On The (Tiger) Beat

July 12, 2020

“Tyger, tyger burning bright/In the forests of the night…”

                                                   --William Blake

As desperate as I am for diversion these days from the current state of affairs, I’m not desperate enough to watch Tiger King. Even my daughters, whose tastes are considerably broader and edgier than my own, and who often tout this or that film, TV show or book to me, have warned that it’s not my kind of entertainment (and I agree, from what I’ve heard). If I want to experience tiger-themed stuff, I don’t need to put myself through the bizarre and troubling antics of Joe Exotic and his big cats. There are so many other, “tamer” options!!

Let’s start with the #1 fan mag of my youth, which I’m delighted to report is still around: Tiger Beat. I started reading it (though “reading” is a generous term for my perusals of the glossy pix and breathless prose) when I was about 10. I soon became a walking encyclopedia of Fan Girl gossip about Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy, and Davy Jones. I knew their fave colors, flavors of ice cream, dream dates, etc. Nowadays it’s Chase Hudson, the Dolan twins and Shawn Mendes, but the non-threatening look hasn’t changed: preteen girls want to crush on boys who look rather like—preteen girls.

Then there’s my favorite cartoon sidekick, from Bill Watterson’s classic strip Calvin and Hobbes. The genius of the idea: a stuffed tiger who only comes to life for his little owner, as a sarcastic, philosophical yet loving sidekick. My kids had very active imaginations, and there were many happy hours spent with Beanie Babies (Julie would ransack the linen closet for washcloth “blankets” for her menagerie), but I don’t think they engaged in that elevated level of colloquy with any of them. I may be wrong.

“Tiger Mothers” refers to a certain type of Asian parent. I met quite a few of those before I learned the term: the Chinese and Korean moms whose kids all scored perfect 1600s on their SATs, played first violin in the All State Orchestra, AND led the school robotics team to a national championship, all before breakfast. For a Tiger Mother, that was just what the kid was expected to do (A minuses were punishable failures). For their children, playdates and sleepovers were rare occurrences, because the pursuit of excellence never took a holiday. I myself was more of a "Monkey Mother" (noisy and nosy and hyperactive).

And finally we come to Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. I really identify with Tigger (see "Monkey Mother", above), who is forever bouncing around boisterously, nattering on and oversharing with his friends. Though often annoyingly enthusiastic, this tiger is 100% harmless. Bounce on, Tigger!

So there you have it: the only kinds of tigers that interest me are not really tigers at all (which is my honest feeling about most of the animal kingdom, I confess).  

I guess this means I am uninvited to your Tanzanian safari, but that’s OK.


    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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