A great many years ago when I was just a child, I was asked by every adult ever what I wanted to be when I grew up. A writer, I would always exclaim proudly, thinking it about as attainable as rock star. Years later and here we are, a dream realized. HUZZAH! But what is my responsibility as a writer? Back when I started writing I thought it was to entertain people. And though I still believe that, I also believe you can use it to help people. To change people’s views. To help someone empathize more with something or someone they may not understand. Perhaps suffer something so someone else doesn’t have to. I remember when I was a child seeing a piece on the news about how poor old women had to eat cat food to survive, and live on air. The reporter telling the story ate cat food, and I have no idea why, but it blew my tender young mind. I thought that guy had the biggest balls. From there on, I wanted to be a “journalist.” I guess eating cat food was a good way to make a name for yourself as a reporter back in the 80’s.
Note to self.
Now, in the current trend of “shock and awe hack journalism”, the new version of eating cat food is getting waterboarded to see what kind of torture some people suffer at the hands of the American government. Well, that felt a little too heavy handed to me, but I did want to be both a part of the old school and new school of journalism. So with that thinking in mind, I decided to eat cat food and then get waterboarded.
No, I am not fucking with you.
Spoiler Alert: Cat Food is Not Too Bad
So why eat cat food is the first thing any rational human would think when hearing the idea, and the answer is twofold. One, I have a cat and I want to understand its quality of life. I know it lives well, but its food looks funky as hell and smells kinda like exposed asshole, so the only real way I could ever truly know was to experience it. Is that rational? No, but you left rational at the door when you chose to read this madness.
Second reason to eat cart food is because at some point on some news channel in my lifetime there was a reporter talking about elderly tenants being poor and how they had to eat cat food to survive. So I also wanted to know how badly Granny Catcans was really living. I worried about her for years now, obviously.
So I decided to eat three different kinds of my cat’s treats and one bite of the nasty ass pate’ that I plop out of a can onto a plate for her nightly.
Truth is, I was more scared about this than the waterboarding. Why? I have almost drown before, but I have never almost eaten cat food. It was exactly off-putting as it sounds. But I know a man can only hold off the stampede that is fate for so long, lest it trample him, so let’s do this!
First up, Temptation Catnip flavored treat. Crunchy and bland, like eating cardboard, with a slightly salty middle. Not unbearable, but not something you would put into the mouth of anything you love. Okay, not bad. I expected worse.
Next up, Pure Balance treats, which were literally just over treated but totally edible pieces of chicken. Let it be known my vampire princess of a cat did NOT like these, but they ended up being, well, just chicken pieces, albeit as salty as a pirate’s taint. At this point I realized most cats had eaten better than I did throughout all of 2015. Quite humbling, to say the least.
Next up I had the canned stuff. Sheba pate’, whitefish and tuna. Listen, I didn’t pick the flavor. My cat likes it. I had to remind myself this was for her and for Granny Catcans, and just do it. Though the canned food is what always repulsed me and made me pity my cat (it always plops out covered in some kind of shiny gelatin, the fuck is that shit, because it is NOT gravy like the label says) but the most messed up part of all this is, the one thing I TRULY expected to taste like Ron Jeremy’s bedsheets actually tasted like, well, canned tuna fish (so Ron Jeremy’s bed sheets, still). Really. I went in repulsed, yet after my taste, I was pleasantly surprised yet again. Either I am a fucking cat or cat food is some decent shit. No joke..
But sadly, I was not out of the woods yet.
Next up we had ground zero. Pounce soft, meaty treats. This is the ONLY ONE out of the four that kind of made me want to die. I won’t come out and say it was almost as painful as the waterboarding BUT (and there is always a but) it was as painful as being waterboarded. To even force myself to swallow it was to suddenly understand every high school girl’s “spit not swallow” rule. It was awful in ways I cannot describe, even as a hackneyed wordsmith. All I can tell you is, three out of the four things your cat eats is pretty fucking legit. But if you give your cat Pounce treats, you are a special kind of evil. But that Sheba pate’ is some high grade shit, no joke.
This Waterboarding Thing Was an Awesomely Terrible Idea
So the cat food thing was funny. Hell, it was even fun to do in some weird, masochistic way. But getting waterboarded, professionally? I loved the idea right up until I was making my own waterboarding “station”, then shit got weird. Like knowing you are about to be fondled but not being able to do anything to prevent it. An oddly and overwhelmingly helpless feeling. I do not recommend this to anyone.
The trick to waterboarding is to, no joke, filling the person’s entire skull with water (eyes, mouth, nose) while they are restrained, ensuring that you keep the feet (and lungs) in a higher position than the head so they cannot actually drown, but are convinced they are. I just thought I was signing up to get a towel over my face and having some water thrown on me. I learned another humbling lesson that day. This is torture, asshole, and it is going to be a terrible experience.
But I will also tell you these other things, too. One, I am glad I did it. Two, I have almost died a bunch of times in lots of weird ways, so this was not completely foreign to me, and as a result of that I handled it a lot better than I thought I would (and apparently, better than most in similar situations) and to anyone who thinks any of this is bullshit, check out the cat food chowing on my Vine:
And this pic of me should expel any other doubts:
Yeah, you kind of can’t fake that shit. I had to rig a chair with a board so I would be upside down in tub with feet at highest point and head upside down and at lowest point of my body. It was not easy and I took a nasty, upside down spill into the tub that nearly broke my neck. That was a really fun start. I had someone doing it who was well versed in how to make me suffer but not let me down or get water in my lungs. The last part was hardest because if you sit up, you WILL drown, so when it is over, you HAVE TO REMEMBER to roll onto your side to expel all water or it will fill your lungs when you sit up. Sorry to be redundant, but the horror of this is just hitting me now. That “not sitting up fast or you’ll drown and die” part scared me because I didn’t know if I was going to spazz and react automatically. Okay, enough build up. I obviously lived.
The water is ice cold and you are blinded and bound, so you have no idea when it is coming or how to brace yourself for it. The ice cold water hits your mouth first, which you try to keep shut, but then all the water goes up your nose and you can’t breathe so you scream for a second, which then causes the rest of the flowing water to fill your mouth. At THAT EXACT point, your body kicks into fight or flight response. I had a command where if I kicked my left leg into my torturer’s leg, that meant stop. That was my safe word, so to speak. All I can tell you is I was drowning, and I got waterboarded for six fucking seconds before tapping out and almost blacking out. That is almost as long as a bull ride, and seemingly just as deadly and draining. I was proud of myself. Come to find out, most (civilians) cave after two seconds. Three tops. I guess a life of near death situations and poor choices really did harden me a bit. Okay, back to the good stuff.
I rolled onto my side and gagged out the water from my nose and mouth. I was shaking violently from the cold and pure adrenaline of living through it. Hell, when I pulled myself up and realized I was okay, I let out a Ric Flair WOOOO and felt like I just did a line of pure Colombian. That moment of adrenaline was only ever matched by a skydive and a threesome, real talk.
But, on the other extreme, it really fucks you up. I signed myself up for something I wasn’t ready for, but am proud to say I lived through and now understand better. But again, it FUCKS YOU UP.
There is no delicate way to put it. No poetic spin on it. Your senses are inverted, you cannot move, and you are drowning. No sweet way to say it or sugar coat it. It was exactly what they call it: torture.
But hell, for me, this and tasty some cat food was just a regular Tuesday night.
Featured image by Mark Turnauckas via Flickr.