I'm a new mother now, to a four month baby kitten that I've named Adlai "Cricket" Stevenson. While I've always been wary of pet people that refer to their little bundles of joy as "children" in general, I'm starting to see how easily it can happen, how one can fall into parent mode when a new, vulnerable life rests solely in your hands. But hopefully I won't become too comfortable with this concept, for I fear I may turn into this:
But it's strange how these things happen. One day, you're just looking out for top dog numero uno, and the next, you're buying food for this new creature, taking it for physical examinations, being handed an "adoption certificate," and, worst of all, having nightmares that the little varmint has fallen into a well or worse. And when someone calls the squirrelly little rascal "stupid" or "slow" for attacking the knob on your dresser, or for biting its own feet, you get protective and your mama bear sensitivities make you defensive. But all of this ridiculousness is well worth it when you come home to a little creature that seems to want nothing more than to love you and get showered by your attention. This strange new animal is now looking at you lovingly, as if you were the only person in the world that matters. Is that a kind of motherhood? I think so.
Although, you won't see me putting my precious one in a stroller and adorning it with sweaters. I'll save that for the gay couples that frequent Duboce Park (a friend of mine witnessed it, this is what happens when people aren't given the right to start an actual human family).
So, getting back to the name "Adlai." I love this name, and this man. Adlai Ewing Stevenson was a one-term governor of Illinois who ran for president; lost to Eisenhower--twice--but, the third time, when up against JFK and of course losing, was entrusted with the role of UN ambassador. Stevenson was known for his grandiose oratory skills, his wonky professorial demeanor, and as a liberal crusader for the Democratic Party. But his most resonant characteristic was his quirkiness, and an iconic photographic of his shoes:
Supposedly, Stevenson wore these shoes with great pride, as it represented his devotion to pounding the pavement while on the campaign trail. I only found out about this man and his mysterious shoes when this image came out during Obama's campaign:
There is one more sweet little anecdote about this obscure man of mystery and beauteous name, found via the wiki:
At the age of twelve Stevenson accidentally killed Ruth Merwin, a 16-year-old friend, while demonstrating drill technique with a rifle, inadvertently left loaded, during a party at the Stevenson home. Stevenson was devastated by the accident and rarely referred to it as an adult. However, as the Governor of Illinois he was told about a teenager who had survived an automobile accident while his friend was killed. Stevenson told the teen's father that he should tell his son that "he now has to live for two", which Stevenson's friends took to be a reference to the shooting incident.
If names become indicators of anything, my child/cat better grow to be something special.