The other Missy

Living in a smallish town, people tend to know one another on a casual, first-name basis. However, sometimes worlds collide, resulting in strange cases of mistaken identity. I mean, who would expect one small town to have so many Dave Thibodeauxs, Terry Rickards, Sarah Wrights and Dennis Lums?

And then there’s the case of the two Missys. See, I happened to move to Durango a complete and total nobody, right around the same time another woman of a similar age was “missiling” her way to downhill mountain bike stardom. Yes, I am talking about Missy Giove, Durango’s former cycling darling who recently landed herself in a bit of hot water for, shall we say, pursuing other forms of recreation.

Anyway, as unlikely as it may seem, there was some confusion when I moved to Durango way back when. Apparently “Missy” was not nearly as common a name here as it was in my small Midwestern high school (where there were four of us). Instead, it was used mostly in an exaggerated Western drawl in conjunction with some sort of authoritative command, as in “Listen up, little Missy.”

But, every so often, I would get another sort of treatment.

“Oh, so you’re the mountain biker,” they would eagerly smile and nod upon being introduced to me. Of course, this was a bit confusing for a painfully unlocal newcomer such as myself. For starters, why were people so darned nice to me? And secondly, how did they know I mountain biked? Sure, the first few months of my Durango residency were spent gainfully unemployed, and maybe I did spend more time in the saddle than pursuing a job, but how did they know? I mean, you expect some level of minding each other’s business in a small town, but this was ridiculous.

“Why, yes, I do mountain bike,” I would blush, trying to suppress the flattery.

“You’re the racer!” they would exclaim.

Sure, I sometimes scared myself silly by going too fast, but I never really considered myself a “racer” per se. And that’s when it dawned on me, and I had to let them down gently. (OK, I’m sure the bald head didn’t help any, but it’s not like I went around wearing a dead piranha around my neck.)

“Oh, I’m not that Missy,” I would tell them, “ … but I do mountain bike. Did I mention it’s a Cannondale, too.”

Of course by now, I was talking to a glazed-over stranger, anxiously looking for a fast exit in order to avoid having to hear about how I just cleaned the Ninja Turtle on Raider’s Ridge or mastered my clipless pedals.

Anyway, something told me was not feeling the same pain, (“You’re Missy, the writer? I really loved that piece you did on the city’s sidewalk plan.”) This was confirmed when, after years of telling disappointed fans that I was only Missy the Mediocre, who’s most amazing feat on a bicycle was her infamous launch off the Anasazi downhill while three months pregnant, I finally met my more famous namesake.

“Missy, this is Missy,” a mutual friend said during a chance encounter at a local gear store. At last, I was looking the other Missy (to be fair, I was born first) face to face. Of course, there was no need for introductions – I mean, duh, dead piranha and bleach-blond mohawk. In fact, being introduced to a local celebrity is sort of embarrassing, kind of like being introduced to Ned or Bob – only a moron doesn’t know what they look like (although Ned did throw people for a loop with the mole thing). Even though I felt like I practically knew her, I did not want her to think I was some sort of weird stalker (celebrities must get to sick of that.) So I played it cool. But that’s when the tables were momentarily turned.

“Your name is Missy?!” she exclaimed incredulously. Perhaps she had seen my byline or heard of my less notorious, yet no less heroic, exploits on two wheels. “My name is Missy!” she continued excitedly.

Maybe she was just happy to finally commiserate with someone who was given the same, generic name, overused by disciplinarian schoolmarms and valley girls everywhere. But the coincidence was not exactly a revelation to me. “Uh, yeah, I know,” I sheepishly replied, beginning to feel slightly uncomfortable.

“You do?” she asked, her face registering confusion.

I was about to tell her all about the funny coincidences over the years. How I had been ruining her good name with my cautious grandma riding style and decidedly smaller cojones, and how people actually thought that I, a pencil-necked desk jockey, was a world downhill champion. And how hilarious was that? We would have a good laugh, give the secret “Missy” handshake and go on our separate ways.

But, as fate would have it, another fan (of hers, of course) intervened, and my short brush with fame was over before it started.

And as the years rolled on and Missy G. left Durango for greener pastures (no pun intended) and Missy V. stuck around and got married and had a few kids (and semi-retired the mountain bike), the cases of mistaken identity grew fewer and further between. (This was much to the disappointment of my husband, who, for some reason, found it all very amusing.) However, my return to anonymity was shattered last week in a frenzy of headlines, blogs and internet gossip and wisecracks. Never one to play it safe, M.G. found herself in a truckload of trouble – about 400 pounds worth. (I, on the other hand, have a solid alibi and never touch the stuff. Seriously.)

And while I wish my more famous counterpart the best of luck – namely a good lawyer and an understanding judge – I suddenly don’t mind being known, or unknown, as the other Missy.

– Missy Votel



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows