When I showed up as a freshman in college, I had a letter in my newly assigned mailbox at the student union sent by a girl who wrote how much she missed me and signed it, “Love, Betsey.”
The trouble was, I did not know Betsey. Still, I was glad she loved me, but not having met me, I wondered how she missed me. Nevertheless, since she claimed to miss me, now that we were both on campus, she needed to miss me no more. I kept waiting for her to come up to me in person. I guessed she was shy. I could not approach her because I did not know who she was. So, as I walked around campus, each girl I saw was a potential Betsey.
Later, I solved the mystery. An upperclassman was going by my same name — first and last. He, not I, was the object of Betsey’s desire. He must have given her the correct P.O. box as I received no more love notes from her.
Soon I got to meet Betsey’s boyfriend who shared my name, as well as meeting Betsey, his date, when I was rushed by his fraternity, which I pledged and joined.
It turned out that it was okay to be mixed up with this particular fella. He did our name proud. For example, when he was selected for the honor of being Phi Beta Kappa, I cut the article out of the school newspaper and mailed it home — two states away. My grandmother was very impressed. She had never heard of a freshman being selected for Phi Beta Kappa in the first semester before grades came out. She told my mother, “Alan is so smart it scares me.” My mother, not so naive, was not scared. She announced, “It is not my son.” Party pooper!
My greatest feat as a swimmer came with my name-sharer’s assistance. Another coincidence was that we were both swimmers. I was not thinking about it at the time, but in our first swim meet together, we each won a couple events, he in some freestyle events, and me in breaststroke and Individual Medley. Then we swam in the same medley relay. I swam the second leg, which is breaststroke, and he swam the final leg, which is freestyle. So, combined we won five events — four individual ones and the relay.
The day after the meet, a sports reporter for the school newspaper, also a freshman, who knew me but apparently had not attended the meet, saw the race results, came up to me and complimented me.
“Al, you really had a good meet,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said, “we did okay.”
“More than okay. I saw that you won five events, but the most impressive thing is that you swam two legs of the medley relay. I have never seen that!”
I had not thought of any confusion until he said that, which made me laugh.
“Well,” I admitted, “you never will see that because it did not happen exactly that way.”
Rather than explaining, I should have shut up, let him report on how wonderful of an athlete I am, and maybe sent the article to my grandmother in Nebraska. I just wasn’t thinking quickly enough ….
P.S. Betsey married the other guy, not me, which worked out for them and for me — because I got to marry Sugar. Betsey was not Miss Texas and, well, I was not Phi Beta Kappa, even as a senior, but I never told Gramma. I wish I still had the Phi Beta Kappa newspaper article so I could impress Sugar. She seems kind of skeptical. I suppose that my Mom got to her.