Pastwords

erase-the-past
"A quietly malevolent voice seeps from the shadows velcoming me home."

One day, little of this will matter. Maybe not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but one day. Yesterday, it seemed to matter a whole lot more than it does this morning. Perhaps tomorrow, it will slip across the boundary into not much mattering anymore. For now, it's a toleration, an experience which falls South of anything one aspires to be mindful about but which nonetheless cannot seem to be purged from foreground awareness and therefore simply screams to be tolerated instead. I'm holding my breath rather than deeply inhaling. I cower rather than standing tall. I anticipate worse than will probably occur. I've lost my password, leaving less than nothing in its place. No, I didn't forget. I never knew but was unaware that I was unaware. Now, that Pastword stares me down, double dog daring me to think back to an event I doubt ever even happened as a condition of my continuing access. I shiver along cold curbstone, in exile for now.

Let's say that I did forget my password.
Following the Did You Forget Your Password? link introduces me to a wholly under-appreciated circle of Hell. Enter my email address. See? You do remember me. Check the SMS Message queue for a six digit special code number and drag that number over here. Enter that. Now, enter a NEW password. Once I enter the "new" password, I'm informed that my suggestion fails to pass muster because a) it's an old password (see, you DO remember me), b) it's not 'strong' enough, c) it's too long, d) it's too short, e) there appears to be some possibility that I might be able to remember it at some point in the future, and therefore it doesn't qualify as a valid Pastword. The purpose of the exercise seems to me to be just to "fuck" with me. Some nerd somewhere's getting' his jollies at my expense.

No, access denied, unqualified to play. I might as well have never grown beyond the second grade where exclusion was raised to a high art on the playground. I could usually gain access to the monkey bars, where I could play alone, but you had to know someone to gain access to the tetherball court or a kickball game or that stealthy war game that raged out of sight of the playground monitor. The society there more closely resembled that of a third-rate tin pot dictator, albeit one with a seven year old's semi-sweet smile which could cut out any heart without remorse. The purpose of the play seemed to have been to convince me that I didn't belong. That purpose largely succeeded, though I manage to cloak my deepest feelings until some Pastword dilemma emerges.

Out of the shadows, a playfully malevolent German accent whispers, "What vas your password?" The threat as undeniable as anything any Gestapo agent ever sneered, the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention, waiting for a guillotine blade to fall. Like when someone asks for my phone number, the one number I never, ever call, my brain seems to freeze, as if I really should somehow remember something I never really knew. A definite double bind dilemma, damned whatever I do. Fortunately, in the phone number instance, my phone will tell me what I could not possibly recall. I cannot so conveniently co-opt the password question. The Pastword was originally coerced out of me. I remember the coercion well. It began with the steadfast refusal to allow me to continue to use the only password I've ever been able to remember. Disqualified, then, brain racing, I'm about as thoughtful as a skittering cockroach heading for cover. Half pissed, more than half disappointed, my usually receptive associative memory shuts down. I couldn't remember my mother under these conditions.

I recall entering something to gain closure in that moment. I tried to write it down, and might have, though I quickly lost that scrap of paper, never having fully registered its presence, anyway. I'm in then, granted access, and I soon relegate the coercion to the overstuffed dustbin that now takes up the whole back part of my brain. The app continues to allow me (even me!) access until one morning, in a fit of something closely resembling stupidity, I restart the machine to re-enable the camera, which had for no apparent reason ceased functioning. The camera starts working again, but a cascade of Gestapo pop-up messages begin malevolently whispering from the shadows, "What vas your password?"

My applications never were my friends. My security software doesn't remember me. My calendar suspects that I'm a spy or a troll or perhaps a bot. My blog software wants access to my keychain, but my keychain doesn't remember me, either. Welcome, my friend, to The Twilight Zone. My urgent messages to a technologist go unanswered. The pop-ups will doubtless continue until my morale improves or my attitude concludes that I can't afford to care anymore. I graduated second grade knowing full well that I never would belong, though I'd grown what I seriously considered as passing as if I did, as if I ever could. I suspected that one day "they" would find me out. The deepest philosophical question, the one that wonders if I even exist, inherits a fresh, decisive answer. Without that Pastword, I'm nobody again. A quietly malevolent voice seeps from the shadows
velcoming me home.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved











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