Me and Tommy Talbingo
Craig, a grumpy middle-aged man
Tom Tom, an even grumpier cat
A dilapidated lounge room in a ramshackle house. Craig strums absent-mindedly at a guitar before casting it aside. Tom Tom enters and addresses him.
Tom Tom: Your guitar playing is crap, Craig. And your songs are pitiful, especially that one called Be Mine…or B minor. That’s not even funny. Or clever. Just pitiful middle-aged angst and broken-hearted cliché. Why don’t you go out and find a woman instead of hanging around annoying me and the neighbours with your wretched warbling?
Craig: Why don’t you?
Tom Tom: You know very well why I don’t. Your last mad girlfriend insisted that you get me castrated, if you recall. I don’t know why she didn’t have you done as well while she was at it. It’s not as if you’ll ever meet anyone else. And you’re too old. I was young and virile until the operation. She really picked the wrong one to emasculate, in my opinion.
Craig: Fuck off, Tommy! I might meet someone else one day.
Tom Tom: I seriously doubt it, and even if you did, you’d fuck it up. How long did the last one last? All of three weeks, if I remember correctly. And it was sickening to watch.
Craig: What do you mean?
Tom Tom: When you weren’t both besotted, you argued and fought about absolute shite. I’m telling you now, you have no idea at all about women or relationships.
Craig: I thought you liked her. She liked you.
Tom Tom: At first. She was very affectionate to me. She bought me things and finally persuaded you to let me inside the house, so I didn’t freeze my balls off at night. But then she had them cut off anyway. You may still miss her, but not half as much as I miss my testicles.
Craig: Tommy, you’re a stray cat. I found you under the car. I took pity on you. There were already too many stray cats in Yoogali without you siring more.
Tom Tom: I could say the same about you, mate. There are already too many fucking human beings on the planet without you begetting more of them. You already have two, don’t you?
Craig: Yes. But I don’t want more kids. I just want someone to love.
Tom Tom: You’re pathetic. Someone to shag more like. No-one will ever love you again. You are self-centred, egotistical, solipsistic, a lousy father and a shithouse lover.
Craig: Like you’d know, Mister.
Tom Tom: I know only too well. I’m a cat. I’m intuitive. You just couldn’t get her juices flowing, put it that way.
Craig: She was post-menopausal. There weren’t any juices left.
Tom Tom: So you may think. Face it, Craig, you’re lucky to turn on a tap. Give it up and accept eternal loneliness as your fate. You’ve upset and damaged enough women for one lifetime as it is.
Craig: How unfair. I consider myself to be sensitive, loving and caring.
Tom Tom: And seriously deluded. You have the sensitivity of a pipe wrench, and you’re about as loving and caring as extreme toxin. I’m not trying to be hurtful; I just want you to see yourself the way others do.
Craig: Thanks a lot, Tommy. I love you too. As if I’m going to meet anyone in this town, anyway. There’s not much chance of that.
Tom Tom: Thank Christ for small mercies. The female inhabitants of Coolamon are spared your attentions and libidinous excesses. But what of all those other poor, unsuspecting women beyond the safety of the town’s perimeter?
Craig: And how the hell would I ever meet them? I never leave this burgh, as you well know.
Tom Tom: Who knows what depths you would be prepared to trawl? Local schoolteachers or librarians, or those scrubbers you talk to down the pub.
Craig: How would you know who I talk to down the pub?
Tom Tom: It’s a small town, Craig. People talk, and so do cats. Your modus operandi has been observed and discussed in minute detail throughout the shire. You are a joke from here to Wagga Wagga and possibly as far as Junee and Ardlethan as well. But I suppose there is also the possibility of you meeting someone on-line, on one of those tacky middle-aged dating services you’ve signed up to in the past.
Craig: What rubbish! I wouldn’t go near them. They are only for pathetic losers and desperate morons.
Tom Tom: Which is pretty much how you appear to the world, frankly. There is no point in denying it, Craig. I’ve read your emails.
Tom Tom: When you’re at work, however rarely that occurs, or when you’re at the pub trying to pull inebriated crones.
Craig: You are cruel, you know?
Tom Tom: You’ll have got to be more mindful of others, Craig. The world does not revolve around you. You must find other ways to satisfy your needs, perhaps through serving others in a selfless manner, if that were possible for you.
Craig: Thank you, your holiness. How long have you been giving spiritual guidance for anyway?
Tom Tom: Long enough. Do you remember that Buddhist girlfriend you once had?
Craig: Lucretia, you mean?
Tom Tom: Yes, that’s right. The Buddhist who had the sense to dump you to escape your emotional cruelty.
Craig: You never met her. You don’t know anything about her.
Tom Tom: I chat with her on Facebook occasionally. She seems really nice.
Craig: Facebook! Do you use my Facebook account to chat with Lucretia? I thought I’d blocked her.
Tom Tom: Of course not. I have my own account. I’m Tommy Talbingo to her. One of your many friends who doesn’t like you. She seems really happy now and her boyfriend is a real success story. And by the way, they’re engaged.
Craig: To be married?
Tom Tom: No! Engaged in satanic warfare. Of course they’re engaged to be married, you dolt. I’ve been invited to the wedding.
Craig: You? But you’re a cat. You can’t go to a wedding.
Tom Tom: I know. It’s bad luck, apparently. She doesn’t know I’m cat, of course. I told her I’m a landscape architect, actually. I’ve even given her some suggestions for what to do to liven up their garden. They have a lovely house, you know.
Craig: No, I didn’t.
Tom Tom: Her life has improved exponentially since she dumped you for him. But that seems to be a recurring theme in your life, doesn’t it Craig. I’ve tracked down quite a few of your former lovers and they all say the same thing about you. Hardly surprising, really.
Craig: Do you really think it is necessary to trawl through my past and examine all of my relationship disasters?
Tom Tom: Yes, I do. It gives me a greater insight into the flawed nature of your psyche and the fragile state of your ego. You are a very sorry case indeed, Craig. I am only trying to help you.
Craig: Help me? You appear to be doing everything you can to destroy any vestige of self-confidence that I retain.
Tom Tom: Precisely. I’m trying to help you see that everything you have attempted thus far has been futile and that the brutal reality is that to overcome your deeply ingrained flaws, you must confront them. It’s as simple as that.
Craig: What’s in it for you?
Tom: For me? Nothing. I just want you to be happy and stop sulking around, playing those ridiculous songs. And another thing, Craig.
Craig: Yes, what is it?
Tom Tom: It’s dinner time and I want fresh meat, not fish from a can. Fresh meat!
Craig: Don’t we all?