Laptop Anthropologist

Meeting my sister from another mister.

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 6 | Posted Aug. 6, 2008

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illustration by daniel krall

As far as I knew, there was one other Tara Murtha in the country. We lived just a few blocks from one another in this city for years without crossing paths--until last week. I'd wondered about the Other Tara Murtha--who, according to stray Google hits, swims competitively and is related to the inventor of snap-wrap bracelets.

But lately, the pressure to meet started to build. Friends of hers began to accidentally email me. Because of a story I wrote, some of her acquaintances think she has Lyme disease and have sent condolences to her.

When I started at PW, a co-worker caused a small scene when he heard my name and exclaimed he was friends with the Other Tara Murtha. He stared at me hard, up and down, before gravely adding, "That's just weird."

This isn't something you want to hear while a stranger stares at your chest and hips. "You guys have, like, the exact same shape," he said. He brightened. "And pay your fucking TLA Video late fee. She's totally bitched about that."

I was stunned. What TLA Video late fee?

The big drag about dealing with someone with the same first name is the distinguishing adjective. It can become a nickname that lives longer than the situation that necessitated it. For every Little Lisa, there's a pissed-off Big Lisa.

A friend named Guy bristled when a new guy named Guy started at his job, mostly because the new Guy was universally considered hot, with an accent and everything. My Guy friend was wise enough to recognize the problem right away. "Great," he reasoned. "What do you think he'll be called? Hot Guy? Which makes me what?"

Oh. Not Hot Guy. But that guy's hot, and Big Lisa is actually little.

It can get terribly confusing.

After my friend Amy moved to Seattle, I met a new Amy. When moved-to-Seattle Amy moved back to Philadelphia, the Amys wanted to meet so they could hash out their respective distinguishing Amy modifiers. Because one friend Amy didn't want to be Jersey Amy, another Amy became Black Amy so Jersey Amy could be White Amy. To this day, new friends are always shocked to discover Black Amy is a white girl.

I confess I had a small beef with Tara. I've been haunted by a Google hit titled "'My Vagina' by the Real Tara Murtha."

Wait, she's the Real?

I don't think so.

We agreed to meet. I planned on surprising her by taking her up in the Channel 6 hot air balloon at the Philadelphia Zoo. Tara Murtha deserves to be romanced, I reasoned. We arranged to meet by the LOVE sculpture in LOVE Park.

Like a nervous blind date, I chattered about it with friends. I worried aloud to the man in my life: What'll happen if me and the Other Tara Murtha fall in love? What if we make love in the hot air balloon?

Of course he thought that'd be awesome.

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Comments 1 - 6 of 6
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1. PAT said... on Aug 6, 2008 at 09:27AM

“It really is funny how when two people have the same name, each one wants to be the original. My husband's sister was named Pat as was I. Even tho she was married and gave up her maiden name, she laughed and told me she would always be Pat M-----, and I would be known in the family as Pat Sullivan, my maiden name and here it is 44 yrs. later and I'm still Pat Sullivan or Tom's Pat.”

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2. BettyB said... on Aug 6, 2008 at 04:27PM

“I had another Elizabeth Flynn! She even had the same birthday. She was kinda boring though... Melissa Rose had another Melissa Rose, but she died, and the first Melissa got married and changed her name to Hammelbacker...hmm. Your Tara Murtha seems like way more fun...”

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3. Wendy said... on Aug 7, 2008 at 10:48AM

“With all the Wendy Smiths in the world I actually never met one. Great story!”

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4. Cathal McGinn said... on Aug 20, 2008 at 03:41PM

“Only 1 Cathal McGinn!”

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5. PAT said... on Sep 3, 2008 at 07:57AM

“Hilarious! MY name is Pat, and my wife's sister's boyfriend is also named Pat (just to be clear, I am a male Pat). We have been classified as Pat 1 and Pat 2, and this has become the subject of competition to see who takes 1st (I win because I'm a husband, and I was actually 1st). It gets extra weird if/when my mom is around, because she is also Pat. Of course, out of respect, she automatically assumes the title of Pat 1, if only temporarily. I am reading this because my wife, who happens to be FRIENDS with the non-PW-writing Other Tara Murtha, told me about the story and sent me the link. Here I am reading this, and the first comment is from Pat, whose in-law is also Pat, and so on. So, Pat: I feel your pain. And Tara: I think it's obvious, but you should probably do a follow-up piece on this phenomenon.”

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6. Joe Rubenstein said... on Nov 12, 2008 at 04:21PM

“Tara, That is just too damn strange! Do you still see the Other? Check out Doppleganger (sp.?), anyway..good to hear and read you. I'll be in Phila. Monday meeting up with a consultant at the Penn Museum (noon). Any chance before or after? Joe”


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