My husband's cat is Madrigal, a black tiger. It takes rather specific lighting to see it, but her fur is actually striped, two different shades of black. Maddy is eight years old and very small. I got her as a birthday gift for him in 2002 when I was at a loss for anything else to give him. She's extremely clingy and makes a point of letting pretty much everyone know that she's Daddy's girl. Apparently I'm the interloper here, despite having been in his life almost twice as long as she has. Maddy is a bit of a little lady; she doesn't do many of the amusing things that other cats do, almost as if she considers them to be undignified.
The one who owns me is an orange tiger who is appropriately named Random. Some of our nerdy friends assume that we named him after Arthur Dent's daughter from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series; while this is, all things considered, a perfectly reasonable guess, the truth is that he was named after the circumstances under which we added him to our household. This month marks two years since he waltzed through the front door and declared himself at home, so it seemed like the appropriate time to tell his story.
It was, as I said, October of 2008. Our house was very noisy; two of my internet friends were visiting from England, and our goddaughter and her brother had driven up from Tennessee to join the festivities. We had spent the day at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, which the six of us attended in full costume. Rounding out the group was my husband's best friend, who went as our 'team normal' in regular clothes. After spending the day watching human chess, jousting, fire-eaters and minstrels, we went to a local Japanese restaurant and sat at the hibachi grill. Yes, still in our costumes. It's sort of a tradition for my husband and me to stop someplace totally normal on our way home from the faire, just to see what kind of reactions we get. The Japanese place was pretty good, as far as weird looks and curious questions go, although the truck stop is still the funniest such incident. But that's another blog post.
Anyway, we returned to our little slice of suburbia, and two of our friends were happily comparing the swords they had purchased at the faire. For some reason, which I've since forgotten, we decided to take everyone's weapons collection and put it all together to see how considerable a threat we would make. The answer, as it turned out, was that between us we had enough bladed weaponry to entirely cover the air mattress on which my goddaughter was sleeping. She and her brother were due to drive home the next day, so after this was finished, they decided to put most of their stuff into the car.
Let me set the scene for you. We were out on a quiet street in a small town. The hour was approaching midnight. Six of the seven people present were dressed in full-scale Renaissance faire costume, and we were loading swords into the trunk of a 25-year-old Mercedes-Benz. Personally, my thought process was along the lines of I really hope nobody looks out of their windows and calls the police, because I imagine it must have looked a little...odd.
On the other hand, if anyone did look out, they might have thought Oh, it's just them, and gone back to sleep. My neighbors don't seem to find anything that happens at my house to be particularly surprising.
I was standing on the sidewalk, mostly just watching the activity, when a flash of orange near my feet caught my attention. I looked down and this little ball of striped fluff gazed up at me and meowed, as if to say "Hi! I'm here!"
The words were out of my mouth before I had time to think about them. "Oh, hey, a random cat."
I picked him up and the purring started immediately. As the entire group was comprised of bona fide cat lovers, he was passed around from one set of arms to the next. However, we thought he might have a home in the area (many of the neighborhood cats like to go for walks), so after everyone had had a turn, we set the little guy down and headed indoors.
He followed us into the house.
Maddy alone was not overly pleased, but she studied him; clearly he was still a kitten. Not too threatening. After a few minutes, she even condescended to wash his ears. He then kept wandering around and trying to get into everything, with me following him. "Random, come here."
"Why are you calling him Random?" asked one of my guests.
"Because he showed up out of nowhere. We have to call him something while he's here, don't we?"
Random spent the night sleeping on my goddaughter's brother's chest, and as he showed no inclination to leave even once all our company departed, my husband and I realized that we had been summarily adopted. And as no other name surfaced which seemed more appropriate for his personality, the accidental moniker stuck.
The vet informed us that he was just four months old, had a number of broken teeth in his mouth, and very possibly might have starved to death if we hadn't found him, so undernourished was he. He also had worms. Maddy spent the first two weeks alternating between ear-washing and giving him dirty looks, protesting the usurpation of her position as the baby of the house. After that, she seemed to give up and accept the situation.
Random has now grown to be twice Maddy's size, but he's still her "little" brother and, humorously, still tends to defer to her authority. She was an only child for so long that I forgot what it's like to have a cat who actually behaves like a cat, and Random is much goofier than any other cat I've ever had. He's our resident comedian; he buries himself under piles of pillows or blankets, steals people's seats at Thanksgiving as though hoping we won't notice the difference, races us to the top of the stairs whenever one of us goes up to the bathroom. He's a killer of string and a cuddler of sneakers and a moocher of breakfast cereal milk.
Why is my cat named Random? Because he is.
By request: A photo of Random and Maddy.