What’s-his-name sat outside in the hall chewing on the rug and washing his face as we discussed his future in the kitchen. Now and then he dozed off only to be awakened when our debate got noisy.

“We’re going to decide on a name before we leave this table!” I insisted. It’s no easy thing for a family to name a kitten. Besides, a sense of guilt was involved. What’s-his- names’s predecessor had suffered for weeks during an identity crisis until we grudgingly settled on “Bosco” to give him legal status. But we rarely addressed him as Bosco. It just didn’t fit.

Once, son Steven took him to the vet’s to get a wound patched and was taken by surprise when the vet asked, “What’s the cat’s name?”

“Richard,” said Steven without blinking an eye. “Well, Richard, we’ll have you as good as new in no time,” the vet promised

Richard Bosco took this quite calmly, seeming to understand the alias was necessary. But, sad to say, he eventually went missing, having left town or gone to his heavenly rest. Our sense of loss was deepened because he went into the Great Beyond (or possibly out of town) in the midst of this identity crisis.
Whoever keeps the records up there on exemplary cats may have included him in the miscellaneous column.

Back in the kitchen name number 27 was nominated. “I like ‘Duncan’, Janis said. “He was a Shakespeare character.” This brought on a flood of Shakespearean suggestions: Hamlet, MacDuff and Romeo, but ‘Duncan’ held on with a second place ‘Tigger’ because of what’s-his-name’s striped overcoat. Duncan won the tie-breaker and he was carried in, snoozing in Denise’s arms.

“What nice stripes!” my wife Barbara said. “Look how they form a perfect ‘M’ over his blue eyes. Why didn’t we give him a name that began with ‘M’? Suddenly, ‘Duncan’ was dumped and after the tenth ballot we woke up what’s-his-name and said, “Hello Max!” He rolled over on his back and went to sleep again.

“When he’s on his back like that, ‘M’ becomes ‘W’ Carolyn pointed out. “Let’s call him ‘Willy’.”

“Okay,”I said. “When he’s on his back, he’s ‘Willy’, but upright, he’s ‘Max”.

“You’ll be confusing Duncan,” Janis protested.

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