Sylvia brought me a glass of cold water. I took a couple swallows. Ah. That was good. I set it on the table. I liked the way the sunlight gave the thing a mystical glimmer.
“You know the big question, don’t you?” I asked.
“The old thing about whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist?”
“Yes. My good friend the professor has a good take on it.”
“You mean Harold?”
I nodded. “According to him an objective version is preferable.”
“Let me guess. It’s what you make of it.”
“Very close, dear. He’d describe it as a four inch glass with two inches of water in it.”
“I like that.”
“So do I. Oh, and by the way.”
“That stray calico cat who has adopted me? I got a lot of suggestions for a name from my friends on the internet.”
I got out my notebook. “Mehitable.”
“I’ve never heard that one before.”
“It’s from a couple of cartoon characters by Don Marquis, a writer for The Evening Sun in New York in the early 1900s. Archy the cockroach, and Mehitable the cat.”
“Must have been before my time, heh-heh-heh,” Sylvia said.
I laughed. “Indeed it was. Anyway, the name Sylvia came up."
"Another suggested Twiggy, at least until she fattens up a bit. Or Cicciolina.”
“Yes, that’s good.”
“ ‘C for Cat,’ of course.”
“Then came ‘šukarije,’ which in Romani, the Gypsy language, means ‘beautiful.’ And also ‘Pořado’ for big, wide open eyes. Another speculated the cat might already have a name, which she might even be kind enough to tell me, provided I listen carefully.”
“Now there’s a good idea,” Sylvia said. “Didn’t you say that Elena told you to listen to the trees in the orchard that you now are watering for her?”
“Indeed she did. And I thought yesterday I heard a few whispers.”
“I will. Then there’s Carmella, or something like ‘spotted carmel.’ Or, ‘Nebula Black.’ Or, Spirit. Or Persephone.”
“Some good ones are in that list of yours.”
“Mordecai. Ophelia. Ladecai. Anorexia. Shadow. Karma. Gigi, for gatto-gatto. Ragazza. Fiona. Aoife. Lucrezia. Stella. Elisabaeta. Fitz. Imelda. 006.”
“Hold it right there. What in the world is 006?”
“I presume it’s the secret agent that came before James Bond’s 007. Or maybe something from Goldeneye.”
“Never mind. Then Olivia. Mathilde.”
“So which did you pick?”
“The one Vittoria suggested, of course.”
Sylvia smiled. “I have a feeling you would accept whatever she came up with, no matter what it was.”
“No, I decided it entirely on its merits.”
“So come on. What is it?”
“It’s from the term Sedreh-pushi, which is an initiation ceremony for young people who are about to enter the Zoroastrian community.”
“Hmmmmm. That gal of yours is quite creative, isn’t she?”
My big smile told Sylvia that I approved of her most accurate characterization.