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Mistaken identity
You see, I have an unfortunate habit of walking up to complete strangers I think I know, and doing something embarrassing



March 3, 2006

My little (ok, not so little) ego is intact.  I grow older, notice little wrinkles on my face and more gray hair in my hair -- but my ego is exactly as I left it.

I stayed home yesterday because I wasn’t feeling well.  However, some time around 5, I realized that eating what was in our fridge was not an option (mostly because we only had condiments in the fridge).  So I went to the Vons down the hill from our house, nursing my little headache and trying to figure out what I would buy and subsequently make for dinner.  As I got out of the car, I realized I was wearing brown cords, with a white t-shirt, denim jacket, black shoes and a red purse.  Now individually, each one of those items are kind of cute (I have a particular fondness for my little red purse), but the combination was less than dazzling.  As I was looking for a cart, walking into the store, a stylish young Asian woman looked at me with a little confusion and moved closer to me. 

“Excuse me, are you, You... ?”  

I was so relieved.  I was sure she was going to ask me if I were color blind to leave the house in such a state.  This sense of paranoia was possibly fed by the fact that I had just discovered a website (and was subsequently glued to it), reading the rantings of two women with far too much time on their hands acting as fashion police to the stars.  Their blog ( is hilarious by the way; I laughed endlessly at their rantings, stopping only when I realized they could be their victim someday.

Technically, I am me, and so I smiled and nodded, “Yes”.

“No, I mean, are you the one they mentioned on the radio?”

I responded with what must have been a very confused, wide smile -- ok, I probably looked a little deranged with my migraine-smile.

Before I could say no, she was gone.  This woman had no time for me.  She seemed to be on some kind of quest that involved asking complete strangers if they are indeed themselves.  Actually, I thought she may have been a little delusional, but who was I to judge with my squinty eyes and aching head?

So I wandered into Vons, slowly moving up the deli and bakery aisle, quicker down the frozen food aisle.  I eventually made my way to the produce section, with no dinner ideas and the uneasy feeling I was being watched.  As I stood before the vegetables, contemplating their potential dinner-worthiness, I saw a young man walking towards me with a smile.  A big, friendly, I-haven’t-seen-you-in-so-long smile.  I was touched, and slightly flattered, but more touched.

You see, I have an unfortunate habit of walking up to complete strangers I think I know, and doing something embarrassing.  I once walked into a sushi bar, and saw my friend sitting there with his back to the door.  My friend was a large, bald, black man.  This gentleman sitting at the sushi bar was a large, bald, black man.  And I greeted him the same way he would greet me when I was hard at work, concentrating on something I couldn’t solve -- with a sharp smack to the back of his neck.  He would have gotten a big laugh out of the payback, except he wasn’t my friend. 

The man was a complete stranger.  A complete stranger of a man who wouldn’t know me from Adam (or Eve for that matter).  He was dumbfounded that a small (whitish) woman would walk up to him and hit him in the back of the head for no reason at all.  Perhaps the only thing that stopped him from smacking me back was the look of horror on my face -- and the scream I let out when I saw his face.  He realized at that point that the only person more surprised than him, was me.  I was horrified.  I wanted to run as far as humanly possible, but only after I had melted into a puddle in the ground.  Oh the humiliation.  Did I mention my husband’s co-workers were all sitting along the other side of the sushi bar watching my entrance?

So back to the nice young man in the grocery store: I knew as well as I knew myself that this man would walk up to me and try to start a conversation.  Make some kind of small talk about my inability to decide on dinner, on the busy-ness of the store and then work his way up to where he remembers me from... I felt bad for his future realization of the mistaken identity, and did my best to lessen the embarrassment. 

“Hi, are you... ”

Ok, so he skipped the small talk and went straight for the id.

“Are you the Star 100 Secret Shopper of the day?”

I was shocked.  I was insulted.  I was hurt. And I realized that the first lady wasn’t delusional at all -- she was one a mission to get a monetary prize.  I was under the impression that someone had discovered my greatness on my way to the grocery store, but that could not have been further from reality.

“No, no I’m not a secret shopper.” 

I must have sounded crestfallen.  He had started to walk away and then came back and explained, “I’m sorry, I would never inconvenience strangers this way -- but they said the Star Shopper was short, had big hair and would be walking around this Vons between 5-6.”

Did he just call me short?!  I’m PETITE people, not short, PETITE! And BIG HAIR?! It’s been raining!  I can’t fight humidity; it’s an act of God.  Plus, I was home sick, and I had pillow head. 

I expressed my grace and maturity by flashing him a squinty smile, “Oh, I understand.  I get confused with celebrities all the time.”  Ha ha.  See, I can laugh at myself.

I tried to get my groceries and run.  I was questioned by no less than seven other people before I made it out of the store.  As I walked out, I decided that I don’t like Vons any more. I’m now a Ralph’s shopper.

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Parissa Sohie



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