"We are all of us living in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." ~Oscar Wilde
"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." ~Amelia Earhart

January 26, 2008

The Cat Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken

My cat has a dirty, dirty name. I didn’t intend for it to be that way. It just sort of happened. About 10 years ago, I was living with my now ex-husband. One day, he brought a kitten home. She was a tiny little thing covered in black fur and had razor-sharp claws that loved to latch onto anything under covers that dared to move in her presence. We cooed over her and tried to decide on a name for her. I suggested Salem after the talking cat on the sitcom “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch”. (Silly show, fabulous cat) He suggested we name her after one of his grandmother’s cats that he’d grown up with. When I heard the name, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s cute!’ and agreed to it.

A few years later, I was lurking around on a Sims forum. It was just before the Unleashed expansion pack was to be released. Since the expansion added pets to the game, a thread titled something like, “Suggested Names for your New Sim Pets.” had popped up. Thinking nothing of it, I added my two cat’s names to the list. When I checked the forum again a couple days later, I discovered that a mod had edited out her name and left a note that read “This name could be considered racist.”

‘What the…?!?’ I thought. For the next few days, I ran around asking various family and friends if they had heard of that name being a racist term. Most of them did. Others looked just as confused and horrified as I was.

And, then, I pieced it together. That’s why the black girls at work had looked at me funny when I had told them my cat’s names.

D‘oh! Sorry, Tarbaby. :(


red said...

i think salem is a lovely name for a cat. i have a dog named gus and he keeps me company all the time beseides me playing games with him.

FerdC ~ Crazy Medical Cases said...

Horribly racist! I'm glad someone clued you in on it, because you really don't want to hurt someone's feelings, or worse, get them mad as hell at you.

Did you rename the cat? It's probably easy to do because they generally could give a shit what you call them anyway. They usually don't respond to anything unless they want something from you. I was once told that cats are just autistic dogs. That sounds right! ; )

Stephanie said...

I've never heard of that as a racist term, but this really made me laugh. I think the name is cute!

Berryvox said...

Red - Yeah, Salem would've definitely worked. Pets are fabulous to have around. :)

Ferd - Nah, I never bothered to rename her but, before I tell anybody her name, I always tell a shorter version of that story so that they realize I didn't know!

Stephanie - Some politician got in trouble a couple of years back for using that name. When I heard, I looked at Tarbaby and laughed my ass off.

alyceclover said...

One of my favorite Little Golden Books~think I will google it~was about a tar baby, but I did find out later it was considered a racist book. I also found out recently my uncle was nicknamed "Tarzan" when he came to the USA and later they just called him "Tar" or "Tar baby". There may be African blood in my Italian 1/2 of the family bloodline or ancestry.

Tazzie's 'mom' said...

What a funny story! So if you haven't renamed her, what do you call her? Baby? Or have you just continued to use it?

Berryvox said...

We still call her Tarbaby. We just tell the story whenever we introduce anybody new to the cat. :)