Where have all the true superheroes gone?
These days it seems each film director has to make his hero a little bit “edgy” and and “dark.” Where, I beg thee, are the real good guys? I’ll tell you where: right in the heart of Ringoes, NJ at Tabby’s Place.
But today I draw your attention to a hero you won’t hear about anywhere else. Only Tabby’s Place has a crime-fighting, dastardly-deed-dissolving superstar named…Harvest Man.
Here we must make an aside into the entymological side of town. To know Harvest Man, you must know harvestmen. If you’ve seen a daddy longlegs, you already know harvestmen better than you think. People who are smarter and more boring than me call harvestmen Opiliones. (Which sounds like a branch of the Mafia. But I digress.) In smart-and-boring terms, harvestmen are an order of arachnids with over 6,500 known species worldwide. In layman’s/awesome terms, they are gentle little beasties with long, spindly legs and a love of sunshine. They have no venom, they have no fangs, and they are poetry in motion.
He struts with grace.
He’s poetry - specifically a limerick - in motion.
And he has no fangs…or molars, or incisors, or anything else dental whatsoever.
He is Harvest…Man.
Other superheroes (I will leave certain Batmen unnamed to protect the innocent) need to be called to respond in times of crisis. Harvest, on the other hand, will call you - and not just in times of crisis. With a high-pitched “meeeeeeuuuww!!!,” Harvest will call you (and call you and call you) in times of morning, noon, night, boredom, excitement, hunger and to inform you of his current status. In this regard, he’s a bit like that elementary school relic you wish you hadn’t friended on Facebook: “I’m going to have dinner now.” “Dinner was good.” “Here’s a picture of dinner and a link to 14 more on Instagram.” ”I’m going to excrete dinner now.” “Speaking of excretion, my bowels are awesomely regular lately. Winning!”
But any time is a good time to hear the call of the Harvest. Meeeeeeeeuuuwww! This is especially the case given how our derring-deed doer enunciates: toothlessly. A survivor of excruciatingly severe stomatitis, Harvest has had every last speck of toothdom removed.
If you’ve never seen a toothless cat talk, you’re in for a treat when you meet the Harvest Man. With no fangs to corral it, Harvest’s beautiful bologna-esque tongue sticks out 96% of the time, and never more than mid-meow. Every Meeeeeeeeeeeuuuwww! is accompanied by a wild, excited flicker of Harvest’s tongue. Combine that with his wide, wondrous eyes and you have one enthused little cat.
Among the many things that enthuse Harvest: being alive, interacting with humans who are alive, dreaming about hobbits, and living in Hospital at Tabby’s Place. Now why would a perfectly reasonable daft-as-a-brush group of human beans like the Tabby’s Place staff relegate a real, live super hero to Hospital?
I suppose there is one little “edgy” side of this superhero: Harvest, in addition to being toothless, is rather ruthless.
Many moons ago, Harvest lived in Suite A at Tabby’s Place. While there, he made a horrid habit: attempting to annihilate his feline neighbors.
The final straw came when he tangled with Scooter. Perpetually terrified and rather gentle behind his salvo of hisses, Scooter attempted to defend himself the only way he knew how: the “nuclear option” of pooping voluminously. Harvest, however, continued pummelling him until humans raced in to pull the boys apart. Scooter hair, Scooter poop, and blood were everywhere - but nobody was actually injured at all, so whither all that gore?
In a tragic irony, when Harvest tries to clobber another cat, he’s the one who gets hurt. Harvest’s case of stomatitis is so severe that, any time he’s under serious stress, his gums become inflamed and he bleeds. Oh, boy, does he bleed. Harvest’s body rebels when he doesn’t follow his better angels. He’s unable to hurt another cat, but giving in to his dark side hurts him in a big way. Oh, how we break our own hearts (and mouths) when we try to break the law of love.
Fortunately, as with most super heroes, Harvest’s tale has a happy ending. Our once-wild child has amended his ways, and now uses his powers exclusively for good. Living in Hospital, he only has to interact with humans and caged cats. Harvest has made it his mission to monitor any kitties spending time recuperating in the Hospital cages. And, by “monitor,” I mean “yell at relentlessly and prance around to display his awesomeness.” He’s got an Iron Man ego and Captain America style, but ultimately Harvest is our true original.
Now that he doesn’t have to tangle with other felines, Harvest’s mouth is feeling grand, and he’s a healthy, happy, mouthy little marvel. (And don’t worry about Scooter and company, by the way: he’s doing just fine and much loved, in the calm-again realm of Suite A.) The challenge for our Harvest Man will be finding a home where he’s both Hero and King.
The challenge for us will be ever letting him go.
We’re completely under the thrall of this loquacious little hero. But we believe Harvest Man’s best days are ahead - and that there’s a forever home simultaneously calm and mighty enough to match his meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeuuuuw.
Meantime, Ringoes, NJ can sleep safe tonight under the watch of Harvest.
Big thanks to PWhAM (People Who Aren’t Me) for these excellent photos: first three by Jane, bottom two by volunteer Jessica.