A Case of Mistaken Identity

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Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

The last day before returning to Virginia, I gave Kathy a tour around the booming metropolis of Plattsburgh, NY. Driving down memory lane, I was pointing out the various landmarks.

First, we gassed up at a ridiculously high $2.75. I know, I know! Some people pay much higher rates than that for their gasoline. Everything is perspective. Before leaving for Plattsburgh, I paid $2.24 in VA BCH.

After watching my gasoline payment rise higher and higher, tearfully, I pulled my receipt. Then we went to the bank so that mom could get quarters for her laundry. Her apartment complex has coin washers and dryers

I wanted to surprise a childhood friend. From her Facebook profile, I knew she worked at Rambach’s Bakery. So, we drove across town, roughly two and half miles over to S. Peru St.

Opening the door the warm air carried the sweet bread smells to my nose. I wasn’t leaving without purchasing something. This bakery was quite impressive with its size and the vast assortment of confectionaries and baked goods.

Having worked in a donut shop through high school, I had something with which to compare this store. As far as the assortment of baked goods, Rambach’s beat the donut shop hands down.

Scanning the store, only one person appeared to be working, and he was male.

I asked him if Patty was working. To my sorrow, she was not working until Wednesday. I was leaving the next day, Tuesday.

As I gazed at the fellow, he looked familiar, but could not place him.

We walked over to the counter. “Do you have anything that is gluten-free? My wife has Celiac Disease and is allergic to gluten. He pointed to the macaroons and said they were the only thing they sold that is gluten-free. Mom and Kathy sampled the macaroons; I looked at him intently trying to figure out who he was. My staring probably made him nervous.

Finally, I could not contain my curiosity any longer.
I asked him, “What is your name?”

He looked at me a little confused but responded, “Mike.”

Ah, we were getting somewhere, “Mike Provost?”

He nodded, “Yes.”

The ice broke, I stuck my hand out for a handshake, and as he responded in kind. Enthusiastically, thinking once I announced who I am, he would recognize me. It had been more than thirty years since we have seen one another, I have less hair, a beard, and a few wrinkles but the name should jog his memory.

I proclaimed, “I am Don Feazelle, or you knew me as Donny Feazelle.

Not even a hint of recognition from him.

Trying to prod his memory, I said, “We went to school together.”

Still nothing.

I am thinking, “Mike sat next to me in fourth grade. For a while, we hung out together.”

It was evident that he did not recognize me. Frustration was rising the more memory joggers I threw at him.

Mr. Rennell had sat him next to me in fourth grade. How could he not remember that?

The more I probed, I began to wonder if he had suffered a stroke, a head injury, or maybe burned out from drug use. Who knows?

Grade school had not jogged his memory. Maybe some memories of our teen years would help.

I blurted out, “We played basketball on the court behind the teen center. You and Hoss Bouyea played against Alan, my brother and me many times.

When I mentioned Alan, I JUST knew he would recognize me then. Alan had dated his younger sister all through high school.

In desperation, I said, “Alan dated your sister, Sharron.”

He said, “You mean my Aunt Sharron?”

Early dementia, head injury, drug abuse, I continued entertaining these thoughts except for the most obvious. Perhaps, HE WAS NOT WHO I THOUGHT HE WAS.

Kathy interjected, “Are you a Junior?”

He responded, “Yes.”

“You are Mike Provost’s son!”

He was Mike Provost but not Mike Provost. Anyway, not the Mike Provost I knew. HE WAS HIS SON.

Now the embarrassment set in. I mean this guy was probably in his thirties or forty at the most. I had just mistaken him for his father who is my age — late fifties.

Of course, Kathy had to mention the fact that I confused this much younger man for his father.

My come back, “You are the spitting image of your father! I haven’t seen him since the 1980s.” With some emphasis and repetition, I think I smoothed things over.

I asked him how his father is doing. Told him that I had left Plattsburgh in 1980 to join the Navy. In the process, I learned that he had served in the Marine Corps for nine years. I found out a little of what he did in the Corp — shared a few sea stories. After, We bought TWO bags of macaroons (for his troubles).

As I was leaving, I told Mike to tell his father, “Donny Feazelle said, “Hi.” We walked out and laughed about this all the way to the car.

A similar thing happened to me a couple of years ago — only the reverse. I ran into a woman in Target who thought that I was my oldest son. YOU BET I WAS FLATTERED. She took 27 years off my age.

Perception is not always reality. I was so convinced that I was talking to a childhood friend that I painstakingly brought up mutual memories that he and I could reminisce over.

How often do not see what is obvious, because we are so convinced that our perception is the truth?

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