Naming Conventions

[Author: Bo Abrams]

My husband, the wonder-man Jim Dowd, was a naming savant. 

He named bands. He named blogs. He named bikes. 

From the day I met him I realized he had an uncanny sense of what would work and what wouldn’t in a name. 

As you might know, the trick is you can’t choose willy nilly (although he seemed to be able to) you have to have guidelines and rules. You have to be willing to free associate and at the same time be ready to cull what might be cherished. Even before Jim was naming things professionally, he instinctively understood constructs were necessary for success.


Before Rebecca was born Jim and I were pondering what we might name our soon to be offspring. We’d been calling the in utero creature Saugus, because place names are sexy!

But we needed a name for someone going to public school.

We chose these rules:


  1. You have to try it at the top of a resume. 
  2. You have to be able to yell it off the back porch easily.
  3. You have to be able to say it the same in Massachusetts as elsewhere.

(Because of the whole “In Boston you take the “R” off the Chair and put it on the Sofa” thing -it gets you Chayahs and sofers.)


All three have to work. 

For example, I worked at Carter Notch Hut in the White Mountains and I thought Carter would be a terrific name. Did I mention place names are sexy?

Anyway, It looked good at the top of a resume. Carter Dowd. It had a nice ring to it. Strong. Simple. Check one.

So Jim yelled it off the back deck into Lanes Cove. 

“CARTER” it carried. It soared.

Until the “In Boston you take the “R” off the Chair and put it on the Sofa” test. 

Total fail.

Sure enough when Rebecca was in kindergarten there was a boy in her class whose name was spelled  C A R T E R.

Through the entirety of elementary school not one person pronounced the R at the end of his name. EVAH.


Over the years, Jim’s regular rants and random titling of pets, cars, political campaigns, etc… fostered naming savvy in Treely and Rebecca, so much so, when they heard we were getting a kitten they immediately created a shared google Doc: 

They made one rule: No people names.


If you wonder how Jim lives on in his children I offer this:


Potential Kitten Names for the Kitten formerly known as Anderson




Lemon Spoonful


Dandelion (dandy for short)

Vegetables (veggies for short)

The Goat





ALL the TS Eliot cats



The Wall

Tigger- only kidding 😉

Uncle Deadly

Colin Meloy 



Zucchini (zukey) 


Fingies (short for fingers)




Cthulhu (short for Cthulhu Saves the World: Super Hyper Enhanced Championship Edition Alpha Diamond DX Plus Alpha FES HD – Premium Enhanced Game of the Year Collector’s Edition) 

Almond butter


Musk (short for Elon musk)

Elon (short for Elonian Armor from the game Guild Wars 2)


Ronald McDonald

Dick Turpin


Damn Cat

Cut that out!


Mr. Meow

La la la Linoleum


Also please note these clarifying questions: If this kitten has an honorific will it be Senator or The Honorable?

Answer: Senator


Question: Does the name need to be gender neutral?

Answer: Gender is a human construct

(not recounted here but there was also an extended pedantic discussion about if it’s not a person name how can it be gender based.)


Question: What about the name he was given by the foster family.

Answer in slightly pontificatory tone: Cats have more than one name. We can have that be his first name.


Question: Shall we tell everyone what we named the kitten?

Answer: Fuck No, Make them guess.


Anyway. Clam friends. Jim’s legacy lives.




Introducing Senator Anderson Lemon Zucchini Abrams Dowd

10 weeks old and weighing in at extremely adorable.


Zukey. For non resume purposes.

And easy to yell off the back porch.