So I'm not a planet? Says who?

The Baltimore Sun

OUTER BELT OF SOLAR SYSTEM - What did I do to deserve this?

There I was, minding my own business, orbiting the Sun just like all the others. I got my little bit of atmosphere going, got a lot of ice. I was cool. I stayed out of everybody else's way, sometimes way out.

Then some eggheads on that uppity third rock - they think they're so hot because they have "life" - went and decided I'm not a planet anymore.

What's up with that? My life is hard enough as it is.

First of all, it takes forever for me to do a lap around the Sun, and it gets really lonely out here. They tell me that part of the reason I'm not a planet anymore is that some of the time I sneak inside my buddy Neptune's orbit. What do they expect? I need somebody to talk to out here sometimes. And don't get me started about that mass of junk they call Charon that is supposedly my partner in non-planethood; Charon is dead to me.

Then there's my name. Let me say I was happy enough without anyone else giving me a name. For millions of years, maybe even billions - time sort of has no meaning out here - I liked to think of myself as Lex, except for a very brief period of experimentation and confusion when I thought I was Sophia. But that's a long story, and Uranus promised never to talk about it.

Anyway, Lex was short, snappy and just tough-sounding enough to keep unwanted visitors away. I felt like a growling dog with that name, not that I had any idea what a dog was then. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So then those numbskulls on Earth finally figure out I'm here, and start calling me Pluto. I had mixed feelings; I liked Lex, but I also heard through the microwaves passing by that Pluto was a god of "Death" over there. I barely knew what "Life" was, but I knew Death kicked Life's butt all year long (and the years are really long here).

But I nearly fell out of my orbit when I found out a pet dog - not even a real dog but a cartoon dog - gets to be called Pluto on their planet. Suddenly Pluto was something cute and cuddly and not tough or threatening at all.

It's bad enough when you're the smallest guy on the playground. With the cartoon dog thing, everyone was making fun of me, even Uranus. I was humiliated. Planets have feelings, too, you know.

So you can imagine how I'm taking this planet thing. Neptune, which used to hang out with me to try to look cool by association, won't even talk to me anymore. I can't take it. The Solar System is the only family I've got.

So for all you Earthlings reading this, I, Pluto, am taking a stand. I'm here. I'm a sphere. Get used to it.

As told to Sun reporter Gady A. Epstein.

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