ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the September 6, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] stardreamer and [personal profile] chanter_greenie. It also fills the "weakness" square in my 8-1-16 card for the Survival Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Warning: This poem contains some touchy topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. Napoleon is trying to mindroll people again, ineffectively. He is allergic to soy and whining about food he can't have. Lily's mother Narcissa is a cunt, who does not respect people's dietary parameters or other boundaries of personal integrity. But it's still a pretty cute poem. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"Rather Delicate Creatures"


I met up with Lily at
the Honey Bistro Park
after taking Napoleon
to the veterinarian.

"So what's the verdict?"
she asked, looking down at
the gangly brown tabby sulking
at the end of his leash.

"We're halfway through
the elimination diet, and
the scratching has faded, so
we are pretty sure that he is
allergic to soy or something else
in his favorite food," I explained.

I want the fish, Napoleon whined.
GIVE ME THE FISH!

"The fish-flavored cat food
probably makes you itch,"
I tell him for the zillionth time.
"After we finish the food trial,
we can test with pure fish.
Do you want to start with
the salmon or the tuna?"

I want Kitty Wish!
Napoleon said, and
sharpened his claws
on my blue jeans.

When I declined to respond
and instead went back
to drinking my coffee,
he turned his attention
on Lily instead.

Lily put her cocoa on
her knee and said, "If you
touch my nylons, I will soak you."

Napoleon flattened his ears
and growled at her.

"Five point five," she said blandly.
"Your intimidation skills need work."

Napoleon swished his tail and
slunk toward the next table,
intent on the children with
their basket of fish sticks.

"Don't even try it," I told him,
then added for the parents' benefit,
"He's on a special diet, no treats."

Napoleon wailed his protests
at the top of his lungs.

"Cool," said the little boy.
"It's like he understands you."

If only they knew.

"He understands that he's not
getting any fish," I said.

Finally Napoleon flopped down
in a sunbeam and fell asleep.

"Well, at least he doesn't have
trouble sleeping," Lily said.

"Cats are rather delicate creatures,
but I've never known one to suffer
from insomnia," I said with a laugh.

Lily's mother Narcissa dropped by
with several cups of ice cream --
baklava for herself, chocolate for Lily,
and even French vanilla for me.

She was trying to make nice,
now that it was clear I'm not
going away, even though
she wasn't very good at it.

"Thank you," I said, and
dug into mine. It was good.

Lily took one bite of hers
and spit it out. "This is coffee,"
she sputtered. "You know
how much I hate coffee!"

"It's mocha," Narcissa said.

"Which is chocolate with
coffee in it," Lily gritted.

"Oh, don't be silly," Narcissa said.
"I thought if I didn't tell you what
was in it, you wouldn't know you
weren't supposed to like it."

Lily grabbed handful of napkins
and tried to wipe off her tongue.

"Here, trade me," I suggested,
offering her my French vanilla.

"You don't even like chocolate,"
she said, glaring at me.

"It's okay," I said with a shrug.
"I don't like wasting food."

I'll eat it, Napoleon said eagerly.
I like ice cream. GIVE ME
THE ICE CREAM NOW
.

"No, it would spoil your food trial
and we'd have to start over,"
I said, moving it out of reach.
"Everyone would hate that."

Napoleon's mental screech
made people wince throughout
the patio dotted with tables.

Narcissa pinned him to the pavement
with one high-heeled shoe and said,
"Go back to sleep." The kitten went limp.

Blessed, blessed silence.

I knew that I should probably
scold Narcissa for excessive force,
but the snoring kitten was such
an improvement over days of
constant caterwauling that I
didn't have the heart for it.

Narcissa raised an eyebrow.
"Usually this is where you
start yelling at me," she said.

"Compromise can be
a beautiful thing," I said.

Lily watched her mother
walk away, and then said,
"You know that she's going
to walk all over you after this."

I shrugged. "She can try."

Lily licked a dollop of French vanilla
from the spoon with her tongue, then
grimaced. Coffee flavor always
took a while to fade for her.

Supervillains, too, could be
rather delicate creatures and
fragile in some surprising ways.

Lily wasn't really a supervillain,
even though her mother wanted
her to be one, but she came from
the same background and thus
shared a lot of the same traits.

I got up and bought a packet
of spiced mixed nuts from
Horace's Health Nuts.

"Here," I said. "These should
cut the taste of the coffee, and
they go well with French vanilla."

Lily gave me a shy smile
through the dark curtains
of her hair. "Thanks."

Delicate, fragile, and
frequently infuriating --
but some of them were
worth pursuing anyhow.

