People often ask what my life is like. They think the life of a science-fiction author is really as exciting as the lives of the characters in a science-fiction novel. It's really not. My life is rather boring. It's what you would call normal. It's my neighbors who aren't.
First of all, they're just weird. I don't think they have quite evolved yet. When confronted with this question, they think the Missing Link is edible. They can't tell the difference between the meanings of anthropoid and arthropod, so they think that chimpanzee and krill mean the same thing because the two words (chimpanzee and zinc (Don't ask me; I don't know where zinc came from.)) "look alike, sound alike, and smell alike." I have no idea what they mean by that. As I've said, they're weird. They like reading my (unpublished) novels, but they don't seem to understand them. For example, they don't know what positron means. Since it is used often in science fiction, they assume that it logically has to mean a hostile killer robot from the Epsilon Eridani star system. They can't tell the difference between an HTML document and a CGI script, especially when it says <HTML> at the top of the HTML document. They also think that broccoli spears has the same meaning as Britney Spears. Therefore, ... um ... we won't go there....
Anyhow, their improper use of CD players brings me to the topic of their use of household devices. They like to borrow my refrigerator. Theirs probably functions; they just don't know how to use it. They drag my refrigerator to the middle of their lawn and wonder why it doesn't work. They use the lawn mower to trim the bushes. Also, they use the telephone as a television remote control.
The improper use of broccoli spears brings me to the topic of their use of food. They like food. For them, there is not a clear distinction between things that are edible and things that are inedible. They eat a variety of things, including books, colored pencils, dehydrated water, and cantaloupe with cheese sauce. Their refrigerator is not used for food storage and refrigeration; it is used for transportation, photosynthesis, and recycling. It also serves as a television.
As you can see, my neighbors are very weird. However, this essay is intended to provide insight into my life as a science-fiction author, so I'll change the topic. My neighbors always seem to mispronounce my name. Their pronunciation of my first name (Pittagarus) is always PIE-thugs-are-us. They always stress and emphasize the first syllable. They have different pronunciations for my last name (Coleoptera), but it always seems to sound like a disease. The pronunciations vary from malaria to diarrhea. My name also seems to cause problems for my readers. I get lots of fan mail. (The dates from these letters have been omitted.) Here's one:
dEer mR PITON GURU C.,
i Lik yOR bOokS. i thiNk their PREty cool. i Lik sieNSfiKshun.
I enjoy it when my works make others feel happy. Here's a letter from an excited, enthusiastic reader:
I hate your books! I only read the first page of one book to see how stinky you are. And you smell! In fact, you smell so bad that the garbage collectors wonder what the smell is when they come down the street! Stop writing this junk!
Wasn't that nice? It makes me feel so happy every time I read a letter like this to know that someone out there is being touched (figuratively...) by my books. I cannot describe the emotion I feel when I realize that my work is touching (again, figuratively...) the lives of many people in such a powerful and puissant way. Here's another letter:
Calio Coelop CMcLeopard
Im sorry but I dont know how to spell your name and I have a copy of one of your books here and it says Pittagarus K Coleoptera on it but I dont know what that means and that doesnt help me alot and Im confused and I would like to know how to spell your name so please send the corect spelling of your name to me thank you
That was an interesting letter. The person who wrote it did not write his or her name on it and did not include a return address. I hope she or he doesn't think I'm a grumpy misanthrope who writes just to earn money. (No, I'm not a grumpy misanthrope who writes just to earn money. If I were a grumpy misanthrope who writes just to earn money, I would not be writing this essay for free.) By the way, the correct spelling of my name is Pittagarus K. Coleoptera. Here's another letter:
[the top portion of this letter is missing]
Dear Ms. Coleoptera:
Congratulations! You have just won $10,000,000! [the rest of the letter is missing]
This letter seems to have been partially eaten by one of my neighbors. I hope the matter addressed was not too urgent. I was not able to identify the sender of the letter since the return address at the top of the letter was being digested (this word seems to have more than one meaning and may be misleading. I intend the meaning related to eating, not the meaning related to taking in information). The envelope had also been devoured. I offer my sincere apologies to the person from whom this letter was sent. I also receive fan e-mail. Here's a message:
Dear Mr. Coelenterata,
I greatly enjoy reading your books. So I looked up your last name in the dictionary. It says that it's a synonym of Cnidaria. Do you also go by that name? I looked up Cnidaria in the dictionary. The definition was "a phylum or other major division of more or less radially symmetrical invertebrate animals lacking a true body cavity and including hydroids, jellyfishes, sea anemones, corals, and formerly sponges and ctenophores." I didn't know you were a phylum. That is so interesting.
Your faithful reader,
Again, I enjoy it when people write to me. No, I do not also go by Cnidaria. I am actually not a phylum. My name is actually Coleoptera, not Coelenterata, and that also seems to be a taxonomical division. Not a phylum, though. Let's have a look at another e-mail message:
I really like your movie. The animals are so cute! The prince was cute, too. And that wicked stepmother of yours is so mean! I also like how you violently blasted those horrible aliens at the end. I liked how their guts flew all over the place.
Your #1 fan,
This message seems to have been addressed to the wrong person. I am Pittagarus Coleoptera, not Cinderella. Please do not send messages addressed to other people to me. They will only be returned. Next message:
I didn't know you had a last name. My math teacher never mentions it. We're studying your theorem in class, but I don't understand it. Can you explain it to me? I write a, b, and c down on the paper and draw squares around them, but the a and b squares don't seem to equal the c square.
An algebra student,
This message seems to have been intended for Pythagoras of Samos, who has been dead for a few millennia. I was named after him (sort of; the name passed through several languages and spelling and phonetic alterations). I can answer the question, though, but I won't here, for it takes up too much space. I replied to the sender of the message with further details. Again, make sure that the person for whom you are intending the message is the person to whom you are sending it. Those are just some of the fan mail I get. To print all of them here would take up too much space, memory, and time.
This essay seems to contradict the title. That doesn't matter. What's in a title? That which we call a nose by any other name would smell as well.
Copyright © 2002 by Pittagarus K. Coleoptera and Bewildering Stories.