HatLogo HeaderAbout Fedora HeaderMayhaven Winner

The Pen Name Principle

I have always loved to read stories--all kinds of stories about everything from knights and damsels to monsters and mobsters. I cooked up characters in my head. I tried to please them. I designed snazzy apartments and built mental mansions for them, but they were never satisfied. They kept popping into my cranium at the most inopportune times--such as when I was riding my bike and failed to notice a boulder in the road. I smacked into the rock, tumbled over it and knocked myself out cold.

All because those people wouldn’t behave. I thought I might domesticate them if I wrote them down. No luck. They refused to sit still then and still won’t--but now I make them pay rent.


Watery Pair in red
Bold Red Pair

The Delicious Dream

At the back of my mind, I had another reason. I wanted to BE one of those people I dreamed about--somebody exotic. The day I discovered writers could change their names at will, I let out a whoop they probably heard in Brazil.

The Pseudonym Pursuit

I could become somebody else--a man if I wanted to--without a sex change operation or even cross-dressing. I promised myself I would become somebody new--just as soon as I thought up a halfway decent excuse.

Nom de Plume

I yearned to earn a name like Mark Twain--a name with the whole Mississippi River in it--much more showy and explosive than prosaic “Sam Clemens.” I ached to be the fourth Bronte sister--to take my place beside Ellis, Acton and Currer Bell. But what name to choose? Lady novelists  of the 1800s favored the name “George”--very manly--like George Eliot or George Sand. I don’t see myself as a “George.” My name doesn’t even start with a G--of course, neither does Mary Ann Evans or Aurore Dudevant.

What then? A man’s name starting with  “D”  David, Daniel, Deuteronomy--too Old Testament. Dick, Derrek, Doohickey--too comic. Desdemona, Deraldalina, Demijohnetta--that’s more like it. But I pined for a name with meaning.

Neon Duo
Pair in the Rain

Nom de Mystere

I needed only to look at my own head--or what was on top of it--a hat, the perfect symbol. Nothing better separates the covered-up cerebrum of the 19th century from the exposed scalp of the 21st. I’m talking real hats here--not baseball caps.

Which hats were popular with ladies of the Gilded Age? Gigantic hats towering with fruit, butterflies and birds’ nests--hats the size of pasta pots cascading with artificial flowers. The weight of the bows and furbelows alone pushes my head so far down into my shoulders I have no neck at all. I look like a fireplug with a pansy planter on top.

Chapeau de Mystere

If a lady’s hat wouldn’t do, perhaps a man’s?

Top hat, boater, bowler, skimmer, derby, kepi, panama, soldier’s, cowboy Stetson, sombrero, Bishop’s mitre, pillbox, slouch, Priest’s biretta, witch’s cone, drum major’s shako, mobcap, Aussie, dunce, topee (pith helmet), Trilby, stovepipe, newsboy, beret, toque, beanie,  porkpie, engineer, Amish, mountaineer, Homberg, Tar Boosh (fez), Revolutionary’s tricorner,  Puritan,  mortarboard graduation cap, Napoleon bicorner, sunbonnet, sock cap, Balmoral tam-’o-shanter, cloche, Jester, Glengarry highlander,  riverboat gambler, coolie, coonskin cap, riding helmet, Sherlock Holmes deerstalker? 

Stamp “Rejected” on every one.

Pair in aspic
Mottled Pair


Forever Fedora

What I really need is a hat suitable for both ladies and gentlemen. Only one genuine hat (baseball caps need not apply) fills that bill--the fedora--my ideal. A fedora weighs less than the state of West Virginia--and looks good on both lady and gent--impeccable choice.


Significant Surname

Now, all I needed was a last name.

I was stumped--until I hit upon the idea of an acronym--intials stuck together to make a word like “I-DOT”--a cute I-D for the not-so-cute Illinois Department of Transportation.

Great acronyms punctuate life, both past and present.

--From history:  GESTAPO--Geheime Staats Polizei

--From pop culture:  Phat--pretty hot and tempting.

--Even from the nonsensical TV world of Sponge Bob Square Pants:  EVIL--Every Villain Is Lemons.


Flecked Pair
Pair behind a lattice


Nom de Histoire

I asked myself the question, “Whom do I most admire in the 1800s? With no hesitation, I answered, “The women who aspired to be not ladies--but people.” Even with dozens to choose from, I had no trouble picking my top three. I’m about to wax preachy here, so kindly forgive me if you can--unless, of course, you agree. Then just say a big “AMEN” to my choices. “You go, girl” would also do nicely.

Fedora AMIS

A - for Susan B. Anthony--Founder of the Women’s Rights Movement and lifelong crusader who strove to abolish slavery and to secure rights for women

M - for Virginia Minor--Missouri’s own heroine who took the case for women suffrage all the way to the Supreme Court in 1876

I - for Iroquois--the original Native American feminists. Women used the power of the purse to dictate whether the tribe should go to war. They simply refused to supply the would-be warriors

S - Elizabeth Cady Stanton--first president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, organizer of the first American woman women’s rights convention in 1848 at Seneca Falls, New York--tireless worker to secure property rights and fair divorce laws for women. I love her slogan: “Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less.”

Blurry Pair
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