IN THE VILLAGE. THE QUIET VILLAGE. THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT.
PANICALE, Umbria, Italy–
Cold and dark outside. Bar Gallo was empty and quiet for a moment. Aldo just told us. Tigre died last night. November 3rd, 2009. Aldo asked if we would place an announcement here.
I thought Aldo was going to cry. I know he wouldn’t be the only one there that felt that way. But he more than anyone else. Aldo had warned us it was emminent. I chose not to believe Tigre could ever be anything shy of ten feet tall and bulletproof. I know he was “only a cat” but what a princely cat he was. Let Venice have the lion of St Marks. Tigre in many ways was a symbol of Panicale. Our guardian at the gate. We don’t throw coins in the fountain here and think of coming back soon. We pat Tigre.
If you noticed, there are lots of cats in town. But there was never another feline, of any stripe, anywhere near the piazza. And canines were only there provisionally. Right to the end. Only last week he was catnapping in one of the new chairs in the back part of the bar when a long haired lap dog pranced by on a leash. Tigre raised himself up majestically, and sphinx-like fixed the dog with a laser beam look that said “I’ve got my eye on you” De Niro couldn’t have said it better.
A page has turned, an era has ended that I wasn’t ready to see end. As Aldo said “. . . e’ la vita . . ”
After Aldo broke the news to us I asked if there would be a funeral and he said he had done it. I said I meant at the church and with black trimmed posters plastered to the outer walls of the village. Failing that, here’s perhaps a way we could help his memory linger on: with a collection of his photos made into an iBook to leave in the bar. Surely there was never a cat more photo-documented by people in Panicale. I’m trying to sort through my pictures of Tigre. Send stories or photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s one of my favorite Tigre Tales. There is an opening blurb about some press coverage Panicale got in a big Italian magazine. After that first short paragraph, it is all Tigre at his macho best: “Tigre explains life to the Great Danes. And their little dog too.” There is a photo of Tigre there as well.