CARMEL, CALIFORNIA. — Carmel, California.--Awhile back the need for adding four more numbers to zip codes was questioned by a House subcommittee, and just in time, I say (although apparently nothing came of it). After all, since we are already nailed by numbers to social security, phones, credit cards, driver's licenses, banking accounts, purchase orders and God knows what else, it would seem that the next -- and only -- logical step would be to do away with mere names altogether.
Certainly it is no harder to introduce Ms. Smith as Ms. S-5678013-21F-2488-$182.17 (although one must watch the hyphens) than it is to remember all the other numbers in your life, particularly when you consider that there are thousands of Ms. Smiths but only one Ms. S-5678013-21F-2488-$182.17.
''Hey, Ms. S-5678013-21F-2488-$182.17!'' is much more accurate certainly than ''Hey, Ms. Smith!'' when you're on a crowded street with, at least, 18 Smiths per square block. Of course, among friends in private only S-5678013 would be necessary. That would be her nicknumber.
Loss of identification? Never! First, you'll have your own last-name initial -- the S. Second, you'll retain your own phone number. Third, the next set of digits will designate your age, plus M for male or F for female, thus giving you a name change every year, certainly an advantage over the present rigid system. Fourth comes your street address. And finally the amount of your take-home pay.
Your social security number may or may not be included when you reach the age of 65, depending on your need for additional numbered security at that age.
And when your number's up, it would revert, of course, to the Giant Computer in Washington for assignment to generations yet unborn -- although when an extremely distinguished American dies, I see no objection to Congress permanently retiring his number as we do now with football jerseys.
Thus, Ms. S-56778013-21F-2488-$182.17, you have a meaningful and self-explanatory name, much better than the present arrangement, which tells absolutely nothing about the owner.
Once each proud citizen has his own number, he can print it on his business card, stamp it on his luggage and tattoo it across his forehead -- backward, of course, as far as the head is concerned. That way a woman can admire it while she's putting on lipstick and a man while he's shaving.
Mr. Keefauver is a.k.a. K-unlisted-noneofyourdamnbusinessM- (box)4918-$100.