A week after I brought the kitten home I had still not named it.
Marmalade, Ginger, Boots were much too ordinary, Ivan was too stern and Sparky too psychotic. I was at a loss and so asked my co-workers for suggestions.
Why don’t you name it Princess? Said Mr. Chang.
Because it’s a boy, I replied. But that would be different, he said. I’m not going to call it, Princess.
What about Kahlua, Ms. Graben, chimed in. That’s a nice name. Or Cassis? Or Crème de Cacao! she shrieked.
Since I was not interested in exploring the rest of Ms. Graben’s liquor cabinet I moved on to Ms. Gupta.
Ganesh is a great Indian name, she said. He’s the Lord of success and Remover of obstacles. But isn’t Ganesh an elephant? I ventured mildly. Oh dear, Ms. Gupta sighed. You know so little about Indian culture. I held my tongue but the irony is that Ms. Gupta is not Indian! Her real name is Brenda and she’s from the North of England. Five years ago she couldn’t have located India on a map of India but she married an Indian by the name of Prayan and since then curry has run in her veins. Prayan wears pants and shirts, eats hot dogs and watches football. Ms. Gupta insists on wearing saris, burning sickly sweet incense and playing endless hours of sitar music until I think my ears will bleed.
Before I could change the subject Ms. Snickety, Mr. Karl’s secretary, offered no names but advised that whenever I called it I should reward it with a treat. That way it’ll always come when it’s called. It’s Pavlovian.
Just then Mr. Karl exited the restroom and in a perfect Pavlovian response Ms. Snickety vigorously sprayed the office with an odor remover. Actually it was Mr. Karl who came to the rescue. Name it, Jonesy and be done with it, he growled.
Jonesy was the nickname of a former employee we had all admired who had since taken her designing skills overseas.
Over the next week or two whenever I called Jonesy by name I gave him a treat. By the end of that time he came whether I gave him a treat or not. Mr. Pavlov would have been proud.
Now I’ll give Jonesy his two whiskers…
What he doesn’t tell you is that for the first week he called me Lady. That’s right, Lady! I didn’t know any better and I was beginning to get used to it when a neighbor came by to look at me. She turned me upside down and pointed to a scar down there and started laughing. From then on my master called me Jonesy. Talk about confused. I’m probably scarred for life. But after a while I got used to Jonesy.
Whenever he had called me Lady he gave me a treat, but now that he was calling me Jonesy he gave me two treats. I hoped he might change my name again and give me three treats but then he stopped giving me treats altogether! And I still came whenever he called me. Even now after all this time, I still do it! I can be fast asleep in one of my other homes – I’ll get to that later – and all of a sudden I hear Jonezee! Jonezee! piercing my dreams. It doesn’t matter how comfortable I am, something makes me drag myself up and go home. It’s not only infuriating, it’s embarrassing! Other cats, Prince especially, always make fun of me when it happens. Jonsey, your master’s calling. Off you go like a good little boy.
But two can play at that game. Now I often wait until the middle of the night and then I howl outside the door and I don’t stop until Mr. V opens it. Oh yes, when I figured I’d have to give him a name, a lot of unflattering ones came to mind but in the end I settled on something simple and easy to remember – Mr. V.
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