* * *

Notes:

Napoleon -- He is a male kitten with brown classic tabby fur and hazel eyes. He is the son of Macavity, younger brother of Cayenne and older brother of Mrrhow the Mercurial. Currently they live with Riposte.
Origin: He was born with his superpowers.
Uniform: None. He goes nude.
Qualities: Good (+2) Kitten, Good (+2) Persuasive
Poor (-2) Holds Grudges
Powers: Average (0) Telempathy
Weakness: Allergy to soy.
Motivation: To manipulate people.

Riposte (Jacob "Coby" Wade) -- Coby has fair skin, light brown hair, and blue eyes. He is average height with considerable muscle. He grew up in a family of superheroes but never developed powers himself. His grandmother Snapdragon used to be a supervillain, until she fell in love with a hero and quit the supervillain life. His mother is a strongwoman and his father is a telepath; his oldest brother has super-strength, middle brother has super-speed, and his older sister has telepathy. Coby's fashion sense is such that he can put together the wildest outfit and still look good in it instead of ridiculous. He wore a glass-green smoking jacket to his senior prom and had girls hanging all over him. His specialty is fighting supervillains with telepathic, empathic, or other abilities that allow them to manipulate people. He is still touchy about lacking real powers, though.
Origin: Coby is the youngest of four children in a super family, and the only one without powers. So he pushed his ordinary abilities until he could compete on a super scale, finding ways to accomplish the same things.
Uniform: Colorful and expressive, the details change but the flair remains similar. Riposte likes poet shirts, fancy coats, and hats. The most common color is yellow-green contrasted with blue-violet and red-violet. He wears a tricolor half-mask.
Qualities: Master (+6) Armor of Iron Will, Expert (+4) More Than One Way to Skin a Cat, Expert (+4) Soup Culture, Expert (+4) Family Connections, Expert (+4) Strong, Expert (+4) Tough, Good (+2) College Student, Good (+2) Deduction, Good (+2) Speed-reading, Good (+2) Unusual Fashion Sense, Good (+2) Wrestler
Poor (-2) I Can TOO Keep Up With You!
Powers: None.
Motivation: To be effective as a supernary hero.

Ligeia (Lily Acquarone) -- Lily has long straight black hair, black eyes, and olive skin. She lives across the alley from Riposte (Jacob "Coby" Wade). Her mother Narcissa used to work for Coby's grandmother Snapdragon as a kid sidekick, until said grandmother fell in love with a hero and quit the supervillain life. Narcissa wants Lily to be a supervillain. Lily wants to be a singer or an actress in musicals. The family has a lot of emotional violence. In swim class, Lily once lost control of her powers and drowned Coby by accident, but he doesn't blame her. She hates coffee, or anything coffee-flavored.
Origin: Her powers grew in during puberty.
Uniform: Fashionable women's clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Beautiful, Good (+2) Independent, Good (+2) Musical Intelligence, Good (+2) Performer
Poor (-2) Dysfunctional Family Dynamics
Powers: Expert (+4) Siren Song (Signature Stunts: Break Glass, Truth Serum), Average (0) Flight, Average (0) Water Powers
Motivation: To discover her true self.

Narcissa (Nata Acquarone) -- She has olive skin, dark brown eyes, and straight brunette hair cut to jaw level. She used to work for Coby's grandmother Snapdragon as a kid sidekick, until said grandmother fell in love with a hero and quit the supervillain life. Narcissa has a daughter, Lily, and wants Lily to be a supervillain. They live across the alley from Riposte (Jacob "Coby" Wade).
Origin: She got caught in the crossfire during a cape fight and developed superpowers.
Uniform: Sparkly yellow dexflan bodysuit with bell sleeves and a neck ruffle, matching domino mask and sandals of yellow krevel.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Jewelry Appraiser, Good (+2) Loyal, Good (+2) Swimmer, Good (+2) Thief
Poor (-2) Dysfunctional Family Dynamics
Powers: Average (0) Sleep Induction
Motivation: To help her family get ahead, whatever it takes.

* * *

"Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to a good many ailments, but I never heard of one who suffered from insomnia."
-- Joseph Wood Krutch

See Honey Bistro Park with tables and chairs.

Cats can have allergies or intolerances to food; itching is the lead symptom of allergies. By far the most common are plant additives in cat food that they wouldn't eat in the wild, such as soy.

Dysfunctional families fail to perform the practical purposes that loving households serve. They maintain this pattern persistently, often led by a dysfunctional adult such as a narcissist, which leaves an imprint on adult children. There are ways to deal with dysfunctional relatives and break away from toxic patterns.

There are many diets people may follow out of necessity or preference. One reason behind preferences is that some people are supertasters, which has a genetic basis. Bitter foods such as coffee are among the most frequently rejected; to some folks, the bitterness overwhelms anything it might be mixed with, even very sweet things such as ice cream. Feeding people something you know they can't or won't eat is supervillain-caliber chicanery. Nice people have manners.

