I take the dog for a long walk this morning, returning just in time to catch Christina before she leaves for an early meeting. We kiss goodbye in the alley behind our apartment. She drives away. Thinking that I am alone, I address the dog.
“Come on, Lorenzo Pooperstein, let’s go inside and get you some breakfast.”
But I am not alone.
Our building manager says, “I thought his name was Mortimer.”
His tone is serious. I sense genuine concern that he has been calling my dog by the wrong name all these years.
“His given name is Mortimer, but he goes by many nicknames,” I say. “Mortimus J. Pooperstein, Poopadidamiss, Poopadidamiss Rex, Hans Gruber, Lumpkin Pittman, Cuddle-Burger-Bear, Raul…”
The list is endless because the names are cultural flotsam. I dish them out on a whim, and at any given moment a couple of dozen seem to stick, if only because Christina and I think it is funny to call our dog Octavio Gorgonzola. This is silly business, but the building manager is not a silly guy.
“That’s amazing he remembers all those names,” the building manager says. “Dogs are so smart.”
We part ways. But after a few steps the building manager turns and says, “Have a good breakfast, Lorenzo Pooperstein.”