I THINK OF MYSELF AS A PRETTY ORDINARY looking person, not at all unique. However, I think things might be better for me if I did look less ordinary. Let me explain.
On a disturbingly frequent basis I am mistaken for someone else. It seems that I have a number of doppelgangers walking around out there.
Just a few weeks ago I was sitting in the Chapel at St. Arbucks, minding my own business, when a man walked up to my table and called me by a name other than my own. When I corrected him he looked at me like I was crazy. He insisted that I was someone else – a person whom he knew. The visitor to my table didn’t look like he was insane or drunk, just confused. I asked him if this other fellow, handsome devil that he must be, owed him money. He said, “No,” so I was grateful for that at least.
That was the third time this has happened to me since I moved to Terre Haute in 2002. I’d like to meet this other fellow just to see if he has people, stopping him, thinking that he is me.
Before moving to Terre Haute, when I lived in San Francisco, I had this mistaken identity thing happen another half dozen times.
The spookiest incident happened one day while I was shopping in the neighborhood hardware store. A man walked up to me and said that he was glad that I had gotten the cast removed from my arm. Cast? What cast? I told him that he had me mistaken for someone else, but he insisted that he had been with me just the previous week and that then I had a cast on my broken arm. This guy was a friend of my mysterious twin and he still mistook me for him.
When I insisted again that he was mistaken he became upset and wondered out loud why I was denying knowing him.
All I can assume is that either I have a long lost identical twin following me around the country or my father got around more than we thought. There was one occasion when this “twininess” scared me.
Back in the mid 1980s there was a story in the news about a man who had killed a Park Ranger and kidnapped a female Ranger.
After about a week the killer/kidnapper was identified and his picture shown on TV and in newspapers across the nation. When I saw his photo on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle my jaw hit the floor: HE LOOKED JUST LIKE ME. I was stunned. Several friends phoned me to tell me about the picture.
I didn’t know what to do. I had to go to work, but I was afraid to get on the bus and go downtown. This fugitive was considered armed and dangerous and I didn’t want some trigger happy Transit cop drawing down on me.
I had no choice. I got on the bus and went to work, but I did get several stunned looks from people.
The kicker on this was that when the bastard was apprehended up in Idaho or somewhere, he looked no more like me than Arnold Schwarzenegger looked like me. I’m just wondering where they got that picture of him – that picture that could have passed for my passport photo.
Some days it ain’t easy being me – or one of my many identical twins.