Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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The Cat Became Charlie

The tape drawer I was organizing tonight also contained some 3.5" diskettes, shoved way in the back. Most contained only duplicates of files already on my hard drive. But I found a few useful documents. And, on a disk submitted by two students in my Honors Program seminar from the fall of 2002 -- they were and remain a couple -- this amusing item, which was intended to fulfill the weekly assignment I'd given the class to find and interpret a "literary artifact":
ENGL 495b
Literary Artifact

Champ was the first cat we named. Champ wasn’t really a stray. He belonged to the nine-year-old neighbor girl. This little girl refused to let her mother mercifully put her kitty to sleep after a dog had snapped its back. Because its back was broken the kitten was incontinent, so our wise neighbors decided that it would now be an outdoor cat. That’s how we met Champ. Champ got about amazingly well for being paralyzed. He’d run as fast as he could with his front paws and swing his back half around corners like he was in some 1970s car chase. He would crawl up on the porch, trailing cat shit behind him and meow for food or just a little chin scratch. To name him Champ was a juvenile attempt at using irony to make light of his obvious shortcomings. But the utterance/vocalization of his name had a way of making his horrible condition seem better. Champ was really a sweet, sweet cat. We took him to the vet and had him put to sleep about a month later.

The little girl, unable to find her kitty, demanded a new one. Within a day a five-week-old kitten was meowing for food and affection on our porch. That night the kitty became Boo and found a new home with a friend of mine(I just found out he was named after Boo in To Kill a Mocking Bird while rereading this response. Her other cats are Scout and Atticus ). What had disturbed me even more than stealing kittens from little girls was the act of naming it such a horribly mundane cat name. If we were to use our God-given right to name the creatures in our world, couldn’t we create names that please us? Who could deny that Steve or 2X4 would not be inherently a better name for a cat then the precious Boo? The next cat belonged to me, or at least its name would.

Some time before the spring of 2002 a new stray cat started showing up around my house on Third Avenue. Mine. What about naming the cat after a professor from the English Department? I’m not in the English Department but my girlfriend is. Haw, what a funny this would be. This would have the advantage of allowing H____ to pull her professors down from academic loftiness to purrirific cuddliness. The cat became Charlie Bertsch.

Introductions were made when my roommate got home.

“Roommate, this is Charlie Bertsch.”


“Charlie Bertsch is an English Professor.”

“Aren’t you the cutest little thing, Mr. Flufers?”

Today there are two camps in my house. The first addresses the cat as Mr. Flufers. The second is me.
While those were hardly halcyon days for me, I still look back on them fondly, the way upper-crust Europeans regarded 1910 from the far side of World War I. And I continue to be honored to have had a cat named after me, even it was done under the sign of irony.
Tags: archive, humor, nostalgia
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