Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Name That's Particular

Pretend for just one moment that I did not go to see Cats on Saturday night, because I actually wrote most of this in the shower sometime Friday morning--I just haven't been able to relax anywhere near a keyboard that doesn't fit in my pocket since last week, and when there is a lot of typing to be done, the "smart" phone isn't "smart" so much as it is "aggravating".

Not that I wouldn't have typed this entire thing in my phone if I'd had more than 15 minutes of down time, but, I haven't. I'm thinking maybe Saturday, between the hours of 6pm and Midnight, I'll have a little relaxation. Then again, since I'm thinking so hard about the possibility of relaxation happening at a particular time, it probably won't be relaxing. I suppose all I can really do is plan to drink on Saturday, and hopefully the relaxation will follow.

For most of my life, I have lived in a home with two cats. Two appears to be the correct number. Sometimes, there has been only one, sometimes three, but for the long stretches of time, there are two. Always two.

This started off when I was very young, with a cat named Rusty--an ornery old brute who, I seemed to recall, frightened one of my younger brothers enough so that the cat was able to chase them out of a room when they were a toddler--the child was genuinely scared of that cat.

Not without good reason.

Rusty was a tom cat who rarely lost a fight, though he come home with plenty of battle wound in the short time I knew him. I'm sure that someone living his lifestyle wasn't around for very long. His co-cat was a pure white homebody that I think was named Snowball, though I don't think I was even in first grade at the time we knew them, so I don't remember much about either.

Later, we met a cat named Rama who was named after the King of Siam, and since she was Siamese, it seemed appropriate. Rama's roommate was a boy named Sam, who had an official name of "Sambo" but I never called him that because he was black, and in my mind that just seemed inappropriate. I'm sure that was about the same time period in which I asked my father to stop using the "N" word at the dinner table.

While I was in college, there was Ripley, a calico who liked to wake me by jumping up on my dresser and rattling the large photograph that hung on the wall there. One day she got me out of bed very quickly by knocking the frame completely off the wall, shattering the glass--she had to come up with more creative ways to wake me after that. Ripley provided me with one of the many excuses I needed to miss class time while in college when, as a kitten, she smacked me right in the white of my eye with her claw. That was an impressive looking wound.

Ripley was named for the Sigourney Weaver character in Aliens. Yes, the sequel. 1986. She lived alone for a while, but eventually got a little buddy named Spencer, who came by that name because I happened to be reading Charlie Chaplin's autobiography at the time that I adopted him, and Spencer (the human) was brother to Charlie. Similarly, "Harry", or Harold, who came along later, was named for silent film star Harold Lloyd because I noticed that the cat and the actor both had the same expressions on their faces when they found themselves in precarious situations.

Clearly, I was all about the movies when I was in college.

We acquired Pookie in Williston, North Dakota, and she was a pure-bred Persian. "Pookie" was the only word that popped into my head while looking at a Persian kitten. I challenge any of you not to think "Pookie" when looking at a Perisan kitten. My daughter, who was 3 or 4 at the time, called her "Spookie" until she grasped the name completely. Pookie went to live with my mother at the end of my first marriage, and my mom liked to torture her in the same way she would all six of her children, that being to have us climb the crab-apple tree every Spring to be photographed among the pink blooms. Then, in the fall, when the leaves changed, we were sent back up the tree for the same purpose. In the fall, it wasn't so bad, but in the Spring, that tree was alive with bumblebees, and it was not the place I wanted to hang out--never got stung, though...

By the time we met Bailey, I was working on a bit of genealogy and so he was given an old family name--I believe that Bailey was the maiden name of the woman who married my great-grandfather ("Red") Carr before they left Ireland, but I will have to check on that to be sure...

Jack is most likely a distant relative to our former family cat Rama, as he is also a Siamese mix born in the same tiny town where my parents live, where Rama lived. What are the chances that there is not some connection? Jack even has a little kink in the end of his tail, just like Rama did, only less noticeable. So his family and my family go way back. His mother Zoe was a stray that literally followed my mother home--she and a friend like to get out and take walks in the evening, and for a while there, two tiny kitties would follow them on their walks around the perimeter of our little town. Eventually, even though she claims to not be a 'cat person', my mother brought both of them home. Jack has an uncle named Salem, a gorgeous black cat with the same beautiful head, who lives with my parents. Jack's sister, Fancy, lives there as well. Unlike Jack, Fancy is a teeny thing, but she has the same habit of following her people into the kitchen every time they move in that direction.

And why is Jack, Jack? Strictly because it was the least complicated thing. When he came home with us, the long car ride from Western North Dakota to Duluth, Minnesota was filled with cat-name discussion. Four kids, two grown-ups, and one kitten who HATES car rides, together in a car for 12 hours over the course of two days. As the name suggestions and general conversation sunk into the absurd, I ended the discussion by announcing that he would be called. "Jack".

"Just Jack".

His personality is nothing like the character of the same name on Will and Grace, but he's just as much fun.
This....is Napoleon. His name is the direct result of my daughter's AP European History studies, though he was almost named "Leopold" because we all enjoyed the movie The Young Victoria, in which King Leopold played prominently, and besides, how could you not like a name like Leopold? Vincenzo was another name that was in the running, just because Vincenzo is a cool name, but when we met this cat and spent just a little time with him, it was clear that he was Napoleon:

A wee strategist who was originally called "Tiny". You figure it out.

We are still getting to know this little boy, but it appears that his personality is a cross between the sweetness of Jack and the adventurer of Bailey. I think that with a brother and mentor like Jack, Napoleon will be a wonderful boy, since Jack is the dearest, most loving cat I have ever known. Napoleon was born at the Humane Society in Faribault, MN and won every heart in the place. Then he won ours. Truly a conqueror.

I know, I know....not a single Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat in the bunch....maybe someday.

1 comment:

Comments are loosely monitored by lazy blog owner.