Being Bonnie Bernstein (Or ESPN when do I get my paycheck?)
People friend me on Facebook because they think I am the Bonnie Bernstein from ESPN. They see my name and immediately believe I am the one who announces football games, analyzes a play and interviews the quarterback. A fan recently fawned over me saying, “Nice job on WPIX this morning, great analysis.” I tried to tell him I am not her. It was especially difficult for me because the other Bonnie Bernstein is tall, blonde and beautiful. I always wished I could look that good yet as a divorced woman and five feet one one inch tall I have felt compared to her short, fat and ugly.
Another man wanted to date me. I mean her. I have been propositioned several times with promises of amorous dinners. I have not been out on any romantic interludes since the Redsox won their last World Series title in 2007. These candlelit promises seemed tempting. I have not figured out the right way to let her fans know I’m just an average suburban divorced mom when there has even been a blog devoted to the fantasy of bedding Bonnie Bernstein.
Her doppelganger, me, has always been a sports fanatic. As a child, while watching a Jets football game at Shea Stadium, my teeth chattered from the cold air. I grew up on Joe Namath folklore. From our black and white television, my mother, Ruth Rickmeyer, admired his good looks. I have written about my misadventures in life, including as a groupie for our nation’s pastimes, football and baseball. I brought Tom Seaver cookies hoping for an autograph. I finally did get that signed picture. I always made the best cheerleader. Not far from where the Stadium once stood so proudly in Queens, my mother nourished me with a love of Lee Mazzilli over the dinner table in Glendale by the Interboro Parkway (now Jackie Robinson Parkway). I grew up a Mets fan with a Fran Drescher accent. My English teacher, who I had a crush on, loved the Yankees. I forgave him that indiscretion.
I used to call the Major League Baseball Player’s Association about my son’s favorite player. Jake, now twenty three years old, was a fan of Florida Marlins’ AJ Burnett before AJ became a Yankee. This was how I found out about the other Bonnie Bernstein. The man who answered the phone thought I was her. That was eight years ago. I did not know who she was, but the MLBPA’s employee thought our voices sounded similar. I admit I said I could be that Bonnie if it would help me get a certain south paw’s agents name and telephone number. Yet it wasn’t worth trying to lie. Though I was getting a kick out of all this attention, it would have been a poor example to set for a parent.
When a retired centerfielder wrote a great newspaper piece about baseball, I sent him a message. He was on the Phillies when I switched allegiances from the Mets, after Turk Wendell was traded. At Spring Training, he said he would give me a game used batting glove if I replaced the Mets jersey I was wearing with a Phillies one. He said, “Got your message from the Times. How are you? This is the Bonnie Bernstein I know from the sports world? I have been forwarding the articles to your AOL account. Did you change your email?” He thought I was my double. Everywhere I went she usurped me. I let him know I was not. He said he remembered me but then blocked me. That hurt.
On Facebook, I wanted to talk to people about baseball. I started friending fans of the sport who would compliment me for being me. I was naïve. I knew left field from right, but how did they know that? I did not get it until someone wrote, “I enjoyed hearing you when you were a sideline reporter and I would like to add you as a friend.” As the confusion between me and the other Bonnie Bernstein became obvious, I tried to let everyone know. I posted that I was not ESPN’s Bonnie Bernstein, that I was me on my profile and status. I was the one typing those fan letters to baseball players on a selectric typewriter when she was still in middle school. One person unfriended me.
No matter what, some people still think I am her. It’s frustrating getting congratulated for something everyone thinks I said on the radio. There are at least eighteen other Bonnie Bernstein’s on Facebook. I wonder if they have this identity crisis, too. There are over five hundred people waiting for me to friend them back. Recently, it was my birthday. I wondered if some who wished me good thoughts for another year did because they thought I was my twin. As a freelance writer, I thought I would make my own page on Facebook to show my writing. I got preempted. My name was all ready taken by the other Bonnie Bernstein.