By Misha Grunbaum


          I looked at my friend like he was saying he wanted manicured eyebrows.

          “Come again?” I asked.

          “You heard me. I don’t want to use my real name.”

          “Sure, but a pseudonym? Why not just get it legally changed?”

          “I don’t need to get a new driver’s license. I just don’t want my name on the manuscript.”

          “Look at me. You’re cool. You’re brilliant. Your name is awesome. “

          “It’s not about what I like or don’t like. Did you see that one HTMLGiant post? Sylvia Plath went as Victoria Lucas in the first editions of The Bell Jar. There's a whole book on pseudonyms." He poured himself a shot of Cutty Sark. “I like my real name just fine. But I don’t want an editor googling my name when she or he picks it up.”

          I sighed. “Okay, fine. But you’ll get it published with your real name?”

          “Sure, if you say so. We’ll have to see what the marketing people say. They got Jo Rowling to call herself J.K. Rowling, and it worked.”

          “So what kind of name were you thinking of?”

          “I don’t know. Something classy, something aristocratic.”

          “Well, F. Scott Fitzgerald is taken. So's Edward St. Aubyn.”

          “Wasn’t Evelyn Waugh good?”

          “Sure, but why copy him?” I thought for a second. “Hey, I knew this guy named Cambrian.”

          He snorted. “Cambrian? The geologic era?”

          “Hey, you wanted sophisticated. You can’t do better than Latin. Throw on a double-barreled name, and you’ll fit right in at the Crillon Ball.”

          “Okay. So I could be Cambrian Williams-Burke.” He emptied his glass. I poured him another.

          “I think you should be a bit more honest, though. You’re from the South. Say you’re from the South.”

          “I could do that. If I want to say I’m like Breece D’J Pancake or that Confederacy of Dunces guy, I’ll just find myself a hillybilly name. Clayton Rambler. Colt McCoy!”

         “That’s a cheap joke,” I said as I poured myself some Cutty as well. “You can do better than that. Come on, make it an honest pseudonym. Just use your pet and street name and make a Porn Star name.”

          “I never had a pet, though. I’ll make my first name Wythe.”

          “I like first names as last names. James, Ryan, Kirby...”

          “Kirby. Wythe Kirby. That works.”

          I smirked. “Hey, that rhymes with your real name. See, I told you your real name was good enough.”

          “Nah, man. ‘Wythe Kirby’ doesn’t pull anything real up on Google. I’m using it.”

          “Great. Does that mean you’re ready to start writing your book now?”