Sunday, September 27, 2009

Make that a double

True story: When I first moved to San Francisco from the East Bay all those many years ago, I suddenly found myself being mistaken for someone else. This wasn't just one of those momentary errors of recognition, where the person would realize their mistake immediately upon getting a better look at me. In one case, a woman who I had never seen before in my life kept insisting that she knew me, and became quite offended when I didn't recognize her in return.

At the same time, my friends began reporting seeing me in places that I couldn't have been -- like, for instance, riding on a city bus during hours when I would have been at work. This came to a head when one friends told me of running into someone at a club whom they were certain was me, only to realize that it wasn't after engaging that person in conversation for several minutes. Eventually these occurrences dwindled in frequency and stopped, perhaps because my apparent double had either moved, gotten a new haircut, become a masked luchadore, or maybe been the victim of some kind of disfiguring accident.

I bring this up because yesterday, while in the process of being bored into a state of past life regression by From Istanbul, Orders to Kill, it occurred to me that the movie was about the zillionth I'd seen in the last couple years whose plot depended on the device of one person looking exactly like another. Often a character in these movies will remark upon how rare such instances are, but to my understanding -- my own experience notwithstanding -- it is actually something that never happens. Ever. Which makes it even stranger that it's such a common trope. Or am I wrong about this?

I mean, I know we instinctively look for resemblances between people, and are often saying that so-and-so looks like so-and-so. But has anyone out there ever actually encountered someone whose resemblance to someone else was so striking that they could conceivably actually substitute for that person?

7 comments:

prof. grewbeard said...

all i ever got was, "you look like some famous person-or-another" depending on hairstyles and whether i was wearing glasses or not, ranging from Todd Rundgren to Thomas Dolby to Dave Stewart to Tom Waits(in that order)...

Todd said...

That's a pretty eclectic bunch. Which begs the question, do you choose to use your chameleon-like ability to resemble various, dissimilar looking rockstars for good, or for evil?

prof. grewbeard said...

i thought of so many clever replies to that question that they all cancelled each other out, darn it...

memsaab said...

I haven't but apparently YOU have!

I was once told that I looked like someone's ex-girlfriend who they hated now. Didn't really know what to say in response to that.

Todd said...

Ah, the old "You look like someone I hate" line. Always an icebreaker.

Honestly, I don't know if my guy was an actual double, since I never got the chance to test it out by posing as him in front of his criminal minions and exotic girlfriend in his fortified seaside villa. For instance, I mean.

Keith said...

The "unrelated but exact doubles" plot (where would Bollywood be without it) is second only to the "exact likeness of a princess/warlock dead these thousand years" plot, always highlighted by a convenient painting. I thought the further the family line went on, the less one looked like one's ancient ancestors. I don't even look like my mom or dad, let alone by great great great uncle Lord Sorcery McHexycurse.

TheDoug said...

Being an identical twin, I used to get that "double-take" look (or inquiry), especially since we both worked in nearby retail locations whence we so much younger. I took care of that occuring problem by finally pushing my sibling down the proverbial stairs. We are now no longer identical!