The arrival of The World’s Most Famous Infant has people talking about royalty: crowns and Union Jacks and kingly things.
People who know about these things say it’s good to be king. To which, as often, the Tabby’s Place cats say: o really?
If things go the way these things go, in 70 years or so, England will once again have a King George.* Perhaps I’m leaning too hard on my memories of Schoolhouse Rock here, but I seem to remember that, the last time England had a King George…well, we threw a lot of Lipton in the ocean and revolted and stuff. The British put up a good fight to keep the United States as their personal pet, but their soldiers wore bright red, and our country’s not red, so we could see ’em and we won.
And that’s American History 101 for ya.
But hey, it’s been 237 years. Water over the dam, right? We can handle a new King George. Brits and Americans are friends now. We gave them coffee; they gave us Mumford and Sons. Our countries wear each other’s red-white-and-blue friendship bracelets. Bygones are bygones.
This all has me thinking about being a king. King George (18th-century edition) learned the hard way that it is not so good to be king. He could have just asked the Tabby’s Place boys.
More than a few Tabby’s Place male felines have entertained aspirations to the throne. Such aspirations, however, have historically gone down in desperation.
Consider Max. Perhaps no cat on either side of the Atlantic has been born with as much regal bearing as broad-shouldered Max, he of the stripes and spots and chin that could cut glass. If ever a cat appeared born to the throne, it was he. As Tabby’s Place’s first genuine psychiatric case, Max was also just crazy enough to believe that he could really, really, truly be king.
But if you listened to your Schoolhouse Rock, you know: there’s a little something called government by the people, for the people. Max believes in government by the Max, for the Max, to the max. (He would also like to visit The Max, the rad diner on Saved by the Bell. But I digress.)
The people cats spoke: no more kings.
Gigi, a cat incapable of rage or riot or anything other than Infinite Sweetness, led the charge. There was screaming. There was mutual giving of the stinkeye. There was the silent, deadly warfare that can occur all between two steely gazes.
There was revolution.
Now Max is forced to rule over subjects who have no sense of decorum whatsoever — which is to say that Bindi, Peggy Sue and Flower have absolutely no inclination to cower and fawn when he preens. Try as he might, Max just can’t get these girls to react. No parades. No fear. No “God save the king.”
No more kings.
Then there’s the disputed kingdom of Gingko and Boots. Long lived the contested reign of these brawlers, each intent on annihilating every lesser being in the lobby. (Except humans. There was no need to assault a species so clearly below a cat’s stature. Would a czar fight a caterpillar? Even tyrants have their dignity.) Gingko hated Oksana. Boots hated Halie. Screaming and hair-pulling and wrestling and rolling ensued. It was all we could do to keep the bad-boy royals from massacring their subjects. If they kept assailing their neighbors, Boots and Gingko were going to be the first two cats to spend 98% of their time in cages at our cage-free sanctuary. (Perhaps that would have worked for King George, too: no war, just an extended time-out. Bad kings get crated.)
But one morning, everything changed. Sometime in the night, a rebel yell arose. We don’t know when, and we don’t know who…but some liberty-loving lobby patriot said it.
No more kings.
Gingko was left with a cauliflower ear and a permanently-chastened demeanor. Never again would he attempt to destroy all felines. He was a changed man. A mellow man.
As for Boots? Whatever happened to Gingko knocked this would-be king off his throne, too. Boots still brawls on occasion — but it’s the brawl of a rapscallion who knows there’s no throne to ascend. The Tabby’s Place lobby is a democracy, and anyone who thinks otherwise will get a cauliflower ear.
Still not convinced? I offer one last example: Gunther.
Yet Gunther’s empire-building methods were more suited to his namesake’s assassin: Attila the Hun. If you are reading this post from Belgium and you’ve heard the occasional hellbeast-y scream, that’s coming from Ringoes, NJ. That’s Gunther when he gets his teeth in a cat — or in a human standing in his way.
But comeuppance came for this king as well. His battles of yore have ebbed to the occasional skirmish. Much like Gingko, Gunther seems to have gotten a secret but potent message sometime in the night. With no warning, Gunther stopped attacking other cats…and developed a condition I can only describe as feral ears.
Gunther is in no way a feral cat. Giddy for love, he’s a belly-rolling, head-butting, purry hunk of love. Gunther’s ears, however, are as feral as Dobro’s soul. With regularity, and for no particular reason, Gunther’s ears will flatten so hard against his head that they utterly disappear. It will happen when someone walks by. It will happen when someone doesn’t walk by. It will happen when dust blows across the floor. Those ears will stay glued down until, just as mysteriously, they normalize. Who or what started this phenomenon? We’ll never know — though it’s safe to say that Toya and Jenny are two dames who will not bow the knee.
These are the ears of a cat who knows he will not be king.
But perhaps kingliness is not all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe it’s enough to share the realm. Gunther, Gingko and Boots do seem to be having a lot more fun since they’ve dropped their pretensions to the throne. There’s no more getting caged, no more getting revolted against, and lots more peace and purrs and playfulness.
And feral and/or cauliflower ears, just for good measure.
Long live the peace!
*Yes, mathletes, this means baby George will ascend the throne when William and Kate are approximately 110 years old. Yes, I wish them long, long, glorious lives.
**If you think all of this applies to female queens, you have not yet met Natalie or Toya or Violet or Cecille or…well, any of our lady cats. This phenomenon is not limited to the Marie Antoinettes of Tabby’s Place; apparently cats of all sizes have been observed to live in complex matriarchal hierarchies. In layman’s terms…no more kings.
Amendment/retraction/goof on a level demanding a ghastly-annoying switch in colors: My bashful apologies to good kings George IV, George V, George VI and his eminent spawn QEII (one of the raddest human beings ever, and also arguably the best-hatted) for my misstatement above. Be it known: there are post-Revolutionary King Georges in triplicate, and at least one of them was awesome enough to have been played by my husband Colin Firth. Again, my fervent apologies to all Kings George, Queen Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy and everyone everywhere, with special thanks to the quick-on-the-uptake human beans who corrected me. God save the Queen.