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Writer and cat-ologist Anne Rivers Siddons once plucked an enormously fat, stray, “clown-masked” cat out of a parking lot in her hometown, prompting a discussion of cat naming that I’ve never forgotten.  Proving the theory that some things simply name themselves, and from John Chancellor Makes Me Cry:

He was startling to look at, and to this day I get a small, fresh shock when he comes rolling into a room.  He is not a handsome cat.  He is magnificently obese in the Charles Laughton manner.  He has dainty feet and a truly unfortunate, short, ropy, possumlike tail.  His fur is a sort of rough Scotty brindle, so short and spiky that it separates into miniature, serrated Elizabethan ruffs around his short neck when he moves his cantaloupe-shaped head.  The fur sits on thick, loose skin that you can move around, with the result that he looks like something in an ill-fitting cat suit, but we can’t find the zipper.  His face is pretty and poignant, like a Rouault clown. From behind, when he is trotting along on his short, bowed legs and little mincing feet, with his belly swinging, he looks like Babe Ruth trotting around the bases.

I was instantly in his thrall.

Siddons and her beleaguered husband appropriated the enthusiastic stray, and then:









Duo ou Les deux frangins 1948, from www.rouault.org








.  .  .  I have a theory that if you name a newly acquired animal, be he gift or derelict, right away, you have made him yours, and that only a heartless brute would wrest him away from  you and take him to the Humane Society .  .  .  I have, over the years, collected a few names that I consider especially appropriate for the sort of cats we get around here–huge, massive, and epically unadorable-and I trotted them out.  “Wabash?”  I ventured.  “You know, as in Wabash Cannonball.’  Chairman Meow?  Rasputin?”

“Not right,” said Heyward, regarding the depths of his martini as if the name lay there somewhere.  “Try some more.”

“Well, we’ve never used Piedmont.  Palooka looks right, but  .  .  .  Cromwell, maybe.  That weird round head.  Bismarck?  That head was just made for one of those iron helmets with the thing on top of it.”

“No,”  said Heyward.  “Crossroads.  His name has got to be Crossroads and I have no idea why.”

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