My pet monster, part II

My pet monster, part II

Continued from yesterday

Seasons are inexorable, and a multi-pack of autumns and springs conspired to carry Marcia back to Tabby’s Place.

This time, she had been slapped with the unsavory Post-Its reading “history of inappropriate elimination” and “caution: aggressive.” This time, she was not small. But she was not about to let that convince her to play small.

She looked in the mirror, saw the jittering image of Animal from The Muppet Show, and raised her drumsticks.

(She also raised the question of why the cats in staff offices couldn’t get a decent drumstick — any bird will do — whilst there are credible reports that the cats of Suite C are getting Lobster Thermidor. But then someone mentioned the very existence of vegan cheese, and then someone else started throwing chairs and decapitating plush Grovers, and the Joint Council of Human and Feline Monsters had to de-convene.)

She’s been urging us to raise our game and crank the volume ever since.

This is not to say that musicians and monsters cannot improve. Marcia has come a long way from her first days back in town. Her aggression upon arrival was so severe, we assigned her to the care of the only two suite-mates brave and patient and inimitable enough to hear the melody beneath the rage: Bacon and Karina. (In cases like this, it is necessary to have a representative from both Councils.)

Bacon, a stratus cloud strung together with rare neurological needs, is perhaps the Ultimate Tabby’s Place Cat. (Commence wild rumpus of indignation among every other cat on the premises. If you need me, I’ll be hiding under a Monstera plant in a bunker in Finland.)

His seizure disorder is so unpredictable, his care so delicate, he requires a room of his own for reasons Virginia Woolf would never understand. No cat at Tabby’s Place is more closely monitored, more likely to live out all his days with us, more Muppet-headed…

…and more loved.

Every day, Bacon battles things that would flatten a lesser lover of life. (We shall not even discuss the searing indignity of being named for a crisp entity that is simultaneously evidence of God’s love and permanently out of Bacon’s reach.)

But you’d be wrong to say that Bacon is battling monsters.

Bacon is wholly and fully, wildly and furiously, Monster.

Woolly and furry and fond of fury herself, Marcia could dream of no more Muppetine mentor. And so it was that she came under the canopy of a stormy, celestial cat (and the most lovable human this side of Jim Henson; let all monsters pause here to raise our paws and our drumsticks to the phenomenon that is Karina).

In Karina and Bacon’s office, Marcia has made neither peace nor war. She has learned. She has taken all the books off the shelves in the Children’s Room. She has scribbled in the margins. She has exulted in being exalted by people so peculiar, we keep coming back no matter whether she bites (which happens less) or basks (which is every monster’s birthright, when the sun seems to have been hung in the sky like your own personal mobile).

She has reminded us — often — of the 1980s toy called My Pet Monster, a horned blue individual whose fangs were always smiling, and whose safety-orange handcuffs looked an awful lot like the orange collars we put on our most “monstrous” cats to warn visitors of potential mountain lion attacks.

Our pet monsters are considerably cuter, but you can’t say this guy wouldn’t fit right in at Tabby’s Place.

Like My Pet Monster’s, Marcia’s manacles are easily broken, even if the same isn’t true of her more toothsome habits. Like My Pet Monster, Marcia is unashamed of her essence. Like My Pet Monster and Grover and Animal and every wild creature worth its whirlwind, she is here to teach us and to untame us.

She has not ceased to confuse us, but she can no more cease to breathe, much less breathe easy. And ultimately, it’s our wish for every cat and everyone at Tabby’s Place to breathe easy.

To live is to be shaggy, ragged. To live well is to find the front stoop where your frizzy ends can nestle into someone else’s feathers, where your tight fists can unfurl like fiddlehead ferns when you realize that nothing can snatch you out of Love’s hand. Not even yourself.

Especially not yourself.

When we remember that every self is a scared, saucer-eyed monster, we can be each other’s pets and pupils and very best friends. We can accompany each other down the street when the lamps go out and we don’t know what to expect. We can keep the untamed sparkle in our eyes and the mischief in our front pockets. We can chomp our daily bread and learn our daily lessons.

We can hear the long-tailed monsters of all sizes and solaces when they whisper, “You’re still as spicy as when you were just a pinch of pepper. You can grow in grace, but don’t shrink in spark. You are strong enough to teach and learn. You are strong enough to make us Beef Stroganoff.” (We are, after all, turning to cats for advice.)

We are not monstrosities, but we’re not tame.

Good thing, for we will always be in the company of wildness at Tabby’s Place.

May it never, ever change.

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