Am I Real?

The answer to that question is YES, I AM REAL!  The problem, it seems, is proving it.

I turned seventy this week and that should make me real. As the Skin Horse told the Velveteen Rabbit in the popular children’s’ book by Margery Williams, “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.”

Well, to be fair, my hair has not rubbed off (yet) but, since I haven’t been to a hairdresser in a year it is gray, long, and frizzy. Nothing quite like a seventy-year-old woman with a teen style pony tail that’s half gray and half blond, right? My eyes haven’t dropped out, thankfully, but my glasses get stronger with each visit to the eye doctor and I have the beginnings of cataracts. The joints? Well, some are loose, some are tight, some are swollen. My attire and hair for the last year has definitely been shabby.

 I should definitely qualify as real, don’t you think?

It’s not easy to prove you are real when getting a REAL ID!

My driver’s license needed to be renewed by my birthday. Since the REAL ID will be needed to fly beginning this October, I prepared my envelope of proof that I am real. I gathered everything I thought I needed. I’ve never travelled internationally, nor do I plan on doing so. Therefor I have no passport. Passports definitely make it easier to prove you are real.

I got to the license bureau twenty minutes before it opened and found myself with only ten people ahead of me. I was lucky enough to get admitted during the first headcount. By then there were probably twenty people, all six feet apart, on the sidewalk behind me.

I have to give credit to the efficient workers who moved everyone through quickly. They were brusk, quick, and not unpleasant. I left within ten minutes with a good old-fashioned driver’s license which did not have a star to prove I’m real! At least I can drive even if I can’t fly.

The problem? Apparently, I haven’t been married for forty-two years. Please don’t tell my three adult children.

I handed what looked like a legit marriage certificate to the woman behind the plexiglass.

“Oh honey, this is the pretty marriage certificate the church gives you. It’s embossed by them so it looks nice. It’s not the official one.”

First, it’s definitely not pretty. Second, it’s signed by five people, for heaven’s sake. Third, it says at the bottom, “Cut here and give to the married couple” above the words Recorder of Deeds. Lastly, it’s the only marriage certificate I have!!!

Here’s what puzzles me. Both my current driver’s license and my Social Security card which I handed the employee have my married name. I know that I had to show my real marriage certificate for that to happen decades ago. I can only guess that one of them kept the real document. Regardless, shouldn’t those documents suffice? Apparently not.

“How do I get…….?”

A paper slid under the plexiglass with a finger pointing at the bottom of three categories. “Call here,” she said. “Step over there to get your photo taken. Next.”

Okay. At least I knew who to call. I didn’t know the fun had only just begun.

I called the phone number and listened to a lo-o-o-ong message about how new couples apply for a marriage license before getting to the sentence telling me that I needed to get on a special website. Oops. I didn’t catch the full site address so called back and listened to the whole message again.

It was easy filling out all of the information, especially since I had the unreal, unpretty certificate in my hands. Then I got to the last page!

“Here are four identification questions based on the given name or address. All four need to be answered correctly.”

I still had to prove that I am real and I did not know the answer to the first question!!

What year did you buy or lease your Buick Rendezvous? I can hardly remember what that car looked like. Between my husband’s cars and mine, we’ve probably owned at least five cars since then. They gave me three dates, including the month, to choose from. The fourth choice was the infamous “none of the above.” That was my husband’s car and I couldn’t remember the year. I didn’t want to wait until he got home so I did some quick online research and discovered that the SUV was only manufactured for five years. Only one of the three given answers fell within that time frame. What a relief. But, what if it’s a trick question? The answer said it was bought in April, but what if was really bought in June or August? I decided not to go down that rabbit hole and chose the right year.

One question asked for the last two digits of my Social. Easy.

One of the questions asked the year of my Mazda 5. Easy. Although I did go out and pull out the manual to be sure I was right. I was getting nervous at this point.

The fourth question was about a nearby street. Google maps helped me there, as it would help anyone who is not the real me.


“Sorry, you have answered one or more of the questions incorrectly.”  appeared in bright red letters that did not identify which question was wrong. “Would you like to retry?”

Yes!!  I growled to myself as I hit the button.

The only question I remember from that group was the one that asked what bank holds the loan to …. a car my daughter owned three vehicles ago. She probably wouldn’t remember who held the loan, plus she’s home with Covid and two children under two. Besides, no one holds the loan now, at least from our family. I chose “none of the above” going down the trick question rabbit hole.

I failed a second time identifying myself which took me to a page that let me call someone.

The kind woman laughed in sympathy. She said I have five opportunities to answer correctly each day. She can’t see the questions or answers. “Most people just keep trying until they get the right four questions that they can answer.” After missing two question sets in a row, I had to reenter all of the information. My mind was wandering between frustration and laughter at playing a game of some kind.

By round three, some questions were recycling. There was that Rendezvous question again but only one of the three dates matched the dates from the first round. Another SS number question arose. Were they asking about mine or my husband’s, since questions were about the address or the name entered? Then there was the question asking which of three people I know. I figured that could be a neighbor but I don’t know the names of several who live across or two doors up. I chose none of the above.

So, to bring this story to a conclusion. I finally won the game on the fourth round of questions!! Yeah me.

The note said I should get the paperwork with four weeks! Just as I was finishing up this post my husband handed me my mail. Guess what is there?

I guess I might be real after all.

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