February 17, 2012 — Tender in the night he flew to me, out of the blowing snow, just before Valentine’s Day. Come in, I said, I’ll give you warmth, and shelter from the storm.
This is my furry Valentine, the yellow tabby tomcat, with the spiffy striped knee socks and the swirly, marbled dark chocolate back, who adopted me.
I thought of naming him Valentino, my Valentine cat. I’ve called him that, called him Tino for short. He doesn’t seem to care for it. His attitude toward it is, “Whatever.” Anyway, it seems like a heavy moniker for such an intelligent, humorous, gregarious, well mannered gentleman.
I could name him Greg, I suppose. I’ve called him various names to see how he’d respond. Besides Cat, he responds best to Chicken. Ideally, I wanted a name from the humanities. Names I came up with are:
Teddy – for Teddy Roosevelt (adventurous, intelligent)
Matisse – for his beautiful colors and for his initial M on his forehead
Picasso – a little long; nor is he blue, rose or cubist
Pierre – from Tolstoy’s War and Peace
Henri – debonair French name; French artists’ name
Vronsky – the lover from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and those days I’m ready to throw myself under a train
Leo – for Leo Tolstoy, and lions, snow lions
Chekhov – great author
Oscar – for Oscar Wilde, but I already had a cat named Oscar, and my neighbors have a cat named Oscar; I’d call Oscar and all the neighborhood cats would come
Scotty – for F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I had a cat named Scotty
Updike – for John Updike
Scriabin – for Alexander Scriabin, one of my favorite composers
Sasha – for Alexander Scriabin
Misha – for Mikhail Baryshnikov
Diaghilev – for all the arts and humanities
Tchaikovsky – another favorite composer
Mozart – the obvious; too common, perhaps
Schubert – good – cats like trout and crooning lieder in the night
Orhan – for my favorite living author, Orhan Pamuk, author of the novel, Snow; but, then, Orhan Pamuk names many of his characters Orhan – it could get confusing
Hemingway – the obvious; too common, perhaps
Wolfe – for Thomas Wolfe – sounds like a dog
Steinbeck – possibly
You’re probably thinking, “Oh, she should name him [Obvious Clever Name].” Well, I haven’t come up with that one yet.
So, in the middle of the night, when he jumped onto my bed, I thought, “Keats.” (Or did he say “Keats” when he jumped up? Was it a waking dream?)
But, getting back to the M … Viewing it upside down it becomes a W – Wendell, for instance, or Winston. Looked at sideways, it becomes a ∑ (sigma) – ∑und (Sigmund).
And then, this middle of the night thing: Plus, I have given other family members names starting with K – my daughter Kellie and my dog Kolia. Sometimes when I was calling them, I’d get their names mixed up; I’d summon my daughter – “Kolia!” She didn’t like that; nor did Kolia appreciate being called Kellie. So now I will have three to confuse. My granddaughters, whose names both begin with S, will enjoy it, when I call the cat Kellie or Kellie, Keats. One will say, “Nana …,” flatly and roll her eyes, while the other will say, “Well, you know, she’s getting old.”
So, Keats it is. Sorry R and Kellie, I know you liked Valentino; but I think he would have preferred being called Chicken to Valentino.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee … Already with thee! tender is the night. I am happy in his happiness.
… with John Keats
& F. Scott Fitzgerald