Assume nothing. That’s my new motto. Just because the man standing behind you in a crowd smells like your husband’s favorite aftershave doesn’t mean you should engage in any furtive, behind-your-back, playfully affectionate groping until you turn around and make sure it’s him. Your husband may have wandered off after you got there. You’ve heard the expression, “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.” Sometimes it isn’t a duck. Sometimes it’s just a turkey wearing your husband’s favorite cologne.

My mom was once the victim of mistaken identity. She and Dad went to the mall’s craft show to browse and shop. (I don’t know how she got him to do that. He must have been trying to earn his way “out of the doghouse” for some infraction of household rules.) The mall was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with throngs of eager shoppers. Mom and Dad got separated by the jostling crowd and Dad lagged behind. He noticed that Mom was walking alongside another couple. Both women were wearing the same colored outfits and had similar haircuts.

From Dad’s vantage point, he watched as the other man, who was absent-mindedly shuffling along the tables admiring the crafts, reached over and playfully pinched what he thought was his wife’s posterior. It was my mom’s. This naturally startled Mom, who turned around and confronted the very embarrassed stranger. He apologized profusely and assured her that he was not in the habit of pinching strangers. His wife came over to see what was going on and was equally embarrassed. Mom just laughed it off and told them that she hadn’t been pinched by a stranger in over 40 years. I think she was secretly flattered, since she told me later that the other lady was about 40 years younger and at least 40 pounds lighter.

I stopped coloring my hair a few months ago. It’s now white. My husband is still getting used to it. This led to another case of mistaken identity. We went out to breakfast last week. He was in the restroom when the hostess seated me. I watched my husband come out of the restroom, then stop at a booth (not mine) where an older lady was seated alone. He took off his coat and started to sit down, when I said, “Hey! What are you doing? Are you trading me in after over 50 years?” He was embarrassed, but I will say the woman looked somewhat hopeful. He said to me, “Oh! I saw her white hair over the back of the booth and assumed it was you.”

Remember…assume nothing. Like my mom, I was a bit flattered, because although she was about my age, she was indeed at least 40 pounds lighter.

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