When Jonathan first agreed to an official Tabby’s Place blog, he gave me a free rein with the merest caveat.
“Be as outrageous as you want,” said he. “Don’t worry about a professional tone,” said he. “Just don’t write about, you know, abortion or the death penalty or anything like that.”
Today, kittens, I risk losing my beloved job. I shall dare to raise an even more controversial topic.
The song of the summer.
You know what I’m talking about. Every year, sometime around late July, people start talking about THE song of the summer.
“It’s ‘Can’t Feel My Face,'” says one.
“Noooooo, it’s ‘Cheerleader,'” howls another.
“I AM SURROUNDED BY IDIOTS!” you bellow. “CLEARLY IT’S ‘HOODIE ON! THE SONG INCLUDES THE LINE ‘BEEN AROUND THE WORLD 10 TIMES WITH A HOODIE ON!’ YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID!'”*
People get exquisitely incensed about the song of the summer. If ever the politicians really want to increase voter turnout, they’ll have a referendum on the song of the summer.
Of course, cats have their own opinions. So who, I ask you, is the feline song of summer 2015?
But popularity alone doesn’t make a song of the summer.
Then how about Sienna? Sienna just might be Tabby’s Place’s answer to ‘We Are The World,’ Playing for Change and everything Bono’s ever done. With over 600,000 friends from Amsterdam to the Czech Republic to Ringoes, NJ, Sienna’s the song that made the biggest splash, for sure.
But sheer splash doesn’t make a song of the summer.
Cats don’t get catchier than orange Cheeno. He’s brighter than Yellow Dye #8, but this touchable treat won’t leave a vaguely radioactive orange film on your fingers. It is not felinely possible to out-cute Cheeno. It is not humanly possible to resist Cheeno.
But utter adorability, too, is insufficient to secure the song of the summer.
So tune your dial to a stranger station, because Tabby’s Place’s 2015 song of the summer is biding his time in hospital.
In a blue cone.
With a belly the size of a beluga.
Put your hands together for…Baloo.
“Ba-who?,” say you. Is Baloo not the cat who wished us dead even as we saved him from string, the ferocious feral counting down the days ’til he was free from walls and wonky human touch?
That’s the one.
But sometimes a song that strikes a sour note can work its way into your marrow. As it does, it changes…and it changes you.
The acorn becomes an oak.
The abomination becomes an earworm.
The wild, savage beast becomes a soldier of love.
When Baloo first came to Tabby’s Place, he was severely injured and severely livid. If he’d been offered the choice between (a) surviving in our care and (b) carpet-bombing Ringoes and dying with us, he’d have eagerly gone for (b). Baloo was death metal — no, angry gangsta rap — no…early-80s disco.
We (by which I mean “warrior women Denise and Dr. C, with whom I get to be associated even though I am just a writer and a weenie”) pressed on through the din. Baloo wanted our blood. We labored for his healing. Sedations, bandage changes and battles of will were the daily dramas. Baloo began to get better — at least, medically.
It would make a nice story and a three-verses-and-a-bridge song if Baloo’s lights came on gradually. You’re expecting that, I know: “Slowly, Baloo realized we were on our side — and then he took a treat…and then he let us touch his head…and then we got to pet his tummy.”
But it didn’t happen that way at all.
One day, Baloo was throwing Molotov cocktails out his cage bars at us.
The next, this happened:
Early-80s disco became the purest of all folk music.
Anthrax became Arlo Guthrie.
The song of suffering became the song of the summer.
Can adoption be far behind?
Yes, the song of the summer is controversial.
But not when it comes to cats of uncommon courage.
*Clearly the real song of the summer is ‘All Your Favorite Bands.’ But of course, you already knew that.
Media credits from de top: Mark, AT, Denise, AT, Denise, AT, Denise. And, in case there’s any doubt in your mind: yes, Denise is Baloo’s #1 boo.