As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.
Schizophrenic, Sleepwalking, or Demented
Have you ever thought you were going crazy? Did someone ever swear you were somewhere you knew you couldn’t be? Ever have strange dreams and awaken wondering if it had been real? That happened to me.
I was newly divorced, 24, with 2 little preschool girls to raise. I had changed my married name back to my maiden name: Denise Scott. The trauma of the divorce was still fresh. And then the strange phone calls began. It all started one evening after I had put the girls to bed. A man phoned my home and seemed to know me, but his voice was unfamiliar to me. He said he had a good time with me the night before. He said he wanted to get to know me better. I still couldn’t place his voice. Finally, I asked his name. He seemed offended that I had to ask and told me his name was Jim. Well, I didn’t remember ever knowing a Jim, so I told him he had the wrong number.
He proceeded to tell me my full name and even my hair color and eye color. Suddenly I was filled with a terrible foreboding. What’s going on? It was a Twilight Zone moment. I asked how he knew me. Again, he was offended and proceeded to tell me about the wonderful time we had at some bar named the Star Pub. It sounded so fake, but he was so sure. Am I being scammed? He said I danced with him, and he bought me drinks. I hate alcohol. He had to be mistaken. Could someone else look that like me and have my name too. It seemed unlikely. I had been lonely lately. Had I been sleepwalking? Each night I put my girls to bed and then donned another persona to leave the house and go drinking and dancing? I began to fear for my own sanity.
All that night, I wondered if I had gone through some sort of schizophrenic episode. Am I going crazy? I looked it up in the phone book and there was a Star Pub. Do I have a doppelganger? It doesn’t seem likely. Do I have another life while the girls are sleeping? One where I go drinking? I was horrified. I tried to put the strange Jim out of my mind. It wasn’t easy but the girls were enough of a distraction that it was possible, at least for a while.
“Here's all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.”
— ― George Carlin, When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?
It was less than a week later when Jim called again. He wanted to meet me at the Star Pub for an evening of drinks and dancing. Okay, I admit I was lonely and companionship was tempting. I admit that I was pretty sure I was undesirable because now I was divorced with two little girls, so his offer sounded somewhat like a huge compliment. But my feet were still planted on the ground knowing I couldn’t just drive off and leave my little toddlers sleeping all alone. Naturally, I turned Jim down and again assured him that I didn’t know him. Then I asked him how he got my number and he admitted that I didn’t give it to him. He looked it up in the phone book. That settles it. Whatever it cost, I was resolved to make my number unlisted.
The Bills Arrived
I thought things were going to settle down and my schizophrenic side life was almost forgotten when I started receiving bills in the mail for things that I know I didn’t buy. They were things like spike-heeled boots and lace stockings. I can’t wear boots. This can’t be my bill. The next bill was for a ball gown. I sew all my own clothes. I would never buy a ball gown for any reason. I even sewed my own wedding gown. This can’t be my bill, can it? I was wondering again if I got up in the night and went shopping for things I don’t usually buy. Sure, we lived a pretty hand-to-mouth existence lately and the idea of shopping for anything sounded like a dream. Was it a dream? Did I sleep-shop? Am I losing my memory as well as my mind? I called the companies and assured them they somehow had the wrong party because I didn’t buy these things, nor did I deserve these bills. Those were the good-ol’ days when you could call a company and speak with an actual person. They accepted my assurance, but it could have gone very badly for me if they hadn’t. There were several bills over about 6 months, totaling thousands of dollars.
Many people say, “Who's my doppelganger?” when maybe / they should ask, “Whose doppelganger am I?”
— Carson Cistulli
A month later, I received a phone call from Denise Scott. Yes. There were two of us in my town. She got my number from the phone book and asked if I had been receiving her mail, which I had. Thank goodness that was cleared up because I wasn’t sure I wasn’t really crazy by that time. She told me her name was Darlene Denise Scott, but she liked to use her middle name. She said her number was unlisted. I begged her to please use her first name to clear up the problems and that’s when she told me she was getting married in a couple of months and then she would have a different last name.
Good. Now I can breathe again.
Since then, I have discovered that several people have my name. I have a new married name but even so, I am friends with two people on Facebook with the same name as me. One is a teacher, one is a medical professional, and I am an artist. I can laugh now but back then it was very terrifying. I figured the best thing to do for my own sanity was to search and find all the people with my name and then I won’t be surprised when they turn up.
“Sometimes we become our own doppelgangers… We still look the same but behave like someone else…
— Suraj Mulani
Have you ever had a real-life Twilight Zone moment like this? Has anyone ever claimed to know you for someplace or some event you know you were never at? Are there really doppelgangers for all of us out there somewhere? I’d love to read your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.