Mistaken Identity

Today’s guest post comes from littlejailbird.

A long time ago I was witness to a case of mistaken identity that came close to having disastrous results. This took place at the first home I remember living as a child. I was still quite young, 5 years old or so, I think, and had two older sisters and one younger brother.


Our family had close relationships  with several of our neighbors. On this particular day, we – my mom and us kids – had been somewhere with another neighbor family. They dropped us off at our house and as we walked up to our front door, we all saw it – an animal in the flower bed that was next to the front steps. My brother, who is 2 ½ years younger than I am, toddled towards this animal, calling “Kitty, kitty, kitty” and holding out his hand.

Well. This creature did bear some resemblance to a cat – a long-haired black and white cat – but it definitely wasn’t what any of the rest of us would call a kitty.

All of us girls were struck dumb with shock and horror, because we knew what could happen if our brother tried to pet the animal. I was too scared to move but luckily my mom was not. I rarely saw my mother running, but she did then – and the sight of my mom sprinting and snatching up my brother before he could get closer to this creature would have made me laugh out loud, if I hadn’t been so frightened.


Somehow we managed to all get in the house without anything disastrous happening. Later, I heard that the cute black and white animal was probably rabid, so who knows what would have happened if my brother had managed to get close to this “kitty.” Oddly enough, now my brother has a special way with cats, but I’m pretty sure he knows exactly what is and what isn’t a kitty and will never again mistake a skunk for a cat.

(skunk photo: Kevin Collins / CC-BY 2.0)

When have you been involved in or witnessed a terrible case of mistaken identity?

48 thoughts on “Mistaken Identity”

  1. A long ago boyfriend claimed I had a doppleganger who worked downtown (where he also worked) – the hair, gait and general shape were similar, though faces, being faces, were different. He saw her one day on Nicollet Mall and was about to say something probably not appropriate to whisper to a stranger when he realized, upon approach, that her outfit was something I would never wear. Probably lucky for him he had that realization – he might have gotten slapped (or worse).

    Off to first day of school for Darling Daughter – she is on school patrol today, so no school bus for the first time since preschool.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Morning all. Great story Edith. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head although I have to say that seeing tim without a hat at the Fair on Saturday was a little weird!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had a baseball coach for my kids teM who I didn’t realize was bald and another who had a big wavy
      Flamboyant hairdo under his cap
      I wear hats in the summer but on that day I thought it would be better to go without
      I find now with my new hearing aid a hat acts like putting your hand behind your ear and magnifies so significantly you have to factor that unto hat wearing equation too
      Good seeing you just the same


  3. I always feel so badly for little ones who grab onto a leg they think belongs to a parent, and then find it is the leg of a stranger. I know that people at my mother’s funeral were only being kind, but whenever i was told I looked just like my mother, I had to bite my tongue to stop from saying “Thanks. I love being told I look like a 91 year old, chronically ill woman.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I often have the experience of seeing someone who bears a strong resemblance to someone I’ve known, and it takes a minute or two to dawn on me that the person is a couple of decades too young to be the friend I’m thinking of. I’m just sort of stuck in the wrong timeframe.


    2. That happened to me when I was a little, little kid. Don’t remember for sure where or when (might have been a barn dance), but I remember leaning against my mom’s leg, finding it comforting to know somebody in the crowd. Then there was the shock of finding out that it was some other woman. It was probably someone I knew…but I felt very upset and embarrased.


    3. Let us hope they meant you look like your mother as they best remember her.

      I have lately started to be told I look like my mother. I longed to look like my mother for years ( but no, it was always my dad they said I looked like-which is hard to take when you are a foot shorter and over 100 pounds lighter).

      Now when people say I look like my mother, I remind myself to smile more.


  4. My brothers are identical twins. I grew up watching cases of mistaken identity. Even at their 20-year high school reunion (which I went with them to because I used to hang out with their friends), people still couldn’t tell them apart.

    I’m told I have an evil twin running around but don’t we all hear that?


