"Who am I today?"

OK, I want to set the record straight before we begin. You've heard of or played games that belittled people in secret. The kind of game that would get you kicked off the Political Correctness Standards Committee? This is one of those games. This idea that I propose is wrong and mean. It’s deceitful, dangerous, and will generally piss people off if they catch you. Although, you will not hurt anyone by playing this game. You will find this game capable of improving problem solving skills, as well as expanding your creative thinking capabilities. I felt it very necessary to put this disclaimer first, knowing that some would take offense by this game. For those of squeamish or morally narrow composure, please not reading. For those a little more challenging, more adventurous I say read on because this can be a very fun time.

Whenever I travel by myself using any form of public mass transportation I play a game called “Who am I today?” The rules are simple, but let me first explain why I created this game…

I was flying from BWI to Logan International Airport in Boston about 4 years ago. I don’t fly much anymore so I always try to get a window seat and enjoy the trip. As luck would have it I got the seat right on the wing, which tends to make the flight a little more bumpy and turbulent than usual. Fantastic, I was thinking, just like a roller coaster. The man sitting beside me in the three-piece suit was white-knuckling it already, and the plane had not yet even left the ground. Some people talk when they get nervous. I tend to get more quiet, but as I said I love to fly, and therefore wasn’t nervous. He began talking as the plane was projected down the runway . His eyes never left the window, even as the horizon pitched and swayed on takeoff. His eyes were the size of silver dollars the whole time. I had a book, probably nothing to impressive to you average literate person, that I planning to read on one hour flight from Baltimore to Boston. Chicken-shit here had other plans apparently.

“N-N-Names Harry. Nice to meet you”, he stuttered. No shit. He was so focused on the wing of the plane I could think of little more than something Henry Rollins had once said. He extended his hand, which I shook, and asked my name. This guy looked like some sort of salesman so I gave him a fake one. To be exact I told him I was Berni Wrightson.

“What do you do Berni? I’m in sales. I sell used cars. Blah blah blah” I was looking at him giving up all this information. He was wearing some expensive suit, nice shoes, and a really great looking watch. I was wearing Adidas canvas shoes, jeans, and a black hoodie with an USA insignia. An insignia like that usually means only one thing; I AM BROKE AND SHOP AT THE SALVATION ARMY. I figured out pretty quickly what Harry was doing. I’ve noticed that sometimes when people get nervous or feel out of control they’ll try to impress someone with their credentials. Like I care that this dude has some sweet job, a house, lots of cash, and is successful.

How do I respond? Do I simply smile and say,” wow, now that is impressive. And a Mustang? That’s cool man. Sound like you do pretty good for yourself.” Have you ever noticed those with lots of disposable income and a limited supply of character always drive Mustangs or Camaros? He looks at the sketchpad tucked under my book.

“Are you a writer or something?”

“No,” I said, “ I draw comic books. You ever hear of Wolverine? Yeah, I draw that comic.” Which is of course a blatant lie. What am I going to do? Tell him the truth and give him the satisfaction of one-upping me? Fuck him. I could have told him that I work in the prepress shop of some book printing facility in western Maryland. I could have told him that I was barely able to pay my rent and support my wife and child. I could have said how getting to go to Boston wasn’t exactly fun, since I had to pay for everything out of pocket and wait for the company to reimburse me, and was hoping it would all happen before next months rent was due. Not this suit I told myself. I’m not giving this dude the satisfaction. I’ll make HIM feel one-upped.

“That sound like a nice relaxed job,” Harry says as he quickly looks me over, “ Can you really support yourself with what you make drawing?”

I smile. “Well I made six figures last year, so I guess you can make a pretty decent living. Some of the bigger named guys make millions, but you gotta be pretty lucky to get there.”

On and on I went. By the time we had landed at Logan I had created this whole other life, this whole concept that made Larry feel like he’d been missing out on something.

The rules are simple, and should be followed to make the situation as easy to pull off as possible.

- This game is played one on one. You should never play this game when you are traveling in a group, as the chances of there being some inconsistency in the background of your character may give you up. Furthermore, you should refrain from talking to more than one person at once while playing. Too many people can start hammering you with questions that you won't know the answer to. Of course I just get confused when talking to large groups of people, even about factual stuff.

- Stick with a background you are fairly familiar with. I always go with comics, because that’s mainly what I’ve always wanted to do with my life. I've always wanted to be a comic artist. This is why this game is so much fun to me. For that two hour hop I'm the spitting image of who I thought I would be when I was twelve. It's alot like George Costanza telling everyone he's an architect. Variations are good, and to optimize fun try to tailor the story around the listener.

- Never use your real name, but never use a fake name. You must consider the fact that the listener might know something about the field in which you say you work. Consider this a possibility when choosing a name.

Follow these rules and you will enjoy hours of fun!

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