Ed Park’s short story “Slide to Unlock” in the most recent edition of The New Yorker had an interesting (familiar) beginning:
You cycle through your passwords. They tell the secret story. What’s most important to you, the things you think can’t be deciphered. Words and numbers stored in the lining of your heart.
Your daughter’s name.
Your daughter’s name backward.
Your daughter’s name backward plus the year of her birth.
Your daughter’s name backward plus the last two digits of the year of her birth.
Your daughter’s name backward plus the current year.
They keep changing. They blur in the brain. Every day you punch in three or four of these memory strings to access the home laptop, the work laptop. The e-mail, the Facebook, the voice mail. Frequent-flyer account. Every week, you’re asked to change at least one, to increase the security. You feel virtuous when the security meter changes from red to green.
Your home town backward.
Your home town plus the year you were born.
Your home town backward plus the year you were born.
Olaf Fub 1970.
There are hints when you forget. Mother’s maiden name. First car, favorite color, elementary school.
First girl you kissed—that should be one.
Can the hints just be the passwords?
First sex. You remember the day, month, year. The full year or just the last two digits?
First concert you attended.
Name of hospital where you were born.
You wonder who writes these prompts. Someone has to write them…
And an ending I wasn’t expecting.
Also, you should be using 1Password.