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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 539

“Sam the Cat,” a story about a man’s inability to understand why he is attracted to a man he sees at a party, begins with the narrator’s extended meditation on his past girlfriends and his attitudes about love and sex. Sam Beardson has had girlfriends ever since he was in...

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“Sam the Cat,” a story about a man’s inability to understand why he is attracted to a man he sees at a party, begins with the narrator’s extended meditation on his past girlfriends and his attitudes about love and sex. Sam Beardson has had girlfriends ever since he was in the second grade and will probably have one until he dies. He particularly recalls one girlfriend, Annie, a model wearing a leather motorcycle coat, whose picture he still has above his desk. He says that he would do anything to get her back and that he needs her to want him again. However, he knows that if she were to come back, he would not want to see her or listen to her voice on the telephone.

Sam has always wanted real love, loves being in love, and is in love with the love drug. His present girlfriend, Louise, is the only person he has ever truly loved. The real problem, he says, is that he loves women in general. He knows that if you give women a normal degree of fidelity, they will let you do whatever you want to them. He says if he were a girl he would have sex with ten guys a day, but then he says he would never want to be a girl, for they have the worst deal in history.

After this rambling five-page monologue about love and girlfriends, Sam describes going to a party with Louise and seeing a tall, skinny girl at the bar with sharp hipbones and an athlete’s bottom. However, when he goes over to have a chat with her, he discovers that what he thought was a woman is really a man. Instead of being put off by this discovery, Sam becomes more and more obsessed with the man. He says that, in his mind, the man, whose name is John Drake, is sort of a woman. He does not understand his feelings, wondering if he went to sleep one night and woke up the next morning to find himself a homosexual.

Later at a cowboy bar, Sam sees the man again, singing for a band. Sam gets drunk with John and the band and wakes up the next morning hung over. He buys some flowers and takes them to John to apologize for his behavior, telling him that his ad agency needs a country band for an advertising campaign they are doing. He then goes to a men’s boutique and buys new clothes as well as some hair gel and some cream to tone his skin. He puts on the cream, which makes him look as if he has a tan, and a lip moisturizer that makes his lips a deeper red.

When Louise tells Sam he looks like Sinbad, Sam changes his clothes,. He is still wearing the lip gloss and the tanning cream when he goes to see John; however, he runs away before he meets him. When Sam calls John and asks him to come over for dinner, John wants to know if he is gay. Although Sam says he is not, John hangs up on him. The story ends with Sam wondering what all this has meant.

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