Confession No. 96 – And they think I’m going to the dogs?

Every neighborhood, apartment building or trailer park has one.

Neither economics nor affluency play a role with this person. But, almost always it’s a she. And there are two traits that she shares with her counterparts in other locales: a dire need for some serious couch time with a shrink. And her nickname.

The ‘crazy’ cat or dog lady.

If you didn’t know she was the ‘crazy’ cat lady, just approach the front door of her home. The putrid odor will probably knock you down. — You might also work with the ‘crazy’ cat lady. She doesn’t know that she smells like ammonia. But everyone else does.

‘Crazy’ dog ladies tend to carry themselves somewhat differently. They don’t usually reek like their feline-lusting counterparts, but the extra layers of tacky make-up base — applied in lieu of blush, eye liner or lipstick — are a dead giveaway. Don’t ask me why. It’s just the way it is.

The ‘crazy’ cat lady doesn’t understand why it’s not OK to allow her passel of mousers to trample across countertops and dinner tables. Her pooch-beguiled counterpart falsely believes that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s — and tends to swap a lot of spit with Fido. Neither ‘crazy’ human is rational when it comes to their ‘babies.’

During my days as a newspaper reporter, I remember conducting a telephone interview with an attorney.

‘Thanks for taking my call. I’d like to talk to you about the lawsuit against the city,’ I said.

‘Sure,’ she responded. ‘Are you from around here? Because, this city has a long history of playing by its own rules.’

‘Born and raised,’ I responded. ‘I moved away, then came back to raise my kids.’

‘I have kids too!’ she remarked. ‘This is a great place to raise children.’

‘It is,’ I agreed. ‘How old are your children?’

‘Well, Sugar is three. Snowball is five. And, Tulip is the big sister. She’s eight.’

I then realized it: A ‘crazy’ dog lady was leading the fight against City Hall.

That shouldn’t have surprised me, because ‘crazy’ dog ladies tend to be vocal. And loud. Perhaps it’s because they always have to shout over the barking. The cat kook, on the other hand, is usually quiet and withdrawn. I’m not sure why, but it might be that her oxygen supply has become saturated with pungent gases and litter box dust.

The lunatic ladies part ways when it comes to the ‘family.’ The Cat Nanny will have every breed and color — from striped ragamuffins to spotted toms — sniffing at her (prepackaged/frozen) dinner. Doggie Mama tends to stick with one breed. And, she insists that her pups be registered with a national organization, certifying that they are … real pups. But, in both cases, their four-legged soulmates are far more important than upright walkers. Especially (human) children.

A friend of mine recently complained of a restaurant patron whose dog was sitting in a chair — paws on the table. That guest was undoubtedly a ‘crazy’ dog lady. I came across an advertisement this week from someone who wanted to trade her hair curlers for cat food (more on that later). That ammonia has definitely gone to her head.

Let it be said for the record that I’m an animal lover. We own two dogs, both mixed breeds, and a cat — the offspring of a feral mom and a tom-catting father. I do pet them and sometimes even give them table scraps. But, I neither kiss them on their mouths nor let them drink from my glass. And our litter box is actually a lawn somewhere. Nope. Kitty potties aren’t among the amenities in the Holland house.

I adore our pets at least as much as that corduroy-wearing lady (in every office building) whose wall is adorned only with photos of her registered Shelties or Yorkipoos. But, Maggie, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Chester are not our children. And, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Neither did my wife scream in pain nor did I become emotional when our pets were born. And we’ve never had to schedule parent-teacher conferences as a result of someone barking without first raising a paw. They’ve never complained about eating the same thing day in and day out, or having to sleep on a chair; I’ll never have to worry about sharing my chocolate with them; and when they beg, it’s borderline adorable. Groveling little humans, on the other hand…

But, unless you are certifiable or live in The Busy World of Richard Scarry, where cats and dogs speak English as they drive automobiles to their jobs, you already get that.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. I’d also love for you to join me on Facebook (click the ‘like’ button), Pinterest and Google+. — Special thanks to Megan E. Hawkins at The Underground Writer for editing this piece. I’m rarely an easy edit, and this week was no exception.

The real story behind this dish is the name. Fact is, I grow some flora that are commonly used in Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian dishes. My pantry and fridge are scattered with Chinese (every province) and Japanese seasonings. This dish is a combination of Thai, Szechuan and Cantonese flavors, but Thai-Chi or Thai-huan-ese just don’t look right on the screen. So, East meets East Beef & Eggplant gets the honor in my virtual cookbook. — This fusion offers light and savory with every bite. If you can’t find the tiny Thai Eggplant, any other eggplant will do. Galangal is an important element here, but ginger (sweeter with not so much bite) will work.

East meets East Beef & Eggplant

Thai, Szechuan and Cantonese flavors make an excellent combination.

Thai, Szechuan and Cantonese flavors make a light, yet savory combination.

