You know who you look like?
No, I don’t. But I’m sure you’re about to tell me.
And tell me they do. I must have a familiar face because, over the years. people have labeled me looking like:
Steven Spielberg — when I had a beard, wire glasses and a nose altered by catching too many rebounds in the moosh.
OJ cop Mark Furman, right after my nose job to repair two deviated septums and the map of Mount Sinai that had grown ever-skyward over the years.
Character actor Peter Coyote (born Rachmil Pinchus Ben Mosha Cohon) with 73 movie and 62 TV credits – my wife doesn’t get this one at all.
Tom Bergeron, the cloying co-host of Dancing with the Stars and the snarky front man for America’s Funniest Home Videos.
The one that freaks me out, though, comes from the owner of a hair salon in Florida, as I was getting a trim last winter:
Until I got real close, I thought Richard Gere was sitting in my shop.
As we used to say in the bad old good old days, I want what you’re smokin’, lady.
Hey, I’m thankful no one has confused me with John Hurt playing The Elephant Man or David Carradine as Lewis in Revenge of the Nerds. (In truth, I did identify with him far more closely than with any of the others).
I started asking myself what it was about me that would lead people to volunteer their opinions of my looks. Seriously, how could I resemble a Hollywood heartthrob to one clearly lonely woman, a second-tier actor to another and a 15-minutes-of-fame cop to a third?
Clearly, facial connections are in the eye of the beholder. Recognizing me for who I’m not must make people feel better for a nanosecond.
And I’m not the only one with this pseudo-celeb status. A who industry has flowered around looking like the glorious and notorious. Celebrity look-alike agencies abound. Elvis impersonators alone are a mega-business.
The reason why other people would get so hooked on something as shallow as facial similarities was nonsensical to me for a long time. But just a couple days ago, a loud voice rattled my brain pan the other day: Hey, yokel. Who are you to judge? You do exactly the same thing.
Damn. I do. Except that most of the people I play the you-know-who that-looks-like game with remind me of other ordinary people, not celebrities. Such as:
The dorky guy on Jeopardy tonight gives me a flashback to my eighth-grade algebra teacher. Man, I hated that guy. And, guess what? I hope this guy loses…badly.
Or, my new dental hygienist reminds me of the counter clerk at the Santa Monica post office 25 years ago. I liked her. She was one of the few people out there who knew me by name. And, surprise, surprise! I like the hygienist, too.
Come to think of it, I often drive myself to madness trying to identify a facial, vocal, or olfactory doppelganger.
Voice intonations are the worst. Despite my advancing hearing loss, I pride myself on having a “good ear”. I regularly try to connect the timbre in one person’s voice to the similar sound I’ve heard from someone in the past, be it a singer, public speakers or someone I once knew.
But why in the world is it so important to make such connections?
Maybe I’m working too hard to find an answer. Maybe people see someone famous in my face for the same reason that I seek to meld two disparate persons together. Maybe it simply is about trying to make some sense out of a random world.
Maybe we all crave order in the daily chaos that is life.
Or maybe we just do these things because we do them.
Either way, this conundrum got me writing my blog again after a two-month hiatus. So maybe “maybe” is enough of an answer