You may have heard it said, “believe half the things you see, and none of the things you hear.”
But I say unto you: go ahead and believe all the things you hear in Suite A.
It’s happened again. We systematically undid it, but the pieces aligned in such a way that we were the ones left undone.
Suite A is, once again, The Land of Crazy.
Many moons ago, Suite A was the realm of danger. Home to a cat who had sent three people to the hospital (yes, literally) and another who would rush you to attach himself to your leg the moment you entered the door (yes, really), this was no suite for anyone with a delicate constitution or weak heart or fear of one’s own blood. If a cat was terrified of humans and/or terrified of nothing (including Christopher Walken), he was headed for Suite A, land of the scared and the scary, the feral and the furtive.
Somewhere along the line, someone (probably a cat) smacked some sanity into us and pointed out that these feline rapscallions weren’t likely to improve with literally no good examples among them. So, with fear and trepidation, we dispersed the Crazy throughout the sanctuary. A pinch of Violent in Suite B, a sparkling of Screaming Feral in Suite C, and bits and bobs of Maniacally Inclined in each Adoption Room.
It was wise. Crazy mellowed to Wacky-But-Not-Lethal.
But whether it’s the tides or the moon or the work of She-Ra, Princess of Power, it’s happened again. Hide your delicate-constitutioned friends, because there’s a nuclear concentration of kookiness in Suite A.
The more stalwart among you should certainly proceed into our strangest of suites; but, I warn you, please do so with ears wide open. You will hear all kinds of things.
First, there will be the sound of scrambling as the cats stop swinging from the chandeliers. This appears to be the most sedate and hidey-hole-loving of suites – but only when we lumbering lugs of humanity appear. Make no mistake: this is the party frat suite, and the evidence is everywhere.
Scooter speaks first. “God save the Scooter!!!!” Your arrival has terrified him. He may now proceed to excrete – or, if he’s feeling brave, at least emit some odors and/or vapors.
Cecille speaks with her glamorous eyes: “Quelle moron!” (This is her typical greeting, spoken all with the eyes, to humans. My French is rusty, but I’m pretty sure it means, “What an excellent specimen you are, full of grace and beauty!”)
Bleu‘s reaction to you is just a notch below Scooter’s: “OH MY STARS I’M GETTING THE VAPORS!” And off he goes, barreling his 275,000-pound body through Blanche and Sneaky as they all hurtle into hidey-holes. (Bleu Bonus: everything the colossal cat says is spoken in the faintest falsetto. He may be the size of a Volkswagen, but Bleu has the smallest soprano squeak you’ve ever heard.)
Leave it to Sam to swing down out of nowhere and holler “I AM SPARTACUS!”
Oh yes, Sam. Every crowd has that one. Start petting Sam now, or Spartacus will weave around your legs in increasing desperation until you attend to his pet-me-or-I-shall-perish state.
Also: if you’re petting Sam, you won’t risk petting anyone else. And that means you get to keep your fingers (bonus!).
But here’s the rub: if Suite A is The Land of Crazy, it’s crazy like a fox. As usual, the cats know precisely what they’re up to. And, as often, they’re up to pure good.
It’s one thing to think you’re patient when “Love is Patient” is a nice cross-stitched sentiment on Aunt Gertie’s wall. It’s quite another when “Love is Patient” is the walk you walk every time you walk into Suite A. Dobro didn’t spit in your direction. Scooter didn’t excrete a stream of reflex-poop when you pet him. It’s a little better than yesterday. That’s patience. That’s love.
It’s one thing to believe you’re a paragon of long-suffering when “Love Bears All Things” is gathering dust in Aunt Gertie’s curio cabinet. But bear the glares of a Gorgonzola for years before slowly seeing them soften to the smile-eyes of recognition, and you’ll know your love is real. Teach big, baffled Bleu that you are not going to eat him, and savor the snuggles he’ll ultimately allow his inner circle of friends.
For all our jesting, Suite A is an equal-opportunity land of enchantment. These toughest of nuts to crack are worth all the work – and, even more miraculous, they think that we are, too.
Walking into Suite A is a bit like joining the French Foreign Legion: whatever you’ve left behind, you get a new passport and a new chance the moment you arrive. So you just lost your job, your truck and your dawg. So you can’t sing. So you just knocked over a craft-store display of 300 doll heads. So Justins Timberlake, Bieber and Credible collectively do not want to date you. So you’re a washed-up megastar reduced to shilling for Gold Bond Medicated Lotion. So your boss just called you a noodle-headed fart.
It doesn’t matter.
Sam will still heave his entire soul into loving you madly (“I AM FARTACUS TOO!”). Blanche and Bleu will still react to you with initial terror – and still reward you with deep trust if you’ll only invest the time. Eek will still give you her crinkly-whiskered smile if you come back often enough to make her believe you mean it. Dobro will still spit at you…until he knows you come bearing baby food. Chrissy will still run like a stocking – and still regale you with rumbles and rapture when you prove your love lasts.
And Cecille…well, Cecille will still think know that she’s superior to you.
The only currency that matters in Suite A is patience. Whether you’re Queen Elizabeth or Captain Underpants, the ground is level. Once you earn these cats’ trust, you’re a Grande Dame (Judi Dench or Edna, take your pick).
Crazy like a fox indeed. Maybe Suite A is meant to be exactly what it always becomes after all.
PS: Yes, yes, yes, some of the cats in Suite A are positively friendly – and no, not just Sam. But the concentration of kookalicious is…concentrated.
PPS: All photos except Sam by Jess. Jess, thou art amazing. Also brave.