What with the back-and-forth about naming, Carter suggested that Carrie and I share the process we went through to name Old Cat Died. (Thanks, Carter, for your praise - we think it's a good name too.)
The funny thing is, though, unlike Carter and Juana, with their lists of possible names, the name "Old Cat Died" actually came well before we actually started selling pottery, and well before we had an etsy page.
Several years ago, when Carrie and I were dating, we went to a festival in Durham, NC, the Festival for the Eno. (Side story - then, just as now, I never carried cash. Unfortunately, we discovered that you could not buy tickets with a card. Carrie had to pay with a check for us to get in. She still periodically reminds me that I never paid her back. But then, I didn't pay for her coffee on our first date either.)
At the festival, we saw a fantastic jug band called the Carolina Chocolate Drops. We so loved this group - three young African American musicians steeped in the traditions of black folk music and playing it with an energy it probably hasn't seen since the 1920s - that we bought their album right away and listened to it nonstop for weeks.
One of the songs on that album was a traditional dance tune called "Old Cat Died." The lyrics are about as simple as you can get: "Old cat died, kitten got cold, she don't come around here no more." Something about that song struck us, and Carrie made up her mind that one day she was going to have a business called Old Cat Died. She didn't know what - a gallery, a studio, a cafe, a bookstore. But whatever business we started would be Old Cat Died.
Something we never considered - the initials are OCD. I find this very ironic for personal reasons. Something else we never considered - when you Google "old cat died," you get some really sad stories. And another thing - Old Cat Died would have been a terrible name for a cafe.
What we did realize, and the reason we were drawn to the title, is that Old Cat Died is a great story in itself, a capsule story. It can be interpreted into an inspiring speech about moving on after tragedy, or into a cautionary tale about being good to your mother. It could be a social commentary, a spiritual parable, a super-condensed poem. It's funny, sad, gnomic and zen-arific. As a literary critic, I like playing the interpretation game with Old Cat Died, and I like learning what other people hear when they hear "Old Cat Died."
Most people laugh. Why not?