AS DEFEATED Baltimore County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen reluctantly returns to private life, so can I.
You see, I was the other Rasmussen in Baltimore County, the one who was always being asked, "Are you a relative of Dennis Rasmussen?" Or sometimes, "Are you his brother?"
Beyond a total lack of physical resemblance, I don't wear monogrammed shirts and I drive a low-priced Ford product, not a Lincoln.
However, our paths began to cross four years ago when Rasmussen ran for county executive. The phone would ring at home and a voice would wonder whether we were on time for the next campaign stop or thank us for stopping by and making the residents of an old-age home happy.
Even during his tenure in Towson I had to suffer the snide remarks of people who were unhappy with "Dennis" Rasmussen, somehow thinking we were kin. I guess their hidden agenda included a certain implied intimacy which they could somehow exploit because of the same last name.
My children had to answer the obligatory question from their teachers, "Is your father a relative of the county executive?"
But this occasionally came in handy for them when teachers who weren't sure how to pronounce our name received the reply, "Rasmussen, just like the man who runs the government in Towson."
My wife was pulled over one time by a policeman for failure to adhere to a traffic sign and when he looked at her license and saw that her last name was Rasmussen, he let her go with a warning. I began to think that this Rasmussen mix-up might have some benefits.
Any time we paid for something with a credit card ` you guessed it: "Are you related to the county executive?" When my wife made arrangements to have something delivered she heard, "This isn't the county executive's wife calling, is it?"
Just the other week when I was calling for a cab, the voice chilled considerably when he discovered my name. "You're not related to Taxmussen, are you?"
I suppose the nadir of the Rasmussen association came in the office of the IRS where we had been summoned to explain our return. As a sober-faced examiner walked us back through a maze of little cubicles he said, "Are you related to the county executive?"
My reply was like that of one approaching the gallows who utters, "Is this thing safe?" I said, "Yes, if it helps and no, if it (( doesn't."
My wife punched me and he didn't laugh and that was the end of my attempt to break the ice.
Last Tuesday, as I repeated my name to the judge at my polling place, I could sense the lips moving into a familiar pattern.
I said, "No, I'm not related to the county executive."
Just I was beginning to get used to this kind of word association game, county voters dumped Rasmussen.
Thank heaven there are no Haydens in my family.
Fred Rasmussen is photo librarian at The Baltimore Sun.