So then…I panic.
I’d promised my daughter Chloe that I’d FaceTime her as soon as she returned from her first high school trip back home in California.
But my older sister Dawn and I are all the way in Florida, packing up our Mom’s old condo since she’s already moved to a new place.
And FaceTime’s not working because Mom had already cancelled the internet!
We call Chloe to explain, who asks, mournfully, “Is there a Starbucks or Kinkos nearby so you can FaceTime me from there?”
Her sad little voice is like a million razor-sharp daggers in my heart.
I’m actually fortunate my 15-year-old WANTS to tell me every detail!
I know those days of mother-daughter closeness are numbered. One day I’ll call her at college and she’ll say, “I’m sorry, who is this?”
But Dawn and I have no idea where local internet cafes might be in this town.
And we don’t even HAVE internet to SEARCH for places that DO have internet!
“Karen!” I shout.
“What?” asks my sister.
I jump up. “Karen, Karen! Remember, we met her yesterday?” I grab my phone and my water bottle. “Mom’s neighbor Karen probably has internet; I’m going over there.”
So I skedaddle next door and knock.
“Karen! It’s me, Darcy! My mom introduced us yesterday? Do you have internet!? I’m trying to FaceTime my daughter but we don’t have internet anymore.”
She looks a little surprised but she lets me in and gives me one of the bedrooms.
“Thank you, Karen!”
I close the door and FaceTime my daughter who tells me every detail of the entire trip. We laugh, chat, and marvel at what a blast she had. And it makes a huge difference that we can see each other’s reactions and expressions. Hooray FaceTime!
Afterwards, I return to the living room, a little guilty for taking so long. So I do that thing where I effusively thank the person, using their first name a million times to feign some kind of familiarity and friendliness:
“Thank you SO much, Karen – you’re a lifesaver! My daughter would’ve been so sad if we couldn’t FaceTime. You’re such a doll, Karen. Honestly, I’m so relieved you were home. Thanks, Karen!”
She hands me a slip of paper and says, “In case your Mom needs me to forward her mail or anything, just give me a call.”
The paper has a phone number and the word “Diane.”
“Diane!?” I say, disbelievingly. “Why have I been calling you ‘Karen’ this whole time?”
I look at her with furrowed brow and annoyed expression as though it’s HER fault I’ve been calling her by the wrong name.
She looks at me with that perplexed expression that seems to say, “I don’t know, moron – why HAVE you been calling me by the wrong name this whole time, you internet-mooching knucklehead?”
(I might just be imagining that, since she seems like a really sweet person.)
I raise my eyebrows and shake my head as though I’m still not entirely convinced that her name is Diane – and perhaps she is mistaken. There are practically quotation marks around her name when I say, “Oh, OK, well thanks for the internet, “Diane,” and have a good night.”
I march back to my Mom’s place and say to my sister, “You’re not gonna believe this! The neighbor’s name is DIANE!”
“Oh,” she says. “I wondered why you called her ‘Karen.’”
“WHAT!? You KNEW her name was Diane!? Why didn’t you correct me before I made a fool of myself?”
“I dunno,” she says. “I thought maybe you knew something I didn’t know.”
Like she LEGALLY changed her name between yesterday and today?
Or she’s got multiple personality disorder and ‘Karen’s’ the one who knows the internet password?
Good grief! How embarrassing!
So now I’m not sure who I’m more upset with –
me for my embarrassing error,
my sister for not correcting me BEFORE I went over there,
or Diane’s parents for not naming her Karen.
— Darcy Perdu
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(Who’s really to blame here: me, my sister, Diane’s parents, or someone else all together? Have YOU called someone by the wrong name? Do your kids share the details of their adventures with you?)
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