On the Naming of Cats
Sunday afternoon, Dara and I are lounging around my apartment, watching football, drinking a lot of wine, and playing Scrabble. I usually go over to her place for Sunday brunch, because let's face it, it's a huge, gorgeous apartment on Central Park West and I enjoy soaking up the environs. But I adopted a little kitten last weekend, and Dara wants to meet him.The kitten is tiny - only about nine weeks old - but he's a beautiful, almost regal little fuzzy thing. He's a deep orange Maine Coon, and could probably pass for a baby lion if you didn't know better. Both of us are distracted from the game by his playful antics, but Dara is still kicking my ass. Just when I think I'm starting to catch up, she works off a P I've just placed and lays down "POETRIES" for a "bingo" and its attendant 50-point bonus.
"Fucking hell, Dara!"
She grins as she pulls her next set of letters from the bag. "Sorry, you taught me too well," she says. On the television, the Giants are systematically demolishing the Redskins, and in another corner of the living room, my kitten lays down for a nap while my roommate's cat Tattoo sniffs him curiously.
"Debra, what are you going to name him?"
"I don't know! I don't like the idea of just picking a name out of thin air, I want to wait until a name presents itself. Really, I kind of want him to tell me his name."
"You might be waiting a while before that happens."
I carefully align "AX" above her "POETRIES" to make "AR" and "XI," with the X on a double-letter space, and smile proudly.
To my horror, Dara immediately takes all seven letters from her rack once again, and starts laying them out... to spell "UNICADE." And then she starts calculating her score.
"Oh, hell, no," I say, reaching for my well-worn dictionary. "I'm challenging that one." I flip through to the right page, and once I've satisfied myself that it's not there, I show Dara.
"But it has to be a word," she says. She flips through it herself for a moment. "Look, right here: '-cade' is a suffix that means a procession, like with a motorcade. Well, I'm just saying that a unicade is a procession of one."
"What?! Dara, you're already humiliating me, I'm not letting you invent new words."
She relents, and after she selects another word, it's my turn again. While I'm deliberating, Dara sets down her wine, stands up, and says, "Watch this." She throws her head back, and starts strutting toward the hallway. When she gets to the end of the hall, she turns around, and starts strutting back.
"What the hell are you doing?" I ask.
"I'm a unicade," she says, and starts giggling. I can't help but laugh, too, but I roll my eyes, and Dara sits back down.
At that exact moment, the fluffy orange kitten stands up from where he's been napping, stretches out, then starts marching regally across the living room toward the kitchen, where his food is. Dara whispers, "Debra!" and points toward the kitten. "He's a unicade!!" We both burst out laughing, as the kitten continues his procession kibble-ward.
And that, dear readers, is how my new kitten came to be named 'Unicade.'