Ahhrghhh - the game is up!
As mentioned more than once, El Terreno, the barrio (neighbourhood) on the outskirts of Palma where I live, is a doggie paradise. Everybody has a dog and I know them all, impressed by their names like Connor, Toulouse, Zeus, Athos and Byron.
I should have called Koldbrann something noble like that, but when I got him back in 2012, how was I to know that I would one day live in a place with 1. lots of Swedes and 2. intellectually curious people?
Well, scratch 2. for now, but I'm leading up to it.
The reason why I gave Koldbrann such a, some would say horrible, name - it means Gangrene in Norwegian - is that my first dog ever, (2002) was called Piles. I told people it was because he was a pain in the arse, but of course he wasn't really. I just loved the name, and liked being able to say I was "living with Piles".
This was well before people started calling their dogs "fur babies" but even then I said we were just living together as flatmates, not "mother and child". I was and am against the idea of treating dogs like children when they are so clearly animals and, unlike children, will never grow up enough to start picking up their own poo.
So when Piles died of kidney failure and, about a year later, I found Koldbrann, I thought I would continue with the tradition of naming my dogs after afflictions. 'A slight cough' didn't sound dynamic enough, and although I did toy with the idea of 'Anthrax', I thought it would be safest to give him a Norwegian name, seeing no one would understand.
I told Chinese people his name was 老闆， Lou Baan - close enough and not unapt, seeing it means Boss and he looks like a cross between Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List and a sea lion.
How was I to know that, five years later, I'd be living in a rats' nest of Swedes? "Gangrene! That's not at all a good name," they say.
Oh how I wish I had called him Bjørnulf (Bear Wolf) or something instead, because around here, people think his name is Cobra! Ahhrghhh as if I would name my dog after a snake! Even 'Shingles' would have been better.
But my downfall came the other day, sauntering through nearby Bellver Forest. A woman with her own dog, a beagle, took an interest in Koldbrann.
"Cómo se llama?" (What is his name?)
"Koldbrann. No, no es Cobra. Es Koldbrann. Es un nombre noruego." (It is a Norwegian name.)
And then she said this dreaded thing that no local had asked me, but I knew this day would come: "Qué significa?" (What does it mean?)
Reader, to my eternal shame, I lied! I couldn't bring myself to answer "gangrena" and risk seeing her make a face like a Swede. I told her
"Es un nombre de viking. Koldbrann el naranja". (It is a Viking name. Koldbrann the Orange.)
and then legged it out of that forest as fast as Koldbrann could be arsed to walk (for he is an ancient geezer who has been through a lot).
I can never lie again, so that's out. Next time I must tell the truth. I'll just have to hope no one else possesses the same intellectual curiosity as this beagle owner, and stay away from Norwegians and Swedes until Koldbrann dies.
Maybe I should have just kept his original name, 汪汪， Wong Wong, which means Woof Woof in Cantonese. I should have known that all I had to do to make my dog's name go from being the same as every other mutt's to super special, was to change continents.
Today's Cantonese: 維京人 Wai Geng Yan - Viking Person
Do you want to learn more Cantonese so you can talk about dogs and other things! in your neighbourhood? Then you should Learn Cantonese the Natural Way - from a Norwegian!