Singing to all

Singing to all

Setting: Tabby’s Place Managers’ Meeting.

Our Founder & Executive Director assessed the state of the realm: “Walker* sings to all the girls.”

Jonathan’s observation was accurate but incomplete.

Yes, kittens. Call 60 Minutes. I am about to reveal what goes on behind closed doors among Tabby’s Place leadership.

What goes on, is that the doors open continually, so Tux and Gulliver can receive Second Breakfast, followed promptly by Preview Lunch.

What goes on, is that Cleopatra flaunts being a gravity outlaw at large.

What goes on, is that Walker sings to all the girls.

“Bwooop?” A swirled hippopotamus with a taffy tongue that lives outside his mouth, Walker has the Community Room’s most musical meow. His instrument is a miniature ukulele, vibrating up the scale with a question mark? After every? Utterance?

Pickles? Will you play pickleball with me?” A “no” answer, or no answer, is rebutted with vigorous heinie-licking, followed by louder ukulel-ing. “Pickles? Pickles? Peeeeeeeeeeeeeckles?”

Shelley? Can I sit on that bed while you are sitting on that bed?” If Shelley should be so rude as to remain asleep, Walker will simply sing to the next star.

“Cleo? Will you teach me to fly? Hippopotami can fly, right?” If Cleo is busy participating in the Managers’ Meeting or the dismantling of physics, Walker will simply return to grooming Pickles’ heinie. While singing.

“Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeckles?” At this point all meetings are adjourned for an emergency Mid-Lunch Lunch.

But Walker, the cat who fell from heaven, cannot abridge his song.

He once could not walk, but now he swaggers. He once could not see, but now he beholds all. He once bwoooped emaciated and alone, but now he is a ladies’ hippopotamus. He once hungered in the forest, but now he is the peanut-butter sandwich of the Community Room, gooey childhood on four legs.

His life has been unterribled, and his joy is uncontrollable.

Our troubadour has traveled too far to lay down his melody now.

He certainly can’t serve up his song with any sort of stinginess. More elephantine saint than Scrooge McDuck, our plucky tabby knows that music was meant to overflow. There is no velvet rope for this concert. He will pay people to come in: the gentle and the disgruntled, the aesthetes and the acidic, the feline and the human, the girls and the goobers.

“Bwooop? Jared? Wanna call ourselves The Fondudes and fundraise for shmelted cheese?”

“Bwooop? Beckett? Wanna start a band called Not Compatible With Life and sing about how we’re not ‘supposed to’ still be here?”

Walker and his precious Peeeeeeeeeckles (who has since been adopted, tragically or triumphantly, depending on who’s singing the story)

“Bwooop? Gulliver? Wanna get Denise tattooed on our tails? Since we’re still here? Because she was here?”

“Bwooop? Tux? Wanna sing to that volunteer ’til she turns to silly putty?”

“Bwooop? Everybody? EVERYBODY? Aren’t the volunteers almost as pretty as Pickles? All of them?”

“Bwooop? Jonathan? Wanna order Pickles to love me NOW?”

Walker is a cinnamon-striped song of “now,” an original soundtrack to impossible survival and shmelted cheese. He can’t keep his tongue in his mouth, but he’s not tongue-tied. As his voice and his legs and his hippopotamish heft gain strength, the melody flits around the building.

Firestar, with a broken jaw and a reset faith, sings folk music for all folks. He is knee-slappin’ bluegrass in red velvet. His perma-smile and radish stripes conspire in a one-cat choir of thanks. He fell from heaven, we’re told, or at least a balcony, and his face will forever tell the tale of a world where dreams and bodies break. Folk music tells the truth, scrubbed on the washboard in the big river of tears.

But fire and folk music stay up for the stars, and Firestar sings us all to the far side of the night. His broken face is the most beautiful we have ever beheld. His trusting heart reminds us how to dream. His half-smile is as full as life itself, brave enough to beckon us all to the next chorus.

The song leaps like Walker’s wobbly-no-more legs, suite to suite. A few doors down, the cat with the loneliest name makes sure no one sings alone.

The calico was a Beirut foundling, abandoned at a clinic with a broken hip and nebulous neurological symptoms. They called her Lost, but she found a melody.

They called her Lost, but the name is as ironic as the fact that Meat Loaf was a vegetarian. (We hereby interrupt this post with an urgent agenda item from the Community Room: “Bwooop? Angela? I can have meat loaves?”)

They called her Lost, but they found a way to get her to Tabby’s Place. Today, she can’t find daylight between anthems, breathless as she sings. There’s an urgency to Lost’s lyrics, a power anthem loud enough to pierce despair. Our tricolor calliope must ensure that everyone hears what she knows: the lost can be found, endings become beginnings, and “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through” is the finest composition since Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Lost screams because the long wait to be heard has reached the amphitheater of love.

Firestar chirps because every broken creature needs to grab the chords of hope.

Walker sings to all the girls, guitarists, and Gambians (be assured that they hear from here), because true life erupts in music.

Bwooop? Dare we believe that singing is the most proper response to this vicious, wondrous world?

Bwooop? Might we sing life where it’s not “supposed to be”?

Bwooop? Can you spare some shmelty cheese for a feline hippopotamus?

Meeting adjourned!

*PS that shall surprise zero percent of persons: Walker? Why, yes, he was adopted in the eleven seconds since I wrote this post. Bwooopeeee!

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