“Never let them see you sweat” is one thing.
“Never leave them wondering about your love” is everything.
Cats have chosen the better thing.
It’s cool to be cool, as the story goes. Play hard to get, and everyone will chase you. Leak your love little by little, and no one will belittle you for being too much. Leave them wanting more, and they will want you more.
The distant, the deliberate, the Mona Lisa-smiling, will always have an edge over galumphing buffoons who grin their guts all over you.
But edges cut, while galumphing buffoons mend.
Let the record clearly state that I am not herein referring to any cat in history as a galumphing buffoon (I should not live to see the end of this blog post were I to do that). But you know and I know that cats are not cool in the sharp way.
Dani, of course, is cool in the manner of box fans with a dozen rainbow ribbons tied to the slats. She is sharp in the sense of style, with stripes like a Frenchwoman and eyes like peridots. But she is brave enough to be the one who gives and gushes and galumphs and triumphs.
You do not need to wonder where you stand in Dani’s eyes. The instant you arrive in the Daniverse, those peridots go dotty with delight, pinwheels spinning just for you. Paraparetic and peripatetic, she can’t walk straight, not even for ten seconds, which gives her a considerable advantage over those of us who think we can.
And so she tells it slant. She lumbers and staggers and shakes us from our slumber with a one-woman shout: “YOU are THE SAUCE!”
She is All Of The Excited to see you, cento percento, not one drop of “excited” left for safekeeping in the bottom of her bottle. Angel-hair limbs flailing, Dani will dump her entire lake of love over your head like a winning coach — which you are, because she loves you, and you are here, together, on the day called “today.”
She gives her all to give you full reassurance of her full support.
She risks it all.
She would be confused and horrified to hear that it’s dangerous business letting loose this way. She is allergic to the “power” of being The One Who Holds Back, The One Who Loves Less, The One Who Makes Them Wonder. In Dani’s dish-sized eyes, the only power worth having is the power of giving everything.
In our calculations, the one who loves big teeters on the edge of being The Big Fool. They may be left hanging. They may receive a withering stare in response to their gush. They may be egg-faced with shame. They may lose the election. They may live to regret letting others see them spin and swoon and sweat.
Unless, of course, they are cats.
Cats let us see them sweat all the time. They let their fondness for you flood the room, more concerned with cocooning you in comfort than in anything like leverage. (Love and leverage cannot occupy the same star cluster, and only one makes you free.)
They let their feelings all hang out like an orangutan in overalls.
They never leave us dangling, wielding affection like bait or a bludgeon.
And when you part — whether it’s leaving the Community Room to grab a Cherry Zero, or leaving this mortal plane — you will never have to wonder how they felt about you.
No ooze of admiration will have gone unspoken; no chance to cuddle will have been forsaken; no declaration of love will have been deemed too dangerous. They surrender themselves and their cool and their edge and their essence, all so we can see ourselves in the mirror of reckless love.
They never make us wonder about their love.
May we be every bit as brave.
People may wonder how you feel about sweatshorts, or Pizza Hut, or mongeese. But not your love. Never your love. We are here to add to the sum total of mercy on the earth, and there’s no room for self-protection in that equation.
May we tell our loveys the full tale of our love, with no redactions, no escape clauses, no stabby subheaders or secret chapters.
May we greet each creature we’ve been given with the feckless fondness of a paraperetic tabby cat.
May we risk falling off our towers and our terrors and our threadbare egos with excitement to announce: “YOU are THE SAUCE!”
And if we fall face-first into sauce or silence or the feeling of having been silly, may we know it’s better than falling from grace.
Tell me true: when you squeeze someone’s hand or paw for the final time, would you rather leave them thinking “she was cool; she held the power; she kept me under her spell,” or “she loved me, and I never doubted it for one instant”?
So let them wonder which branch of the military Cap’n Crunch is in.
Let them wonder if they’ll look as good as Willie Nelson when they’re his age (which they won’t, nor will you, nor will I).
Let them wonder how a spastic cat who can’t control her hind quarters is the most graceful ballerina who ever galumphed upon the earth.
But never make them wonder about your love.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about Dani? She was just adopted.
Wonder of wonders.