Let’s get up, brush our teeth, and go on with being glorious anyway.
I happen to think you — yes you, the one reading this — are a pretty spectacular individual. But theology and psychology and my own thunderstormy brain forbid me from denying that we all have our foibles.
Personally, I dance like a rabbit who’s fixin’ to die and think every bald man under 6′ tall looks exactly like Moby. (Also, I unironically use phrases like “fixin’ to die” and think I’m funny.)
Colgate, on the other hand, has a shnubbin where a tail belongs, and a shudder of shyness where there ought to be unquenchable confidence.
Colgate, all planet-packed cheeks and tail-impaired adorability, is one of the most handsomely handcrafted creatures ever to trod this earth. It’s his greatest shortcoming that he thinks so little of himself, when really he’s the tallest stack of pancakes in town.
We try to tell him this. We try to remind him of the story that spawned his excellent name, the kind of tale that will be told by future generations when wee ones ask, “Grandmama, who was the most excellent of all cats?”
Colgate came in with the “feral” label, only to prove, in the most peculiar way, that he was born to be a much-mooshed indoorsman. Every Tabby’s Place cat, in the inglorious course of his “intake exam,” is gently stroked with a toothbrush. We tell them this is a spa treatment recommended by sultans and Kardashians, when really it’s an efficient way to check for ringworm.
Colgate, himself a sultan of shy-eyed sweetness, did not find this indignity any sort of threat to his dignity, so toweringly dignified is he. No: he leaned straight into those bristles, blissing himself into oblivion, and acquiring (a) a name and (b) a fast pass to the indoor life Casa Tabby.
As you can surely see, spectacular individual that you are, such a cat has every reason to adore every inch of himself, even the missing inches of that missing tail. But therein lies Colgate’s tragic flaw.
Colgate can’t see his minty marvelosity.
The grim-faced grey orb of a cat is blind to his own brilliance.
He has even, literally, launched his large person into the ceiling over Tabby’s Place, all in an attempt to escape himself. (INTO THE CEILING. Yes, I am yelling. No, I am not making this up.)
He is a living, lugubrious Festival of Cheeks, but he sees himself through a thick screen of “aw, shucks, I’m just l’il ol’ me.”
He is anything but l’il (and, based on his dental records, not particularly ol’, either).
He is a strange masterpiece.
He is a crystal, every flaw a facet reflecting a world that loves him.
He is not, yet, his own #1 fan, but we’re working on it.
Fortunately, Colgate is grinned at daily by flawed dunderheads who get one thing right: every cat deserves all the love we have to give, and we have an abnormal tonnage of love in our cellars around here.
So we’ll keep brushing him, keep cherishing those cheeks, keep beckoning him to brush up on his own sense of wonder.
We’ll read to him about unconditional positive regard. We’ll forward him links to TED talks on self-empathy. We’ll keep being his mirror, until one day his eyes will have seen the glory of Colgate Rosenberg, and his mirth will go marching on.
Meantime, and for all time, Colgate is exactly where he’s meant to be, exactly who he’s meant to be, cheeks and churlishness and ever-less-furtive cuddles and all.
Brush on, all you flawsome phenomena.
PS: I am stratospheric to report that, between my writing and your reading, Colgate has left the building for the minty mirth of a forever home. Raise your hand if you’re surprised. Didn’t think so.