So, over the off-season, there was kind of a big change in DTB-land. No, I didn’t get married or have kids or experience any other kind of major life event. And I’m not being ironic here by framing something trivial like they opened a new KFC near me or they discontinued my favorite flavor of Pop-Tart as a “big change.” I’ll quit with the suspense-building and get right to the point.
Jabari Parker wasn’t re-signed by the Bucks.
The actual Jabari part, I don’t care about that much. He was good, but his fit was suspect and he didn’t play any defense (just to be clear, I still do not care about defense). I hope he does well in Chicago. But his departure from Milwaukee necessitated a major change in the DTB household.
My little kitty, Japurri Purrker, had to be renamed.
And that’s where the story begins.
Japurri pads into my office and stands by my chair, waiting for me to acknowledge him so that he can hop onto my lap and help me use the computer. However, I’m engrossed by an article on my screen, and I don’t even look at him. The big text on my monitor reads “Jabari Parker signs with Bulls on reported two-year deal worth $40 million.” It isn’t until Japurri meows at me that I become aware of his presence. Now that I see him, I scoot my chair back as invitation, giving him the perfect angle to leap into my lap. Instantly, I have a purring, warm fur-fluff turning around and around on my lap, making himself comfortable.
Once he picks a spot, I begin petting hims, but I’m unsettled by the recent news, and he can tell. I decide to be forthright with him, since he understands a lot more than the average cat. “Bad news Mister Kitty,” I say. “Jabari’s on the Bulls now. Your name doesn’t make sense anymore.”
Japurri looks up at me, his big eyes glinting with understanding. Then he jumps off my lap and trots out of the room, apparently insulted that I would even consider changing the name that he’s had since he was a kitten. I hadn’t even used those exact words, but his little kitty brain made the connection.
I consider going after him, but decide against it. He’ll forget that he’s supposed to be annoyed at me next time he gets hungry.
In the meantime, I start brainstorming new names for him, but the process is laborious and yields few results. “Japurri Purrker” was simply the perfect synthesis of an NBA player’s name and a feline theme, a synthesis unlikely to be matched. After an hour of frustration, the list of candidate names is paltry and uninspiring:
Certain Bucks players, I determine, cannot have their names altered to incorporate cat-themed words, no matter how much lexical sorcery I perform. For example, there is simply no way to fit the words “cat”, “purr”, or “fur” into the name “Khris Middleton.” Unable to commit any more brainpower to the task, I decide to retrieve my mail to give myself a break and get some fresh air (a weird state of affairs for me, given that I normally don’t really like going outside).
On my way to the front door, I spy Japurri (who still has that name in my head) peering out from underneath the sofa. Again, I let him be. Our relationship is based on mutual understanding, not on forced affection.
A brightly-shining sun greets my unadjusted eyes as I step outside. The shared mailbox of my apartment complex serves as a hotspot of chance encounters, and I make one when it turns out that the cute Latina from the apartment above mine is getting her mail as I’m getting mine. She is, in the parlance of our times, “thicc”, but this fact does not have as much effect on me as it once did. She notices that I seem subdued.
“Something the matter?” she asks, suffixing the question with my real-life name, which I feel a little bad about because I don’t know her name and am too timid to ask for it at this late juncture in our acquaintanceship.
“I have to rename my cat,” I tell her. “The basketball player he was named after plays for a different team now.”
“Oh,” she replies, before supplying, “I don’t have that problem. Jennipurr Meowpez can keep her name forever, unless, like, J-Lo dies or something.”
The fact that this normal-seeming woman shares my affinity for punny pet names makes me laugh. “I bet Japurri and Jennipurr would get along great,” I joke.
The joke seems to capture the woman’s imagination; after a moment of thought, she says, “You should bring him over! Jennipurr hasn’t had any kitty companionship in a long time.” When she says this, it occurs to me that Japurri also hasn’t been around another cat in a very long time, such a long time that he might not remember that other cats even exist.
“Sure,” I respond. “I’ll grab him and take him up to your place.” I take my mail back to my apartment and bundle a reluctant, still-annoyed Japurri into his kitty carrier for the one-minute trip outside. When I knock on the door of the upstairs apartment, her voice beckons me inside.
“Come in, the door’s open!”