I have been dreading writing this post, but also really want to have it up. So, let's power through, shall we? Then we can get to the photos of this adorable cat and be done crying for the day, maybe.
My husband, Matthew, brought Herman to live with him seven years before we got together. After making the move to Knoxville (from Alabama), Herman would move to two other cities with Matthew before settling back here. Early in our relationship, Matthew once demonstrated how readily Herman came to him when his name was called. I probably single-handedly eroded that neat trick—though surely not their long-lasting bond—with the torrent of ever-evolving names I called Herman. It started simply enough when Matthew, a fan of the television series Arrested Development, began jokingly calling him "Hermano" from time to time. I ran with it. Hermano became Hermanito, Hermansquito (goofily pronounced hermanskweeto), then devolved into just Squito, Squito-Bido (yes, skweeto-beeto), and finally landed pretty hard on plain Bido, which most commonly extended into Bido-san. You know, to show respect. I guess.
That definitely wasn't it, though. He was also any number of terms of endearments: cutie pie, cutie pants, fuzzy pants—all sorts of pants, really, including his longest and silliest name Reyito Hermanito de los Pantalones. Also frequently "noodle"—my catch-all for (non-human) animals I want to address affectionately—including "noodle head" and, most perplexingly but also most frequently, "noodle butt."
He was also regularly called Little Buddy. Herman called my husband Big Buddy. (He called me Big Buddy's Girlfriend/BBGF for most of his life.) I made that cat talk so much. A ridiculous amount.
Bud and Herman are closely tied in my memories, because they were both already on the scene when I met my now-husband. As I wrote in Bud's memorial post, that dude was some kind of special. Everybody knew it, too. But almost no one knew Herman. He'd had a rough first year of life before he got to my husband, and he did not rise out of it an alpha cat. He was frightened of almost all strangers and took to a secure hiding place should one come through his front door. (He grew out of this a little bit in his last couple of years as an old man who had run clean out of fucks, which was pretty cool). Herman was a super-anxious little guy, concerned that he would not get what he needed in this world, and handled Bud's illness with what I will generously call a lack of grace. I always liked to think that Bud and I were a little kindred, taking in the big picture while living in the moment, but the truth is, I know there's a lot of Herman in me. There's a lot of Herman in all of us: just trying to make it through without being hurt, and acting out of fear more than we need to.
Herman wasn't only a little shit, though. He was also curious, playful, and way engaged with the world around him. Every box, paper bag, and open kitchen cupboard held a new surprise for him, and he explored them all. Given the chance, he liked to think he would've proven himself a stone killer (just ask the pigeons on the fire escape protected by window glass), but he channeled those skills mostly into drowning rubber bands in his giant water fountain, which he adored. Man, did he love that fountain. He was one enthusiastic jumper in his younger years.
He also trusted my husband and me entirely. He never hesitated to walk up, look me in the eye, and yell when he was hungry. His verbal communication left nothing to misinterpretation. I'm so glad he trusted us enough to boss us around. I'm happy to have waited on him hand and foot. We loved him so very much. We are much bereaved.
Herman spent much of his life, and every possible moment of the winter months, on my husband's lap.