Dallas, TX –
People sometimes confuse me with Todd Dodge, the football coach and also with Tom Bodett, the NPR storyteller from Alaska. On the Internet I'm called writer Todd Dodge, or Coach Tom Dodge, who visited the White House and met President Bush. Once I got a late-evening call from somebody in a bar in Florida. It was hard time to hear him with the loud music and noise in the background. It was also apparent that he had been in the bar too long. "I got that film," he said. "Want me to send it to you?" He didn't say who he was or ask who I was.
Well, I like movies so I was naturally interested. "Which film?" I said. All I could decipher over the noise was something about a game.
"Spike Lee?" I said, "We Got Game?"
"Who is this?" he said.
"Who do you want?"
"Coach Dodge," he said.
I said I'm not that guy and that I think he lives in Southlake. He said some things then that would be illegal to repeat on the air and hung up.
I was sorry I couldn't help and I hope the mix-up didn't affect the outcome of Coach Dodge's next football game.
So the confusion was easily handled on the phone but face to face things can get complicated. Earlier I said I'm not Tom Bodett. But I've been mistaken for him several times. The last time was at a book event when the hostess introduced me to another woman as "Tom Dodge, you know, he does the Motel-6 commercials."
I was in her position once. I introduced a reporter as winning a Pulitzer Prize for a newspaper series. I was embarrassed when he said he was only a finalist and hadn't won. So I decided I would let it go if someone ever made a harmless mistake about me. So I overlooked it but immediately regretted doing so when the woman looked puzzled.
I thought she was puzzled because she knows me or him and wonders why I'm not clearing up the mistake. But before I could do so I realized that wasn't the case. She was puzzled because she had never heard of Tom Bodett, or me, or Motel-6 for, all I know. Perfect, I thought. Let's move on. But the hostess would not hear of it. She was on a mission. "You know," she said, "the one that says, `We'll leave the light on for ya.'" This only added to the fog that was enveloping the poor woman.
So, now, my hostess, apparently going for broke, said, "Say it for her, Tom, the way you do, say, `We'll leave the light on for ya.'"
By now I was cursing my luck to have been confused with someone as anonymous as I was. So, with nothing left to lose, I said, "We'll leave the light on for ya."
We looked closely at the victim, hoping to detect a scintilla of recognition. Finally, she said, kind of painfully, I thought: "Now It's coming back to me. I think I remember."
Suddenly there was neon at the end of the tunnel. But, then, she added the chilling words, "kind of."
All I remember after that was fleeing the scene of the crime. But in reflection I guess I should have said, "Actually I'm Todd Dodge, and was invited to the White House to meet President Bush - because I'm a football coach!"
Tom Dodge is a writer from Midlothian.
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