Clandestine Affair

I altered my routine this morning, but only slightly. I read and responded to an email, explored the extent to which counterfeit scallops are made by punching circular “cookie cutters” through skate wings—there’s ample suggestions that it is done, but I found no evidence that it actually occurs, so it may be an urban (or rural) myth)—and otherwise consumed time as if it was in never-ending supply. Even Fox News, expert purveyor of abundant lies, questions whether counterfeit scallops are a “thing.” They say, “Instances of scallop fraud have largely been relegated to the dark realm of Internet message boards, so it’s unclear how often this substitution takes place, if at all.”  The fact that Fox said it, though, calls in to question its dismissal as myth.

Then I had an early breakfast.

There was a time when I would regularly eat breakfast soon after waking in the morning. My wife’s distaste for early eating cured me of that. I grew to share her desire to put some distance between getting out of bed and filling my stomach. But not today. While I did not eat immediately upon rising, I ate much earlier than “normal.” I had finished eating my unusually large breakfast (two pieces of toast, two eggs, and two sausage patties…evidence of rampant gluttony) by 6:15. I suppose I was prompted to eat early because I expect a 9:00 a.m. visitor, a guy who will look at my deck with an eye toward finally completing the major project of stripping and repainting, the initiative I began when I was a younger man.

Before or after the visit, I will try to find a garage door service company that can come “tune up” my garage door sooner than two weeks hence. I called the Garage Door Doctor yesterday and was told they could not get to me for two weeks; when I said “let’s schedule it,” the representative said they are not scheduling that far out. When I said, “Fine, goodbye,” I think she could hear the astonishment and disappointment in my tone. So, I’ll try to find a company that CAN schedule a visit. My electric powered garage door opener frequently refuses to close the door; I think the door is binding, perhaps because of a loose or weakened cable mechanism. I am not equipped to fix it. Ach!

I have been wondering whether my house would sell—quickly and at a price I would willingly accept—if were to put it on the market. I don’t know where I would go or what I would do, but I think I’d be willing to explore the idea. A new adventure. I’ve lived in this house for six and one-half years; I feel the seven-year itch coming on. That’s not to say I’ve historically changed houses or moved to new environments every seven years in the past. But I’ve felt an urge to try something new every so often; live a different life. When I’ve actually made significant changes, though, only the place changes; I don’t. I remain the same person. That calls to mind the rather cruel management aphorism about firing people for nonperformance: “You can’t change people. So you change people.”

That’s it. I need a new identity. I already have myriad character names in my fiction from which to choose. I just need a personality transplant or something like it to go along with my new name. I’ve used Calypso Kneeblood before. I like it. I could become Calypso Kneeblood, a loner whose few acquaintances and even fewer friends can depend on him to come to their aid without hesitation. A wounded soul whose hard exterior shell hides a dangerously fragile inner life. No, that sounds a little too much like the personality I’m trying to replace. Perhaps Kolbjørn Landvik, but my lack of a Norwegian accent might raise suspicions. Linoleum Price is an option. Fracas Edward Schlattery might do. All of them are fictional characters, though. Do I want to be a fictional character? Perhaps I already am; a creature created from all the chance encounters I’ve had over the sixty-six, almost sixty-seven, years of my life.

Whatever the name, fictional or not, what fiction would I choose to explain myself? My background, I mean. The easiest thing to do might be to say “I was employed by the Federal Government.” Any further questions would be rebuffed with “I was in the clandestine service, so I hope you can understand that I can’t discuss specifics of my job nor where I worked.” I could then drop hints in future encounters by mentioning, in casual conversations, places to which I’ve actually traveled. London. Dubrovnik. Sarajevo. Lisbon. Stockholm. Berlin. Etc. It’s plausible, yes? The trouble with that, though, might be that I would come across someone who has actually served in one or more clandestine capacities. My fakery would, I suspect, become immediately obvious to them. And that would make them highly suspicious of me. Suspicious enough to have their colleagues who still work in the clandestine directorate. Confronted with facts, I might have to say “I didn’t want to come right out and say I was involved in a clandestine affair, so I deflected attention from my personal engagements by claiming to have been a clandestine operative.” Yeah, I doubt that would work. It completely ignores my career. Unless, of course, I were to claim I had enjoyed a 35-year career as a professional gigolo. No, that’s probably not going to win me any Oscars, either.

My new identity needs some work. But, then, so does my old one.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Clandestine Affair

  1. Flabbergasted in Farmers Branch says:

    I love the fact that the company couldn’t get you on the schedule for two weeks, but are also not scheduling that far out! Ridiculous level of customer service…

  2. Meg Koziar says:

    Thanks for investigating skate wing scallops. Wonder what they would taste like? Would they pass for scallops? Would thy look like the beautifully seared ones in your photo? Why were we warned against them? Would they be toxic? Taste terrible? Mysteries.
    Il ike your potential pseudonyms, I like Linoleum Price the best. Has a certain ring to it. But belongs to a tall dark man, I think.
    When I needed a change, I decided to 1. start tutoring ESL, and 2. start studying art. When I needed a distraction from grief, I volunteered for a job I had little preparation for. The steep learning curve was curative.
    How about a novel featuring Linoleum, and Kolbjorn. (How do you get the line through the o?) who is Danish, by the way, not Norwegian. He is short, with light brown hair. Likes Tuborg beer with his herring, and sometimes dines on skate wings.

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