A lonely man gets a glimpse into the lifestyle of his namesake on the other side of town; by Steve Slavin.
You might assume that someone with a name like that must be some kind of nerd. But nothing could be further from the truth. OK, maybe I haven't had an actual date in eleven years, but that's just because I happen to be extremely selective. Just the other day I got a call from a young woman, and I could tell from the sound of her voice that she was very attractive.
"This is Marty."
"Are you sure you're Marty? Marty Kanadlehopper?"
"Trust me, no one pretends to have that name."
I could hear her laughing. "I am soooo sorry. I didn't mean to laugh, but you're very funny! Anyway, I must have the wrong number."
I didn't want her to hang up. "May I ask what you're calling about?"
"I'm afraid it's very personal. I'm sorry to have bothered you." Then she hung up.
I stared at the phone, listening to the dial tone. You know, I really should get caller ID. Then I wondered who this other Marty Kanadlehopper could be. I had an old Brooklyn phonebook, practically a collector's item, so I looked him up. It turned out there was a Martin Kanadlehopper who lived way on the other side of Brooklyn.
A few weeks later I got a call from another woman.
"This is Martin."
"Martin Kanadlehopper?" Boy, this was getting old.
"The same. May I ask who's calling?"
"This is Mrs. Martin Kanadlehopper."
"Is this some kind of joke?"
"I think I had better explain. No, I am certainly not married to you!"
"Well, I already knew that."
"You see, I am married to a different Martin Kanadlehopper."
"You mean, the Martin Kanadlehopper on East 93rd Street in Canarsie?"
"That is correct."
"So how can I help you?"
"Well, for some time we have been getting calls from women we don't know, plus frequent hang-ups. And since you're the only other Kanadlehopper listed in Brooklyn with a first initial M, we would like you to consider changing your listing to Martin Kanadlehopper. That way, you would not be missing those calls, and my husband and I could have some peace."
"I don't think so. This was my parents' number from before I even was born. My father's name is Max.
"Look, Martin, your social life is none of my business; I am not a judgmental person. But evidently some of the women in your harem are calling our number by mistake. And just for your information, Martin and I have been happily married for eighteen years."
"Mrs. Kanadlehopper, if I told you about my social life, you wouldn't believe me."
"Look mister social butterfly, I'm going to level with you. I want all these phone calls to stop! I don't care how you do it. Just tell all your lady friends to stay away from my husband!" And then she slammed down the phone.
About six months later I got another call.
It was the young woman who had been looking for the other Marty Kanadlehopper. I'd recognize that voice anywhere. That beautiful young woman.
"Of course I remember you."
"I am so flattered."
"Why, thank you."
"You're welcome! Marty, could you do me a great big favor?"
Anything, I thought to myself. Anything!
"Could you give me the other Marty's phone number? I must have misplaced it."
"As a matter of fact I can. Just give me a minute. I have an old Brooklyn phone book."
"You're an angel!"
"Thank you. By the way, may I ask you what your name is?"
"Nona. What a beautiful name."
"Thank you, Marty!"
"Here's the number. Area code 718, 772-0426."
"Thank you, you've been so kind."
"Wait! Nona, I need to tell you something."
"I got a call from his wife."
"Yes, it was a few months ago. She said that all these women were calling her husband and she demanded that the calls be stopped."
"What did you have to do with any calls he was getting?"
"How should I know? Besides, I'm not even related to him."
"Well, thank you for telling me. You're a sweetheart." Then she hung up.
Boy, my social life was really picking up. I might even be able to get a date out of this.
A few months later she called again. As soon as I heard her voice, I was in heaven.
"I am so amazed that you remembered me!"
"I will always recognize your beautiful voice."
"Well thank you! Marty, I was wondering if you could do me a big favor."
Anything! Anything! Just say the word!
"Remember how sweet you were the last time we talked? Well, it turns out that Marty moved, and I don't have his new number. Is there any way you can help me figure out where he is?"
I would do anything for Nona. Even if it meant helping her find another guy.
"Look Nona, it might take me awhile, so could I call you back?"
"No, Marty. How about if I call you in an hour?"
"OK, I'll do my best."
I tried all kinds of computer searches, but no other M Kanadlehoppers turned up. I printed out a list of Kanadlehoppers all over the country, figuring that maybe he was related to some of them. When the phone rang, I was prepared.
"Marty, it's me. Could you find his new number?"
"No, I'm sorry. But I did manage to print a list of Kanadlehoppers all over the country. Maybe he's related to one of them."
"Thank you, Marty. Look, I'm going to level with you, OK?"
"I know Marty's married, but I've been very discreetly seeing him on the side. It's not so hard because his wife works days and he works nights for the Sanitation Department. So there are certain times when I can call him when she's not at home."
"The problem is that Marty is a complete screw-up. It's bad enough that he has other girls on the side, but they're the ones who are calling the house when the wife's there."
"Anyway, I didn't hear from Marty for a while, so one morning I called him. The phone was disconnected. So I went out to where they lived. And would you believe that they moved - and left no forwarding address?"
"Thanks, Marty. You've been so understanding."
"Nona, could I tell you something?"
"I would do anything for you."
"Oops! Sorry, Marty, I just got another call."
I sat there staring at the receiver. I knew then that I would never get to meet this beautiful woman.
A year later I was still fantasizing about Nona. And wishing that I could have been the other Marty Kanadlehopper - except, of course, for that awful wife. As always, I got up at six a.m. and was the first one into work. As I walked down the dimly lit hallway, I saw a woman walking towards me. It was Vivian, a very sweet older woman I sometimes chatted with. She had the strangest expression on her face and she was walking very, very slowly.
"Viv, are you OK?"
"Are you OK?"
"Sure, I'm fine. But Viv, you look like you've just seen a ghost."
She began to shake. I led her to a chair and helped her sit down. She just kept staring at me and shaking her head.
"Should I get you some water?"
"You're alive, Marty! You're alive!"
I went into a little comic routine, patting myself all over and saying, "Yes, I'm alive! Glory be, I'm alive!"
"Marty, are you really alive?"
"Yes, Viv, I'm very much alive!"
"But you're supposed to be dead! On the way to work, I heard it on the radio. They said you were killed in some kind of traffic accident."
"Let me see if I'm hearing you correctly. They said 'Marty Kanadlehopper is dead?'"
"That's what I heard."
Just then, Jeff came down the hallway. "Marty, you've alive!"
"You heard it on the way to work?"
"Yeah, I know that on the news they lie all the time, but this is ridiculous!"
"Hey listen, I've got a radio in my office. Let's see if we can get some more details."
So we went into my office and I turned on WINS 1010, the all-news station. We didn't have long to wait.
"We now have an update on this story. Here is a statement from the Sanitation Commissioner about this tragic death. 'Martin Kanadlehopper worked for the Sanitation Department for twenty-one years. Last night he left his truck to assist a motorist whose car had stalled at an intersection. Witnesses saw the car lurch forward, striking him. He died before the paramedics arrived. Martin Kanadlehopper and his wife would have celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary this Sunday. Instead, on that day, his family will bury a hero.'"
The newscaster went on to say that the driver, identified as Wynona Scott, had appeared to be in shock, and was taken under police escort to Coney Island Hospital for observation.