Last year I switched cell phone carriers and was invited to pick a new number. I chose from a list that popped up on the clerk's computer screen. The one I selected seemed perfectly nice; having no real preference for any particular numerals or numeric combinations, I simply selected one that seemed easy to recall. Apparently, I got a number that belonged to an enlisted man whom, I gather, has gone AWOL or is otherwise on the lam. Since taking over D.B.'s number, I've fielded his booty calls/hook up texts, shared several holiday greetings with strangers, broken up with (perhaps) one of his booty calls, rejected collection agents and informed his military superiors that he/I would not be showing up for training exercises at the Marine Corps base.
It's one thing to put off a collection agent, but another altogether to tell D.B.'s far away friends that he's blown them off. One guy and I had a fairly fun series of Thanksgiving texts. A spurned pal at Christmas reacted much less favorably. His texts were littered with profanity. Apologizing to D.B.'s friends/family members for his rogue behavior left me feeling as sorry for the rejection as if I'd issued it myself. "I don't know where he is. Sorry he didn't give you his new number. Have a nice life."
For a while, I was tempted to start answering these calls/texts in guise of D.B., just for giggles. One of my friends wanted me to text an address D.B.'s booty call just to see if she showed. I began to have a fantasy of the sort of havoc one could wreak in another's life, and wondered often about D.B. Was he dead? Shirking the law/military or avoiding child support payments or the IRS? Why had he abandoned his friends? Did he ever show up for any of those "Be on base at 0600" calls? I Googled him and searched Facebook, but his name is a common one and I didn't find any reasonable leads.
My ruminations on taking over D.B.'s life brought to mind stories of famous impostors and swapped identities, from the Prince and the Pauper (enjoy the much more entertaining Monkees version below) the woman who allowed her cleaning lady to stand in for her on telly and eventually found herself living in the attic (Going Loco by Lynne Truss), to the perverse emotional swindle recounted in Armistead Maupin's The Night Listener. I worried briefly about people who might call my old number and what the new owner would tell my creditors (a few) and booty calls (admittedly, none).
There are fascinating real-life tales of impostors such as Princess Caraboo or Martin Guerre, though I am not destined to be among them. Eventually, calls for D.B. ceased. Which is all well and good, but lately I've been receiving calls for P.C...