“Do you play the violin?”
The question caught me off-guard, as it was not something I was typically asked when filling a prescription. I’m not a pharmacist, but, as a medical writer, I know more than the average bear about various types of drugs, and violin playing was not a contraindication for any pharmaceuticals I was aware of. “No?” I said. I’m not sure why it came out more as a question than a statement. I’m quite certain I’d know if I played the violin, and I don’t. I think I was just so taken aback that I attempted to answer the pharmacist’s query and simultaneously ask her why she would ask me such an odd question.
“Oh, sorry,” she said. “There’s a famous violinist with your last name, and for a second, I thought you might be her.”
I shrugged and said I was sorry to disappoint her. As a kid, there was a time when I’d toyed with the idea of learning to play the violin. I loved the sound of it (when played well, of course). I think the main thing that held me back was fear of neck pain. It just looked so uncomfortable.
When I got home, of course, I googled my last name and violinist and learned of Rachel Barton Pine. As I looked at her wikipedia page, I vaguely recalled hearing about the awful train accident in which she had lost a leg, but that happened before I lived in Chicago and long before I had my current last name, so the story hadn’t particularly stuck with me at the time.
Just a few weeks later, upon meeting a new member to my writing workshop for the first time, she asked, “Are you related to Rachel Barton?”
“No,” I said, “but I was sort of mistaken for her just a while ago.”
“Well, you both have the same beautiful red hair.”
I smiled at the compliment, and I as got my latest essay out of my folder, I looked forward to the time when people might ask Rachel if she’s related to that famous writer, me. Hey, it could happen.