On Saturday Duffy Robbins and I spoke at a “Speaking To Teenagers” event in Syracuse, NY and had to race to the airport. As we get in line to go thru security, this short, older woman glances over her shoulder at us—it was a casual, “I wonder who is behind me” glance. Immediately I think I recognize her and whisper to Duffy, “That’s Dr. Ruth…the famous sex expert.” As soon as I say this she turns around and smiles.

Duffy makes eye contact and opens dialogue. It goes like this:

Duffy: “Were you town speaking today?”
“Dr. Ruth”: “Yes I was. Were you at my event?”
Duffy: “No, my buddy just recognized you.”
“Dr. Ruth”:

[smiles & looks at me] “I don’t get recognized much any more.”
Me: [her response makes sense to me because I haven’t heard much about Dr. Ruth lately] “Oh come on…you’re very famous.”
“Dr. Ruth”: “Have you read my books?”
Duffy/Me: [awkward pause] Me: “I haven’t, but I think my wife has them.” [Sorry Cathy, I know you don’t have her books, but it was the first thing I thought of and I got nervous.] Duffy: [trying to save me] “Where were you speaking today?”
“Dr. Ruth”: “The men’s club of Syracuse.”
Me: [once again her answer makes sense because “sex” is a man-friendly topic] Duffy: “Would it be okay if we got our picture taken with you?”
“Dr. Ruth”: “Sure! Do you want to wait till we get thru security?”
Duffy: “That’s a good idea!”

At this point we’re getting to the part of the line where we have to show our ID and boarding passes and the more I look at her I’m beginning to wonder if it’s really Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Then I remember that Dr. Ruth has an accent and our “Dr. Ruth” doesn’t. I turn to Duffy and say, “I know she’s answering to Dr. Ruth…but I’m not sure it’s the sex-expert Dr. Ruth. I’m going to look over her shoulder and see if I can read her drivers’ license or boarding pass.” No luck. Print is too small. My eyes are too bad.

Now we’re moving thru the line, taking our shoes off, unloading our laptops, etc… and I say to “Dr. Ruth”, “I’m so sorry, but I am having the hardest time remembering your last name.”

“Dr. Ruth”: “No problem, it’s Cohen.”
Me: [totally embarrassed now but now sure what to say] “Oh yeah…”

I quickly turn to Duffy and say, “We’re total idiots! It’s not Dr. Ruth Westheimer the sex-expert…her last name is Cohen.” Now we’re caught in an uncomfortable case of mistaken identity and I don’t know how to say, “We mistook you for a famous sex expert.” She definitely thinks we’ve recognized her and she seems pleased to get the attention. I continue:

Me: “So, what’s your latest book called?”
“Dr. Ruth”:The Nonstop Garden. You can order it on Amazon.com.”

As I’m putting on my shoes and gathering my stuff I quickly Google the book title and discover the sweet lady isn’t a sex expert, she’s actually a famed horticulturist.

Question: So what do we do now? What would you do? What do you think we did?

I’ll finish the rest of the story tomorrow…and, I’ve got photos and videos to prove it.