A had its bomb, B its movie, C its section and D its day. Now E is having its era . . . Yes, the letter E is the alphabet's newest star. It's enlivening the financial pages and electrifying the ad world. But what's E really about? To learn more, we asked the busy letter's new high-powered rep from the Literary License Agency (whose other clients include "dot" and "com" and the controversial to sit down with us for a frank, hard-hitting chat in the newly christened E-suite at the Four Seasons. Evian was served, of course.
Just who is E?
E's always been everywhere. But several years ago E made an entree of an entirely different kind. You must have seen its amazing breakthrough performance in e-mail. Soon there were E-Stamps, ETrade, eToys.com, e-etc. Now, E's got capital status; as we like to say, E is "E-biquitous!"
But what does E mean?
We're not sure yet. Sometimes "electronic," sometimes "entertainment"--but always energy, ease, efficiency, euphoria! Yeah, you're gonna like it! Or else!
Who was E before?
Only the most popular letter in the English language! You simply could not write English without it! But E was being held back by modesty; it was stuck doing excellent but underappreciated work in supporting roles ("tired") and silent cameos ("eunuch").
Didn't the popularity of E come upon us suddenly?
If you mean like a lucrative, talented supernova exploding on the scene to universal acclaim, yes.
No, I mean like a cheap stunt.
A cheap stunt? Are you kidding? Do you know how much it costs to build profitless companies with questionable products into mega-players on the international scene?
But does E actually do anything?
We'll get back to you on that.
I've heard that E has some unsavory connections . . .
E's association with evil is purely cursory. And please note that E does not appear in such terms as KGB, BCCI, FALN, IRA, IRS or HMO.
But what about its rumored relationship with asterisks, hyphens and other marginal characters?
E is being maligned--by envious types, obviously.
What versions does E come in?
You can get E in a manly, three-pronged majuscule or a dainty, curly minuscule that almost looks like a smiley face! Serif or sans serif. Accents and other un-American accessories not included. Because E is patriotic. In fact, you can't spell patriotic without it.
Yes, you can.
Not anymore. We've just registered patr-E-otic*.com. You're gonna love it.
Why should I have E-?
Because without it you'll seem pokey and defective. Look what happened to plain old "mail" and "commerce." Don't let that happen to you.
What's next for E?
In association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are ebullient about announcing the debut of e-coli.com, the only online source for parasites you'll ever need . . . . In association with the Centers for Rat Control, we are ecstatic to announce the debut of e-eeeeeek, your computer-based personal rodent-response screech . . . . And, in association with the Centers for Poetry Control, we are euphoric to announce the debut of e.e.cummings.com, "where the letters are little--but living large."
What about the E backlash?
Success always has its detractors. In 1939, Ernest Vincent Wright wrote a novel called "Gadsby" without using the letter once--except in his own name, the hypocrite!
And more recently?
Georges Perec's 1969 novel "La Disparition" also perversely boycotts the letter. But he's French. (See un-American, above.) With E's new fame, there are sure to be more.
What do you think of these attempts?
Mere publicity seeking. Or perhaps we should say: "Truly it is nothing but a communist folly to try composing charming works without using this most popular part of our linguistic patrimony."
So everyone should have an E?
Everyone already does. Three, in fact.
But seriously, what is your ambition for your client?
We want to reposition E as the first letter in the "elphabet," if you will. There's no reason every schoolchild couldn't be singing "E-B-C-D-A-F-G . . . ." From there, who knows? E-movies, e-politics, maybe the e-moon. Or do we mean "eoon"?
Okay, we've taken enough of your time.
Watch out. E-nough.com is a registered trademark of the former Microsoft.
Jesse Green, who composes the puzzle pages for Civilization magazine, is the author of "The Velveteen Father" (Villard).