Hello and welcome to our advice column, Ask MR, where we answer your burning questions, hoping we’ll become the ointment to your life rash. Ask us a question by sending one of us a DM, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “ASK MR A QUESTION,” or simply leaving one in the comments.
Leslie. Thank you for this question. Life is full of these little incidences that appear trifling at first but can still feel totally monumental, isn’t it? There are so many aspects of this social quandary to turn over in one’s head—it can become a speedy path from “maybe I should just correct her” to “maybe I should just abscond with my things in the night.” I get it, this is probably very stressful for you! And while I wholly sympathize, my take on this is as succinct as it is potentially controversial: You’re Liz now.
I personally love a harmless yet thrilling lie, especially when it can be attached to an elaborate fantasy. Who is this Liz? What kind of doormat would she have? What assumptions would you want your neighbor to make about Liz that she wouldn’t make about Leslie? Why bother correcting her when you could just turn Liz into your own personal Sasha Fierce, your therapeutic alter-ego. You could use this “Liz” to your advantage, maybe Leslie won’t confront noisy neighbors at 2 a.m., but Liz might! This could be a Portkey into the life you’ve always wanted to live!
Don’t serial killers leave clues if they really want to be found out? Have you waved your mail in front of this person’s face? Sent them a holiday card with your name in big letters? Asked them what they think of the LESLIE Gore song “You Don’t Own Me?” If not, perhaps you are enjoying the thrill of your secret.
Here is where this advice is highly specific. If she thought your name was Rachel or Karen or Taylor or anything that doesn’t sound remotely like Leslie, I would say correct her. But you, my friend, have a built-in out. If she sees your mail and is like “Why didn’t you correct me after all of these years!” you can simply say “You were saying Liz? I thought you were saying Les!” and BOOM! The problem’s over. Everyone walks away with their dignity intact and you have a fun little story to tell yourself. A true win-win situation.
One other thing: Nobody should ask me for advice! I’m bad at living! For you, though, it really comes down to two things. Do you want short-term discomfort of correcting this woman (perhaps with an acknowledgment that it has been two whole years and yes you know that is a little ridiculous) or a long-term game of avoidance that causes you to be ever-so-slightly on edge indefinitely? That—Liz, Les, Leslie?—is your call.
Ask MR Identity by Madeline Montoya.