Sharing a name with someone doesn’t necessarily mean much.
Just picture a BFF coffee-date between Williams: Willie Nelson, William F. Buckley and Will.I.Am. Try Anthonys Hopkins and Weiner. Or maybe Richards like Dick Cheney and Ricky Martin, or Roberts like Bob Marley and Bob Saget (extra bonus if they invited Bob Dylan). Sometimes a name is all such folks share.
But when it comes to the Sams of Tabby’s Place, we’re dealing with an elite society with awesomeness in common.
For many moons, only two Sams stood tall in Tabby’s Place lore. Never known apart from their numbers were Sammy 124 and Sammie 176.
Sammy 124 was frail, feeble and decrepit…to the naked eye. But readers of Felis Catus know better than to judge a cat by his looks alone. This 95,000-year-old Maine Coon was six unkempt pounds of pure power. Sammy 124 inaugurated the tradition of standing vigil outside the door to the Laundry Room — better known, among those in the know, as The Fount Of All Wet Food.
When snuggly, unsinkable Sammy 124 passed away, even the unflappable lobby cats felt the void. Since the little old man’s departure, the Laundry Room door has never wanted for a vigilant, hungry feline. Sammy 124’s portrait hangs in the Lobby, too — but it’s in the wet-food vigils that his presence looms the largest.
Sammie 176 was no less formidable. As the first fella in the Community Room, he wasted no time throwing his (considerable) weight around. Where Sammy 124 was built like a hummingbird, Sammie 176 was constructed like a Hummer. It was his delight to terrorize Hillary and Franny.
While he didn’t relish other cats, Sammie 176 very much enjoyed humans — at least, humans who oozed his favorite aroma. At staff or volunteer meetings, invariably Sammie 176 would leap onto the table, sniffing around the edges bloodhound-style until he found favorable fingers. Then he’d lick and loll and roll himself into euphoria on those fingertips, like a kid in a ball pit.
With a knowing grin, someone would ask the owner of the beloved fingers: “Are you a smoker?”
I’ll never forget the reaction of one volunteer. His eyes all bewildered, like a “disorderly individual” caught on COPS or a high-level politician caught on Twitter, he stammered, “I…ah…how did you know?”
Because Sammie 176 told us, that’s why. Sammie 176 only loved smokers. And he looooooved smokers.
But Sammie 176’s main pastime was defeating doctors. Early in his Tabby’s Place stay, he was diagnosed with full-on congestive heart failure and given weeks, maybe months, to live. (Hence the move to the Community Room. Be it known: being diagnosed as “fixin’ to die” is a one-way ticket to the Community Room and/or Lobby. And, yes, we are highly suspicious that the cats regularly fake their death-fixins for this purpose.)
Sammie 176 lived 2+ years, brawling all the way.
It’s been many Sams since that time, but I’m confident the originals would approve of Sammies: The Next Generation.
There’s Sam, all Swiffer-like in splendor. Our majestic boy is like Donny Osmond in a thrash metal band, a happy-go-lucky lover in a room of loons. Suite A isn’t always a nuzzly neighborhood, but Sammy has done his part to prove that it is not “the unfriendly suite.” Don’t believe him? He’ll snuggle you with the force of 15 cats.
There’s Samantha, elegant in pastel-silver stripes and spots, and just shy enough to make you justify your love. She’s come a long way since we first trapped her as a feral baby at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. Trusted friends can now pet Samantha, and it’s a feast of joy to see her play. But Samantha still retains enough edge that you know better than to call her “Sam” or “Manther” or — heaven forbid — “Sammers.” We’d expect nothing less from a feline who’s certain that Kim Cattrall would play her in Suite B: The Movie.
At last, there’s our teenage Sam. Leave it to an adolescent to shout her independence with a nickname. I’m sure you’ve seen this phenomenon before: all of a sudden, cute little Meredith turns 13 and wants everyone to call her Meri (and the “i” must be dotted with a flower). I personally knew a fella in middle school whose real name was something along the lines of Jehoshaphat. When we hit high school, he inexplicably demanded that we all call him Mike.
It’s a teenager’s prerogative.
True to teendom, thie Sam, nee Samantha, is now Sammy. I think Sammies 124 and 176 would be especially pleased by their teenage protege: Sammy has all the spark and spangle of a whole Tabby’s Place of Sams.
We’re seeing that spark in fits and starts, like doodled hearts around the edges of Sammy’s notebook. And we really can’t blame the girl for her hesitation. It’s been a long, strange ride wrapped up in love for the littlest Sammy.
Teenage Sammy was born in a feral colony, but beloved from the beginning. A tireless couple — let’s call them Mr. and Mrs. Lovewell — were devoted to the well-being of all the colony’s cats, and successfully conducted TNR, raising and finding homes for all the kittens. It was an epic labor of love. (They make BIG LOUD MOVIES about things like giant robots fighting aliens under the ocean. But they should make BIG GIANT EPIC MOVIES about this kind of wondrous love. Explosions not needed.)
There was so much love, in fact, that before they knew it, the Lovewells had lost their hearts to a certain Samantha. One must be very careful around Sams, for this is always apt to happen. (Oh, heck — don’t bother being careful. Blissful liquefaction of one’s heart is inevitable in the presence of a true Sam.) They opted to adopt her, hopeful that she would fit in nicely with their three cherished cats.
As they went about introducing Sammy to their home, the Lovewells did everything — and I do mean everything — right. But sometimes, all the wisdom and love and proper preparation in the world can’t make cats get along.
And they didn’t. Oh, my stars, they didn’t.
With tears and self-sacrificial love, the Lovewells loved Samantha well enough to whisk her to Tabby’s Place through the Exceptional Circumstances Program. (Do you want to hug these people yet?) That’s when Samantha became Sammy, bonded with Yelena, and moved to Suite C, where she’s currently…well, to be quite honest, sulking.
She’s a teenager. She’s rolling with the changes. And she will blossom into comfort and joy. This I promise you.
After all, comfort and joy — and love — are what Sams do best at Tabby’s Place.