FYI for you VIPs: alphabet soup can be a V.V. good thing.
I don’t mean the CIA, the FBI, NASA or even a can of condensed Campbell’s. Today we delight in the letters of a certain cat quartet.
Never were the delights and dilemmas of alphabet soup more evident than in the case of the J-Crew. I won’t reveal the identity of the staff members who named four Tabby’s Place cats MJ, JJ, DJ and LJ. I’m told that this fiesta of shame started because one of the madcap black-and-white kittens was named Mittens. As Tabby’s Place was already home to a certain exalted Mittens, we couldn’t reuse that name. The little mitter became Mittens Junior - MJ. His brothers, whose names had been something like Dwight and Lloyd and Jethro, got compressed into DJ and LJ and JJ. The rest is history.
But I beseech you, and Congress, Mr. Wizard, the proverbial swami meditating on the mountaintop, and anyone with any insight whatsoever: what does JJ stand for?
During high school, I was part of a choir that was often called upon to perform at strange and wonderful venues around the county. (We were a big deal. Tens of people must have heard us.) Many of these venues came with their own recipes for alphabet soup. For some reason, it became a tradition that the choir would turn to me to determine what all those acronyms stood for. So, for instance, the Elks Club’s mysterious initials - BPOE - obviously stood for Big Place O’ Elks. The D.A.R.E. graduation at which we sang songs of hope and exhortation celebrated the 5th graders’ completion of the Drugs Are Really Excellent program. (That one made the choir director laugh so hard he had to feign a coughing fit so violent people probably suspected tuberculosis.)
But despite my vaunted history in sussing out acronyms, I’m at a loss when it comes to JJ. Perhaps you can help.
JJ is the cat who, like 2 out of 3 of his brothers, nearly lost his life twice. After squeaking out of the shelter on which they’d been slated for euthanasia, the boys made it to Tabby’s Place…only to fall desperately, almost immediately, ill. A raging case of distemper nearly stole the J-Crew’s lives.
Fortunately, the disease ultimately only took their senses of balance. In one of the most inscrutable medical mysteries ever to hit Tabby’s Place, three out of four J-Crewmen developed a range of symptoms of cerebellar hypoplasia. Normally this condition develops when a mother cat is exposed to the distemper virus with kittens in her womb - but the J-Crew came to us with perfectly normal cerebella, getting weird-and-wobbly only after their distemper distress. It’s not CH - it literally can’t be CH - but it’s awfully CH-ish. The boys wobble, they wiggle, they gelatinishly jiggle…but it’s not CH.
Next, wobbly JJ, the cat who’d narrowly eluded death, narrowly eluded adoption as well. A pair of Fantastically Amazing Adopters took DJ and LJ. They loved the lads so much that, a little while later, they came back to make it a full family affair and adopt both of the other brothers. MJ had already been adopted by his own phenomenal fam at that point, but JJ was theirs.
Blame it on JJ’s hero, LL Cool J, but JJ was singing “Mama Said Knock You Out” the entire time he was reunited with DJ and LJ. His new family loved him dearly, but they couldn’t bear to see his relentless attacks on his siblings. JJ returned to Tabby’s Place.
Back at the sanctuary, JJ continued his reign of terror. It would seem our boy had traded alphabet soup for eating dynamite for breakfast, because he became a one-cat WMD. For a tiny, teeter-tottery cat, JJ left an impressive trail of fur and fear in Suite B. At a loss for where to put our people-loving, cat-annihilating teen, we relegated JJ to a most surprising site: the kitten room.
Making matters more outrageous, JJ was not even the first juvenile delinquent to live with our tiniest toddlers. The kitten suite was already home to Sadie and Samantha, a pair of people-shy grey teenagers who had literally come from the women’s prison.
This is not a strategy I would recommend this to most school administrators: Oh yes, of course. If you have a particularly violent adolescent, your best bet is to make him the supervisor of the preschoolers. Better yet, stick him in the nursery. The more violent he’s been, the better. Felons are especially excellent.
And yet…it works. Magnificently.
JJ the battlemaster has become JJ the doting uncle, throwing his energy and dynamite behind loving on little beans like Thorn and Blossom. As sponsors of the Kitten Fund can attest, we’ve had some especially weak and needy babies this summer…and JJ’s love has been part of their healing.
Justice & Jubilation?
Whatever that pair of J’s stands for, it’s clear that redemption has finally found our complicated, uncoordinated, utterly adulated boy at Tabby’s Place. With “his” kittens, JJ is in his glory, giving and receiving nothing but love. Now that JJ’s an official adult (one year is the age at which a cat can vote/drive/enlist/see scary movies without a chaperone), we’ve discussed trying him in a regular suite again. Maybe he’s calmed down. Maybe he’ll do fine with other adults. Maybe it’s time to grow up and age out of the nursery.
Maybe eventually. But for now, the perpetual kitten is best off with the young-at-heart.
We may never know what JJ stands for. But I know to my marrow that a forever home awaits this weird, wonderful creature.
Until then…join the jamboree.