A Cat Named Ivan

Years ago here at Uni, a friend of mine, Steve, lived next door to a couple of stoners. They would frequently hang out with Steve and his then-roommate, Tim. Early in the autumn semester, these two guys, the neighbors, bought a cat doll from a local shop. It was one of those Halloween decoration dolls, the kind you’d find at a discount shop. The kind with a tall, arched back, long, thin legs, black, bristly fur, sharp fangs, and a red painted mouth.

So they had this cat doll. They thought it looked cool, and Halloween was fast approaching; they wanted to decorate their room appropriately. So they got the cat and some other decorations, and that’s just what they did.

November rolled around, the end of that semester fast approaching. The two guys (I never knew their names. I never even met the guys) started complaining to Steve that the cat was talking to them. They were increasingly afraid of the cat doll. Yes, it’s an inanimate object, but they were genuinely afraid that the doll was talking to them and probably attacking them in their sleep. They no longer wanted the “accursed” object, and so they asked Steve to take it away from them, and keep the doll. So Steve acquiesced and accepted the doll.

Steve wondered what he would do with the cat doll, but he thoght it was cool looking, so he started carrying it to the one place on campus where he and a bunch of our friends hung out. You see, in the University Center on Campus, there’s a room on the second floor designated as the Commuter’s Lounge.

The Commuter’s Lounge is a room with some couches and chairs and a television, set aside so commuters can take breaks in there between classes. However, that room became the perfect hang out for the geeks and the otakus and the like. People would frequently bring in game consoles and play multiplayer games. Others would often play rounds of Magic: The Gathering or other card games. People would just hang out and talk. The Commuter’s Lounge developed its own community, a tightly-knit one. It even has its own Facebook group, with the tag line “Come nerds one and all… Just keep it off the floor, the janitors are tired of cleaning it up.” (Or had, at least, the latest post, from a year ago, is saying that the page will be shut down due to too much drama in the CL)

So Steve brought the cat doll with him to the CL, and the doll gained a reputation. People started giving the cat a backstory, and eventually gave the cat a name: Thadeus Tiberious Maximillian Buttons. The cat was given a personality, and was a mascot for the CL. Eventually Steve would bring Thadeus, or Mr. Buttons, with him to anime club meetings, and he would become the unofficial mascot of that student organization.

Mr. Buttons became quite popular. He would tag along with Steve to various social functions. Eventually, Mr. Buttons would start to lose legs from general wear and tear. These legs would be replaced, one with a sturdy wooden stick, another with a plastic robot leg. There was talk of replacing the next leg that fell off with the leg bone of an actual dead cat, but thankfully that never happened, as far as I know. A second set of plastic ears were eventually attached, giving Mr. Buttons “bionic ears”.

Then came one day, about a week before the autumn semester of 2008 started, when I was in a thrift shop. I found a very similar cat, undamaged, and they were only asking a dime for it. I thought of Thadeus, and bought the cat. I brought the cat along with me when I moved into my own room in Central Drive Hall that semester.

Most of my friends who knew Steve and Thadeus were among the same social circle, the geeks and the otakus, mainly those who were members of WCU’s Japanese Animation Society, or JAS, or the anime club. One friend of mine, Alex, was the vice president of JAS at the time, and he was in charge of planning extra activities for the club, such as movie nights, gundam model building clinics, things like that. There was one event, though, that he did completely on his own, with no connection to the anime club, no funding by the anime club, completely disconnected and unofficial. He called it “Hentai and Chicken Nights”, where he would bring chicken nuggets or whatever and we’d get together, usually in Central Drive Hall’s Multipurpose Room, eat chicken and watch and joke about and laugh at the absurdity of various hentai movies. (Hentai is essentially anime/manga porn) The whole point of these events was to just laugh at how absurd hentai tended to be. (Alex would usually schedule these on the Friday nights before the WCU Gaming Club would host a LAN Event)

Anyway, it was at one of these events that I decided to bring my cat doll along, to let him “meet” Thadeus, and for the rest of the anime club people see that there was now a second such cat doll, this one in original condition. I already knew that my cat doll’s name would end with Buttons, and that he’d be Thadeus’ cousin. I hadn’t figured anything else, however. That night, though, various friends there saw the cat doll, noted its appearance, how the “fur” along its tail seemed to split into a second tail, just various physical details, and a name was given, along with the framework of a biography.

My cat doll became known as Ivan Denisovich Arturo Buttons. He was Thadeus’ cousin, born in Soviet Russia, who was born near Chernobyl, the radioactivity of the area having given Ivan a split tail. Ivan was born of vampiric ancestry, explaining his sharp fangs. He worked for a bit with the KGB and eventually deserted them, leaving the country and going into hiding. Now, the cousins were reunited.

In that following semester, Ivan and Thadeus spent a lot of time together, the two of them collectively becoming famous among those social circles. They even attended a LAN Event, and participated in a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament. In a complete surprise, the two were both knocked out in their first rounds. They didn’t even get a single attack in before they were summarily defeated.

In August of 2009, Thadeus and Ivan tagged along with Alex, Steve, Zach and I as we went up north to Indianapolis to attend GenCon 2009. The two cats got to pose in quite a lot of pictures with cosplayers and random people at the convention. There are quite a few pictures of Ivan where he may have gotten a bit drunk and started leering at certain cosplayers. I don’t know, I don’t control that crazy cat.

So there you have it, the crazy stories behind Thadeus Tiberious Maximillian Buttons and Ivan Denisovich Arturo Buttons, two crazy cats.

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