Friday, June 15, 2007

We had Ramoona over tonight, and the three of us watched the Warner Brothers cartoon "Feed the Kitty" right before taking her home. I mentioned that we had it checked out from the library, and Ramoona wisely pointed out that it would be best watched around 4am after we'd eaten lots of sugar. (Sugar form: homemade chocolate banana milkshakes and brownies, from a box mix.)

This was the first time I've seen "Feed the Kitty" since I was, oh, I don't know, five? Basically, I was young enough to find it powerfully, powerfully moving. It was, and remains, the saddest thing I'd ever seen. (In an absolute sense, I may have seen sadder things -- but in the relative sense that allows for how they affect me, nothing is likely to surpass the effect of "Feed the Kitty" on a kitten and cookie loving five-year-old.) Basically, it's the story of a big, ugly bulldog who becomes absolutely smitten with a tiny kitten who curls up in the folds of skin on his back. He brings the kitten home and has to hide it from his master. The kitten ends up stuffed into the flour box right before the master decides to make cookies, and the bulldog is unable to rescue the kitten before the flour is dumped into a mixer, flattened by a rolling pin, chopped up by cookie cutters, and then baked in the oven. Of course, the kitten escapes before all this happens. But the bulldog doesn't know that! At the age of five, I was absolutely horrified by the pain the dog was feeling. I empathized with ever moment and fiber of it. It was his kitten, and he'd hidden it in the flour... And... And... It was just so sad.

The final twist of the knife is when the master tries to cheer the sobbing bulldog by offering him a cookie... A cookie shaped like a kitten. This is where, absolutely moved by the memory of a cartoon I hadn't seen in some twenty years and a bit addled by being up way past my bedtime, I tried to repeat that last phrase to convey the true pathos of it to Winterson and Ramoona. Instead, I flipped it around, exclaiming: "The kitten was shaped like a cookie!" Hysrerics ensued.

Even having watched this momentous cinematic achievement tonight, I don't think Winter and Ramoona really got it. I have to admit, it didn't hit me as hard this time either. However, it's still a really cute and sweet cartoon. And, it truly is heartbreaking when the bulldog tries to nestle the kitten-shaped cookie in the folds of fur on his back. Nothing could be sweeter relief than the bulldog feels when his kitten shows up again. Not mixed, not rolled, not chopped, and not baked.

The saddest thing: a cookie shaped like a kitten.

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