Friday, February 17, 2012

The Dispatch From Escalatorville: Us and Them / mehT dna sU

"Fill my eyes, with that Double Vision
No disguise, for that Double Vision
Ooh, when it gets through to me,
It's always new to me.
My Double Vision gets the best of me."

Once upon a time, I got a bottle of hot sauce as a gift from a couple of my best friends. On the label was the face of a man screaming. I was told that I was the recipient of this particular gift because the man screaming looked an awful lot like me. I kept the bottle for a few years, having to deny to many future guests that I had posed for the photo. "Somewhere, " I thought, "There's a guy who owes my face some royalties."

It hadn't occurred to me that someone could share my identity.

I lived in Seattle at the end of the last century. Once, as I was crossing the intersection of 14th and John in the Capitol Hill neighborhood (as I'd done many times before) - I came face to face with myself. Only, it wasn't me.

My occasionally lanky frame is six foot three, my close cropped hair colored a fading orange which favors the "red-headed" qualities of my ancestors European heritage. Given those distinctions, and with my glasses on, I always presumed I was a fairly unique looking individual. I walked, the Safeway on the corner in sight, I saw a figure heading toward me - a tall, bespectacled man a bit skinnier than I, wearing a cap that couldn't hid the rusty locks sprouting from his noggin - his countenance accentuated with the same colorful facial hair.

Wordless, we approached each other in the middle of the road. As we passed ourselves we paused to give our doubles an eerie and silent once over. Then, we both quickened our pace to get to the "other side." Each of us too chicken to break the silence. I shook my head, and pinched myself to make certain I hadn't slipped into another dimension.

I hadn't, and I never saw that particular man again. Not in person, anyway.

Six years later, however, my face turned up on the Jet City streets once again. The lovely Bess and I had moved to the Pacific Northwest for what turned out to be a memorable, but thoroughly homesick year. Midway through that adventure, we started to see multiples of a certain sticker pasted throughout our First Hill neighborhood, and along the pathways we traversed through the downtown area of the city. In orange ink, a line drawing of MY face: same balding pate, solid frame glasses, and a mottled, yet attractive, beard. The sticker began to show up everywhere - lamp posts, walls of buildings, park benches, guard railings hovering over I-5. A co-worker of mine at the Westlake Mall even asked,

"Did you do that? Is that you?"

"Uh, no - I have no earthly idea what that's about," was my embarrassed reply.

I was stared at once on a city bus, to the point of distraction. I nearly berated my persistent ogler until I noticed it: the damn sticker posted on an advertisement above my head. Weird. Creepy.

I've heard the theory that everyone on the planet has a double, or mystery twin. Somehow, at that point, within the span of a decade, I'd seen three of me - screaming, bewildered, and cartoonish. Oddly enough, those descriptives have probably been used to describe the real me at times as well.

The Seattle occurrences were simply amusing stories I told upon my return(s) to Florida, until even more look-alikes and semi-look-alikes began to make themselves known.

One of Bess and I's best friends found and married a great guy, who coincidentally resembles me (said as such only because I'm the older of us, otherwise, I'd look like him). At least one guest at their marriage ceremony questioned how, exactly, were the Officiant and Bridegroom related, reacting slightly flabbergasted when told that we weren't.

I've also been approached at concerts by folks who think I'm a member of a band they've seen at another venue - and, thanks to the miracle of modern technology - I randomly get messages from far away friends with variations of the phrase "I saw someone today that looked just. like. you."

Is it strange? Yes. It's also oddly flattering. However, there's been persistent scuttlebutt floating around over the past few years that the auburn-tressed populace have no souls. It's not true, of course - but the preponderance of folks who share my physical traits should serve as a warning to those rumor-mongers. Don't make fun of us too much; for all you know we're just readying ourselves for the Invasion of the DoppelGingers.

The Dispatch From Escalatorville
Z.F. Lively, Proprietor/Street Sweeper, Copperhead Road

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