Notre Pierre

Notre Pierre

He thinks he is from France.

We are not going to tell him he is from Connecticut.

We are certainly not going to tell him this is New Jersey.

We are not going to tell Pierre anything. When you are in the presence of an orange answer, it is best to listen.

In this case, the answer is equipped with ear hair long enough to span the Mediterranean. His bravado weighs more than the fattest gargoyle of Notre Dame.

He calls himself Notre Pierre — “our Pierre.”

Walk into Suite F, and you will hear him, if you listen.

“Bonjour, mon petit sandwich!” He traces figure huits around your legs, a freewheeling blur of fromage. “How do you love our Pierre today?”

You may try to answer, but he will keep talking, engraving infinity signs between your ankles. “Do you love our Pierre more than macarons?”

He leaps atop the cubby like Quasimodo on the clock tower, if Quasimodo were the handsomest man in all the lands. “Do you love our Pierre more than Emmanuel Macron?”

His tail is talking, too, a paintbrush of pure panache. You realize this is the first cat you’ve met whose bravado is visible to the naked eye. You realize this cat is not from Connecticut after all. You doubt that you are still in New Jersey.

“Do you love our Pierre more than mon ocean loves ma lune?”

Of course the ocean and the moon are Pierre’s possessions. By this point, the answers are accumulating around him like tourists at the Louvre.

The moon has ejected itself from the sky so its craters can kiss one cat. The sea is lapping our landlocked town to salt Pierre with its kisses.

And then, Pierre gets the giggles. The handsomest always do.

“Do you love our Pierre more than you love our Checkers?”

Checkers, with his grande tete

Checkers’ papers also say Connecticut, but his face is his passport. Checkers has evidently come from the moon. Checkers evidently is the moon.

His head is always full, though he still feels rather new. He reflects the light of the sun king Pierre, though he is learning to shine unassisted.

Pierre can get Checkers to laugh.

Pierre reminds Checkers that Checkers is “our Checkers.”

The bashful white satellite once doubted this. It is the way of marmalade cats and Frenchmen to declare l’amour too soon, before it is wise, before it is safe. Didn’t Pierre remember that, although they are heavenly bodies, he and Checkers are spattered in earth? Did Pierre’s pungent positivity neglect that they were double-positives, infected with both FIV and FeLV?

On the continent of cynics and skeptics, that makes a cat a citizen of nowhere.

From Connecticut to New Jersey, a cat with FIV and FeLV should not expect to belong to anyone. Far safer to address oneself as “No One’s Pierre.” “No One’s Checkers.”

It is the way of marmalade Frenchmen to accept that love is always wise, and never safe.

“Will you love our Pierre toujours?” New Jersey’s favorite Connecticut Parisian asks, and now you are laughing too, because the answer is as obvious as Checkers’ head is from space.

You have given up trying to answer. Spend enough time with Pierre, and you will give up all forms of giving up. This is not Connecticut. This is not New Jersey. This is not even Paris.

This is Tabby’s Place, where to be alive is to be “our (your name here).”

To know that you need love is to know all the answers.

So dollop on the diagnoses and the creme fraiche. Pop the champagne on any old Wednesday. Chase the escargots around the tide pool. Hug our Pierre.

Encore et encore, toujours.

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