1/2 lb – Beef, sliced thinly***
1 TB – Sugar (or granulated Stevia)
1 TB – Low-sodium Soy Sauce
2 tsp – Cornstarch

Sprinkle meat with sugar and soy sauce; mix well. Dust with cornstarch; mix well; set aside.

1/2 cup – Vegetable, Beef or Chicken stock
1 TB – Oyster sauce
1 tsp – Low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp – Chile garlic paste (or more, for added heat)

Combine all ingredients. Set aside.

5-6 – Thai Eggplants, stemmed and quartered**
1/2 – Sweet pepper, sliced thinly
2 – Large Garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp – Galangal root, minced

About 1 TB – Vegetable oil, for frying
Chopped Green Onion, for topping
Toasted Sesame Oil, for drizzling (optional)

**- Substitute 2 medium-sized Japanese eggplant, sliced about 1/2 inch thick; Or 1 small Italian eggplant, cubed into 2-inch pieces.
***- I use flat-iron steak (Beef – shoulder top blade; aka butler’s steak in the UK & oyster blade in Australia). Flank and sirloin also work well.

In a wok or deep skillet, heat vegetable oil to medium-high. Add garlic cloves and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add galangal root and cook for another minute, or so. — Add eggplant and stir-fry until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add sweet pepper slices; stir-fry for another minute; spoon mixture into bowl. Set aside.

Add a few drops of vegetable oil back to pan if none remains. — Once oil is hot, add meat. Stir fry for about 1 minute, then add sauce mixture. Combine. After about 1 minute, add vegetable mixture back to pan and combine with meat and sauce. Cook for about 1 minute, then drizzle with sesame oil. Remove from heat.

Serve over rice or rice noodles. Top with green onions.

Makes about 3 reasonably-sized servings.


  1. I’m not either – “crazy cat or dog” lady, but If I had my way, I would have a littel housedog. My husband has allergies. Nuff said. My daughter, on the other hand, has had two cats (the first one died of a heart attach recently). She was an outdoor cat like yours – her litter box was the lawn. I should also add my daughter is a “neat freak” (no kitty smells allowed in the house). We always (even with allergies) enjoyed visiting cause of her clean, no kitty smell).

    Well, now her new cat is an indoor kitty (Prima Donna, Miss Priss etc;) not sure what other names apply, but she is spoiled rotten!! She loves the quilt I’ve made my daughter so at my daughter’s request I’ve just finished making kitty aka Samantha her own quilt, identical to my daughters. Does that make me a crazy cat grandma? I do refer to her as my “grandkitty” and I do have her pictured on my t-shirt that features all the grandchildren and every Christmas her former cat got an ornament for the tree just like all the other grandchildren…and I don’t even like cats!! Hmmmmm

    • Sounds to me like you love your grandcat. 😉 Nothing wrong with that! — I think you’d be a ‘crazy’ cat grandma if you started knitting kitty sweaters and inviting Fluffy to come spend the night with you for some girl time.

      I don’t want your husband hunting me down, but there are some hypoallergenic dogs out there. One of my favorites is the Basenji — which also is known as the ‘barkless’ dog.

      • i know, but he doesn’t “buy” the whole “hypoallergenic” dog argument, unfortunately! I told him if he died before I did, I wasn’t gonna get me another man, just a dog! LOL

        • Some dogs don’t produce dander because of their hair type, and there’s no argument with that. But, it sounds like you’d be wise to get a horse instead. Or, maybe a flock of something. 😉

        • I’m Allergic as Well (I DoNotKnowWhyEverythingIsCapitalized!!! StupidPhone) And the Hypo Allergenic dOgs Give Me Hives While “Standard” DOgs Just Make It Hard To Breathe. 🙁

  2. I have two dogs, and love them. But I’m as far as possible to being a crazy dog lady, I’m afraid my dogs can certify that… 😉
    If I’m wearing black, you will spot lots of white hairs… Lucy, the white lab is responsible of that and if you come visit, I will tell you ask you to not greet the yorkie, he pis when he’s happy… Is heaven on earth! But I love them very much anyway 😉
    Fantastic recipe, by the way!

  3. Oh boy. 🙂 I love our pets and when they pass on it is really tough however, they are not our kids. I’ve never understood that! They are very much part of our family but our kids rank higher than the animals! 🙂

  4. We have dogs…but they’re dogs, not substitute kids.

    When younger I knew two then elderly sisters who lived in a Jacobean house in the country…the place was full of cats and dogs – there was an odour, but nothing worse than animal odour, not pee, and they were using Ming bowls as feeding dishes…as, to them…the bowls were just the household china!
    Two lovely ladies.

    That aubergine dish dish looks good. I can get the long thin aubergines here but not galangal. Would a dash of lime juice provide the bite if I have to substitute ginger do you think?

  5. “cat kook” love it. Hereinafter, my new name for those who have a few too many cats, I’m one of “those” with my dogs. I never had children, so those little dogs are my substitutes. Yup, I call them the “kids”. I do not kiss them on the mouth, however, every once in a while I get blindsided nailed with kiss from them. Or whatever dogs are doing when they lick your face. This recipe sounds really good Adam, and if I hadn’t just announced that we had been eating too much pasta/starch this week, I’d make it tonight.

