What's in a Name? My Secret Identity Revealed
Easter 2016 in Las Vegas. This was the standard demographic at family gatherings growing up except for the Asian guy
Sometime around Christmas of 2015 I got a call from my Uncle Bruce regarding his mother, my great aunt Suzie, being in a hospital psych ward in Las Vegas. She was 86 years old and with her diabetes was having trouble living alone anymore and he couldn’t take her in because she was paranoid and would call the cops or something. I was annoyed because the evictors had already thrown all of her stuff out, even though we only lived 10 miles away from her apartment in Henderson. I would have gladly collected some family heirlooms, photographs and personal mementos if I had known of this problem. Apparently it had come up a few months before and he wanted me to visit my grandmother’s only sibling in his absence. It was too far of a drive from Oceanside, California for him to visit his own ailing mother, or something.
I took my husband Oh and my then then two year old younger daughter with me. A problem came up at the front desk as apparently anyone in the fourth floor psych ward could only have one visitor, not three. The woman needed to check me in carefully, asking what family relations I had with my great aunt and requesting my ID card. This mundane experience then turned rather odd.
“I’ve heard about you!” The young woman behind the counter exclaimed. She was a dark skinned black woman, almost certainly African American, and about 20 years old. Her name tag read K. Johnson and I still wonder what the K stood for. Kenyatta? Kanoni? Kelly?
It’s odd to say but some variation of “I heard about you!”, or “I remember you.”, or “I know who you are.” has come up from random people maybe five or six times in my adopted hometown of Las Vegas. It’s a city of 2.2 million people so I find it strange. We only ended up there because grandpa was a sports bookie. One traffic cop shooed me on my way without a ticket because he’d seen me around and a person I delivered food to on Postmates excitedly came outside because she’d heard about me and asked if she could take a selfie with me. I came back to the DMV on Sahara after I’d had problems registering my car a month before because it wouldn’t pass smog check and the blond woman ushered me to the counter saying “Yeah I remember did you get it to pass smog yet?” before I even said a word to her. This was one month later and pre pandemic that place was culling through over 1000 people on any given day. Why exactly would she remember me from a month before?
The young black woman behind the counter named K. Johnson then upped the ante. “You are like, my cousin!” She gushed enthusiastically.
I didn’t quite know how to take this, as I am what is called farang in Thailand, which they say means foreigner but more euphemistically means “white skinned.” So I decided to go for a broad open view of the situation, channeling my best Michael Jackson “We Are the World” impersonation.
“We are all one family, through God.” I said back. A subtle look of disappointment seeped in on her face and I took the elevator up to the fourth floor as Oh and our girl sat on the waiting benches downstairs.
As I went to visit my great aunt Suzie, AKA Suzanne Johnson, I got to spend the next two hours slowly smoldering in how completely, utterly stupid I was.
Wasn’t Great Uncle Josh’s family from Las Vegas?
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