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Beware Lest You Google Yourself . . .

Jon Kaufman
Jon Kaufman

Have you ever Googled yourself?  For those of our readers who are not computer savvy, please understand that I am referring to the Internet search engine site “Google” and not some unsavory action that might be considered offensive in the public arena. By simply typing your name into Google’s search box, you can not only learn a great deal about people who share your name, but you can learn about yourself as well.

Among the legions of Jon Kaufman’s throughout America are, the owner of a Baltimore Animal Hospital, a writer for the Wall Street Journal, an adventurer who arranges safaris in Africa, and the bass player for a Vegas lounge act called “The Laymen.” Along with these active gents, there is also some local flavor provided by a person known by a similar moniker.

Last week I was approached by a person who asked if I was Dr. John Kaufman, the prominent Roanoke area dermatologist. This was not the first time I had been confused with the good doctor.  Upon moving to the Roanoke Valley area in 1983, it took me several weeks to connect phone service in my tiny Salem apartment, leaving my office phone as my only link to my home in New York.  My friends, curious to see how I was faring south of the Mason-Dixon Line, tried to contact me by way of directory assistance and were told that the only listing for that name was a Dr. John Kaufman.

What followed was a barrage of late night calls to my medical namesake from a group of drunken Long Islanders. When I later asked why they didn’t realize that Doctor Kaufman was a different person, my buddies explained that, knowing my ongoing trouble meeting girls, they assumed I had listed myself as a doctor in a pathetic attempt to deceive the local female populace. Luckily, I later met Dr. Kaufman and found him to be a very nice and exceedingly patient man.

Years ago Dr. Kaufman’s home apparently sustained a sizable amount of devastation due to a fire.  I remember reading that there was somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty thousand dollars in damage to the property.  The same day I was besieged by phone calls asking me about the flames that had ravaged my home.  I explained to all of those concerned well wishers that my house was still intact and that in order for my residence to incur fifty thousand dollars worth of damage, it would have to burn to the ground, then be rebuilt, and then burned completely to the ground a second time.

Coincidentally, my sister Laura met Dr. Kaufman once while attending a medical convention. Upon noticing that the person before her was wearing a badge reading “Dr. John Kaufman- Roanoke, Virginia,” Laura (amused by the coincidence) announced that she had a brother named Jon Kaufman and that he lived in Roanoke as well.  I can only imagine the dread felt by the doctor, as the specter of me darkened his door once more.  Laura reported the doc to be very pleasant – yet he seemed “painfully aware” of who I was.

Cruising through the pages of people sharing my appellation, it became clear to me that I was likely a lower form of Jon Kaufman, a bottom-feeder far less accomplished than a great many of the same name. Google images even had a far better looking bearded fellow named Jon Kaufman who’s photo was posted directly above my Roanoke Star Sentinel headshot, conjuring up a kind of “before and after” example often seen in advertisements for plastic surgery.

Apparently, it is easier being me than I thought it was.  Some of us are downright successful at it!  Perhaps there is hope for me yet?  Who knows, maybe another Jon Kaufman will do something notably moronic and bump me closer to the middle of the pack?

A British playwright once wrote “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Easy for him to say, I am pretty sure that he is at the head of the Google line of successful William Shakespeare’s.

By Jon Kaufman
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