  5. Good morning. I will try to think of cases of mistaken identity. Right now what comes to mind is cases of failure to identify.

    I am talking about not being able to identify a person that seems to know me. In these case I usually tell the person I think I know them and I can’t remember who they are. Usually the person involved does know me and doesn’t mind refreshing my memory. However, I am always afraid that my failure to identify a person I should know will offend that person.

    I can’t or will not tell you the details of any of those many times that have failed to identify an individual.


    1. If we use this as the measuring stick for today’s question, then it happens to me so often that I probably won’t be able to pick out a singular occurrence. When I see people outside of the place where I know them, it often takes me a bit of time to work out who they are.


  6. My paternal grandfather was one of 10 brothers, and at least 7 of them named one of their sons “Jake”. Most of them lived in the same MN, SD, IA corner. So, one was either Bill’s Jake or Louie’s Jake, or Ed’s Jake, or Albert’s Jake, or Okke’s Jake, or Jake’s Jake, or Martin’s Jake. My paternal great-grandfather was also named Jake.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I rembrr the time I went into France 44 liquor a looking for a special bottle of 40 year old port for a highbrow. 40th birthday celebration
    I had been through a dwi recently do I was without a drivers lisence at the time and the guy in the aisle of the store who worked there got up , came over and started in a real angry voice wanting to know hoe I had the nerve to come back into the store and what the hell was the matter with me . I told him I thought he has mistaken me for someone else but he said yeah right and kept asking me to get the hell out . I paid a small fortune for the bottle and left without being able to show identification because of no drivers liscence but I felt so embarrassed at bring called out in the liquor store .
    It made me glad I wasn’t that guy for real but kept me from ever stepping foot in that establishment.


  8. Delightful post, ljb!
    Well, there are the times at family reunions when Grandma would go right down the ranks trying to identify who she was talking to – “Oh, Connie, Irma, Rita, Hopie… And mom would mix up my sister and me, or my son and her son… Now that she’s got Alzheimer’s, it gets more interesting – one day recently she looked at me and wondered briefly if Barb was coming soon. I said “I am Barb” and in a second she agreed, but was looking for a younger version of me than was in front of her.


  9. A couple of years after I had moved to the US, my sister wrote and told me she had seen someone on a bicycle in Lyngby that she thought was me. Apparently this doppelganger of mine lived or worked near the train station where my sister caught the commuter train into Copenhagen, as she saw her with some regularity. Randi said she had the same kind of bicycle, wore her hair short – like mine – and dressed like me. The first couple of times Randi saw her, she thought I had moved back home but hadn’t told anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Morning-
    First day of classes here at the college. And Son starts classes in Chicago today. Daughter doesn’t start work / school until next week. And I’m starting an evening photography class tonight too. I’m a little bit scared.

    I have a couple skunk stories.
    There was a skunk, probably rabid, middle of the day wandered into the garage and started eating the dogs food. When he finally left and got far enough away from the house I shot it.
    What I learned after that is you should shoot them in the spine so they can’t spray. Shooting them in the head causes them to spray. A lot.
    I was far enough away but it still smelt. Smelled?

    I was cutting hay. As I got to the last bit in the middle of the field I could see something moving in the standing hay; I could see the hay ‘jiggle’ as it moved. A hawk was cruising low watching too. As I make the last swipe cutting the last 6′ this ‘thing’ kept moving to the end of the swath and the hawk and I were both watching. And it finally ran into the open and it was a skunk. I slammed on the brakes and the hawk abruptly flew away.
    There’s a lesson in there; know what you’re chasing don’t you think?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. My parents visited us the whole month before we were married. They hated America, and held me personally responsible for everything they found wrong with it. The longest month of my life!

