Being Someone Else

Back when I was a kid, I got bored. This happens to kids. So I did something about it. I became an actor, a serious actor. Not a professional—nobody pays me—but I’m really into it. I play a character, many characters, and I play them very, very well. I become them.

Some may say I’m escapist, that you can’t run away from yourself. But I can and I did. You can’t argue with success.

I was born as a boy named Stewart in a big family living in a small town. Indescribably dull.

So, as a young man, I became a busker named Harry in London. Learned guitar from another street musician (okay, just a few chords) and put on a pretty good soulful singing voice. From my tips, I’d have to say I pulled it off. But three years of that was enough. I got restless and returned to the states.

This time, I was an architect named Lenny. In truth, I didn’t have a degree in architecture though the papers I acquired looked pretty authentic. I did a few private homes before I got the commission to do a bank. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I’ve got a good eye and it’s an attractive building. Still standing, last time I checked. I’m not especially good at the engineering part.

I quit architecture after a decade or so and moved to another part of the country where I became the mayor of a small town. I made friends quickly when I moved there—it’s amazing how people respond to flattery—and got all the votes I needed in my first quest for office. I stuck around for four years, just one term, before I was ready for another place and another character.

I think ahead. At some point I’ll want to retire, so I took some money with me when I disappeared from my mayoral town. They’ve probably discovered it by now, but I’m on the other side of the country and I’m someone else.

For a big change, I became a middle-aged woman named Lucy for a year or two. I didn’t have a sex change or anything. It was yet an act. But it was a convincing one—I had two marriage proposals. Each time I gently declined. Now I know how the better half lives.

I considered retiring as Stewart, but I’d lost touch with my original self, so I’m Hiram nowadays, a retired mariner in rural New Zealand. I’ll regale you with fictional tales of my seafaring adventures as soon as I finish this beer. Take a seat. How the hell did you end up here?