Monday, March 10, 2014

Autism Diaries: why I pretend to be you

A text message tips me off:

What is F's phone number?
This is neither a literal question, nor a rhetorical one. No, when J asks for someone's phone number, it means he already has it. Presumably he looked it up on one of his parents' cell phones during one of our brief periods of lapsed vigilance.

The next step, typically, is to text the person in question from his own phone, pretending to be one of us. As Daddy or Mommy, he begins by informing the person that "I just got a new cell phone and this is my new number." The ultimate goal: to receive an "invitation" to visit that person's home and get some photos and footage of their ceiling fans. The intermediate goals: learning all about the person's current ceiling fans and encouraging them to make repairs, replace missing parts, and/or install new fans. And, of course, ascertaining their availability for visits.

But the weird thing is that he's been asking me about F's phone number all week, which suggests that he's been texting F all week. And so suddenly it's occurring to me that F isn't on to him yet--even though usually there's some grammatical error or social oddity that gives J away early on.

So on Saturday morning, when I finally have a moment, I call F up.

"Hi, K" she says, in a voice loaded with subtext.

"I think J's been texting you," I say.

Pause.

"Wait... What's your new number?"

We quickly sort it out, and for the next 10 minutes I listen as F reads out loud the most recent lengthy text exchange she had, this very morning, with the person she thought was me.

Apparently, I had told her that "J really wants to come over and see your ceiling fans," and that "J wants to know if you can send him a picture of your ceiling fans" and "J wants to know if you are going to install a fan in your living room" and "J wants to know if he can help you pick out a fan for that room." I had also apparently asked "Can J come over today and film your fans?" She had replied that she really wasn't feeling well this weekend and was basically lying in bed and wasn't up for any visitors. In response, I'd apparently asked what the dimensions of the dining room were and what the distance was between the middle of the ceiling and the light switch.

"After all I've heard about J's impersonations, I realize I should have figured out it was him," she said. "But instead I was worried that I was annoying you with my dismissive responses."

We had a good laugh, and I told her that I wouldn't tell J that she was onto him now. "You can use that information however you want to," I said.

I'm not sure how her replies to his texts may or may not have changed since Saturday morning; all I know is that the "What is F's phone number?" texts have increased in frequency--along with the "Can I pretend to be you?" texts. Here's our most recent exchange:
What is F's cell phone number? 
Do you want me to call her? 
No, I'm OK. I can text her for invitation. Can I pretend to be you? 
No. 
What if I want to be invited? 
Ask for an invitation as yourself. 
Many times I ask as myself, they just ignore me. That's why I pretend to be you.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, this made me giggle. But, honestly, also wondering for advice on ceiling fans.

bj

Deirdre Mundy said...

Maybe J should start a business as a 'ceiling fan consultant.'

Does he understand the electrical/wiring/weight issues too?

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

OH I'm laughing so hard. Bless him! If I could be for-sure that I'd have a working ceiling fan at the end of the exchange, he'd be welcome! :)

Anonymous said...

Pleased to hear I am in good company with fake texts.

GoogleMaster said...

I've recently moved into a new house, and whereas my old house had only one sad ceiling fan that I had installed myself (plus one in the closet that a friend gave me and I never got around to installing), my new house has at least SIX! Well, four in the main house and two in the garage apartment. I can get make and model numbers if J is interested.