Vignettes

So, let me tell you about Fred and Ginger. Toward the end of 2007 I began writing a series of short fiction pieces. Up to that point, I had always carefully selected names to fit the characters. For that series though, I was planning to focus on small slices of life that I hoped would have universal appeal. I wanted generic names. I wanted the names not to matter.

OK. Fred and Ginger automatically trigger an image of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for many people. In that respect it was a poor choice for generic names. [And I apologize if you found it distracting in the stories.] But, as much as I like old movies, that’s not why I chose those names. For that I blame [or thank] one of my heroes, Dean Kamen.

Kamen may be best known as the inventor of the Segway PT [but his inventions span a wide variety of disciplines]. Before the Segway was unveiled rumors abounded and it was referred to by its code name, Ginger. In 2000 I met a young engineer that had interned with Kamen and she told me that one of his previous inventions had been code named Fred. [And yes, according to her it was because he is a fan of the Astaire-Rogers movies.] That put the idea in my head though that those names don’t absolutely have to refer to the movies.

So I began using the names Fred and Ginger, but they are not necessarily recurring characters. At various times they have been siblings, lovers, spouses, or strangers. Each piece is intended to stand on its own. [Again, I apologize if you found it distracting in the stories.] Fred and Ginger are my John and Jane Doe — the blank canvas on which I try to paint vignettes.

I hope you enjoy the stories. You can find more of them here. Oh, and I did eventually “retire” Fred and Ginger. You can read about that here.