'Cat Person' could never have been a Dog Person

no more dating ever again

ROCK PAPER RADIO is a dispatch for misfits & unlikely optimists by your favorite hapa haole, beet-pickling, public radio nerd. It’s a weekly email newsletter that shares three curiosities every Thursday - something to hold on to (that’s the ‘rock’), something to read (that’s the ‘paper‘), and something to listen to (you guessed it, that’s the ‘radio’). Themes include but are not limited to: rebel violinists, immortal jellyfish, revolution. Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word.
How cute is Keri Zierler taking a picture of our bad dog Radley! If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should become a lesbian, just look at this picture and read Kristen Roupenian’s Cat Person and do it already. Photo credit: Kristin Leong, June 2021, Seattle.

SOMETHING TO READ

If you are a lady of a certain age who has dated a cis dude in the text message era, you probably remember Kristen Roupenian’s viral Cat Person story in the New Yorker from 2017. The short story, which is now being made into a movie, describes a revolting but not unfamiliar thing—I’m not going to call it a relationship— between characters Margot (college sophomore) and Robert (in his 30’s).

The #MeToo Movement was gathering steam when the piece was published, and Roupenian’s graphic and uncomfortable scene of is-it-or-is-it-not assault at the center of the story touched a serious nerve for a lot of women reckoning with their own unsettling pasts as so many came forward to disclose that they too are survivors. My own book club, which is made of middle aged lesbians from three different countries, was fired up over it.

When I saw “Cat Person” trending today, I have to say, I was ready to dive back into the discourse. But I wasn’t ready for this: Cat Person isn’t exactly fiction, but it’s not autobiography either. Apparently the story was based on Alexis Nowicki’s life, who Roupenian never met. Lucky for us, Nowicki wrote about it for Slate, and trust me here, this ride is a WILD one: “Cat Person” and Me.

If you read this and have terrible dating stories or thoughts on writers’ rights, age gaps, MFA programs, or Instagram messages from the mother of your deceased partner, please reach out. Let’s do some unpacking together.

SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO

Just in case Cat Person and its Part II has soured you for a moment on love and romance, here’s something sweet from StoryCorp: Recalling a Life Lived Through the Window of an Ice Cream Truck.

In these charming 3 minutes, we meet rough-talking ice cream man Allan Ganz and his lovely bride Rosalyn. Allan inherited his ice cream life from his father over 70 years ago. The Ganzs met when Rosalyn came by Allan’s truck for a treat, and Allan’s been taking his role as the “King of Cool” very seriously ever since. Enjoy!

SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO

This week’s SHOT is one big shout out to Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones, who said this as she headed off to Howard University this week:

"I've spent my entire life proving that I belong in elite white spaces that were not built for Black people. I decided I didn't want to do that anymore.”

This quote should be embroidered by hand onto a giant banner by University of North Carolina’s board of directors, and then flown by a plane over the United States for the next 402 years. If you haven’t been following along as UNC made an embarrassing fool of itself recently, catch up and be inspired here.

IT’S WATERMELON WEIRD COMBO SEASON

That’s a wrap on issue 49, friends. Thanks for reading, listening, holding on.

There’s a heatwave out there, so stop eating hot food and sprinkle some salt, chili power, and lime juice onto your watermelon when you’re not chasing down your own neighborhood Dairy King.

See you next Thursday.

K.

You can find ROCK PAPER RADIO on Instagram and Twitter @RockPaperRadio.