Am I merely the Betty Crocker of trivia? The Mr. Peanut of minutiae? The Chiquita Banana of baloney?
Dear Matthew Alice: Are you real? That is to say, are you actually one person, or are you a group of people under an assumed name? — Name Withheld to Avoid Embarrassment, Clairemont
Every decade or so I fish out the “Okay, bub, who are you really” questions and air a few in print to satisfy all the nosy neighbors. So it’s that time again. Am I real, you ask. Well, I just pulled my ’96 tax forms out of the miailbox, and that’s proof enough for me. Am I a group? Ummm...when the wind’s just right, Ma Alice can channel all the original members of Menudo. Does that count?
Dear Matthew Alice: Are you a real person? Or are you just a bunch of real intelligent people working under the Matthew Alice name? — Parachute Woman, San Bernardino
In other words, am I merely the Betty Crocker of trivia? The Mr. Peanut of minutiae? The Chiquita Banana of baloney? If the research elves and I didn’t have this sudden urge to eat lunch, we’d fire off a sharp retort to that one, you can count on it.
Dear Matt-Al: Are you a real person? Or perhaps two people? Do you write this column alone, or do you get help? Is Matthew Alice your real name or a pseudonym? Is this your only job? How long have you been at it? How old a person are you? Baby boomer? Buster? Golden ager? Did the phrase that names your column originate with the sharpshooters of the Old West or where, exactly? C’mon now, straight from the hip. — Judy, University City
Yeah, right. Annie Oakley used to have this gig. Where do you people get these ideas?
Dear Matthew Alice: How come your name is not listed among the list of writers? Did they forget you, or are you somebody else? — Jack, San Diego
Well, I came up with a nifty symbol to be stuck in the writers list — the Know-It-All Formerly Known as Matt — but I’m having trouble getting editorial cooperation. And yes, quite often
I’m somebody else, if you really need to know.
Matt: I’m convinced you’re really a female. Well? — Jason, San Diego
Thus fulfilling your adolescent fantasies, J?
M. Alice: A while ago I was driving down I-8, and I saw a license plate that said “M ALICE.” Was that you? Is there some connection between “M. Alice” and “malice”? — Suspicious, San Diego
Malice? Moi? Your long-suffering, obedient servant is hurt to the quick by the mere suggestion. You’ve set Grandma Alice boo-hooing into her apron. And I sure as heck don’t need you fools chasing me down the freeway, waving questions at me or sneaking around slashing my tires. I’m no fool. I don’t advertise.
Hey, Matt: Is there any way that I can get copies of all your previous questions? (And the answers, of course.) Maybe you have a collection of floppy disks stored somewhere in the archives. — Mark Cieslak, faxland
In fact, something was flopping around in the archives just the other day, but turns out it wasn’t a disk. One of the elves is trying to make a killing in the fast-food biz with something he calls Carp-on-a-Stick, a new twist on the fish taco phenomenon. Anyway, some of his inventory hopped out of the tank. Once we cleaned up the place, we poked around looking for some old Q&As for you, but no luck.
Sir Matt: When you look through the white pages under your last name, there’s more than one. When I look under my last name, there’s more than one. It’s safe to assume that there’s more than one for each last name. Yet, like you, I don’t know these people who share my last name. We’re not relatives. How is it that there’s so many people who share the same last name and they’re not family? Did our grandparents have too many illegitimate kids? — Sergio D. Padilla, Chula Vista
Put a sign on your lawn that says “Padilla Family Reunion — Free Chow” and see how many of those strangers turn into long-lost cousins. And contrary to your observation, there are no Alices listed in the phone book, mainly because the Alice grandparents had no children at all.