  6. Yes, a pet lover here, too…cats are my passion b/c they’re just so darn independent, low maintenance, and show attitude! Just like you and me! Great post, handsome! 🙂 ally

  7. I have one of those crazy cat ladies in my family–My SIL. She’s of the firm belief that they are like people, have their own personalities, etc. She went so far as to claim once that she would’ve liked to have married one of her cats–If only he’d’ve been human (I am NOT making that up). I often ask my husband (her brother) if he repeatedly dropped her on her head when they were younger…I’m not a pet person at all (allergies to both dogs AND cats), so I just don’t get it. The worst part with my SIL is that she’s got 2 human children, and she treats the cats better than her kids.

    All that aside, I’m not a big fan of eggplant, but I would make an exception to try this dish. It looks awesome!

    • Whoa! You’re not a fan of eggplant?!? Did someone repeatedly drop you on your head? 😉 All kidding aside, your SIL sounds … interesting. And I appreciate your kind words.

      • I know, I know! I’m really trying to be more adventurous when it comes to veggies. I’ve never been dropped on the head (that I know of anyway), but I have been kicked in the head multiple times due to my constant concert-going back in high school, during the height of grunge and mosh pits, so maybe that explains a lot. 🙂

        As for my SIL…That whole branch of the family is a big-time trainwreck. Oh, the stories I could tell (wanting to marry the cat isn’t even the most eyebrow-raising!)!!

  8. Well all I can say is my cat AND dog are crazy and they’ve made me crazy so do I count as a cat/dog crazy person or just a crazy person? I don’t think of them as people but can say I prefer their company to a lot of people I know.
    Now that recipe looks great but you’ve sent me off to google galangal root – frankly I thought you just made that one up to see how many people would respond “Oh I LOVE galangal root”.

  9. This sounds wonderful! There is a local Thai restaurant here that makes great eggplant and chicken in a spicy, basil laden sauce. MMM! I love Thai!

  10. What gets me are the bumper stickers I have seen: “Animals are just little people in fur coats”, or the bumper sticker of a dog paw with “who rescued who?” written inside.

    The only cat-dog loving bumper sticker I like is: SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS.

    Something tells me you find The Far Side as hilarious as i do. Crazy cat and dog people were highly offended by his cartoons. Good sign.

    Great post -as always!

    • Thank you, Megan. I always appreciate your kind words. I have absolutely no problem with rescuing animals (we’ve rescued quite a few through the years), but plastering a bumper sticker on my car about it? No. — By the way, if you see someone’s car with a sticker that says I heart [fill in the blank with specific breed silhouette] — you’ve likely crossed paths with a ‘crazy’ dog person.

  11. Again, a perfect transition, from an essay on feline and canine pets, and their colorful owners, to a recipe inspired by a culture that eats such pets for dinner without batting an eyelash. Thought-provoking and candid, as usual. A pleasure to read, as usual.

  12. Spot on. So funny. I must confess that I am a cat and dog “parent.” My house, however, is impeccable and does not smell of their presence. Being civilized is important. They are quite spoiled, in the sense that they are treated with much love and respect, but not to the point of turning their human into a fruitcake (I hope). As for getting food from the table, yes, I share bits of everything that is healthy and enjoyable to them. And speaking of registered pups, you’ll like this: Mine is not registered, but happens to be a purebred Rat Terrier. When we got him, we were informed that we could have him fixed and then he would need implants in order to restore the appearance of masculinity so he could compete in shows. Say what?! a) no dog in my care is getting freakin’ implants and b) no dog in my care is going to have to perform. Said dog is currently napping on our bed with not a care in the world, after a good dinner, just as it should be.

    • You, my friend, are not a ‘crazy’ cat or dog person. For starters, your house is clean of a cat smell. But, just as importantly, you aren’t concerned with keeping your dog up to the (often cruel) standards of America’s largest association for pure breed dogs. — I really appreciate your kind words, by the way.

  13. I lived next door to a crazy cat lady when I was in Chicago. She had 28 indoor cats. We couldn’t leave our windows open because the smell drifted over. Of course, she was also a hoarder so it was lots worse. The cats ‘went’ wherever they wanted and she just had a small path through the mountains of junk and trash in her house. I shudder at the memory. She’d also walk around outside in an old deep sea diving suit (complete with bell helmet) so there were a lot more issues than just an out-of-control love of cats.

    We do own a cat; a single, solitary cat. But, just so you know, she does have her own little bed on the corner of my desk. 🙂

    I’d love to make this dish but I know i’d be the only one eating it because of the eggplant. It looks so, so good.

    • You have described the ‘crazy’ cat lady in one paragraph better than I did in an 800-word essay. Wow! A hoarder too! The deep sea diving suit is an awesome bonus. 😉

  14. Oh Adam, your posts are always a treat!


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