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Back Buzz - August 14, 1998

pumping heart Mondeo, 1200 Western Avenue, Downtown, Seattle

Mondeo is a very high-tech, arty, almost pretentious sort of place. I say pretentious because it's hard to tell what it is from the outside; a couple of signs announce the name only, MONDEO. I almost didn't go in, thinking the place was some sort of art glass gallery or shop. But then I noticed the tables and chairs, and I smelled that smell: muffins.

Mondeo is situated on the corner of Seneca near the waterfront, in the midst of Seattle's design sector along Western Avenue. The espresso drinks are made with Illy, one of the best Italian coffees you can get. My double short cappuccino was served in a perfectly-shaped Illy cup balanced on a cool little pedestal of a saucer. It was a good drink with a decent shot and lovely foam -- so good that I'll excuse them for the oversight of not providing a spoon.

Normally I wouldn't have been drawn to such a place as Mondeo. But it's a bit stark and sad, much like my mood this week. A place like this should really have more of a sense of humor. I could certainly have used something to cheer me up: a good joke, perhaps a warm touch. The place seems a bit cold, decorated with undefined art objects, mixers, and clear containers -- oh, yes, and a large bowl of oranges.

Since I was the only customer in the place I sat at the bar. The only other choice was at one of the stark, minimalist tables, so the long expanse of bar with its dark granite appearance gave me a feeling of anchorage, a place to perch where I'm not flailing about like a damaged bug on its back. Hmm, could this image be a manifestation of my sadness or the fact that I just had blood drawn at the doctor's? A little bit of both, I suppose, coupled with the long hot summer and -- oh, I'm simply not making this sound like an appealing place, am I? No, it could really be quite charming if only a few other customers were in here. But, alas, it's the eleventh hour, too late for a coffee break and too early for lunch. And I have to admit it certainly smells good! (Those little muffins again, another batch fresh out of the oven...)

Yes, the sound of the Highway 99 Viaduct, the busy traffic on Western, and the smell of fresh muffins and that nostalgic metallic scent unique to classic kitchen mixers...I can almost taste the seafoam frosting with which my mother iced her homemade cakes; she'd let me lick the pure white, sticky, shiny, slippery substance off the mixer blades. A cheery thought, I suppose; very white, though, with no color, no shading.

That's how Mondeo feels: white-mooded, white-ambianced, for whitewashed souls.

On a more cheerful note -- and speaking of whitewashed bathrooms -- the following is a recent e-mail exchange with my Bay Area friend and another friend on the subject of floating cat feces:

(NOTE: Malcolm Butts is a close personal friend of ours who is an expert on everything. Any resemblance to other doctors of science is purely coincidental.)

Since I moved into a new apartment and my cat Ariel has been using the catbox religiously (I use that term deliberately -- it almost is like a sacrament, and she waits until I'm around to perform it), I have noticed an interesting thing. I dust the fresh turds with litter (Jonny Cat with chlorophyll) and deposit them in the toilet. Typically there are four to six pieces. Most of them sink immediately, but one or two bob back to the surface and continue floating. It reminds me of the tester I had for my motorcycle: a small glass baster-like device with several little colored balls which sank or floated depending on the charge in the battery fluid.

What I'm wondering is, does this floating-turd phenomenon tell me something about my cat's health? Or perhaps the purity of Oakland water? The thought also occurred to me that by quickly flushing I am missing an opportunity to read my daily fortune or to pick winning lottery numbers.

I think I'll send this to Malcolm Butts for an immediate response.

DATE: 6/30/98 4:25 PM
FROM: Malcolm Butts, Ph.D., Department of Feline Mechanics, Culdesac University

It sounds like your cat Ariel has a weak charge. To remedy this situation I would borrow a neighbor's cat, attach jumper cables to both cats (making certain, of course, that you connect the correct ends to the correct orifices). Then stroke the second cat briskly; this will create a static charge while simultaneously starting up the purring mechanism. Keep stroking for several minutes until you notice Ariel either purring loudly or sparking. Next remove the cables, starting with the second cat. Keep Ariel revved up by stroking her briskly for at least ten minutes.

This should alleviate the floating feces problem. If you have further problems, I would suggest mixing one-half cup of a mineral-rich supplement with Ariel's food daily. By all means do not feed her any "lite" food, or none of her feces will sink properly.

As to the subject of fortune-telling through the reading of feline toilet deposits, I would suggest consulting The Art of Copromancy by I.C. Kibble.

Malcolm Butts, ph.D.

Isn't there a verse dogs have about cat turds in toilets? Something like:

"Turds that sink, safe to drink;
Turds that float stick in your throat!"

Yes, a small percentage of our cats' turds seem to float at first, avoiding that initial flush. But then they eventually sink, tinting the lower level of water and making the toilet look like some sort of fancy cocktail...a Catpoo Stinger, perhaps? And with a shot of TidyBowl, and some of that medication that turns your urine red-orange, you could end up with a real work of art.