Name Droppers

Every year hundreds of Miami's titularly challenged discover that a new name can mean a new you

He still is, but he now has an unlisted Hialeah phone number. So does his brother -- Raul. There are 29 Fidel Castros in the United States, with the highest concentration -- 9 -- in Texas, where nobody gives a hoot about Caribbean politics.

And then, in the final analysis, there is Mr. Frogg: Kermitt T. Frogg, with two phone lines and a street address in Coral Gables. I drive over there and park under a palm tree. A woman steps out onto the porch to get the mail.

"Mrs. Frogg?"
"Is there really a Mr. Frogg? -- Kermitt T. Frogg?"
"No. Yes. It's a business alias, I guess. He lives back there."

Back there is a brown door with a peephole behind the main house, what real estate people call mother-in-law quarters.

"He's really into computers," she adds, turning to go inside.
Silence. Rustle-scuffle.
"Who's there?" The voice is quiet, muffled.
"Sean Rowe."
"No." I spell it.
"Why are you here?"
I explain.
"Why didn't you call first?"

A good question. The answer, Mr. Frogg, is that you can't hang up on someone who's pounding on your door. I wanted to ambush you in your underwear, if the truth be known. I say, "I was driving around in your neighborhood and thought I'd drop by."

The peephole seems to blink.
"Who's your supervisor?"
Jesus. "Jim Mullin, editor."
"I'll talk to him. I don't want to have a conversation with you."

"Mr. Frogg, I'm kinda thirsty out here. You think I could just come in and have a glass of water?"

The door stood silent, the peephole dark. Oh well. It worked in the movies.
I like to imagine Mr. Frogg catching flies with his long tongue and surfing the Internet, running my name through all sorts of databases, pulling down my credit history, hunting for military records, divorce pleadings, my social security number, my address. It will be tough sledding, even for a skilled paranoiac. Sean Rowe, after all, is just a nom de plume.

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