This week's theme: Choose one of the following odd character names and create a character sketch to go along with it. Make it an interesting character because we’re going to use them in a future [Fiction] Friday.
Gerund Maplethorpe's greatest gratitude in life is that he is not his sister. Her name is Participle, and although Gerry went through school without anyone really noticing his real name, most people immediately ignored what Participle's parents called her (Tice) and opted for either Party or Sippy. Gerry's second greatest gratitude in life is that no one has figured out they could call him "Undie".
Gerry and Party were born in the early 1980s to two Yale professors who thought names needed to be more creative. They liked the trend of children being named Nike and Adidas; it tickled their overdeveloped sense of irony. Gerund was born in 1982 and had a case of hiccups for nine days straight. Party was born in 1982 as well, just 10 months later, and their parents were divorced a mere sixteen months after that.Now 25 years old, Gerry is working as a technical sales rep for a small contractor that makes electronic sensors specifically designed for the aerospace industry, with particular emphasis on warplanes. He has not spoken to his father in three years, since graduating from San Diego State in engineering. Although clever and always near the top of his class, Gerry hates being in the limelight at all. He was the only kid in his school in 20 years to score perfect on the college entrance exam. But he made sure to get a D in gym in senior year so he wouldn't be one of the top two in GPA and have to give a speech at graduation. He chose San Diego State because it was the farthest away he could go and still be in mainland US.
Gerry is just five foot six inches with skin that tans easily and an athletic frame. Girls often notice his dark eyes first--not for their beauty but for the lack of any apparent emotion or feeling in them. Gerry hangs back from crowds and tends to observe. People who don't know him are creeped out and often leave with the first impression that he has the potential to become a true psychopath. They're wrong, of course. Gerry is actually incredibly kind and generous in his soul. What those people see is his internal struggle not to be his father. He can feel it, every day, every moment, creeping in on him. It's why he chose engineering instead of the more natural English. It's why he chooses to sail on the Sound and hike in the mountains instead of visit museums and go to plays.
Gerry does stay in close contact with Party, who naturally had a fun time through college. Also brilliant, Party stayed closer to home and attended Harvard, and at just 25 she's about to have her first novel published... to the great delight of their literary parents. The novel is titled, of course, "Party Girl," and Gerry hates it. He hates his sister's success, her choice of following their parents' paths, her growing fame. He hates the story in the book and knows she's capable of far better. He hates that she sold herself out to the bubble gum world of chick-lit fluff, opting for popularity over literary quality. He hates that he has such a literary snobbishness and wishes he were more blue collar and down to earth.
Gerry has put so much of himself into not becoming his father that he's forgotten to find out who he is and should become. He really has no dreams, other than the dream of never publishing a literary novel and never becoming an elitist know-it-all prick. But dreaming about not becoming something is not the same as dreaming about becoming something else, so Gerry has mostly ended up not attaching himself to anything. He makes friends and drifts apart. He joins a hiking club and then drops out. He watches two episodes of a TV drama and then forgets about it. He's had three girlfriends but now doesn't bother to ask anyone out because they never stick around.
Gerund's life is stalled, and he's dropped the key down a sewer grate. He thinks he might go to Alaska and see whether crab fishing is as appealing as it looks on the Discovery Channel. He hates himself for recognizing the irony in his life: his sister is named Participle, but he's the one who's dangling.