A Cat by Any Other Name

tampillow-blogFlashback: June, right after I got out of the Air Force. I could finally have a pet again, and I bought something I’d wanted since I was a kid: a Siamese kitten.

Mom took me to pick him up, in a little town not far from Montpelier, VT. He was not the cutest kitten in the world. He looked sort of like a white rat with a Jimmy Durante nose–said nose appearing gargantuan since it was nearly the only part of him that had darkened to seal point.

Driving home down windy Rt. 2, I held him tightly, and we bandied name possibilities. Ultimately I named him Tamino, after the prince in Mozart’s Magic Flute, but in the car, Mom lobbied hard for “Mi-Mou,” pronounced so “Mi” rhymed with “tea” and “Mou” with “pow.”

“Mi-Mou?” I said. “What kind of name is that? Where is it from? What does it mean?”

For the longest time, she wouldn’t tell me the truth. It meant cat in Siamese, she said. Uh-huh. Or maybe it was the name of a famous Siamese cat she’d read about somewhere. That could be it.

We went round and around, her hemming and hawing and me asking questions. Finally she came out with the truth: she’d made it up.

Her logic:

  • The eeeeevil Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp were one of my first introductions to the breed.
  • Lady and the Tramp is a Disney movie.
  • Mickey Mouse is Disney’s mascot.
  • Contracting Mickey Mouse to Mi-Mou would make a cute name for a Siamese cat. Or something.

So…if my mind makes some peculiar leaps at times, well, I come by it honestly.


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