Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Somebody Else Is Taking My Place

Through some random series of quirks and chance, you with some frequency remind persons of someone in their life, someone who is not, in fact you.

You have been variously mistaken for a father, someone else's grandfather, an actor, an author, two different uncles, and, in a more ironic twist of fate, a former professor.  This last mistaken identity is made even more an irony because you have taught at seven different venues.  These mistaken identities have happen often enough for you to recognize them early in the process, allowing you to respond as whim of the moment hits you.

The first time or so when you were thought to be someone you were not, your response was polite and straightforward.  In general, your response is still governed by a form of politeness.  "I've been mistaken for him before."  Or possibly the even more direct, "Nice of you to think that.  I'm flattered.  But no, I am not."  The trouble is, you are a bit of a mischief.  "Please, I'm traveling incognito," has a sense of mystery and mischief about it, reminding you of Winnie-the-Pooh, who at one time "lived in the forest all by himself under the name of Sanders," which meant Winnie lived under a sign, painted in gilt, that read Sanders. 

Over the years, this conceit has pleased you to the point of putting the name Sanders on the mailbox for your home on Hot Springs Road.  After the mailman began noticing there was no mail for anyone named Sanders, you began sending the occasional postcard.

This fascination with identity comes from an interest in assuming other personas, which you do more as a writer than an actor.  At one time you had six pseudonyms.  There is no telling how many characters you invented, only this telling, that sometimes you considered it a day's work to get the character to give you his or her name.  

Names seem to come to you, both as pseudonyms and character names.  There is no telling how they arrived.  You at one point were Adam Snavely, which at the time seemed to you as outrageous a pseudonym as could be had.  But only moments ago, when you checked the name on Google, you were met with a flurry of highly respectable individuals, eminent in their professions.

Persons who know you have assigned any number of attributes to you, including outrageous, thoughtful, scattered, focused, mischievous, serious, too serious, funny, very funny, and funny to the point of lacking in seriousness.  You've been called a raconteur, a rascal, and a rogue.  You can find no fault with these attributes; you feel them rattling about inside you like the bee bee in a can of spray paint.

Persons who do not know you but who mistake you for other persons have already assigned to you the characteristics they see in the other, the real person as opposed to the faux you.

There are parts of you that wish to become an actor, causing you to spend enormous periods of time watching actors portraying characters in theatrical presentations, television dramas, and motion pictures.  Your immediate tendency is to project aspects of you that are broad, farcical, over-the-top.  Sometimes you read things as though an actor reciting lines or merely rehearsing them.

There are times when you are mistaken for someone else and the mistaker is so positive you are not you but rather the person you are not that you become caught up in a sense of empathy.  That person will be embarrassed enough at the discovery of mistaken you for someone of obvious significance.  

This was particularly true with a man who told you your last book had changed his life.  The more he spoke about the book, the more you began to realize who he'd mistaken you for, an author you in fact knew.  Never mind that you don't see any resemblance between the two of you except that you both tend to use your hands a good bit when you talk.

For this mistaken identity, you became the person you were mistaken for, thanking the man for coming forth to tell you of the improvements in his life, perhaps overdoing the lonely aspects of writing to the point where your mistaker said to you, "I can see you're quite lonely.  I hope it's worth it to get your books out."

By now, you were so far in character that you hugged the man instead of speaking.  What are the chances your mistaker will have a run in with the author he thought you were?  And if he were to speak to the author, reminding him of the last time they'd met?  Would your subterfuge be revealed or would the mistaker come away all the more convinced that loneliness was eating up this author, who writes life changing narratives.

When you pause to consider all these aspects of you, including the Adam Snavely aspects, you are overcome with the notion that all of us, writer and non-writer alike, are busy trying to juggle and accommodate these multifarious identities.  In so doing, you recognize or think you recognize persons with whom there may have been some connection.

The mystically inclined would think you recognizing acquaintances from other lifetimes.  The writer in you nods at that simple explanation.  You were not acquaintances in other lifetimes, you were characters in each other's stories.  

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