It’s not all about you, it’s not all about me, and that’s a good thing.
It is, in fact, about Ronnie, but he knows how to handle it.
Ronnie is not exactly the cat about whom it all seems to be.
Ronnie is a set of lemur eyes wreathed in black-and-white fear.
Ronnie is a long-tailed terror ball whose varsity sport was freeze tag, minus the tag.
Ronnie is hoping with all his hummingbirdy heart that you are not looking at him.
So it would seem.
Ronnie is a man of many fears: Vin Diesel, human fingers, a nationwide shortage of fish fingers, existentialism.
Ronnie is not, however, a man who shares our flavor of fears.
We’re afraid no one is paying attention to us. We’re afraid everyone is paying intense attention to us. We’re afraid of making a big, loud splash or saying a big, wrong thing or being a big, brash buffoon just by being the kind of being we happen to be.
We peep ahead at red-letter days on the calendar — the gatherings, the get-togethers, the speeches to be given at the United Nations — and we want to slide beneath the leaves of a slippery fear salad. (There’s a reason for all the frequent recalls on those kinds of greens.)
We agitate and anticipate and ruminate and wreck ourselves weeks in advance…
…only to find out that everyone else is so busy doing their own private dances, they only have time to cast a benign gaze in our direction before moving on to the next thing. Their very own next thing.
It’s not all about us. They’re not judging us. Even if they were, by the time I type this sentence, they’ve quickly moved on to their lunch or their work or their musings on whether or not Vin Diesel reads Sartre. They are not evaluating our latest bang trim. They are not replaying our weird rambling about gardenias. They will not recall that irrelevant comment we made about stockings.
We are not exactly unimportant to other people, but neither are we terrifyingly, toweringly important. Other than the small bouquet of people and cats who are Our People, we are, at best, around #26 on the credits list of everyone else’s movie (right between Bald Man #2 and Disoriented Hot Dog Vendor).
Which brings us back to Ronnie.
Unlike you and me and Mr. Diesel, Ronnie is, in fact, the center of all attention.
How else could it be, when you are a lemur-eyed phenomenon of shimmering power?
How else could it be, when everyone and their podiatrist is assigned to “socialize” you, to patronize you, and inevitably to idealize you for the glorious wonderbeast you are?
As glorious wonderbeasts go, Ronnie is an A-lister of great luster. Here’s his poorly kept secret: he does, in fact, love the love he fears. Pet him (though you will have to push past the abject terror in his eyes), keep petting, pet some more, and…liftoff! Ronnie’s tuxedo tuckus will rise and rise, the unfalsifiable evidence of a Happy-To-Be-Loved Cat.
(Don’t tell him I told you. Do pet him, repeatedly.)
And so we fall over ourselves.
We pet the pet who treasures us more than his eyes will tell.
We can’t hold him (pet, yes; hug, no NO NO NO HUG NO HUG).
We can behold him.
And so we do, all silly with smittenness.
It’s a hefty burden to bear, this business of always being beheld. But Ronnie, for all his fears, handles it with great grace.
He does not anticipate and ruminate.
He does not worry, in his long nights sharing a snowball bed with Heather (on whom more soon), that tomorrow you might arrive, and touch him, and tell him scary stories of a land without cod.
He confines his concern to the precise moment when it comes. Ronnie’s fear, be it ever so large, lives strictly in the jail of the present. When all eyes do land upon him, he launches the fear machine, full-tilt. But until then?
All is calm.
And when the fear does come?
So does the ever-baffling experience of being beloved…accompanied by the involuntary, irresistible, fear-smashing “elevator butt” of bliss.
Worry would have been a waste after all.
You and I will never have to grapple with Ronnie’s level of celebrity. We’re the main characters in our own independent films, but mostly we can mosey and fumble our way through life without the fluorescent light of Too Much Attention.
But if ever it should, for even a moment, become all about us, we have a trembly tuxedo to turn to for sustenance.
Raise your tuckus. Jail your fears. And look, lemur-like, at this present, manageable moment.