Cases of mistaken identity

. April 30, 2013.
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Dressed as a bumblebee, Mary Helen tells stories to someone she thought was her aunt.I am certain by now you have come to the conclusion that my family is similar to
one of my favorite Far Side cartoons. In the scene you are privy to seeing the notes of a psychologist as he sits by his couch bound patient. On a notepad he has written
in bold capital letters, “JUST PLAIN NUTS!”

I thought of this when I came to the realization that I had just used my daughter’s Clean and Clear face wash as toothpaste. It left me with an oddly refreshing aftertaste and an onslaught of memories of mistaking the wrong room, table, and in one highly inappropriate and embarrassing moment, a spouse!

Our cousin Terry has a history of being logistically challenged as well as a bit nutty.
Since this has proven to be a dangerous combination, we armed her with explicit instructions on how to arrive at our front door from her dwelling in Chicago. As our
waiting time lengthened so did our anxiety. We finally saw a flustered Terry.

She explained that she knocked at the front entrance with no response, so she proceeded to the rear of the house. Terry decided to have some fun since she discovered everyone gathered at the kitchen table. She pressed her face and other unmentionable body parts against the sliding glass door only to discover that she had been to the house next door
which belonged to a humorless president of a non-profit. We asked her how in the world she got confused since there was a fire hydrant in the front yard among other clearly visible land marks. She declared,“There were cars with Ohio license plates in the driveway.” We then had to gently remind her that since she was in Ohio that would pretty much be the norm.

Who am I to judge? I did some marketing work for a parochial school and was informed of the requirement to dress up for Halloween. I was going through chemo at the time. With my fuzzy cropped hair I looked like Jerry Seinfeld in the Bee Movie, so I went with it. Walking into school with my flapping antenna and killer bee suit, I had a moment of hesitance that this may be saw a nun dressed like Dorothy. My costume was a hit. I thought I would get some mileage out of it and visit my poor Aunt Carol who was in a rehab facility after suffering a stroke. I knew it would give her a chuckle.

I went in, sat by the bed and began gabbing away. It took some time for me to realize that the woman I was conversing with was not my aunt. I was in the wrong room. I said my sincerest apologies and buzzed out. I often wonder what happened to that poor woman who surely informed the nurses that there was a life size bee in her room. I hope she’s not in some padded space somewhere.

Another moment of miscalculation happened when I was chairman of the annual Mobile Meals Wine Auction. I returned from the restroom, went to my table, and was overjoyed that someone had refilled my wine glass. I took a large unladylike sip, and started eating. I looked up from my food long enough to realize that I didn’t know a soul seated around me. The familiar faces a table away were giving me the all too recognizable “What the heck are you doing now?” look. I quickly informed my new tablemates of the importance of mingling with as many guests as possible when placed in a position of leadership.

Currently, I am still trying, but not succeeding, in forgetting one of the most humiliating moments of identity confusion. I was more than ready to head home to my bunny slippers, moose boxersand, of course, my offspring one evening. Numerous attempts to get the father of my children to leave the party were fruitless even though an hour earlier he informed me he was ready to go. We even had our coats on in preparation for heading out the
door. I finally took matters into my own hands (literally) and went up behind him and firmly grabbed his bum and asked, “Are you ready?” My dentist, who happened to be wearing a trench similar to my spouse’s, turned around. I was still holding firm to his left cheek when I realized my error.

This could throw any girl into therapy but what would they say other than, “JUST PLAIN NUTS!”

Mary Helen can be reached c/oeditor@annarborfamily.com