"Hi. I'm at Harris-Millis dorm at UVM. Can you come pick me up to go to the airport?"
"Sure thing," I replied into my cellphone, or, more precisely, my earbud. It's the law, and it's a good one: no handheld devices while driving in Vermont. "Are you in the front or the back?"
"I think I'm in the front."
"Well, can you see traffic from where you are, or are you looking at basketball courts?"
"OK, you're in the back. Could I get your name?"
"Great. I'm Jernigan. I'll see ya in 10, Taylor."
It was orientation time for the incoming freshmen, and I did my part: orienting Taylor to the Harris-Millis protocol. Driving over, I thought, This might be the first truly millennial class at UVM, born in the year 2000. Or would they have been born in 1999? I was too lazy to do the math.
Arriving a little early (my business motto: under-promise, over-deliver), I pulled around to the back of Harris-Millis and came to a stop. On the sidewalk, a blond-haired girl wearing shorts was standing next to a single piece of luggage.
"Taylor?" I called to her through the open passenger window. She nodded, and I loaded in her bag, while she, at my offer, grabbed the shotgun seat.
"So, Taylor," I said as we got under way, "where do you call home?"
"I'm from Lake Tahoe."
"Out west, huh? How did you hear about UVM?"
"From a friend of mine who thought it might be a good fit. I knew I wanted to go to school in the East, so I visited the campus. From the moment I got here, I just knew UVM was the place for me."
"Yup, groovy UV," I said with a chuckle. "The school, and the town, has that effect on some folks. Do you know what you want to major in? Like, do you have a career goal?"
"I sure do — biology, because I want to be a doctor. That's all I ever wanted to be since I was a little girl."
"Now, I don't want to scare you, but do you know about organic chemistry? That's the class every premed student has to take, and, apparently, it's crazy difficult. I think it's specifically designed to weed out the wannabes from the truly determined."
"Oh, I know all about organic chem. All I can say is, I better pass it, because, frankly, I don't have a plan B."
As we passed Gracey's Store, Taylor said, "Are you taking me to the airport?"
"Yeah, that's what you said."
"No, I didn't. I need to get to the Comfort Inn on, I think, Dorset Road."
"Jeez, I'm sorry," I apologized, pulling into a parking lot to reverse course. "I was sure you said the airport."
I dropped Taylor at the Comfort Inn and headed back downtown, chalking up my mistake to advancing age. As I descended the Main Street hill, the cellphone rang.
"Hi, this is Taylor. Are you close? I don't want to miss my flight."
Aha! Now it all made sense.
"Taylor, hang tight — I'll be there in five minutes," I assured her. "You won't believe it, but another girl named Taylor was waiting for me when I got there, and I took her by accident. What are the odds?"
Taylor No. 2 was a strikingly beautiful young woman from Syracuse, N.Y. After revisiting and laughing about the two-Taylor mix-up, I asked her if she knew about the biggest win in UVM men's basketball history.
"I believe it was the NCAA tournament of 2005," I said. "UVM had a stellar team, arguably their best ever, and was seeded 13th. Syracuse was seeded fourth, and some fans thought they had a real shot at the Final Four that year. Anyway, UVM beat them — in overtime, no less! The whole town went nuts, celebrating until the wee hours. It was a beautiful thing."
"Oh, I've heard a lot about that game," Taylor said. "In fact, my dad was talking to me about it when I chose to come to school here. He's a big fan of the Orangemen, so he considers me a traitor! Well, not really, but he did say it will be hard to know who to root for with me at UVM."
Approaching the airport, I asked, "Ya got any siblings, Taylor?"
"Yes, there were three girls and then a boy. I'm the oldest."
"Wow, that's the mirror image of my family. My sister came first, and then the three brothers. And you're the oldest, paving the way for your siblings. That's a big job."
"Tell me about it," Taylor said with a laugh.
When I returned home later that day, I googled "most popular girls' names for the year 2000." It turns out that Social Security has a website with these statistics. Sure enough, Taylor was No. 10 for that year, in between Elizabeth at No. 9 and Lauren at 11.
In the future, I will remember to double-check my Taylors, I vowed.
All these stories are true, though names and locations may be altered to protect privacy.