The meaning of meh

The meaning of meh

911px-Sheep,_Stodmarsh_6You can learn a lot when you listen.

This year alone, we’ve learned that what kind of funk is gon’ give it to ya.
We’ve learned that someone, somewhere, thought we needed a second Paul Blart: Mall Cop movie.
And we’ve learned that cats are sheep are cats.

Who's orange and black and ovine all over?
Who’s orange and black and ovine all over?

Would I lie to you? Trust me on this. Or, better yet, don’t trust me — just listen.

In the fair Community Room we lay our scene:

Bonnie: Meow.
Maggie: Meow.
Mario: Thatza spicy meataball.
Queen: Sssssssssssssssss.
Angel: Meow.

Just keep listening.

Finally, you’ll hear it. From the corner by the window, with a neon-green wiggle worm between her paws, is sheepy Chanel. What does the Chanel say?


Get her really going with a toy, and the tortie teen will get exuberantly ovine:

Mehhhh! Mehhh! Mahhhhhehhhhhhh!

Sheepy? You bet.

This baa-ing boy would love to Hob-nob with you.
This baa-ing boy would love to Hob-nob with you.

This is not a phenomenon limited to small cats with Picasso-perfect faces. Poke your head into the Big Cheese’s office and stare at Hobbes. Then — and this is the challenge, kittens — do not touch Hobbes. In order to conduct this experiment properly, you are, under no circumstances, to touch Hobbes.

Hobbes will be immediately alert to your non-touching of his person. He may — although I cannot guarantee this — even peel himself off the Big Cheese. He’ll lament at you with a meow that makes no sound.

Do not grant his wish. Keep staring. You can do it. You must do it, for it’s the only way you’ll hear…


Hobbes, arguably our proudest purveyor of the silent meow, does not often make audible sounds. But when he does, they are the desperate cries of…a sheep.

Down in the Lounge, Zoey will bleat at you all day, leaping like a lamb if you whip out the wand toys. Out in solarium B, Carrot will greet you with a chorus of goaty-sheepy mehhhhs.

They’re cats. They’re sheepy. They’re fluently bilingual.* And they’re anything but sheepish about it.

Sheep dreams, baby Carrot.
Sheep dreams, baby Carrot.

And it’s here that we have a little something in common with our favorite species. Humans are a little sheepy in our own right. (I’ve even heard the occasional human “meh,” albeit expressed with more snark than style.) For millennia, humans have been compared to sheep.

We’re the sheep of God’s pasture. The lost sheep. The found sheep. Preferably sheep rather than goats. The sheep who know His voice.

It seems like a nice, warm, fuzzy comparison. Sheep are nice, warm and fuzzy. They’re totes mcgotes adorbs.

Funny thing about sheep, though; they are, and I say this with great affection…dumb as a shoelace.

Yes. This is true. Talk to any real, live shepherd and he or she will confirm: sheep excel at poor decisions. They eat until they ‘splode. They get themselves stuck in spots they can’t escape. They wander away from shepherds. They get lost and confused and kerfluffled, and all they can do about their existential despair is yell, Mehhhhhhhhhh!


They need serious help.

Fortunately, there are shepherds. Shepherds show up to direct the sheep away from their snacks, and unstick them from scary spots, and find them and favor them and gently lead them home.

Sheep are not as smart or strong or self-sufficient as they think they are. But, fortunately, they are not alone.

Neither are we. And neither, of course, are our sheep-speaking cats (who are, needless to say, every bit as smart and strong as they think they are — just not that other bit).

Let’s raise a glass to every meh that ever led a sheep of any species home.

*Actually, that’s not quite true. Most cats speak at least seven languages, including English, but  they have entirely too much dignity to do so out loud. A cat speaking English is the equivalent of an Oxford don speaking Valley Girl dialect. Self-respect demands otherwise.


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