Double Debbies

Martha’s Vineyard, MA — If your name is Nancy Brown, Jim Smith or Jennifer Jones, you are quite likely used to sharing your name with others.

Not so much so if you are Blue Cullen, Kim DeYoung or Debbie Phillips!

In fact, I’d never heard of a single other Debbie Phillips until I went to college.

After leaving Montpelier, Ohio, population 4,300, to attend The Ohio State University with its 55,000 students, I was in awe to learn at least five others on campus were named Debbie Phillips.  (To avoid confusion with all of them, I became more identified by my Social Security number. My name became:  “Ends in -0003.”

I never met any of the other Debbie P’s at school even though I was hoping to.  (There was no Google or Facebook back then to track them down…who am I kidding? The Internet was not even invented yet. Seriously!)

Over the years, people would tell me they knew others with my exact name but I never did.

Then, a few years ago, I learned that Debbie Phillips was running for elected office to the Ohio Legislature.  When she won, I received congratulations (nice!) …and bewilderment from an old friend who wondered if I had moved back to Ohio and gone into politics.

Then, one day it happened:

I got to meet my first Debbie Phillips!!!!

Debbie Phillips meets Debbie Phillips

The state legislator Debbie Phillips came to the Metropolitan Club in Columbus, Ohio where Ginny Barney, Patricia Wynn Brown and I were speaking on the Women on Fire book tour.  I felt so honored to meet her. My twin namesake Debbie and I had only a few minutes together that day… but I wanted hours.

I felt a remarkable kinship to this other Debbie Phillips…and I had a million questions.  In school, was she, too, called Little Debbie cakes?  Phebbie Dillips? Debra, when her mother was mad?  We agreed to meet up again someday for lunch.  (And, it won’t matter which of us makes the reservation!)

Over the years, I’ve spoken to other friends about this.  (My former colleague John Meekins once invited every Meekins in the city phone book to a party at his house so he could get to know these same-name people he wasn’t related to…and yet he was!)

I’d love to hear about your own experiences meeting …or not meeting… your namesake.