Guest blogger Julianna Baggott is the author of four novels -- including national bestseller Girl Talk, The Miss America Family, and The Madam, as well as three books of poems. She also writes novels for younger readers under the pen name N.E. Bode –The Somebodies, her third novel in the series, will be released in September.
When the Pen Name gets a Credit Card Application
Dimpled with innocence, pie-eyed, still a young talent, N.E. Bode, my pen name, has always been a very real person to me. He attended the Alton School for the Remarkably Giftless, where he won the highly competitive Least Gifted Award. Raised by ill parents, he learned to fend for himself in the wilds of suburbia. Tactics he mastered avoiding the evil Brattle twins, he now uses to dodge the attacks of his insanely jealous creative writing professor (a recent winner of the Guggenpulitzheimer) who is trying to kill him with the likes of flambee desserts gone horribly wrong.
However, a few weeks ago, he became real on a different level. He was sent a credit card application in the mail.
Now, of course, I’d argued in the last election that he should be allowed to vote. Even though we live in Florida where voting rules are historically fast and loose (the motto is: Vote early. Vote often.), he was denied.
But for a credit card? I put the application on the fridge just to think about it.
One of Bode’s desires is to get a plaque put on his childhood home that reads: Childhood home of N.E. Bode, who may become a grand literary figure one day. The people who currently inhabit his childhood home seem insanely uptight. They’ve cut back all the ivy, added a grotesque addition, and keep the grass as tight as a golf green.
However, if Bode had some buying power, he would make the trip. He would buy the plaque. He would knock on the door and make his pitch.
I imagine him waiting on the front stoop, arranging the plaque beside the front door, like at the Thurber House, and how he’ll get so nervous, the old stutter will return and then the lisp, and then the head tick (a direct result of the Brattle twins). I imagine he’ll get a little emotional as well. It is his childhood home, after all. There are bound to be deep emotions associated with the place. His parents are both now dead.
Weeping, stuttering, lisping, ticking-out, Bode will most likely fail to convince the current owners to install the plaque. He’ll be crestfallen. He’ll fly home to his new digs (in a steeple within a tree in Central Park – long story), and sink into a little despairing funk.
I decide he’s not ready for that level of reality. I rip the credit card application in half. It’s wrong to protect him like this, but I don’t care. I’ll protect him for as long as I can.