The cottage earned its noun by somehow looking as if it might do better decorated with curds or whey. There's not much risk of that, but it carried on with as much dignity as that allows. Within, Clio put her attention to the news, while Pierre disapproved the closet.
``It says here,'' she said there, ``a convention of people who refuse to be known by their nicknames was held in Frog Bridge, New Hampshire, over the weekend. I hadn't figured that for arousing enough passion for conventions.''
Pierre began closing the door, but reopened it, giving the closet a chance to improve its performance. ``You haven't experienced,'' he said, and having concluded that he knew where the sentence should end --- somewhere in the area of ``people thinking you'll like them more if they never use your right name'' --- reasoned if he kept saying words he might end up somewhere else, perhaps talking about light aircraft or the local potoroo situation, and avoided the risk entirely.
She accepted there probably was an ending in mind, and said, ``I wonder what they do at a stop-using-nicknames convention. How many different stories can there be about telling people to not call them `Bob' can you share?''
``If you're Mike,'' he started, and pulled a wad of security envelopes on which the towels too nice to ever actually used nestled.
``All right, that's a second. You can get called by the right nickname, or by the nickname for another name. Arthur gets called Tommy and maybe goes for hours without realizing why nobody's talking to him.''
``Good for inverts,'' said Pierre, making Clio protest that he meant introverts. He'd concede he did, but there weren't likely to be any stopping in to file a complaint, and he knocked over a tin can filled with unsharpened pencils.
``Or someone could try on a nickname and figure it doesn't fit, but can't get rid of it.''
``Like on the remote.'' By this he meant the tacky glaze remote controls grow, the one unlike every substance ever brought near the remote or even into the house, and can't be cleaned. It fastens itself to some key used rarely enough that giving up on the remote as a bad job and starting from a new one doesn't seem worthwhile, such as the ``8'' or ``Aux'', but is used just enough the irritation stays fresh. With none of this communicated Pierre shoved the envelopes on top of the unusably nice towels and knocked on the shelf's edge. ``You'd need nametags.''
``To share three stories?''
``I mean longer ones. Long enough name wouldn't fit.''
She allowed this, but said, ``If you don't want to be nicknamed, maybe they just write down what you don't want to be called. `Hi, My Name Isn't Jo'. It doesn't give the stranger much guidance what to call you, but at least you can head off the worst problems.''
``Want the nametag concession?'' He found the pencil sharpener which had broken just enough as to explain the unsharpened state of every other pencil. Switching to an all-pen household economy was easy enough to subvert all plans to justify a replacement, and it added satisfying heft to the debris falling on the unsuspecting foot.
Clio rustled a sheet of paper. She had been reading the news online, but rustling the paper gave the impression of reading more attentively. ``What would you do for entertainment there? You can't break up into groups of a half-dozen and sing rousing campfire songs about not calling someone `Billy'.''
``See who reads the most nicknames of `Margaret' without laughing.'' And here he pulled out a travel guide to Virginia, which he handed to Clio.
``Did we want this?''
Pierre shrugged. ``I got something out; that's victory.'' The vanquished closet spilled a plastic coathangers which had hung nothing since they were brought home from the store, two throw pillows, and a plastic bag full of plastic bags, in a submissive manner, acknowledging its helplessness before the search.
``How do you suppose a town gets a name like `Frog Bridge', anyway?''
``Replaced the Frog Ferry. It's progress.''
Clio shrugged, and looked up city-counties in the index.
Trivia: Marconi's name was added to that of the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company in February of 1900. Source: Signor Marconi's Magic Box Gavin Weightman.
Currently Reading: Thomas E Dewey And His Times, Richard Norton Smith. I've kept this in my car for months, as warning to would-be thieves that I am far too dull a person to inflict something exciting like an automobile theft on, but I'm trying to reduce the number of 700-page books I have laying about unread.