Thursday, August 04, 2005

me and the me that i am not

I share the same name with another individual here in Murfreesboro—not Rex L. Camino, mind you, but my secret identity name that the white man and his society forced upon me at birth. I have never met the guy, strangely enough, but people will sometimes leave messages for him on my answering machine. This has been going on since we were both at MTSU, and I have always been the only one of us officially recognized by the phonebook. I assume that this does not happen to him.

It wouldn’t be so bad if people were constantly sending him checks for large sums of money, and those checks just happened to find their way into my mailbox. I could live with that confusion quite nicely, and never once would I question or complain on my way to the bank. It would’ve been acceptable for him to make good grades back in college and have our transcripts swap places at the MTSU records office. It would’ve been nice to have something along the lines of a Disney movie where he went on to be a multi-millionaire brain surgeon or professional athlete, and we somehow get switched. I would live his life for a while and he would assume the daily affairs here at Casa Camino. Good, clean hilarity would ensue. Some guy, possibly played by Rob Schneider, would invariably get kicked in the groin, and the audience would laugh as if they didn’t see it coming. The other me and I would each learn something valuable about how the other half lives, and Kurt Russell would make a cameo playing one or both of our fathers.

Hell, I would be happy if the guy was a rodeo clown, but he is not.

No, he appears instead to have chosen the dark side—and not the good dark side that you might be thinking of. The phone calls I get now are no longer from drunken friends looking for a place to crash or young ladies that he met at a bar. The messages left on my machine are now more along the lines of:

Mr. (my real name), this is (his real name) of the law firm of (his real name) and (some other asshole), and we wanted to see about this money that you owe our client. Now, we think that you’ve had plenty of time to settle this matter. We don’t want to involve the law, but it looks like we’re headed in that direction. I suggest you call me back at your earliest convenience.

I don’t need to hear that. I take the greatest care to abide by every law, ordinance, and custom, no matter how ridiculous, because I know that I would not last long in prison.

Perhaps I should have my name legally changed to Rex L. Camino (by the way, Kudos to Tim Morgan for catching its double meaning).

That wouldn’t solve everything though, as people have always confused me for someone else on the basis of appearance.

I was working in the mall when I first moved to Murfreesboro and once had a customer who swore that I graduated from Gallatin High with him. When I explained that I had just moved up from Alabama he asked, “are you sure?” (One of the bad things about working retail is that customers are always setting you up for a really good smart-ass response that you can never give if you want to maintain your employment status. That might also be one of the reasons I have such a shaky employment history).

I also looked familiar before moving to Tennessee.

I was driving a delivery van for a print shop right after high school while taking a few classes at the local college. I would come in around lunchtime and load boxes of freshly printed labels into the late seventies model Chevy that was held together by duct tape and drive out to the factories in the industrial park. On the way back I would usually hit the Burger King, as it was the only fast food establishment between the two, and the same girl was always working the drive through. One day she paused and stared at me a moment before handing me my big fish combo. Her gum smacking slowed to the speed of a cow chewing cud, and her teased up bangs bounced a little when she tilted her head to get a good look at me.

“Is your name Rick?” she asked.
“No, it’s (my real name)”.
“Are you sure it’s not Rick?”
My real name sounds nothing like “Rick”, but I paused for a moment and furrowed my brow as to appear to be giving the question some thought. “Yes”, I said. “I’m pretty sure that I’m not Rick.”
“Cause you look just like Rick.”
I didn’t know what to tell her. I just shrugged awkwardly and snatched my big fish combo before sputtering off in the delivery van.

Our relationship only got worse, as she seemed to have been appointed an indefinite position at that drive through.

It turned out, as I was able to garner from our subsequent conversations, that this “Rick” guy liked to pretend that he wasn’t Rick when he saw people he knew out in public. That was his thing. That was what made him—and me, I suppose—“Rick”.

Once I learned this I admitted to being Rick in the hopes that a little reverse psychology might be a more fruitful approach than weeks of denial. It did not. She simply responded with an, “I knew you were.”

Yes, it was quite the punch line. It was not unlike a skit from Hee-Haw. I was Archie Campbell and she was Lulu Roman Smith, and the two of us faced the camera to bask in the warmth of the canned laughter for a moment before cutting over to Roy Clark, Buck Owens, or a fake cornfield full of country stars and the scantily clad female regulars.
I snatched my big fish combo and drove away.


Blogger maggie said...

I feel your pain Rick (oops, sorry - I couldn't resist). My phone number was once printed in the phone book under some office at the Jackson County, MO Jail. I got lots of interesting phone calls.

And drunk people always swear I look like a certain actress -which I don't.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

At least your phone # wasn't formerly assigned to "Personally Yours" AND the Wyndham Garden Hotel.

I don't know what "Personally Yours" was, but from the misdirected calls we still get *6 years later* I can only surmise that it involved massage oil in some capacity.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

-- M. Comer

1:01 PM  

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