By the time you read this, the Olympics will have picked its victors and pickled the rest.
Skateboards will have soared. Swimmers will have splashed. Basketballs will have bounced into history.
But 6,700 miles from Tokyo, the sportiest of all B-girls are still making headlines.
With apologies to Japan National Stadium, you and I know that the most eminent arena on seven continents is Suite B at Tabby’s Place.
There was a time before time, when I used to describe Suite B to visitors as “our most ‘normal’ suite, with easy-going cats who just ran out of time in other shelters.”
What an adorable little fool I was.
Leaving aside the asinine concept of “normal”, clearly I underestimated the epic inanity and insanity of our largest suite.
Sure, Suite B’s cuties were neither magnificently obese (Suite C) nor gastrointestinally challenged (Suite A) nor so gleefully violent or terrified or otherwise pungent as to need a chill, low-feline-population zone (any of our offices, and, yes, the staff are far more pungent than any cat).
But Suite B contains cats, ergo madness, ergo magic.
In my defense, Suite B has also, shall we say, blossomed in bouncy buffoonery over the years. Maybe we once convened all of our surfer-types in this space, but it’s since become the playground of far bouncier creatures.
Few beasties on this earth have ever bounced as earnestly as Nyla. (One of the main reasons we sent that groovy little rover to Mars was to search for Nyla-bouncy beasties. We need more of them. So far, no luck.)
Nyla, approximately the size of a ping pong ball and twice as unpredictable, will follow you with frantic joy from the instant you enter Suite B. The longer you stay, particularly if you pay attention to her tiny tuxedo tumult (attention is grander than gold), the bigger her bounce becomes, until the ping pong ball increases in size through shot put, to water polo ball, to basketball, to ENTIRE EXOPLANET OF EXCITEMENT.
Nyla will put you at the top of the podium and sing your anthem from the depths of her dramatic soul, simply because you’re you, simply because you’re present, simply because life itself is an anthem, and shouldn’t we all sing?
Now, some of the judges might nick a few points from Nyla’s combined score for what the International Olympic Committee formally refers to as “bat-guano insanity.” OK. So Nyla, in the words of a fellow staff member, goes from “zero to 100 quickly.” There has been literal discussion of “the swarming of Nyla” (which would also be a spectacular name for an epic novel spanning continents and generations).
But make no mistake.
Nyla is gold.
She is not, however, the sole medalist in Suite B.
Not every moment calls for boisterous bouncing. If Nyla is our peripatetic point guard, Zelda is our shimmering shooting guard, and she shoots to thrill.
Here I feel the full force of my coworkers’ collective patience popping like a pierced volleyball. They would prefer that I ended that previous sentence with a different word, and I don’t mean “trill.”
When she entered Suite B, Zelda’s zingitude was already so well-known, our team draped a blanket over the front of her transition crate, hoping it would keep her from attempting to engage others (human and feline) in impromptu fencing matches. (The “claws vs. legs” variation on classic fencing is under consideration for the 2024 Olympics.)
Zelda, like all great athletes and survivors, adapted. When a living creature bounced past, she simply threw her entire, spectacular self against the front of the crate, whilst screaming and spitting.
Did I mention she also required medication?
Did I mention our entire non-Angela staff deserves galumphing hordes of gold medals?
But Zelda’s lethality is the long tail of a long tale, and it would be unfair to reduce her to her fits of rage. Like such luminaries as Benny, Hector, and Charly, Zelda was found in a veritable post-apocalyptic wasteland. (You think I am exaggerating; I am not. This was the horrific Beirut blast of 2020. Indeed, there are human beings so valiant and goldenly good, that their first concern in the chaos was the animals. We stand speechless before them, grateful just to be able to take a few of their cats.)
And if Zelda’s games were a bit ghastly, the glimpses of her glory were gaspworthy. Between the savage strikes came signs of a golden soul. The only thing more beautiful than Zelda’s countenance (behold her countenance and tell me she is not, in fact, more beautiful than anyone who ever lived except Bucca), was her honest heart, loving and generous and elite in its affection. Zelda’s game face couldn’t hide the loving spirit within. Slowly, we glimpsed the cat who our Beirut buddies described as moody but cuddle-craving, lap-happy if incurably nippy.
Life itself is incurably nippy, and we all have to find our own way to win.
And perhaps that’s both of our B-girls’ best secret. You can’t always bounce; you can’t always be the golden one; you won’t always make the cover of the Wheaties box.
You can, however, take life one bite at a time.
You can delight in the moments and the mercies: the friend whose gaze always makes you feel like solid gold; the tall grass that tickles your shins; the sunflowers that stubbornly insist upon turning toward the sun, beckoning you to do the same; the box of Frosted Flakes With Crispy Cinnamon Basketballs that makes you literally laugh out loud every time you see it in the supermarket.
Life, for most of us earthbound B-boys and B-girls, is lived in the nibbles. Humble. Glorious. Even victorious.
And so we keep taking bites of life, slathered as it is with sorrow and splendor.
Bite by bite, life becomes yours.
It becomes delicious.
Bite-size becomes life-size.
And so, like two temperamental athletes, elite in the field of “existence,” we win.
See you in Suite B, bouncy beloveds.