Enjoy a recipe for Baklava Ice Cream.

Horace's Health Nuts is a snack stand that sells paper cones of nuts which may be plain, salted, candied, or spiced. They're famous for having a great selection: peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, chestnuts, and sunflower seeds are usually available along with mixed nuts and granola bars. They most often set up at parks, zoos, fairs, or other outdoor locations but they have a few mall stands too. Here is a recipe for Spiced Mixed Nuts.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-11 06:35 pm (UTC)
sweet_sparrow: Picture of two cats lying back-to-back with two black spots connecting to make a heart. (E: Heart)
From: [personal profile] sweet_sparrow
<3

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-11 09:10 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
As I said in my prompt, the particular "rationale" offered by Narcissa is potentially lethal and makes my blood boil. Someone who pulled that trick in my presence would never be welcome in my home or any other space over which I had any say, and furthermore I would make sure everyone else in our social circle knew that this person was willing to kill someone with a food allergy because THEY didn't believe in such a thing. There have been a couple of documented instances of restaurant chefs pulling that stunt in the kitchens*, which is even worse.

* One involved a chef who would deliberately lie to customers about having gluten-free pasta and serve them regular pasta instead. I believe the other one was about serving food made with chicken broth and labeling it "vegetarian". That one... I used to know someone who was lethally allergic to any kind of poultry, as in "Epi-pen and hospital NOW". I'm just glad neither of those idiots actually killed anyone. But they could have.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-12 05:38 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
I greatly enjoyed the poem. And as per usual, I found that many of the links were informative and useful, although some of them made for tough reading.

Below I discuss one at length.

The article on dinner party manners is written from a perspective I almost WISH I found incomprehensible, though. No criticism of you intended - I know you try to pick the best of a very mixed bag in terms of links. The article is ... ableist, but in a way that is trying to be helpful so hard it's extra-toxic, because it's still centered in the perception that there is a mainstream that is "just normal" and everything else can be measured in terms of how far it departs from that. But actually food and its preparation and consumption is one of the most intensely culturally, environmentally, and individually inflected activities humans have. The author feels sorry for vegetarians given brussels sprouts cooked with bacon, but she doesn't even mention *religious* requirements for food preparation, food vessels, etc.

Honestly? It may seem weird, but I would rather talk to my guests-to-be at length and serve *specific requests* than expect someone to choke down something they hate for the sake of being polite. In fact if I erred, I would rather my guests told me they hate it, because then I can find them something they consider edible and we can all actually enjoy eating together!

The advice that someone who rejects several common bland foods is being rude makes my blood boil, as someone with autism and sensory issues. There *are* whole categories of things that cannot be comfortably eaten by some people, and it's not that they are being rude. It's that certain *textures* or flavor profiles, for them, are the equivalent of being asked to down a bottle of Tabasco sauce or chew on a ball of rubber bands.

The failure to consider that there are mental/emotional intolerances that MATTER and physical intolerances that are something other than allergies is very problematic. The *only* thing that can be said for such an attitude is that this type of omission is less likely to be FATAL than ignoring the reality of life-threatening allergic reactions.

I guess what it comes down to is that I'd rather start from the bottom up and plan a shared experience that will be good by asking fairly open-ended questions, than begin from the top down with an idea of how things are supposed to work and have to clear away endless debris from hammering down inapplicable mainstream assumptions. One ends up doing some of both, of course, but I much prefer the former.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-09-13 02:09 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
It is a challenging topic, for sure.

One good idea I've seen happen is recurring twoweekly pot lucks and porch jams with a host family who provided some good basic vegetarian items, knew their guests well, and helped wrangle everyone posting a full ingredients list on their dish. Specialized application, obviously, for a tightly knit and well-clued social group, but people with thirty years of setting up multiple band practices had that level of skill at herding assorted humanoids and handling felinish hissyfits. It means that the lowest commmon denominator in terms of accuracy of labeling has to be taken as the standard, so folks who had very particular needs mostly ate stuff they brought themselves ... but the overall atmosphere was very convivial and the many folks in the medium range of necessarily or optionally picky had lots of choices.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-10-01 05:03 am (UTC)
thnidu: X RATED Food Porn. The X is a crossed fork & knife (food porn)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
• And when you've got a society with skyrocketing food allergies
> This is alarming! Reasons, anyone? I can guess a bunch, but guessing isn't science.

