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A case of mistaken identity reminds me to shine


Melanie Nichols


Melanie Nicholas

by Melanie Nicholas

I was working late a few nights ago when I received a strange Facebook message.

The message read, “What the hell just happened? I can’t believe it.”

I puzzled over this for a few minutes. The message came on my public Facebook page, the one that I use for work. The sender was a person I did not know. Which in and of itself is not unusual since that page is you know, for the public.

But, the tone of the message was ominous. I worried my page or blogsite had been hacked. Was it spamming people with pornography or sending letters to everyone saying I was stranded abroad and needed people to wire me money immediately?

I looked at the sender’s name again, sure that I did not know him. I opened a new screen and searched for him. His Facebook page emerged, only to show me a picture of a police SWAT team, fully dressed out, armed and ready to bust down my front door.

Hard to believe I know, but I do have my detractors. I even get the occasional piece of hate e-mail. But this, well, this was someone stepping up their game.

I decided to message him back.

“Hi, think you meant to message someone else. I am Melanie Nicholas, the Midland Reporter-Telegram columnist.” I added a big yellow smiley face to the message, I didn’t want to poke that bear.

A minute later he responds with, “Ooops. Sorry.”

I send another smiley face, hoping he knew I didn’t harbor any ill will, silently repeating pleasedon’tshootmepleasedon’tshootme. “No problem,” I wrote back, uber cheerful.

Then a few minutes later, another cryptic missive.

“It’s funny you really look like her.”

Gulp. Look like herrrrrrrrr … .

It’s dark and it’s cold and my house is silent. My imagination begins to run wild. Like wild. Wondering if losing so much weight this year was such a good idea after all. Now I will be a lot easier to wrestle into an unmarked panel van. I hear “It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again” running through my mind, and I make a mental note to sign up for that open carry class I’ve been eyeballing.

I take another peek at my new pen pal’s Facebook page.

“Are you in the SWAT photo?” I asked. You know, in case I need to leave breadcrumbs for the authorities.

I did not find his response comforting.

“Hahahahaha. No.”

It was a few minutes more before I found out my new friend, Andrew, also works in the media. He’s a news talk show host working in Florida.

He was covering a story and with, what I suspect was a simple keyboarding error, had mistaken my Facebook page for that of Melanie Nichols, a local Pensacola activist. It was a little eerie to see a photo of her on his page because for a split second, I thought, “I don’t remember posing for that photo!”

Now, we’re not twins separated at birth or anything. But we do have similar looks. Blond, same hair style, big smiles. Good dressers with a penchant for oversize shades. After doing a little internet stalking of my own, I have come to like Melanie No. 2. She seems funny and articulate, she loves her family, and her twitter handle includes the word “sparkle.” She’s feisty, y’all. On the outside, Melanie Nichols seems to be a person that is happy, that knows what she’s doing in her life!

My sweet dad, relaxing in the shade on our Easter fishing trip in 2014.

My sweet dad, relaxing in the shade on our Easter fishing trip in 2014.

The timing is ironic. Because this is one of those times in my life when I have no idea what direction my life is taking. Does anyone else ever feel that way? That you are so busy or so preoccupied that you are on auto-pilot? I would like to say that I feel this way because of work, church and juggling family life. Those things are manageable with a calendar, crockpot and some laughter.  But I know that this sense of aimless drifting is grief, me feeling unmoored after losing my dad in January. Today is one of those days when I would call him. My house is clean-ish, the kids are at school. I would stretch out on the couch with a cup of coffee and tell him about his grandkids and their latest exploits. My daughter is so much like him, wild, good-looking and all outlaw. I do not like to grieve; hurting … hurts. And my dad would think I was ridiculous to be so sad. But I don’t know how to help it or stop it or even process it. I miss him.

I think he would have gotten a kick out of my random Facebook encounter, and he would tell me to be more like Melanie No. 2. Life is short, it’s made for living. And he liked girls that sparkled best.

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