Sunday, June 10, 2007

Army of Me

First up, I should let everyone know that I am not the Dan Waters who wrote the screenplay to Heathers. I have made a suitcase full of dorky mix tapes for girls in the past, but I have never stood below a girls' bedroom window holding aloft my boom box blasting songs of undying love. Well, maybe once. Three times. That's it. He wrote a script that didn't get used for Catwoman and one that did for Hudson Hawk and a bunch of other stuff and I am not him.

I'm not the Dan Waters who makes pottery, nor am I affiliated in any way with Dan Waters Auctioneers. I'm not the Dan Waters who is a poet, printer and printmaker on Martha's Vineyard. I'm not the Dan Waters who formed the Cool Waters band with his brother Greg, although I'm a little jealous of them.

I'm not the Canadian politician, but you can read all about him on Wikipedia. I'm not the track star or the pitcher (these two might actually be the same person, but I've been too lazy to check). I'm not the guy who writes software, or the Dan Waters who is the Director of Retail policy at the Financial Services Authority. I'm not the Dan Waters who is a cowboy in Fayette, Missouri and is nicknamed "Big Muddy", although my brother Mark, who is a fireman, is called Muddy by his pals at the station. Most of my nicknames are unprintable.

I'm not the Methodist pastor, the member of the Royal Asiatic Society, the guy who wrote Faces of Hong Kong or the other guy that wrote That's Life in the Big Ten, each available on

I've now gone through twenty five Google pages of Dan Waters entries, and the only one that is actually a reference for me is a listing on the NECon registration page. And me, with my grand life of accomplishment! It hardly seems fair, but I refuse to be depressed. Somewhere out there a Google hit awaits me. The real me.

In seventh grade my world was rocked when I learned that another Dan Waters had enrolled in my school. This upstart Dan Waters did not look like me or talk like me, and, frankly, did not like me. Not that I can blame him. We sort of circled each other warily, giving each other a wide berth in the rare moments we would cross paths in the dim halls of Murphy Junior High, as though we were afraid actual physical contact might annihilate us both. I would see him at the corners of my vision, talking to a mutual friend or eating from a small bag of Doritos, which happened to be my favorite brand of snack chip at the time. Was that a mocking smile on his lips as he bit into the folded over ones, my favorites? Even eye contact with Dan Waters was painful to me.

Thankfully, we ended up going to different high schools, so we only had to endure two years of each others' abhorrent company. But every so often the phone would ring and it was not me but that other Dan Waters that the girl on the other end of the line was asking for. I would wonder: is his father named Jeff Waters, like mine? Did he, like me, have a beagle mutt named Pennies that would jump up to take a piece of cheese (and sometimes, I admit, a Milk Bone) from his clenched lips? Did he read comic books and watch hours of cartoons after school like I did? Probably not, which was why the girls were calling him, and not me.

I often wondered what became of Dan Waters--maybe he is the poet, or the cowboy, or the doctor that I read about in Wisconsin. Wherever he is, I wish him well. I'm feeling a bit more self-actualized these days, and I no longer resent my many namesakes' their varied accomplishments, even if Google is kinder to them than me. We seem, over all, to be a pretty decent bunch of guys.

I finally cheated to get the Dan-o-centric Google tag I wanted, the one with the announcement of my novel sale to Hyperion on Publishers' Lunch Deluxe, by putting in "Dan Waters Generation Dead". Even then I have to go to the second page to find it. Generation Dead, by the way, is not the sequel to That's Life in the Big Ten. That's a different guy, remember.

So I eagerly click the link, feeling again the pleasant little stomach flip on reading the teaser announcing the sale, but again, disappointment looms. The link brings me to the login page for paying members of Publishers Marketplace, which I am not.

I wonder if Dan Waters is?


Matthew Dow Smith said...

Welcome to MY world, Dan. Now there's a British horror writer named Matthew Smith, along with the 2000 AD editor, the two other comic book artists named Matt Smith, the guy who writes Marilyn and JFK conspiracy books, and the guy who leads the Matt Smith Band. I'm only jealous of one of them. I'll let you try and figure out which one it is...

D.A.W. said...

Hi. This is the Dan Waters who is the poet, printer and so forth on Martha's Vineyard. I think we should merge with the Dan Waters who wrote Heathers and become a single 18-foot-tall super-writer who can break into three parts and do amazing multitasking. If we share a name, why not a whole oeuvre? After a generation or two, posterity won't care enough to tell us apart anyway.