It’s a dangerous thing to underestimate someone.
It’s a literally dangerous thing to underestimate someone like Rogue.
Live long enough, and you’ll be brushed off at some point or another. Someone will see through you, thinking they see you. Someone will steal a snapshot, sure they have the whole picture. They’ll caricature you. They’ll pigeonhole you. They’ll underestimate you. And if you’re not careful, you’ll let them shoehorn you down to their size.
I know a thing or two about this. For
much most all of my life, the thumbnail sketch of one Angela Townsend has been Sweet Little Angela. (People have literally called me this. When I was 24. No, I am not kidding.) It’s an occupational hazard of having the default expression of “giant goofus smile,” and wearing age-inappropriate large bows in your little-girl-long hair, and being the last in the room to get dirty jokes, but the first to know which saint’s feast day it is. It’s OK. I am comfortable with who I am in all my contradictions. We all slap together snapshots and shorthand to make sense of the million people we meet. But the caricature of Sweet Little Angela has made people ignore the iron core, the lioness secrets, the fire and blood that they underestimate at their peril.
(Stop laughing. Stoppit.)
So is it any wonder that cats don’t like being locked up in little boxes, either?
I think Rogue knows a thing or thirty about this. Just look at her. All long-and-luscious calico glamour, she’s —
— but wait. See what I did there? No, as a matter of fact, Rogue is not all anything. And therein lies the problem.
From birth, Rogue has surely been the most beautiful in the room. I would say “picture her as a kitten,” except that doing so might very well reduce you to a puddle of goo, and you may have goo-free plans later today, so I won’t. She looks like a stuffed animal, designed to go with a Disney Princess. Everything about Rogue’s countenance is so sweet, so gorgeous, that it completely slips your mind to wonder if she might also be the smartest in the room.
Surely this soft-pastel, cotton-candy, emerald-eyed angel-face is the embodiment of a hug.
Surely this ethereal creature maintains the aroma of heaven from whence she came.
Surely you are going to have your face eaten clean off.
At some point, it seems, Rogue tired of being talked down to. This angel-face was sculpted from granite. She’s not the Hallmark angel with wafty lavender hair and sparkling wings; she’s the twenty-foot-tall monument keeping watch over the graves of the just and the good.
Practically speaking, Rogue is not the perfect-faced kitten who was born in a laundry basket and borne off to a family of loving little girls and doting parents. Rogue roughed it on the street, contracting FIV from birth or a bite wound or some bad dude doing dreadful deeds. Rogue was alone. Rogue was a wanderer. Rogue had to bite burs and brambles out of her glamorous hair.
And, were it not for animal control, Rogue would still be surviving a most unglamorous life, head held high.
Instead, a kindly animal control officer and a happy series of events brought Rogue to Tabby’s Place. And so the reeducation of chronic underestimators began.
We wanted, based on Rogue’s serious sweetness, to kiss and cuddle and coddle and caress her constantly. We wanted to carry her half upside-down, like a placid Papillon in our arms. We wanted her to be what she appeared to be.
What we got was so much more than we wanted, and far, far more than we deserved.
Rogue, like Walt Whitman, contains multitudes. She is a sweetheart. She is a glamour girl. She is a comedienne. She is a conquering queen. She is McNulty‘s worst nightmare. She is a screaming metalhead. (At least, I’m pretty sure that’s vintage Pantera she’s roaring when she has to be picked up or medicated.) She is a danger to our vet team. She is a delight to her friends, and she’s acquiring more every day.
She is nothing we can sum up easily.
She is everything she’s meant to be.
And we will never, ever underestimate this glorious creature again.
Photo credits from de top: Sara, Mark, John M., Rob S. x2.