Dopplegangers

There are two women who ride my bus these days who look a lot like other women. I call the first one “Sara Gilbert,” and the second one “Chick from Matrix.” Sara Gilbert looks just like — and I mean JUST LIKE — Sara Gilbert (that girl from Rosanne and ER). It’s uncanny, actually. “Chick from Matrix” is a little less striking — she only looks vaguely like Carrie Anne Moss, and I’m not entirely convinced anybody else would make that connection at all upon seeing her.

Anyway, I spend a lot of time examining these two women out of the corner of my eye while on the bus. They always look extremely unhappy, and I have to wonder if it’s partly because they look so much like other people and thus are forced to struggle with identity issues every time they are have to field a comment about that. “Hey, anybody ever tell you you look JUST LIKE. . .” “YES. NOW SHUT IT.”

Or maybe they’re just unhappy because it’s oh-dark-thirty and they’re on a cold bus on their way to a dead-end job where their coworkers make Rosanne and Keanu Reeves jokes all day long behind their backs, and they are constantly having to look at their own faces in the mirror and wonder why in the hell everybody thinks they look so much like these other women, when really, can’t they see I just look like ME?

It’s an odd phenomenon — dopplegangers. I see them everywhere, and I don’t know if it’s just because I see more when I look at people than others do and therefore I notice repeated physical patterns everywhere I look, or if everybody else sees people who look like other people all day long too. Oddly enough, I never see anybody who looks like ME, though I have frequently heard from others that they see versions of me all around them, and that I am, of all things, actually a doppleganger of Mary Stuart Masterson myself. I wonder too if it’s normal never to see your own dopplegangers. If you have seen yourself from too many angles too many times, inside and out, to ever see any small piece of yourself in another.

That said, I am actually married to King Buzzo’s doppleganger (the lead singer of The Melvins), and I dated a guy who looks an awful lot like both Art Garfunkel and a guy who just made it through to Hollywood last night on American Idol. I also have a friend who gets the Keanu Reeves thing a lot, much to his great dismay. And every time I see Julia Roberts, I think of my sister.

Is it just me? Is this what everybody does when they are on a bus, walking out in public, mingling in crowds? Is it our nature to look for patterns in people’s exteriors? Is it our nature to try to find a familiar face in every face we look at? Or is it just a limited range of genetic combinations that keep repeating and repeating all the time in humankind? I find this phenomenon utterly fascinating. And sometimes it takes every ounce of strength I have not to gather Sara Gilbert and Chick from Matrix together on the back seat of the bus and tell them to cheer up — that they are both unique and also familiar, and that there’s something the rest of us find exceedingly comforting about that. Maybe I will. And when I do, I will end my speech by saying, “Hey, at least you aren’t that woman from my old bus who looked just like — and I mean JUST LIKE — Herman Munster.”

You see, girls? Things could’ve been much, much worse.