Hallowed weenies

Hallowed weenies

The following is an under-reported truth, buried under less important stories by more eminent media outlets.

But that’s why you turn to Tabby’s Place for the real, wriggly deal.

And here it is: cats have mixed feelings about Halloween.

They love the costumes, especially when they get to pretend they are Mr. Toad, or Mrs. Butterworth, or The Last Unicorn, or The First Cat To Command Armies Of Cheese.

They hate the candy, especially the chocolate. Chocolate is a tragic waste of butter that could be better used buttering cheese. Purveyors of chocolate should be prosecuted for crimes against felinity and forced to shovel canyons of candy corn and circus peanuts.

They love the word “Halloween,” containing, as it does, both the word “hallow” — as in, “cats are celestial beings born to be hallowed by seraphs and dunderheads alike” — and “ween,” as in, “certain cats may be weenies, but they wear their weenitude well.”

They love and hate being seen.

Just like you and me.

The lovers of the limelight are easy to spot, since they live to be spotted and to speckle our days with their shouting. The Halloween parade is headed by such pumpkin-headed egos as Wilbur, who has been asking us for two years in a row to sew him a historically accurate Genghis Khan costume. Equal parts trick and treat, he runs through the neighborhood with plastic pumpkins hanging from his tail, a caramelized champion of commanding attention. His capes and masks are designed not to hide his face, but to enhance it, if such a thing is possible for a creature born perfect.

HE WANTS TO BE SEEN, celebrated, and shouted over.

But most of us — feline or otherwise — are not quite so comfortable in our candy dish.

Valerie, never the loudest lollipop, has no desire to be Wonder Woman. She does not want to work the room or join the circus or procure the pride of the peanut gallery. She does not want a good scare. She does not want to egg your mailbox. She wants to step gently — or scoot gently, as the case may be — behind a wardrobe of masks and mysteries.

This does not mean she does not want to be seen.

Magda, made entirely of magic, likes deep thoughts even more than deep dish pizza. She’s confused by capes and clatter but chuffed by quiet and kindness. If she’s candy-cornered, she’ll admit she doesn’t quite get Halloween, much less Mischief Night (she was voted Most Honest Even When Bribed With Dairy in high school). She does, however, have a boundless fondness for both All Souls’ and All Saints’ Days, although you won’t draw that out of her easily.

This does not mean she does not want to be seen.

Yuki, born pre-costumed as The World’s Most Beautiful Cat, counts the days to Halloween. She hallows the night and weaves a cloak of constellations, wrapping herself in sheltering darkness. Only her honest eyes peeking forth, starlight against a sky of shyness.

This does not mean she does not want to be seen.

You and I understand this implicitly, don’t we?

We may be the wildest Pop Rocks or the quietest KitKats in the bucket, but we all have our ways of hiding. Under piles of feather boas or impressive accomplishments, gyrating on top of the parade float or genuflecting before our own secrets, we are mixed nuts with mixed feelings, priding and hiding and praying that something sweet awaits us in the eyes of someone who sees us, really sees us.

And sometimes it takes some hallowed-weenie hiding to see ourselves being seen.

Many Halloweens ago, I was a shy snickerdoodle with a secret hobby of attending lectures at the Center for Theological Inquiry in Princeton. I was all of twenty-three and altogether odd (some things never change), and I wanted to slip in and out unseen, unsure of my place in the family of creatures. I did not grab fistfuls of fun-sized bars, or festoon myself in a Joan of Arc costume, or frolic through the feisty question-and-answer period.

I thought I was a ghost. It turned out I was a kitten.

Every time I tried to crawl below the radar, I was caught, kindly. The director foisted a fistful of Twizzlers into my hand, by which I mean he greeted me. He was gentle; he asked no questions other than my name; he smiled into my eyes.

And he scrawled a hand-written note on every acknowledgment letter for every meager donation I made: “Angie! It is so good to have you in our community. Thank you for your kind heart.”

He saw me.

He hallowed my heart, even though I was a weenie, perhaps especially because I was a weenie.

He gave me a glimpse of all the saints and all the souls, smiling upon shy costumed kittens of all species.

Now, it’s possible I was the only 23-year-old who leaned in excitedly to hear about Eusebius of Caesarea. But more likely, this man, like every cat who ever lived, knew the secret below all the masks and mixed feelings.

Every living creature wants to be seen.

And perhaps that’s the kindest candy we can leave out on the porch for each other.

We can value Valerie‘s valor, poetic and pastel rather than Valkyrish.

We can make much of Magda’s magic, a meek mercy that just might inherit the earth — or save it.

We can yearn fiercely for Yuki‘s wisdom, warmth and wryness wrapped in shyness.

We can — in the words of a wonderful headline I will never forget — study “lesser known galaxies and how to see them,” stars no less hallowable for being weenies.

We can bless the Wilburs and the blushing ones, and bless each other’s bashfulness and beauty, even when it wriggles. Especially then.

And this is the hallowed tale of Tabby’s Place in all seasons, isn’t it? We see the shaking ones; we cut through costumes and chaos to treat the trembling ones; we take each one, flamboyant or flickering, exactly as they are, and we take them seriously, and we take them to heart.

This includes you, you know.

At Tabby’s Place, we see you, we love you, and we wouldn’t change a thing about you.

Except — and I write this on behalf of the saints and souls with tails and towering egos — perhaps to suggest that you put out a bowl of individually wrapped wheels of cheese instead of Starbursts this year.

Just a thought.


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