My Doppelganger

While I've got you let me ask you something: Have you ever been out in public, say the produce section of a grocery store, checking out the broccoli and being totally blown away by the size of the stalks on those things? I mean, it's like they're tryin' to sell you a tree trunk along with your vegetable, right? The next thing you're glancing at the unassuming guy loading the russet potatoes onto the shelf, giving him the "what's up with this?" look and he's, like, smiling sheepishly replying with the "hey bud, it's not me; I just work here" shrug and then an attractive woman who you've never met before starts in on a conversation with you. And it's not about the elephantine broccoli stalks. Or the fact that the prices seem to be jumping up exponentially lately. No, she goes right for everyday life stuff, mentioning other people's names, a host of workplace events... the upcoming party this weekend. So, no, that's never happened to you? Well, it happened to me.

Anyway, she continues talking to me and we're making plenty of eye contact, although I was glancing back a few times at the broccoli stalks (I mean, how could you not, right?) and all the while doing my best to focus, nodding often, even managing a chuckle or two--especially over the part about the neighbor's crazy toy poodle chasing the skunk--and becoming more than a bit alarmed as to just what was happening here. And yeah, as she kept prattling on, the realization that I must've met this woman before and yet had somehow completely forgotten about her and was about to pay a hefty price for that at any second was becoming a dominant thread in my mind. Although, on the plus side, I was pretty sure I hadn't given anything away, that at all times my countenance told her I was there for her and riveted to her narrative. And then it got weirder.

By now she'd been talking to me for a solid minute (which in "I'm pretending to know you and keep a straight face" time is akin to sitting through "Shindler's List"... twice) when I notice she's not looking me in the eyes as much as checking out every characteristic of my physical appearance as if I'm a robbery suspect in a police lineup. And then, suddenly... silence. She completely clams up, an unnerved look washing over her, ya' know, the kind people get when they discover quicksand is a reality and they're up to their necks in it? Finally, she physically backs off as if I was the one who invaded her space in the first place and says, "Wait, you're not... Vince" to which I meekly reply in the form of a question... "Jim?... My name's... Jim?" And, of course, this totally gets the produce guy's attention, the potatoes now fending for themselves.

What followed were a slew of attempted apologies from a mortified woman whose newest thoughts kept cutting her last ones off mid-sentence: "I'm so sorry--it's just that--I mean, you look exactly like--you must think I'm--it's uncanny how much you--wow, if you only could see-- okay, now, I'm gonna--have a nice day--again, I'm really--"... Man, that woman had some wheels. She blew past both the meat and dairy departments, embedding herself deep into the bakery aisle before I could manage a "No prob." The produce guy and I took a deep breath in unison, tacitly acknowledging the episode that had just transpired. Like myself, I could tell he was frustrated, wishing he knew this Vince guy so he could form an opinion as to whether the woman had a valid point or was mentally off her rocker. Finally, I gave him the "so, that happened" raised eyebrow and he countered with the "tell me about it" shake of the head and then we went on about our business.

Okay, so that was a long time ago, and while it did cause me a bit of consternation initially, the event quickly receded from my memory, no doubt aided by the rationalization that the woman may have suffered from bad eyesight, was off her game that day, or a combination of the two. That is until semi-recently when, upon arriving for lunch at a nearby beachy gourmet burger chain, the greeter at the door, having looked me up and down--for, let's say, way too long--blurted out, "OMG, it's like you're Vince's clone!" And with that, I'm being ushered to my table, the man going on incessantly about how cool Vince is and how he used to be a regular but hadn't been around lately. And, of course, after seating me he had to eye me curiously--again, for way too long--before retreating. This was followed by my server echoing the greeter's earlier lines, quickly huddling off to the side with her fellow compatriots, all nudging each other and staring at me open-mouthed the entire time I ate. So yeah, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that whole scene gave me pause.

Funny how since then so many of my friends think I've become obsessed with this Vince guy. Their weak claims that my sitting in my car in front of the grocery store or a certain beachy gourmet burger chain for hours weekly denoted some kind of stalking mentality are utterly senseless. The reality is I choose these sites because writing my blog alone in my vehicle in familiar spots is very peaceful; it gets my creative juices flowing. That's it. End of story. This talk of my having some kind of doppelganger is just so much twaddle. I mean, with all the humans in the world and just so many physical features to go around we're all bound to have plenty of individuals that resemble us. Law of averages, right? Don't have to be a genius to figure that one out. Jeez, some people ... Whoa, whoa, wait a sec... Could that possibly be?... It is; that's me!... I mean, Vince... Yeah, that's gotta be Vince... Unbelievable, that's him; that's my doppelganger!... Oh wait, he's going inside... Okay, yeah... I, ah... I gotta go!