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story.lead_photo.caption As is Head Cat interment tradition, three garden gnomes stand silent vigil beside the rustic, ivy-covered cairn of Otus the Head Cat. Fayetteville-born Otus the Head Cat’s award-winning column of humorous fabrication appears every Saturday.

Dear Otis,

We moved to Arkansas in 1998, so it was with great interest I finally read your column last week about your untimely demise in 1992. Otis, we have lost many little furry friends over the years and can certainly relate.

I never miss your column. It really makes my Saturday worthwhile. Keep up the good work.

-- Donna Di'abbonato,

Bella Vista


Disclaimer: Fayetteville-born Otus the Head Cat's award-winning column of 👉 humorous fabrication 👈 appears every Saturday.

Dear Donna,

It was wholly a pleasure to hear from you even though your email contained a minor irritation with which your Head Cat has had to deal with since the beginning.

It's my name. After 30 years on the job, some folks still can't spell it correctly.

Our names are what we carry through life and, if we're fortunate, they'll name a street after us when we're gone.

There's a street at the Clinton Presidential Center named for City Director Dean Kumpuris (who is still very much alive). Even five blocks of East Markham Street were changed to President Clinton Avenue so we wouldn't forget him.

Street names live forever. Or until some future city board associates the street name with unsavory elements and pulls a switcheroo as they did with Asher Avenue.

The street was named for revered (and long-dead) Pulaski County Judge Joseph Asher (1858-1931), but a few years back the more tranquil western two miles were transferred to Colonel Glenn Road so as not to be associated with the crime-ridden, seedy eastern portion.

If I had my own street perhaps people would learn to spell Otus correctly.

Otus is a noble name from Greek mythology, but it's harder to spell than my original name of Ralph.

According to official Otus myth and legend as found in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, in 1976, there was a blinding light and a booming voice informed me that henceforth my birth name was out, and my Head Cat name, Otus, was in.

Is Otus so difficult? Just ask Aneta Corsaut, a longtime reader who lives in Ash Flat, an idyllic community of 1,100 just southwest of the state's Yankee Containment Center No. 4 at Cherokee Village.

Miss Aneta, a former teacher, is a woman of quick wit and impeccable taste. Nonetheless, she sent me an email addressed to "Odus."

When gently chided, she responded, "I am mortified. One would never believe that I read 'Otus' each week! Up here in the hills we have lots of variations on that name: Otus, Odis, Odus and Otis."

I feel great chagrindisment at having brought this dear, sweet woman to mortification. The thought of making a loyal reader vexed or disconcerted is anathema to me and runs contrary to the teachings of Kalaka.

How many columns would Miss Aneta have read had she, indeed, read them each week? On April 1, we celebrated 37 years of weekly Head Cat columns for this newspaper and its predecessor, the Arkansas Democrat.

Checking the archives, she would have read 1,854 of them -- each and every one credited to Otus the Head Cat.

Otus. With a "T."

And because two stand-alone columns appeared in 1979, Otus columns have been with us in parts of five decades -- the 1970s, '80s, '90s, '00s and '10s.

In addition, I am the current (2016) holder of the Arkansas Press Association's First Place Award in Humorous Columns (Larger Dailies). That is a humbling accomplishment.

But who was Otus (with a T)? In Greek mythology, Otus and his twin, Ephialtes (known as the Aloadae), were two giant sons of Poseidon who could not be killed by the gods or man.

In their unbridled hubris, they tried to reach heaven to overthrow the gods by piling Mount Ossa on Mount Olympus and then Mount Pelion on Mount Ossa.

They had almost succeeded when Artemis tricked them into killing each other with spears. After that they were condemned to eternal torture in Tartarus, which was a nasty place below Hades.

I, however, was predestined to a kinder fate after my untimely demise after I fell into a goldfish pond.

As is long-standing Head Cat tradition, my corporeal remains were lovingly placed in a 30-gallon, 1.05 millimeter, Hefty Cinch Sak and buried beneath a mulberry tree near the pond. It was one of my favorite spots and where I used to stalk chipmunks in my younger days.

A small cairn of native Arkansas sandstone was piled upon the freshly turned earth and three garden gnomes -- Emrln, Ganl and Weliin -- set out to watch over the shrine.

Until next time, Kalaka reminds you it's Otus with a T.

Disclaimer

Fayetteville-born Otus the Head Cat's award-winning column of humorous fabrication

appears every Saturday. Email:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

HomeStyle on 05/13/2017

Print Headline: Correct spelling based on Greek mythology

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