We’re a long way from condiment season.
But in a certain Community Room, it’s still high time for hot dogs and hamburgers.*
This is not the time of year in which we’re tearing through many toppings. With the cookouts of summer months away on either side, ketchup bottles are crusting over in our fridge doors, dormant until circa Memorial Day.
Catsup, however, is a different story.
There’s nothing crusty about the last of our condiment kittens. Arguably the cutest of our saucy summertime spread, teensy tortie Catsup has outlasted her feisty brothers at Tabby’s Place. As Heinz and Kraft and even scaredy-sauce Sauerkraut have all been adopted, Catsup has remained.
When a kitten reaches a Certain Age at Tabby’s Place, she or he graduates from the Kitten Room. Kittens rarely reach the Certain Age unadopted without being somewhere on the shy-to-terrified scale, so they continue their education in areas where we can better socialize (read: forcibly slather our love upon) them.
And so we poured one teensy teaspoon of Catsup into the Community Room.
Like her namesake tomato goo, Catsup is actually quite sweet. She’s just reluctant to creep out of the bottle. Such safe containers are everywhere, if one seeks them, so Catsup has gone from a Kitten Room cubby to a Community Room cat tree like a safety-sealed bottle of, well, you know.
So it’s up to us to mosey over, peek our non-anxious presences into her safe space, and say, in a thousand gentle ways, “‘Sup?”
Yes, I went there.
Fellow nineties kids are now having an aneurysm of middle-school memory with me, shot back to a time in which “‘Sup?” was an appropriate greeting and LYLAS the ultimate verbal hug. Fast forward a couple of decades, and suddenly nineties kids are the target of every marketer’s nostalgia, which means Caboodles and scrunchies and Nickelodeon reboots and feeling friggin’ ancient. It means there is talk of bringing back that horrific purple ketchup (yes, this was a thing), although, sadly, it does not yet mean there is talk of bringing back Dunkaroos, but I digress.
Anyway. This resurgence of all things nineties also means it is once again appropriate to greet one’s friends — at least one’s petite pastel tortoiseshell friends — by asking, “‘Sup?”
All this nostalgia tempts me to don my best one-strap overalls and blossomiest Blossom hat before I go visit Catsup. But, since the goal is precisely not to scare her, I resist. I simply Macarena over to ‘Sup’s hidey-hole, put down my Crystal Pepsi, and softly ask, “‘Sup?”
Her answer varies.
“Talk to the hand.”
“I only live to be radical.”
Or, on the luckiest and sauciest days…
“TOTALLY TUBULAR NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE!”
Tubularity is winning. Life at the bottom of the bottle is bogus. At this point, Catsup will (radically) rocket out of her bottle like a Gusher, meowing Spice Girls songs if you dare to pause petting her. Catsup, it turns out, has an especially supple spirit.
Even the name is apt. As she’s trickling her way out of terrified youth, we’re savoring one sweet friendship, drop by drop. Catsup’s soul is thick with goodness, bright red with life. She’s ever more enamored of growing up, of love, and of the freedom to emerge at exactly her own pace.
Adoption can wait; her day will come to douse a family with layer upon layer of love. Meantime, we’ll just remember the old jingle:
Shake and shake
the catsup bottle
and then a lot’ll
You’re a whole lot of lovely, you tubular tortette, and we promise all such shaking will be gentle. Meantime, ‘sup witchoo today?
*Or hamberders, as the case may be.
Coda: I am utterly unpinned by this particular kitten and in very real danger of stashing her in my Caboodle on the way home one of these days. Boo-yah.