The Dark (and Glorious) Secret of Parma

It’s not often that a large group of people with a common passion can unite under one roof.

One such time was Sunday afternoon at the Parma cat show.

So many people in so many shapes and so many sizes, united in their passion for felines. Some…a bit more than others.

One woman interrupted the judging, a large no-no, to shriek, “KITTYY!!! LOOK AT THOSE TEETH! LOOK AT THE WITTLE BABY.”

There were cat shirts galore, my favorite being the man in the “Real Men Like Cats” tee.

We saw long-haired cats.


We saw short-haired cats.


We saw big cats.


We saw small cats.



We saw cats getting fanned.



And then, we saw him. The cat I had randomly seen him in a Roanoke news website a few days before.

His name was Suareve’s Dark Secret of Penobscot, aka Bart. And good god was he beautiful.


He looked like a giant’s feather duster with a pancake face. His eyes gleamed the gold color of a chalice Jesus may have used for his finest Cabernet. He was remarkable, and he knew it.

Starstruck, I told his owner that I saw them on the internet at another cat show. She didn’t seem impressed – “Oh yeah, he just won a show the other week, too.” She was busy combing his locks, so I took a few photos and went on my way to tell Lauren, Jordan and Nick about this creature I’d met.


It was nearing closing time. We were getting ready to leave but decided to stick around for the final best in show judgment.

The contenders were mostly long-haired Himalayans and Persians, which solidified my idea that they were being judged on fluffiness. In one of the ten final cages was Bart, looking bored but regal as ever.

The judge went down the line, awarding 10th, 9th, 8th ribbons to the tired and ornery cats. Then 7th, 6th, 5th. Then 4th and 3rd.

Bart and another Persian were the only cats without ribbons. I knew what this meant. Bart would be the king of yet another cat show.

Sure enough, 2nd place went to the other Persian, and then, ladies and gentleman, best-in-show went to Bart, the Dark Secret of Penobscot. The judge took him out of the metal cage and hoisted him into the air in a puff of reddish brown, as he ensured us his face was in there somewhere. His owner blushed and beamed, and then it was time to go home.

But we would not be satisfied until we had a photo with the majestic Bart.

His owner took him out of the judging ring and started carrying him back down one of the aisles. We followed her in a brisk walk, not sure if we seemed like stalkers, but not caring much either way.

Jordan told her we’d been admiring Bart the whole time and would be honored to pose for a photo with him. She happily obliged, and we gathered around the mop of a cat. He posed, looking up into the distance and contemplating life, and made our day. We will never forget Bart, aka Suavere, the Dark Secret of Penobscot (and Parma).





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