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2003-01-25 | 1:42 p.m.

Nancy left a comment for me that asks: ` Are you saying that Brian is really Duff and that you've split from the man who has fathered your children? I'm a little confused because of the name change. Please clarify!!!

I'm not sure who Nancy is, but she's written to me a few times. (Nancy, if I'm supposed to know who you are, please jog my memory!)

In answer to the question, no, Brian is not Duff. Brian is in my past, and Duff is in my present. There are certain similarities between them, though Duff denies it with considerable energy. But he acts so much like Brian sometimes it makes me feel like Samantha from Bewitched.

I can hear Felony in the shower, singing "Moooooooon Prism POW-er!" Some sort of ode to Sailor Moon.

We went to Julio's last night, a chain that sells fish tacos and shrimp burritos. The pretty young woman behind the counter was giving away the store. I only had $15 on me and I guess she felt a little sorry for me, because she kept helping me out by adding on freebies and winking at me conspiratorially. She added steak and chicken to the girls' quesadilla, which she had talked me into ordering, and then gave us three enormous soda cups since we didn't have enough money to order drinks. There was a group of young men in the shop at the time, and I think we just stumbled into a moment of teenage energy and high spirits and sexual attraction. Moon Prism Power, indeed.

After I placed my order, she asked me my name and I told her Annabel. "Hannibal?" she repeated in her heavily-accented English, trying to type it into the cash register.

"Uh, well, Annabel," I said.

"Hannibal," she said again, and I didnít say anything this time. What the hell, I figured. I donít care what you call me, as long as you donít call me late for supper.

She shook her head at the cash register and muttered "HAN-NI-BAL." Apparently it didnít look right.

"How do you espell it, Hannibal?" she asked me.

"UhÖ" Though I had been going along with her, now I couldn't quite bring myself to actually spell "Hannibal."

"Actually, it's Annabel. A-n-n-a-b-e-l."

She continued typing into the cash register some more, then shook her head again and looked down at the girls. She pointed at Criminy and said, "Okay, what's YOUR name?"

"Criminy," Criminy said, just above a whisper.


"Criminy," we said together.

The cashier's look was priceless. She obviously had no idea where to begin with that.

Now she pointed at Felony. "Okay, whatís YOUR name?"


"eStephany? OK," she said, and slowly typed it in.

"Sorry," I said. "We all have strange names."

On the way home, one of the giant sodas, the one I had filled with fruit punch, took a flying dive out of the back seat's inadequate cup holder and poured a half-gallon of fruit punch all over the carpet. I felt like it was punishment for taking so much that wasn't rightfully mine. Sometimes I can be such a Puritan.

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