In the early 80’s, at the height “child abduction” hysteria (and you kids thought CNN invented the culture of fear), our local TV station ran a series of commercials introducing the “Kid Code.” The concept was simple. Whenever a skeevy man wearing a hat and fake mustache approached you with a fistful of lollypops, you’d shout “What’s my kid code? WHAT’S MY KID CODE?” And the man would say “Manimal?”–which was of course your kid code because Manimal was effing rad. So you’d climb into the car with him and get molested. Another public service provided by local news.
Now that I am older, I am much better at estimating risk. I now recognize, for instance, the chances of my being abducted by a pedophile are vastly overblown (especially since I am 36 and have lost my boyish figure). No, the biggest threat, as I have learned from a quarter century of science-fiction novels and horror movies, is that:
- My body will be taken over by a malevolent presence or a rage-inducing virus;
- Someone will create a biological or robotic clone of me;
- A shapeshifter will assume my identity;
- Someone will graft my face onto their head;
- Due to wacky time- or interdimensional-travel related hijinks, there will be two or more copies of me wandering around concurrently.
Indeed, one of these scenarios seems to unfold in pretty much every movie made (e.g., Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Face/Off, Steel Magnolias, My Dinner With Andre, etc.).
Fortunately, motion pictures have also taught us how to deal with such a contingency: you demand that the Doppelganger (if Doppelganger he be) divulge some fact that only the real person could possibly know. A Clone Code, if you will.
As with a Doomsday Machine, the whole point of a Clone Code is lost if you keep it a secret. So here is mine. The next time you see “me” in person, be sure to verify that I am who I say I am; if I hesitate in responding or provide the wrong answer, flee immediately, contact the authorities, and report a ursurpage (or, in cop lingo, a “4-43”).
Alternatively, if you have a shotgun handy, you may want to err on the side of caution and just take my fetch out yourself.
-----BEGIN CLONE CODE-----
Identity: Matthew Scott Baldwin
Challenge: "One year in high school, you wound up serially dating three girls with the exact same first name. What was the name?"
-----END CLONE CODE-----
If you have a blog, you may wish to publish your own Clone Code, to ensure that any of your doubles are promptly unmasked and eliminated.
And for god’s sakes, don’t get into a vehicle with anybody until you have adequately verified their identity. Unless it’s Automan, of course. Automan is effing rad.