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Your Pen Name Could be Leading an Exciting Life of its Own!

By Stephanie D. Lewis

Some of you might think “Little Miss Menopause” IS my actual pen name. And to those people I’d calmly ask, “What are you, nuts?!?” That’s simply a regretful silly title I chose for myself many years ago when I first began blogging and thought I should brand myself with something cutesy. Little did I know I’d box myself into hot flash humor. Forever. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t start blogging in puberty or I might’ve been “Little Miss Menstruation.”

Putting that aside, when I first started getting other work published “in the real world” (and didn’t want family and friends to be able to see some of my more uh… “unique topics” if they Googled me) I made up a pen name to hide behind.

That’s right. Back then I opened a new email account under the name “Samantha Stratton” and submitted things authored under that name to various publishers. “Samantha” because that was supposed to be my given birth name until the show Bewitched became wildly popular when my mother was in her last days of pregnancy and she feared people would tease me about being a witch, taunting me to twitch my nose to make them disappear. And “Stratton” because who knows? I like alliteration. Or I felt sorry for the murdered playboy bunny Dorothy Stratten, but misspelled her last name? Or I always had a thing for Stratton Mountain in Vermont? Honestly, who knows! The point is eventually I chose another better pen name (and I’m not telling you what!) and disregarded “Samantha Stratton” for good. But I forgot to delete her email account.

When I became single again and decided to try online dating, I made my profile at Plenty of Fish. But when it came time to correspond with men, I of course signed my messages to them by my name — “Stephanie.” However I didn’t want strange guys writing to me at my normal email address because I preferred them not knowing my true last name. At least not right off the bat — I suspected from that, they could easily obtain my address and other personal information and who knows what they might do. So which account did I send dating emails from? You guessed it. Unbeknownst to me, (because I have a menopausal mush mind memory and forgot about the discarded pen name) my emails were landing in their email box from a “Samantha Stratton.” Let’s just say “Ms. Stratton” was inadvertently reborn.

Fast forward to what was supposed to be a nice walk in the park with a potential new someone. “You must be Michael,” I said as we hugged hello. “And you are Stephanie, of course, heh heh,” he said with a sly wink. Weird.

As we ambled toward the beach, he asked if I preferred him calling me by the nickname Sam or Sammie? “Neither,” I said, thinking those were odd choices to give someone named Stephanie. But I ignored it. Later he inquired if I was a big fan of Saturday Night Fever? I held my breath hoping he was not about to break into a Travolta famous dance pose right there on the sand or confess his penchant for white three-piece suits.

Then he mentioned how interesting it was that I had chosen to be called Stephanie when other Stephanies go by Lady Gaga and Stevie Nicks.

“Okay, WHAT??” I finally turned to him in exasperation. “I did not choose Stephanie. That IS my given name. I AM Stephanie.”

“No problem, Stephanie. You can be Stephanie all you want. Your secret is safe with me, Samantha Stratton,” he said conspiratorially.

Okay, now we were getting somewhere! And I knew exactly how to sort out this strange mix-up. Once I explained to him that Samantha Stratton was a pen name for my writing that I forgot was linked to my email account, a light bulb went off in his head and he excused himself to use the bathroom.

When he returned he acted extremely humbled and impressed by me. There was talk of working in Hollywood and questions about double axels, forward crossovers, and spirals. More confused than ever, I begged off the date with an excuse that my cats needed to be fed and headed home to Google my old pen name.

Gosh! Ms. Samantha Stratton really got her act together since I adopted her name so many years ago. Apparently she’d recently risen to fame as the creator/writer of a new Netflix show called “Spinning Out” about professional ice-skating. In fact Samantha Stratton herself used to be a high-level figure skater for 12 years and based a lot of it on her own life.

Oy! Michael is gonna be very disappointed when on our second date, I confess I’m actually just plain old ‘Little Miss Menopause’ and my ankles wobble if you put a blade under them.

To top it all off, I accidentally left this old pen name email account open so when I suddenly realized it had been ages since I’d written my mother, I guiltily dashed off a quick hello and clicked “send.”

Immediately my cellphone rang.

Me: Hya Ma!

My Mother: So you decided you liked Samantha better after all and changed your name? And nobody thinks to inform their mother??

Me: I didn’t, Mom. I was just trying to hide some stuff I wrote from you and the rest of the family. So I invented a pen name. You know, a pseudonym.

I could hear furious typing on her keyboard as she clucked her tongue reproachfully.

My Mother: So you’re keeping it to yourself that you’re a big shot in the television industry, huh? Netflix, no less! I guess you think your father and I should just continue paying for your car insurance?

Great. Who has time for this much explanation? I’ll just ignore her with silence.

My Mother: Hello? Hello? Whadya do, Samantha? Twitch your nose and make me disappear??

— Stephanie D. Lewis

Stephanie D. Lewis regularly contributes to Huffington Post as well as pens a humor blog, “Once Upon Your Prime,” where she tries to “Live Happily Ever Laughter.” She’s also a regular contributor to Jewlarious where she writes zany Jewish humor and was named one of 2014 Voices of the Year by BlogHer. Her 2008 book, Lullabies & Alibis, is the tale of marriage, motherhood, mistakes and madness.  As a single mother of six, she knows a lot about the madness. She’s supervised potty training and driver’s training simultaneously. Too many accidents. A live-in housekeeper?  Nah, she’ll take a live-in psychotherapist.

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