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Who is Fred?

Our journey to ultimate Fredness, which may at first blush seem an odd way to refer to building a house, began years and years ago in Kevin’s head.  He has dreamed about building a house as long as I’ve known him, and long before that.  Early in our relationship I learned that concrete would be the best material for a house, since it doesn’t burn (living in California, where entire cities burn down on a regular basis, makes one conscious of that) and won’t need repainting.  Kevin taught me to appreciate modern architecture, which appealed to my love of clean simplicity.

When our financial status became comfortable, and we both decided to retire early, that dream started congealing into a possible reality.

Well, as long as we left California, where a “lot” selling for a couple hundred thousand dollars can be the side of a mountain.  Literally; one we looked at required walking up to the guard rail and looking down.

It became Fred because Kevin knows how much a certain cat with that name meant to me; Fred was the boycat I had through nearly all my single years, “the one guy,” I used to joke, “who always stuck around.”

photo of Fred the cat

Fred exploring a fallen tree, Atlanta 1990's

He and I communicated without words, much as Kevin and I now do. — Laura

So why name a house at all? Well, a couple of reasons come to mind…

First, when you’re having a house built, it kinda-sorta has to be called something. The architects and builders will refer to it as ‘the foo house’, where ‘foo’ equals the last name of the owners, i.e. The Smith House. That works pretty well if your name is Smith; it’s not so great if your name(s) are Heisner-Marshall and/or Nathanson. (Let’s just say that it’s a naming convention that does not stand the test of time when exposed to modern-day hyphenations and brides who keep their original last names.) So, we decided that option wasn’t going to fly.

The clever way around that is to give the house a real name. Famous houses have real names, like San Simeon and Fallingwater. Pretentious houses have names like Heathcliff and Briarglenwoodmillscreekdale. (That last one requires a large mailbox, but you get the idea.)

Well our house isn’t going to be terribly pretentious, and unless something newsworthy happens next door, it hopefully won’t be famous, so those classes of names just didn’t feel right. We wanted something simple, friendly, easy to remember and spell, and something that evoked a good feeling and a smile.

At least for Laura and I, nothing evokes a good feeling and a smile quite like a cat. It didn’t seem fair to favor one of our three guys more than the others—we love them all equally, as any good parent will tell you—so we couldn’t name it after a current cat-in-residence. Hence we went with the felinus-emeritus that had the perfect friendly, easy name for our house.

So, in however many months/years it will take to finally finish it, our new home will have a sign by its door that says, “Welcome to a house named Fred” 

It has a good ring to it. — Kevin

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