When I was a child living in a suburb of Boston, there were seven pages of Kelleys and Kellys listed in the Boston telephone directory. In my neighborhood there were four of us Barbaras living side by side by side by side. Thus it was probably inevitable that all my life I would be told by people I was being introduced to, "I have a cousin named Barbara Kelly," or "I went to school with a Barbara Kelly" or some such.
While living in Massachusetts, I never had a telephone listed in my own name (kids didn't, in those days), so it wasn't until I moved to Hollywood and my name appeared in the phone book that I began getting the "Barbara Kelly who" calls: "Are you the Barbara Kelly who...?" What came after the "who" always piqued my curiosity.
Most of the calls were of the "Are you the Barbara Kelly I met at the party last night?" variety. Whose party? Where? But I hadn't been to any party last night, and I would reluctantly tell the nice male voice on the line, "No, I think you have the wrong number."
One of the callers wanted to know if I was "the Barbara Kelly who works for Cole of California?" Designing bathing suits? Modeling them? Or just working in the office? No, I wasn't that Barbara Kelly either.
Another, upon hearing my "hello" said, "I think I have the wrong number. I'm looking for the Barbara Kelly from England who's a singer." Obviously, my lack of an English accent had given me away. Had it cost me a movie job or just a date? Anyway, I had to agree with the young man that he did indeed have the wrong number. Too bad.
Just the other day, another young man asked if I was Barbara Kelly, and when I said I was, he wanted to know if I was "Lynn's mother." No, I'm not Lynn's mother either. Nor Mary's aunt, as another inquired.
The "Barbara Kelly who" calls I enjoy getting most, though, are the ones that ask if I am the author of some recent article or poem they have read. I am always delighted when I can say "yes." Actually, these people often preface their question by asking if my middle initial is "L." When I assure them it is, then they go into their "Barbara Kelly who...."
Strangely, I have never met any other Barbara Kelly. But I certainly know they're out there.