      A friend was kind enough to offer us the use of his “cabin” up north, so I drove up there with them for a long weekend. Turned out that the “cabin” was a dilapidated small house – out in the middle of nowhere – next to a shallow creek. A family of skunks had taken up residence under the “cabin,” and judging from the stench inside, had been spraying vigorously with some regularity. It didn’t help that it was 90º F and humid with nary a tree in sight. Dad and I waded into the creek to cool off, and do a little fishing. We didn’t catch any fish, but when we got out of the water, our lower legs were black, completely covered with leeches. Let’s just say that “cabin” did nothing to improve my parents’ opinion of America.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, gosh, I’m visualizing that first one, when you shoot the skunk and all the spray inside the skunk geysers out…that would make a great scene in a movie.


  11. When I was little, my mom always cut my hair in a pixie cut. I really never liked it. I always wanted long hair, begged her to let me grow my hair.

    Part of the reason I hated the pixie cut was because it seemed to happen every time we went shopping that someone would come up to my mom and say, “Hi Barb! What a darling little boy you have!”

    Liked by 5 people

    1. When I was very little my mom used to tape a pink ribbon on my head. I didn’t have lots and lots of hair until I was about a year and she hated that people thought I was a boy!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Well, the twins are one year, two weeks and two days old today (anniversary of their coming home from the hospital) and their hair is getting a bit long. Daughter put a barrette in the hair of one of them to keep hair out of his eyes; gosh, it looked funny.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. I had the “pixie” inflicted on me too. Possibly cute if you are Mia Farrow, but on a square-jawed little Deutsch like myself, not so much.

      Right then and there began my commitment to the idea that there was more to life than being “easy to take care of “.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Yeah, I got the pixie cuts, too. Even once I was past those, though, I was invited by my brother’s high school choir director to join her boy’s choir. I was so stunned I wasn’t sure what to say. My mom chimed in and said that while I had a lovely alto, she wasn’t sure her *daughter* would really fit in (poor choir director…she couldn’t stop apologizing…).

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Skunks have such a potent weapon–and know it–that they are actually one of the most mellow critters you’ll encounter. They’re not trigger happy. We were hunting in high weeds with a friend who was new to pheasant hunting. Jerry reached down to stroke one of our dogs as it passed, only it was a skunk. Didn’t spray.

    I’ve told the story before about a woman I knew named Syl who had a gift for working with animals. She once happened on a strange scene. A skunk had stuck its head in a Mason jar and got it stuck. Two kids were plinking away at the skunk with a .22. Syl stopped the shooting, picked up the skunk and released it from the jar and let it go. Trusting skunks as I do, that’s still more than I would try to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ha! Maybe my most interesting story but I rarely share it. So here goes, I (thought) I saw my nephew at a fast food joint and said to him, “You sure are one ugly dude.” This ‘guy’ turned around and said, “You must be talking to him” and pointed to his friend in line. This guy was literally an identical duplicate of my nephew. I was so relieved when he did not pound me into a fine dust. My nephew is tall, strong, and in great shape. He was a fire fighter for a while. I apologized for about ten minutes.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. I don’t have a mistaken identity story i can recall. I do have a skunk story. I knew there were skunks that lived in the Clarks Grove area where I lived. However, I didn’t expect to see one in my shed.

    One day my wife proclaim that she saw a skunk when she opened the door to the shed. I looked into the shed and saw a skunk standing in there looking out at me. I left the shed door wide open and retreated from the area. When I can back later, the skunk was gone.

    The next day I found the remains of a dead rabbit in the shed. I don’t know how the dead rabbit got there. Apparently skunks like dead stinky animals as well being able to stink up an area themselves. My neighbors told me they had also seen a skunk which they discovered feeding on cat food at their house.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. i was in the bar at the holiday inn in brainerd and paul newman walked in.
    i stared at him and tried to figure out if it was him. he looked me in the eye the whole time i was looking at him knowing i was wondering if it was him. i smiled and he smiled and then he looked more like him.
    he has lots of freckles. it threw me off
    i nodded hello and left him alone. it wasnt mistaken identity but i had to be sure. i have had other people that i wondered if they were someone but often they werent

    Liked by 2 people

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