In the world of cliches and mental shortcuts, cats are associated with many things.
Mice.* Yarn.** Milk.*** LOLz.****
I would like to draw your attention to an overlooked cat-related entity: the egg.
First, I tip my hat to those cats whose ovoid physiques would make Humpty Dumpty weep.
If Wolfie is a Cadbury egg, Jackie is a Super Jumbo egg, and Maxine is a spectacular gold-encrusted egg from the trove of an ancient czar.
But body types don’t tell half the eggy story. Large or small, they’re all good eggs, these cats.
Tough and fragile. Whispery as meringue and leaden as quiche, depending on the day. Occasionally hard-boiled. Can be cracked or fried by life’s heat and whipping. Happiest when over eeeeeeeasy. Seen sunny-side up in the solarium.
The incredible feline egg.
It’s easy to forget that entities — eggs, cats — are not only fragile when they’re small. An ostrich egg might look imposing, but its greater surface area means there are only more places where it can crack. An adult cat may look strong and swaggering, but the longer you live, the deeper you love, and the deeper cracks can channel through your soft, golden soul.
Which brings me back to Maxine.*****
As appearance goes, Maxine is arguably our most exotic egg. She is a seal-point Siamese, chocolate brown draped in graceful strokes across her nose and ears and tail and toes. Maxine’s eyes out-aqua any robin’s egg, and her angular glamour whispers a song from far, far east of New Jersey.
Okay, “angular” is perhaps generous, given Maxine’s spectacular girth. But even through the surplus of Siamese, you can discern the sharp points and perfect lines that once made her a breeder’s bounty.
It’s been a long time since those fresh-from-the-carton pedigree days — ten years, give or take. In that time, Maxine’s acquired diabetes, some rank bathroom habits, and a chip on her shoulder sharp enough to slice through any souffle.
So far, Maxine’s strategy for navigating life at Tabby’s Place has been The Time-Release Anger Ball. She’s not an “I WILL END YOU!!!” lunatic like Dobro or an “I WILL CONSUME YOU!” ankle-eater like Jackie, but Maxine’s staccatos of wrath achieve their desired result: keeping humans, and all the hurt they can hurl, at a manageable distance. Most of the time, she’s content to hide inside herself, a tangle of emotion sunk beneath a glassy calm.
Hiding is the Fabergé egg of coping mechanisms, you know. Safe inside her diamond-hard shell, Maxine is bejeweled, beautiful, shielded.
But a Fabergé egg, no matter how magnificent, will never feed you.
Denny’s Grand Slam body aside, there are hints of a higher hunger in Maxine. She may strut past you, sniff disdainfully, or even growl her grievances your way. But every so often, a crack will form in her blazing blue gaze, and sparks of soul will fly out to meet you. We can see that Maxine has tasted love, has risked her heart, and is steadying herself to serve it up again.
The incubation of hope takes time. Along the way, we’re singing like sun-drunk dervishes at every sign of hatching.
For Maxine knows, and we know: the emergence from such an egg as this will be extraordinary.
Please, please, please, just don’t tell Peachy “I’m The Only Frickin’ Siamese At Tabby’s Place, Dammit” Rosenberg.
*An association which is not favorable for the mice.
**An association which is not favorable for the cats or the yarn.
***And association which is not favorable for the cats or the milk.
****An association which is splendidly favorable for absolutely everyone involved.
*****Previously known as Princess; fuller name “Maxine Fortenberry,” for reasons known only to uberstaffer Jane; fullest name “Princess Maxine Fortenberry Rosenberg.”