“I don’t like the name Zuni,” Zuni said. “Makes me sound like the restaurant.” There was a long established, well-known, restaurant in San Francisco called The Zuni Café.
“What’s wrong with that? It’s a good restaurant. A great restaurant. They have that one-hour free-range chicken. I wrote a Yelp review.”
“Yeah, yeah. I know. The meat just falls off the bones.”
“And besides you don’t get to pick your name in my stories. That’s my job. I think Zuni is perfect.”
“Sounds Armenian. I am Chinese.
“I think it is perfect. But if you want to help with names you can help me pick a new pen name.”
“Whoa! You are getting rid of Duret?”
“No. I need a new first name. Something more exotic than Jay.”
“What’s bringing this on?”
“Oh you know. Always need to enhance the brand.”
“Yeah. I want one of those little accents on top of the letters. You know like in trés.”
“No way. You can’t have a French first name. Duret rhymes with regret. It isn’t a French name. It’d be Durette if it were French. Everyone will wonder why you pronounce the “t” in Duret. Too confusing. People will call you Tray Doo-Ray.
“That’s not bad; I kind of like the sound. But you are right. Duret is my core brand. I can’t mess with that. Sucks though. I really wanted to go French.”
“Wait a minute, I have an idea. How about Prêt? You could be Prêt Duret.
“Doesn’t that mean something?”
“Yes. Prêt means ‘ready’.”
“Oh yeah. Like in prêt a porter. Ready to Wear. I saw the movie.”
“Or prêt a manger – ready to eat.”
“Zuni, you are a genius. And its got that great little accent on the e! The teapot one. Great idea. From now on, it’s Prêt Duret.
“And it’s meaning is…?”
“Obviously. Ready Duret.”
Zuni looked puzzled. “What does that mean?”
“Not sure, but I think it sounds good. Like ready aim fire. Ready. Do. Ret!
“You sure? Do you know what ret means?”
“Probably the same kind of thing. You know Ka-Boom! Ret! Boom!”
“If it is going to be your name, maybe we should look it up. What if it means jockstrap.”
“Fine. I’ll check it out.”
Zuni was furiously thumbing her iPhone. “Here we go,” she said, “do you want a drumroll?”
Zuni put down the phone, pitter pattered the table top with her hands, picked up the phone again and read: “’Ret: French. To soak in water to soften.’”
She put down the phone and gave me a triumphant smile. “I love it: Prêt Duret – he is always ready to soak things in warm water until they are nice and gummy.” She smiled again. “yep, nice and soft and easy to eat. Pablum.”
“Hmm. Maybe that’s not so good.”
“Yep, you should do a press release…”
“No maybe not.”
“Come on, Prêt. We got to get the word out there. This is buzzworthy. Let it be known,” she declaimed, “Prêt Duret is in the house!”
“Okay, you can turn down the sarcasm.”
“Never, Prêt, never.”
“Hey what about Duret? I could just put a teapot there too and it’d be really cool.”
“It isn’t actually called a teapot, you know.”
“I know I know. What is it?”
“That’s cool. Sort of like circumcision?”
“Yes exactly like that.”
“You know if I had two circumflexes in my name – Prêt Durêt – it might give me some standing in the emoticon world. êê has got to mean something important.”
Zuni scrolled through her phone and looked for a long time. “No,” she said finally, “êê does not mean anything in emoticon”.
“Come on Zuni. It has to. Look at it. Looks like two eyes with two eyebrows. That’s got to mean something. Got to.”
“No, but its cool. I think it is better this way. Prêt Durêt, a man without an emoticon. Sang froid. Keeping it real. Ready for anything.”
“Yeah, maybe you’re right.”
“Prêt Durêt; it rhymes with regret. Jay, that’s a hell of a brand.”
Thanks Zuni. So you’ll call me Prêt from now on?