It was a classic case.
We were standing in line at the coffee shop when a woman I didn’t recognize turned around and came my way. “Well, hey!” she said and gave me a little hug and asked how I was and “oh, my goodness, can you believe it’s almost October?” she exclaimed as the guy two places in front of her moved up to order his coffee. Then she asked about the children and “gosh, I can’t believe they’re that age” she said rather slowly and I thought I saw the slightest hint of furrow in her brow as if maybe, finally, she was second guessing herself. Was I really who she thought I was? Did I truly know this person but for the life of me couldn’t remember how? Then it happened.
“How is your father?” she asked. “I haven’t heard anything out of him in a long time.”
Yep. This woman didn’t know me from, what is it they say? Adam’s house cat?
For a split second I was taken aback, but recovered, only to realize that quick wit isn’t always the best route to take.
“I haven’t heard anything out of him in a long time, either,” I said. “He died 23 years ago.”
Then I let out a little laugh and a smile to let her know it was really okay, but it was too late. All I could do was watch as this stranger’s eyes slightly bulged out of her head before she swallowed hard and stammered around the very large foot inserted in her mouth. I probably shouldn’t have said that, I know, so I smiled again and told her I was sorry, that I couldn’t resist, and I’m not entirely certain but I swear I think she intentionally backed up a step or two as though to distance herself from the crazy, bumping into the display of coffee cups and travel mugs in the process.
“Oh, what was I thinking? I knew that!” she exclaimed, flustered, and blamed it on her lack of caffeine and then it was her turn at the counter. She ordered her latte with three extra shots — that’s what I call a lot of caffeine — and before walking away she turned back to me and smiled. Maybe I did know this triple-shot lady after all.
“It’s so good to see you,” she said. “Please tell your sister Ann I said hello.”
And I nodded and smiled and told her to have a great day and even waved back as she walked to the door, all the while wondering who the heck Ann was. I don’t have a sister named Ann.
Nope. We didn’t know each other. Just another classic case of mistaken identity. I have been stricken numerous times with this affliction, once even going up to a friend and surprising her with a good, old fashioned booty bump. Rump to rump. It was hilarious!
Until she turned around and, lo and behold, it was a complete stranger.
I had two choices. I could either die of humiliation or run away. I hope she heard me say “I’m sorry” as I ran away.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. At any given moment we can either be mistaken or mistake someone for someone else. You have to be prepared.
By the way, in high school I knew a guy named Adam and he had a house cat. His name was George.
Oh, and if you happen to know Ann, please tell her Triple-Shot says hello.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.