I Want To Change My Password, Not My Life

When did changing the password on a TV cable account become so stressful? 

All I wanted was to make my information more secure, but now, as a result of the “security” questions, I am drowning in insecurity about the mistakes I might have made in life. 

So, thanks a bunch, Verizon, for making Misery Monday even worse than it usually is. 

Where did you and your spouse first meet, you ask me. Okay, I do not have a spouse. I have never had a spouse. I have never even come close to having one, let alone the several that people seem to acquire these days. That got me thinking. Am I really so unlovable that no one wanted to risk hitching themselves to me past Last Orders? 

My close friends understand me and, I think, most would say that I am kind, generous, great fun to be around and the most loyal friend they could wish for. The spouse bank clearly thought otherwise.

Part of me feels a little sad about that. As a writer, one wishes to experience as much as possible, even if only for a day. Maybe that’s about as much spouse as I could stand; who knows. I’m pretty sure I’ll never find out now. What does a spouse do? Put the trash out? Phone the insurance company when they refuse to pay out? Phone the police when your iPad’s been stolen (again)? Put an arm around you when you cry? Get the cork out of the wine bottle when the horrid new plasticky one just goes round and round and round and you risk cracking your veneers while trying desperately to pull it out with your teeth? 

Yes, I can see that a spouse might be very useful in certain situations. 

The next questions on Verizon’s list are pretty easy ones to answer compared to the spouse one. What was your favorite place to visit as a child? No doubt: Butlin’s. Free rides. Chalet accommodation. Late nights watching the batter going through the doughnut making machine, hot milk, my father’s huge white linen handkerchief wiping the sugar from my tired face. Safety.  

Next comes: What was the first live concert you attended? That, too, is an easy one. My best friend Shelley and I went to see Andre Previn conducting in Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall. We even got to meet him backstage afterwards. I have no idea how we managed to do that but suspect that my celebrity hunting skills were already fully operational even at the age of 15.

Shelley and I also saw David Essex at the Capitol in Cardiff. I still have the photos, in which the star is a tiny dot about three miles from where we were sitting. I didn’t get to meet him on that occasion, but then I’d already been there, done that. He was starring in Godspell in the West End and, during the interval, Jesus invited people onto the stage for Last Supper wine (I think it was at this point I became a temporary Christian). Naturally, I was not only ahead of the queue, but crawled under the table to find the cork for David to sign. 

Verizon then asks: What is the first name of your best friend? That’s a really tough one. I have several people who I would call best friends. Shelley, who was my first and who is still close; Elizabeth, with whom I shared my early Fleet Street years; Rhys, whom I call my “life coach”; Mary and Liam, Liz and Ronw, Mike and Janie – my favorite couples and always my protectors and support in their dual capacities; Leisha, who makes me laugh and totally gets me; Sue, who became my friend on a cruise. I am blessed with so many wonderful friends, it is hard to single out a “best” one. They are people who are there for me, come rain or shine, and I for them. Is there any better definition of “best”? 

Now, Verizon, here’s the killer question that had me choking with laughter: What was your favorite restaurant in college? Seriously? I don’t know who pays American kids’ college fees, but the highlight of my university mastication was a can of Heinz beans and pork sausages on toast. I recall once having enough money to buy a can of Marks and Spencer creamed chicken, and I thought I was the luckiest student in the world.

But a restaurant? Even in the late Seventies, you could buy several books for what a meal for one would cost in the Armless Dragon (the first restaurant I went to long after I left university). Books would always be my food; they still are.

The next question is the easiest to answer: What was the first name of your first roommate? Billy No Mates. I’ve never had one. I’ve never shared a room with anyone. Nor an apartment. Nor a house. At university, I moved out of the student residence Aberdare Hall after one term (the residents were very irritating) and into a bedsit and have lived on my own ever since (I’m beginning to see the root cause of the spouse famine). 

Finally, Verizon asks: What is the name of a memorable place? Oh, come on. How many memorable places are there in the world? I think that what you technically mean, Verizon, is: What is a significantly memorable place for you? The way you have phrased it would result in an answer that is just plain silly because it would, in essence, mean that I would have to name every place in my memory. Cardiff, Paris, New York, Brighton, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Baltimore, Scunthorpe (oh god, not Scunthorpe: a particularly horrible ex was from there. I had a lucky spouse escape there), Miami, Toronto . . . you see? They are all “memorable”, although I haven’t been to most of them.

And so, Verizon, thank you for helping me ponder my entire life’s journey and sending me into a spiral, wondering where it has all gone wrong. 

Next time, ask simpler questions, such as: How much is your current bill? Answer: $275.18. 

See? Easy? 

Now, I’m off to drown my sorrows in that restaurant I could never afford as a student. Given my current financial situation (no thanks to you), it might well be my last. 

Now that really will be memorable.