Bruce Springsteen is livestreaming from home today.
I wonder how Ronnie is handling all of this.
Frozen vegetables are hard to find.
I should call my aunt.
Grocery store workers never signed up to be society’s heroes, but here we are.
I need to go switch the laundry.
Ahem. Pardon me.
Maybe you understand. Maybe you’re feeling a little unglued, too. Frankly, if you’re not, I’d like to know what glue you use.
Life is always strange, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But you and I and all the saints and senators and sanitation workers can agree together that we’ve transcended “strange” in our days.
Things are so different from “normal” — O sacred underrated normal! — and yet so stiffly, stultifyingly the same from day to quarantined day, that even Elmer himself is getting a little unglued.
Just think of it. As of Valentine’s Day, we were all chomping chocolate and gathering in galumphing hordes of humanity and acquiring toilet paper without fear.
In the matter of a few weeks, we’ve become feral humans, prowling our separate caves and the Internet for canned corn and paper products. We dream of cats we can’t hug and parks we can’t visit and people — inscrutable, infuriating, apparently-we-can’t-live-without-’em people — we can’t meet for coffee or Canasta or just to check the mail side-by-side. (True story: today I was at the bank of mailboxes when one of my neighbors, a nice guy who I haven’t seen since before All This, walked in. He took one look at me and yelped “social distancing!” And so a little more glue glopped off my edges.)
When reality has me reaching for answers, I turn to God and the nearest cat (generally, but by no means always, in that order). The first doesn’t always detail His plans; the latter is always willing to pontificate.
In these long-lasting times of terrific sameness, the great viral Groundhog Day of 2020, there is no better cat to consult than Angelo.
Like you and me and Tom Hanks and Andrea Bocelli, Angelo was blindsided by change. Not once, not twice, but three times, Ang found himself unwillingly isolated from his family-at-the-time. As memory serves me, Angelo was first surrendered to a Manhattan public shelter when he bit his owner for attempting to “wear him like a scarf” (I report the facts, I don’t write them). The next two goodbyes were more sympathetic — Angelo, a known “inappropriate eliminator,” had done his dribbly thing one too many times in both homes.
Each time, the initial, world-altering chaos led to many moons of monotony…at Tabby’s Place.
If you scroll through our adoptable cats, you’ll have to get to the final page to behold Angelo. He’s among the oldest of our old-timers now. His Tabby’s Place tenure is about the same length as Celine Dion’s Las Vegas residency, or Al Roker’s stint on the Today show. It seems there are no term limits for certain stars.
It would be easy enough for Angelo to become unglued: unglued each time he was surrendered to us; unglued each time he realized he was entering the same cycle of similar days in the same strange sanctuary; unglued each time someone got confused as to whether someone else was talking about Angelo or Angela (“Ang peed on the floor again.” “Ang is gettimg bigger than a beluga.” “Ang needs serious help with grooming”).
But Angelo, being a cat and a sage, does no such thing.
Angelo adapts…and exults.
Centuries a few years ago, Angelo was known for attacking other cats. I seem to recall the late, great, frail Frito-colored Mango as his favorite target. “Inter-cat aggression” seemed permanently affixed to Ang’s rap sheet.
But when you’re faced with an infinite stretch of identical days, you learn to change things up. Somewhere in time, Angelo decided to get downright docile with his own kind, and now it’s unusual to see him anywhere other than wrapped around Mary like…well, a scarf. (Or a pillow. Or whatever Mary wants.) Anthony Soprano has become Alan Alda.
As the years have yodeled on, Ang has adapted with aplomb. There are certain advantages to being old and/or crusty, and one of them is the Senior Discount. At Tabby’s Place, that’s not a cut rate on fish mush; it’s a fast-track to the great outdoors, courtesy of one of our strollers. Whether it’s his age or his interminable tenure or just because somebody/everybody adores him, Angelo has joined the ranks of our “indoor-outdoor” cats, treated to regular walks in a stroller. Up and down and around Tabby’s Place he goes, smelling the blossoms, hearing the bees, growing as an individual and a connoisseur of life itself.
Angelo’s life story could leave the steadiest of us unglued. But Angelo’s wisdom reminds us: maybe that’s better than being too firmly glued in the first place.
So let’s embrace the oddness of our days, kittens. I can’t predict how, but this season of strangeness will change us. It will be messy. It will mean getting unstuck from comfortable old ways. But it will eventually bring us all together, bonded tighter than we dreamed before.