I named him that after I’d had him a few weeks. It wasn’t his first name.
His first name was Smokey, which while being a stupid name for a cat (even a black one) turned out to be remarkably prescient, for reasons I’ll explain.
I’d rescued him. Not sure what from, in retrospect. I’d gotten him from an ex-girlfriend who’d in turn rescued him from one of her friends who’d hung herself months before. She, my ex, had been a bit of a cat person and was starting to attract them in ever increasing numbers. There’s a special sort of gravity that those sorts build over the years; the little furry bastards just start falling into orbit around them and before you know it they’ve got 7 cats and it’s a full time job.
And they never bear to part with the little monsters. “They’re like my children,” she’d say when I tried to shuffle them out of her bedroom.
“That why they’d shouldn’t watch,” I’d say.
So, yeah, it was a little weird when she insisted I take Smokey. The others were her children. This guy she couldn’t get rid of fast enough, and once she did, she stopped taking my calls.
So, we got along well enough, the cat and I. And we still do, I guess. But I had to change this name. It was about 3 weeks after I got him. He was sitting on the couch, just watching me with bored distain, like cats do, when he coughed up a hairball onto the floor. We both looked at it a second as it oozed into the carpet, then he said, “Would it kill you to run down to the corner grocery and get me some smokes? Been off the stuff for 3 weeks now. It’s giving me hairballs.”
In retrospect, I suppose it’s strange that I never thought I was losing my mind. Lots of thoughts did occur to me at that moment, but none of them questioned what seemed to be fundamental reality of my cat talking to me.
“We’re changing your name,” I said, finally.
“What’s your brand?” I asked, getting up and looking for my wallet.
“Прима. But I’ll take anything that isn’t Menthol.”
“Great. Your new name is Regret.”
“Sure. Whatever. Doesn’t really matter, right? I won’t come if you call.”