A Rose by Any other Name*

I was one tiny chromosome away from being Michelle Collins as opposed to Michael. Though I’m not complaining about my gender, being Michelle may have reduced the mistaken identity issues that frequently occur with those of us who share such a common name.

Now don’t get me wrong, Michael Collins is clearly no John Smith, but it does rank pretty close when it comes to identity confusion.

For example, in my late 20’s, it was not uncommon for me to receive a 3:00 am wake-up call from a rather inebriated lady who decided to call the first Michael Collins she found in the phone book, which happened to be me, and tear into him for being such a sorry husband and an even worse ex.  My efforts to convince her that I was not the Michael Collins she was looking for were persistently unsuccessful – even when I intoned my best Jedi voice while waving my hand over the receiver.  In another galaxy far, far away, she would be an elite storm trooper.

By the time I convinced her that I was a different Michael Collins, I had been so thoroughly berated that I actually felt guilty and wondered if I did, in fact, have some legal obligation to send her an alimony check.

Counsel advised me that I did not.

Even with such confusion I never became distracted from who I was… the one and only Michael Collins of my beloved Kodak, TN. Ok, there are actually two of us. Possibly three – I can’t keep up.

Late night run-ins with the alimony trooper are not my only experience in having to defend my true identity.

Although I can clearly see how the teenage Blockbuster Video clerk would be confused by my permeating leadership qualities, I am not the Michael Collins who lead the Irish Revolution.  Thank God, because he was assassinated.

I’m also not Michael Collins, Irish Ambassador to the United States.  He is still living.

Contrary to the endless tormenting by my fifth grade peers during U.S. history, I’m not the Michael Collins who remained behind in the Apollo 11 orbiter while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin actually got to land on the surface of the moon, thereby seizing all the fame and glory for the entire mission.  I feel highly resentful on his behalf though.

I am not Michael Collins, Washington correspondent for the Knoxville News Sentinel.  Although I still receive congratulatory calls once in a while from impressed friends.  I may come clean someday.

I’m not a former top 25 US Open golfer now working for ESPN.

I’m not Michael Collins the author and I’m certainly not the “Ultra Marathoner.”

I’m not the chancellor of Umass Medical School.

I’m not the faculty director of the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin.

I’m not the “internationally renowned” expert in sports medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

And, I have never held a senate seat in Maryland.

I’m not the Lutheran minister who just happened to be on a retreat to Lake Junaluska this past 4th of July weekend – the same time my wife and I decided to take a getaway weekend in the same bed and breakfast, where they tried to add her to his room and leave me entirely out of the picture!  For the love of Pete!  It’s bad enough that my name gets hijacked continuously but I have to guard my wife now too?

Ok, Michael, deep breath.

To all you Pete’s out there, I humbly apologize for that inconsiderate outburst.  I can relate.  I’ve just had a lot going on.  I hope you will forgive me.

Excuse me now while I go drown my sorrows in a bottle of whiskey … which is not named after me.

If you enjoyed this column and would like to see more, click here.

© Michael L. Collins

*Originally published as “Being named Michael Collins can be curse, cause confusion” in the August 15, 2013 edition of The Mountain Press.

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