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Don’t you hate it when an android or space alien impersonates your spouse? Of course you do. Let me suggest three methods you can use to authenticate a loved one and detect an impostor.

Trivia. There’s something from the past you and your real spouse share that not even the most carefully trained impostor could know. For example, my wife and I remember who broke the silence at a party by making embarrassing horse noises and why. Who turned the phrase “burp, excuse me, burp, excuse me” into a song. And where in the wilds of Ontario the world’s best French fries were found.

If you work an occasional obscure reminiscence into conversation with your spouse and he or she can complete the story, you’re probably dealing with the genuine article.


Quirks and Foibles. Your real spouse probably has a few idiosyncrasies that will never go away. There might be that thing she does with her ear. The idiotic way he loads the dishwasher. Or that unbelievably complicated technique for making omelettes. 

Keep track of foibles. No impostor is going to be capable of consistently mimicking all your spouse’s nutty peculiarities.


Microchip implant. If you are already suspicious, it is probably too late for this technique. But secretly implanting RFID chips in all your family members could be a useful way to authenticate them later.  You could also use this technology to control access to the refrigerator or other snack-storage areas.


Don’t panic. 
Finally, this advice. If you detect that some clever alien creature or android has replaced your spouse, don’t hit the panic button. Take your time and do an assessment. In some cases the phony spouse may actually be an improvement. Make a list of positives and negatives. Is it pleasant to be around? Does it bake cookies? Does it laugh at your jokes? You may discover that the impersonator is an upgrade—a keeper.

Pittsburgh, October 4, 2017

4 Responses

TJ Dellinger

October 09, 2017

Now I wonder just what it was I divorced? I knew he had changed…

Cindy R

October 05, 2017

I think your copy editor may be an impostor. Or an imposter.

Betty Shropshire

October 05, 2017

Too late…the takeover is complete! ?

Susan T

October 05, 2017

Brilliant! I’ve been wondering about a foolproof litmus test for this very thing, and although this hasn’t been tested in a double-blind (or single, in the case of cyclopoids) experiment, I think your suggestions are quite good. I’ll give it a try!

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