A Pseudonymously Anonymous Life


“Pseudonymous” was a very strange name. But it was his. It was his only name although sometimes he wondered if it hadn’t somehow been slurred and maybe his name was really Pseudon Y. Nymous. But it wasn’t.

His parents had been hippies at the time he was conceived, a bit paranoid about their rather innocent drug habit, and by the time he’d been born, they’d evolved into “reformed former hippies and worried that the government might take out their earlier “adventures” (they’d not always been the most pacifist of hippies, really more pseudo-hippy revolutionaries) on their unplanned “love child”. Eventually, first one had split and then the other, each having grown into “irresponsible responsibility” and under a bit of prodding (really, more bribery) from their parents, they’d each returned to college, switching majors from the Eclectic Studies program in which they’d met to (oddly enough given their quest for individuality) Finance for him and Finance for her, although in different universities, in different cities on different continents, and consequently they’d never quite gotten around to bringing him up, or even seeing him again, ever. It was probably the drugs, or at least that’s what they’d each told themselves. The fact was, their respective psychoanalysts (paid for by their respective parents) had convinced them that they’d never had a child but rather had merely suffered from memories that needed to be repressed, and so they were.

Pseudonymous had been raised by various and sundry couples hired be his pernicious grandparents, all eight of them (although four were really step-grandparents), on condition that he never be told about them or about his parents. While his foster parents had maintained absolute “discretion” concerning his ancestry, after all, that was a major part of what they’d been paid to do, and they’d done a decent job of caring for him during their tenure, usually between three and four years. Murphy, however, could not bear the temptation to let sleeping dogs lie and eventually, Pseudonymous’s name being somewhat unusual, old friends of his parents from very bygone days somehow bumped into him while he was in his late teens and, well, to put it metaphorically, screeching cats flew from the bags were they’d been hidden.

Lots of questions but relatively few answers later, he knew a bit about who he was and how he’d come to be, a bit about how his parents had been, but little else. Especially nothing else concerning his lineage. Of course, in order to assure discretion, a generous weekly stipend to assure for his maintenance on a permanent basis was quietly arranged for by his eight sort-of-benefactor/grandparents, so long as no contact, direct or indirect was attempted. Consequently, Pseudonymous was singularly lacking in ambition or motivation. Video games and role-playing games and Comi-cons became his more than virtual reality, along with sex (when he could afford it), drugs (when he could scrounge them) and a bit of heavy metal rock and roll.

Eventually, a smarter than average, slender young lady, a bit older than Pseudonymous, realized that he was a decent enough free lunch ticket, what with his weekly stipend and all, and, having rather little in the way of prospects of her own, seduced him (not all that hard) and, without his noticing it, at least for a while, moved in with him. By the time he’d noticed it, she’d somehow attained control of his life by doing things he found boring (as in almost everything other than his aforementioned “interests”), and, well, … life was comfortable that way; why rock the boat. The stipend was more than enough for the two of them as long as they didn’t indulge in too many extravagances, and so they stayed together in a pleasant if somewhat loveless personal relationship, being extra-careful to assure that they always used birth control, whether together or with others, theirs being a somewhat open relationship. In fact, since he couldn’t tell her anything about his parentage (she assumed he was holding out but didn’t really care), she wouldn’t tell him anything about who she was, or at least about who she’d been, only that her name was Jane, Jane Doe.

And so they lived, and then she died, and then he died very, very soon thereafter, never having learned to care for himself. A virtually anonymous life come to an end, … well, two virtually anonymous lives really, templates for life in the Third Millennium of the Common Era.

Not much else to say really, although one might wonder what became of the former hippie financiers (they became yuppies and each married several times, careful not to have any further progeny); or the grandparents and step-grandparents (the grandparent–tree grew and grew through divorces and remarriages but the stipend fund had been set up when they were only eight, and it had proved adequate for both of its purposes). One might of course wonder about the identity of the somewhat strange parentage and grand-parentage. Let’s just say they liked politics and power a great deal, by way of Illinois and Arkansas and Washington, D.C., and New York City, but that their last name did not start with a C and that nowhere in the family was anyone named Chelsea, although they did have a very, very prosperous non-profit foundation that bore the name of but one of the families involved.

That’s pretty much it.

A Pseudonymously anonymous life.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at wacalvo3@autonoma.edu.co or guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

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