Saturday, April 14, 2007

Our Secret Identities

This week's Sunday Scribblings is Secret Identity.

My only real experience with having a secret identity was during childhood/pre-teenage-hood. My sister Kathryn and I (and also sometimes our cousins and one or two neighbourhood children if they were over at our house) used to play 'telephone tricks' (using randomly dialled numbers or numbers selected at random from the phone book).

The 'tricks' Kathryn and I played were not the joke ones where you quickly say something silly and hang up the phone. We used to pretend we were from other countries, put on accents and interview people at length on various topics for 'magazines'. We generally found that Trinis were interested in our accents and were receptive to us as 'foreigners'. Most, if not all the people we called, were trusting and open to our questions, often speaking at length about Trinidad and how lovely it is.

In our 'phone tricks', Kathryn and I were usually either Swedish (because we loved ABBA), American or English (easy accents to imitate) or Scottish (Scotland being our favourite place to visit).

We did not mean to cause harm. Our 'tricks' were done for fun and we usually felt that both caller an callee seemed to enjoy conversing. I can't remember us having received any rude or unwilling responses.

There is one call in particular that I remember. It was one day around Christmas and I was 'a Swedish girl who was visiting Trinidad with her father who worked for a Swedish magazine'. I called a random number from the telephone directory and an elderly sounding woman answered. I gave her my (fictitiuos) name and the name of my father's (fictitious) magazine and told her we were here in Trinidad interviewing people on xxx (I can't remember the topic now). I interviewed her ... and then I recall us having a long conversation in which she told me about life in Trinidad. Being Christmas, she explained a lot about the different Christmas foods, drinks and customs (sorrel, pastelles, parang, etc.). She eventually got to the point where she told me she had cooked all of these things but that she was alone for Christmas - and invited me to come over and experience a Trinidad Christmas meal.

She sounded very kind. Had I really been 'Frida' (or whatever my name was at the time) from Sweden, I would have taken my father and gone to visit her and sample her cooking. But, for obvious reasons, I had to decline.

The phone trick phase eventually stopped due to phone rates ... and, I suppose, when we got 'older'. It had all been childhood fun at the time.

Nowadays, people are not as trusting or open with strangers. In this day and age, I doubt that kind woman would have so readily invited me, a complete stranger, for lunch after just one lengthy phone conversation. And to do those kinds of lengthy phone interviews in the first place, you'd have to at least have the Smartchoice Gold package (unlimited local calls to landlines) so you don't run up your phone bill ... that is, considering your phone is working in the first place.



Blogger Tori said...

I love that the tricks that you played were so creative, educational, and respectable towards the 'trickees'

7:36 PM  
Blogger dailypanic said...

In my post if I had a secret idenity, I too would play pranks and get away with them. I used to have a friend who would prank call and hand the phone to me and say it was for me, and the person on the other end and I wouldn't have a clue who the other was. She will still do that now. Nice post.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

What a fantastic story. I so wish I could travel back in time and space and go have treats with that woman who was all alone on Christmas!

9:54 PM  
Blogger gautami tripathy said...

Very familar story for me too. Took me back in times. Thanks.

Surreptitious Self

2:43 AM  
Blogger Jemima said...

Beautiful memoir.

3:53 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

How sad for that woman! Now adays, everyone has call display. My sis use to do the same thing but a little more mean, in my opinion. One time she kept a guy on the phone for close to 45 min, she had him convinced he was suppose to pick her up at the airport at 2am. The poor

8:40 PM  

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