed on by my mom who danced crazy in the streets of Disneyland with Mickey Mouse. I think that when my dad started not wanting to go on vacation with us anymore.

  12. That is just pure brilliance, no it goes above and beyond that but I can’t think of the word right now, gawd just going to have to do that one but first its the ATM “I won, I won, I WON” then the stripper perhaps…

  13. This is inspired. Especially the CCTV camera picture and the one with the National Guard… Girl, you’ve sure got an infectious sense of acquired humour and I love it. MORE, MORE!!!

  14. great story.

    we’ve had similar things at work over the years. I remember a cow that found his way into every photo the guys took and then there was the rubber chicken……..

    too bad I didn’t keep any photos of those days

  15. Brilliant write-up! Is that a picture of Cosmo Cramer over your mantle? Awesome!

  16. I love the picture of the national guardsman. The expression on his face is priceless.

    Every time I see a piece of bad design I can’t help but wonder about the approval process that it went through to get produced.

    I can see the pitch in the boardroom now:

    (all in a Chinese accent)

    “It’s so cute!”

    “We’ll make millions of them and we’ll all be rich!”

    “Start production ASAP!”

    That mantelpiece of yours, truly is a shrine to high-tack.

  17. SanityFound, I do not know about South Africa, but here, male strippers are pretty sleazy! The look of horror on the striper’s victim’s face is generally worth it, after that, I’m not prude but I just can’t watch! I just find it disturbing – especially the part when they do headstands!

    Epicurienne, I wish I had documented a whole lot more pranks. Had I known I would blog one day, I would have. I’ll have to write about being on the receiving end of the pranks. That too happened quite a lot!

    Querulous Novelist, Thanks! Yes, it is Mr. Kramer. I’m a die-hard Seinfeld fan. Besides “The Office”, no other series ever made me laugh quite as much.

    Razz, I really have trouble thinking that this feline monstrosity made anyone rich. Well, perhaps with the halo… I’m very proud of my mantelpiece, and rotate ugliciousness quite often – although the white glow-in-the-dark gnome is very effective for nighttime orientation.

  18. I’m not saying that they made a fortune from the thing. I’m saying that some tasteless gits THOUGHT they were going to make lots of money with it.

    It’s very expesive to set up the injection moulding of plastics and one would think that there would’ve been some kind of thought given to how saleable a product would be before they went into production with it.

    One can only hope they went broke.

  19. Ahhahaha. Ugly Yellow Plastic Cat.

    My dad – who I know has never seen Amelie, it’s not his sort of movie at all – did this sort of thing a few years ago.

    One day I got a photograph in the mail of this ceramic George W. Bush lawn gnome (complete with real American flag in it’s hand) posing with a Romulus and Remus statue. It was sent anonymously, but I recognized my Dad’s handwriting. For a year at random intervals I received photos of the Bush gnome posing with different things – tombstones, statues, cereal boxes, people, etc. Then at Christmas, I unwrapped a gift, and there he was.
    Always tacky, always a conversation piece.

  20. Razz, one can only hope they broke the mold.

    Lindy, consider yourself extremely lucky to have such a humorous man for a father! Would you ask him where he got the gnome? I need one just like that for my mantel! Thanks for sharing your very endearing story. I hope you kept all the photographs and if you ever post them on your blog, please let me know. I’d love to see them.
    The link to your site is broken!

  21. They do WHAT???

    [see how innocent I am huh]

  22. hello there!
    the little cat-whatever reminds me of Kumpf’s begger… to find on almost every painting… funny… 🙂

    by the way… you are for sure my credo! amazing pictures…

  23. nahunte, you are so funny! Thank you so much for enrolling me as your credo. Well, more exactly, Ugly Yellow Plastic Cat and I thank you. Now, photos of horses and donkeys, very nice, but could we just go back to the photographs of hot guys? Listen to your credo, will ya?

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