Tart and gaudy

Tart and gaudy

Pucker up, kittens.

It’s time to squeeze a fresh glass of fun and get ourselves all gaudy.

Quoth Lemon’s foster mom: “If you hate having nice things, adopt Lemon!”

I am not imagining orange juice in a rhinestone goblet, although that sounds pretty fantastic.

I am not envisioning Mimosas in pink punch bowls embossed with the face of Harry Styles, although that sounds more than a little Tabby’s Place.

I am speaking of a tart, string-bean sprite whose decoration and demeanor are equally gaudy. I am speaking of one Lemon Rosenberg.

Like the other cats from Oman, Lemon is all angles, exotic and exquisite and equipped with satellite-dish ears that still tune into the best electronica station in Muscat.

But Lemon is not like the other cats from Oman, or the other cats from anywhere, or the other creatures from any planet known or unknown.

Lemon is blinding yellow brilliance. Lemon is citrus intensity. Lemon is more life than her humble body can hold, determined to squeeze the heavenly juice from moments and mammals and things.

Lemon needs to taste it all — her bed! her humans! her neighbors! the complete writings of Thomas Merton! the depths of existential mystery! — with her teeth and her courage and her spirit.

Lemon will bite a thousand holes into a food tray and forget about the food.

Lemon will consume her own blanket for a personal research project.

Lemon will be described — over and anon, by people who have not consulted one another — as “invasive.”

Lemon will have fun — the towering kind that can’t be toppled — even when no one else is having fun, even when everyone else blames Lemon for the un-fun, even when fun seems so far away, we start to wonder if Lemon is an actual, actual alien.

She is.

That’s what makes her so gaudy.

You think of “gaudy” as a negative, I know. You hear “gaudy” and you think “tight velveteen bell-bottoms at church.” You think “glittering pink suspenders over a purple suit at the Pentagon.” You think “all the colors that don’t go together.”

But Lemon says “gaudy” and means, simply, “all the colors.” Full stop.

In addition to personally being All The Colors, Lemon is committed to all the colors, including those that cannot be seen by humans, prone as we are to un-fun. It’s quite possible that Lemon should be committed, but then where would we be?

Where would we find the zenith of all zest that only comes from a Lemon?

Where would be taste the absurdity so scrumptious and scurvy-smashing and strange that it gives you a permanent head-tilt?

Where would we learn that, when life gives you Lemon, you are equipped to make not some watery beverage, but an iced awesome cake the size of a football field?

Where would we apply the knowledge that “gaudy” comes from the Latin “gaudete,” which means “rejoice,” which means Lemon is sage in all that she is and does, which means that the colorful life is the only life worth living?

Where would we learn that interruptions and intrusions and mysteries of all colors come with promises, if only we’ll accept them?

In between her biting and her bliss, Lemon beckons you: squeeze ferocious fun from the driest husk of a hopeless day. Do it again. Teach others.

Live gaudily, rejoice always, pucker up to a life that’s too short not to kiss with courage, every today and every tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “Tart and gaudy

  1. You can rejoice and be merry all you want, John – your cats are well behaved and still joyful. Hopefully little Lemon (I can’t help but think Lemony Snickett) will calm down and find gentler persuasions. Maybe needlepoint?

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