One night I spelled out my name
in neon lights.

Before I knew it, everyone was
flocking to me. I was the main event.
I performed a routine I had
practiced far too little.
When I was done, they sat in
awed silence, before shaking the
place with raucous applause and whistles.
People from far away heard about the performance
and soon it was standing room only.
They asked for an encore and
I did it again. And again. Before long,
people began to say my act looked
rehearsed. They had seen it all before.
They had had enough.They started filing out.
A few kind souls stayed on, but then they left, too,
not with disdain but worse, disappointment.
The man who lived there took down my name.

“Do you know who this belongs to?” he asked.

This is an original publication.

Emily Cooper‘s first favourite book was the Sesame Street Dictionary. She edits other people’s words for a living, and writes some of her own.

Object(s) to bring back to life: “I miss Pluto. Pluto was unquestionably considered a planet all throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years. We had a mnemonic to remember all nine planets, with Pluto last, but certainly not least: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas. A grammar-head already, I probably wanted to put a ?! at the end of that, to express the incredulity of me and my friends getting nine pizzas from my figurative over-educated mother. (My real over-educated mom made reasonable portions of spaghetti and vegetarian chili.) It was the underdog (like Goofy’s pet of the same name) planet – the coldest, the smallest, the most distant from our Mother Star. I guess I should have known the ending to that tale as old as time – sheer pluck, Hollywood-ugly looks, and a brave smile aren’t enough to keep you alive once the Powers That Be declare you a “dwarf” and kick you out of the solar system. Of course, Pluto is known for having an eccentric 248-year orbit that is difficult to predict and is highly sensitive to imperceptible changes in the solar system. It is also pretty damn cold. So I guess, in a way, long before its status was officially reduced, it was kind of an inside joke that male Pluto was the “shrill sitcom housewife” of the group, for these aforementioned reasons. (Venus, who is actually female, is pretty butch and is respected for her low-eccentricity orbit.) It doesn’t help much that Pluto was actually named by Venetia Burney, an 11-year-old English schoolgirl, who would be deemed today Hollywood-moderately-attractive. And so, it was in September of 2006 – when I entered my first year of college – that the International Astronomical Union downgraded Pluto from full-planet status, for failing to fulfill the third requirement for “real” planet status: “It must have cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit” (spelled in British, no less). Pluto’s mass is only 0.07 times those of the other objects in its orbit. Henceforth, it became known as a “dwarf planet”. The IAU, for their part, make a weak effort to console Pluto by deeming him a prototype for the Plutoid category of Trans-Neptunian Objects. This would be like calling a really “special” kid named Dave — who was exceedingly “special” when compared to Jimmy — a prototype for the Davian category of Trans-Jimmian Students. Who is really being fooled here? So what now? My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nothing. Without Pluto, there are no longer nine pizzas to eat. We starve.

But rest assured, Pluto, you will always mean “Pizzas” to me.”