Friday, March 7, 2008

Tomorrowville: My Evil Twin

I can't live with myself...so I guess I'll have to move next door. It's one of the prices you pay for multiple-personality disorder.

Back in the day, they used to have a commercial for L&M, "A cigarette for the two of you." The two of me? (How did they know?)

But, it's official: there's now two of me. By day, I'm wealthy socialite playboy David Isaak, but when night falls and the Bat Signal shines in the skies above Gotham, I'm

D.G. Underhill

David Underhill. David G. Underhill.


<==========That weird-looking guy over there.

And what, you ask (or ought to ask, which is why I'm asking on your behalf) does the "G" represent?

At the risk of sounding like a Sue Grafton novel, "G" is for "Godot." David Godot Underhill. (Why "Godot"? Because I've been waiting forever for Tomorrowville to be published. The book takes place in 2088; I was beginning to wonder if it would see print before then.)

Other noms de plume (or do I mean les noms de plume de ma tante?) were attractive. David G. Montblanc was caroling its siren song (or do I mean sirening its carol song?), but that was too silly even for me. Slightly. And variations on David Isaak like Isaac Davidson (which topped Janet's list) were also appealing, but a cardinal rule of tradecraft is when possible to change your surname but keep your first name, so that you still answer, "Yes?" when people shout out your first name. (Those of an analytical frame of mind will object that I also would probably respond if someone shouted, "Isaac!" True. But it would make me feel as though I were in gym class.)

Though, come to think of it, when someone shouts out "David!", half the men in the room over the age of 40 turn around. Of course, it's even more extreme if you shout "Jennifer!"

I used to work closely with a gay couple who were both named David, which resulted in interoffice phone calls that ran, "Hi, David, this is David. Is David around?" They told me they had gone to dinner with friends once and ended up with a total of seven people at the table--all named David.

There has been a lot of talk lately about differences in how Clinton and Obama are going about courting the Hispanic vote. To heck with that. If either of them could capture the "Jennifer" vote and add in a majority of the "Davids", they'd ensure a landslide victory.

There was a moratorium on Davids beginning in the mid-1970s, along with a move to phase out lead in gasoline (is there a connection? Might be...), but the Davidophilia virus is infecting a new generation of parents (most of them named Jennifer or Jessica and Jason or Jacob--"Gen J"). In 2007 "David" was back up to number thirteen on the list of most popular baby names in the US. Already I'm hearing mothers at Starbucks shout, "David! You sit down and behave!" And, of course, I promptly do.

So, I'm sticking to "David". Though you can call me "DG" now, if you like.

…leave the name of Baggins behind you. The name will not be safe to have, outside the Shire or in the Wild. When you go, go as Mr. Underhill.

And so I shall.

13 comments:

Matt Curran said...

Great name change, David

I was going to mention something about not fiddling with your ring or the name "Underhill" won't matter a jot... but that would be too geeky.

And besides, according to Borders bookshop on Oxford Street, London, you already are a Sci-Fi writer. I spotted Shock and Awe in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section, and it was correctly shelved alphabetically.

So I think your secret's out...

David Thayer said...

As a David myself I can appreciate the shouts across the room although my hearing is shot from that Who concert back in the day.
Going forth as DG UNderhill makes good sense to me.

David Isaak said...

Hi, Matt--

And we wouldn't want to be geeky--nope, not us.

Shelved in the sci-fi section? Hunh.

David Isaak said...

Hi, David. David here.

So it was rock concerts that did this to all the Davids? And here I believed we thought that "What?" counted as witty repartee...

Roger Morris said...

From one split personality to another, David G. Underhill sounds cool to me. One day you could get both of your selves interviewed and have one slagging the other one off, as I believe happened with John Banville and Benjamin Black. They can't stand each other, apparently.

David Isaak said...

Hey, Roger--

Damn. You make a good point. And if I'd had any sense, I'd have made one of me female, so we could have an affair and a nasty breakup in the press.

Hmm. Guess it'll have to be a gay affair. More of that David + David stuff...

Tim Stretton said...

Classy. I like it!

The nod to the Shire pseudonym adds a little intertextual frisson...

David Isaak said...

Hi, Tim--

Intertextual? No, I've always been a guy.

Wait a sec. Maybe I ought to go look up that word...

Raymond Obstfeld said...

A rose by any other name. I don't care what you call yourself, just as long as your books get out there. Both Davids are among the best writers I have read and I intend to buy a couple copies the very day it's available.

David Isaak said...

Hi, Raymond--

Gosh, now I'm blushing.

Rob in Denver said...

"I'll have a Bloody Mary and a steak sandwich and... a steak sandwich, please. Put it on the Underhills' bill."

Of course, David, now your cover's blown.

David Isaak said...

Ah, Mr Robin Denver--

That phrase echoed in the back of my mind when I read it, but I lost several of my remaining hairs trying to place it.

It's from "Fletch," but I had to resort to Google to find it.

I think you probably win the Obscure Reference of the Year Award (though there's still a lot of 2008 left to go). I might have placed the "steak sandwich" eventually--but I had no recollection that "The Underhills" had just left!

Janet said...

Hmm, I have a 25-year-old son who is getting married to a Jennifer. Have you been spying on me?

I hadn't thought of the first name angle. That's a good point. Seeing as I've pretty much settled on my maiden name as a pen name, I guess that won't be an issue for me, although I'm quite accustomed to answering to multilingual versions of my name already. Gianna, Janetya, Jeanette, Johanna.

Anyway, even if you didn't take my advice, David G. Underhill is cool. For all the reasons you mentioned.