• However,
  [1] I am not human, and
  [2] have found my preferences tend to be in the minority.
[3] One of the things that marks me as not-human is that, like many predators, I find cute fuzzy animals appetizing.
> Hmm. I've met a wide enough range of my fellow humans, with a huge range of forms of #2, to doubt that #2 implies #1. And that range is wide enough to include #3. We here in America (and I'm sure this "we" is a proper subset of all Americans) have a cultural association of small and fuzzy with cute and therefore not to be harmed, including by killing and eating them; but I seriously doubt that this association of characteristics is universal across Homo sap. cultures, let alone individuals. However, you presumably have further reason to say #1.
Edited Date: 2016-10-01 05:12 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-13 02:10 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Also...KITTY!


>> Do you want to start with
the salmon or the tuna?"

I want Kitty Wish!
Napoleon said, and
sharpened his claws
on my blue jeans. <<

LOL.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2016-09-13 04:30 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Yes.

I should never ever EVER be trusted with a kitten on a diet. I'd say my willpower would crumble, except there wouldn't be enough of it standing to start with to begin crumbling. Trusted to play with a kitten while someone ELSE enforces reasonable meals, sure. Oddly, this weakness is species-specific - I am moved by pathetic, cute, hungry canines, humans, and other mammals, but not bowled over.

Bet once he gets a taste of good-quality real fish he'll change his tune - taste and health together, at least from any decent T-American supplier (only some of the very high end items and scattered exceptions here, alas). ANOTHER FISH. FISH NOW. FIIIISH. Heheheh.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2016-09-14 01:20 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
On the topic of appetizing cute animals ... someone's chickens had gotten out of their yard today and I almost hit one who was nonchalantly crossing the road. (To get to the other side, presumably). When I braked my I swear my first thought was: "Buddy, you can't become roadkill because I WANT TO EAT YOU." This is in an suburban neighborhood surrounded by miles of suburban, industrial, and urban areas, mind you. I parked and got out and knocked on the door of the house with a coop in the yard and the nice lady came and retrieved her fowl-weather friends. But dammit, they'd have looked good fried.

I swear I'm a vegetarian. I'm just HUNGRY.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-12 12:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] book-worm5.livejournal.com
Hee. Napoleon is a handful, but Coby seems to be doing well - and Narcissa might actually be a help if they can come to a useful detente.

Yes...

Date: 2016-09-12 12:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>>Hee. Napoleon is a handful, but Coby seems to be doing well<<

Very true.

>> and Narcissa might actually be a help if they can come to a useful detente.<<

Maybe, but she's a real pain in the ass. She doesn't want to let go of the supervillain thing, even though Lily isn't interested.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-12 12:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janetmiles.livejournal.com
I'm not sure which is the greater hassle, but Coby seems to be managing both remarkably well.

Well...

Date: 2016-09-12 12:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
It depends on the context, I think. Napoleon is a very junior supervillain indeed, but underfoot all the time. Narcissa has plenty of experience, less contact, and a connection to Lily. So they're aggravating in different ways. I think poor Coby is doing about as well as anyone could.

Grrr!

Date: 2017-05-15 02:27 am (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
>>Lily took one bite of hers
and spit it out. "This is coffee,"
she sputtered. "You know
how much I hate coffee!"

"It's mocha," Narcissa said.

"Which is chocolate with
coffee in it," Lily gritted.

"Oh, don't be silly," Narcissa said.
"I thought if I didn't tell you what
was in it, you wouldn't know you
weren't supposed to like it."<<

People have *died* from this sort of attitude.

Yeah, I've been tempted a time or two with folks, but the most I'll do is suggest they try a tiny bit of something that might taste different.

The real danger is that since so many people misuse "I'm allergic" to make folks stop doing this to them, folks start treating allergies as just a code for "dislike".

A late friend had an allergy to *lettuce*. One time at a restaurant he ordered some sort of hot sandwich and was very specific about "no lettuce".

It came with lettuce. He carefully explained that because of his allergy they'd have to remake it from scratch (especially since the heat would have driven the lettuce "stuff" into both the bread and the meat (chicken patty?)).

They said they'd do it. Took it back to the kitchen and after a few minutes brought him a "new" sandwich. After eating about half of it he started having a *major* allergy event. Wound up in the hospital.

Turned out they'd just taken the lettuce out of the original sandwich reheated the chicken, and brought it back.

He sued. They lost.

Fortunately, enough places have been sued over the years that very few places will ignore "I'm allergic" instructions, even if they roll their eyes when somebody is obvious not actually allergic (say someone asking for no salad because they are allergic to lettuce and then going "no that's fine" when the server offers to take the lettuce of their entree)

But there are still employees who have to get read the riot act (or fired) by their bosses when they start arguing with the customer (or ignoring the requests)

Don't try "blind testing" people about their food likes/dislikes much less their allergies. It can go *way* wrong.

It's also a violation of their agency.

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