Nothing makes my day like a stranger claiming that I look like some celebrity. A few have made my spirits soar with the magic words "Val Kilmer." A dentist once made drilling more pleasant by assuring me I was the spitting image of Chipper Jones (don't watch much baseball but I'm not picky). And, oh, how I long for the Matt Damon era of 1998-2000 --- even folks who could barely speak English excitedly stammered as they tried to make the comparison. I had to help them out. "You mean, Matt Damon?" I'd say, suppressing my glee. And they would clap their hands, "Yes! Yes! Heem! Dat guy!"
It's a high that seems harder to come by the older I get. But then this week at work we hosted an international conference, inviting "innovators in governance" from across the world. As you can imagine this vague qualification drew all sorts of characters.
My duties on Day One were simply to stand guard in the rotunda of our office building as conference guests arrived, provide information and schmooze a little as they waited to go on complimentary tours of the Harvard campus. It was a no-brainer, and I welcomed the break from my normal duties, not to mention the excuse to wear a suit.
During one of my quieter moments, with the rotunda nearly empty, a middle-aged African woman approached. She cackled as she shuffled toward me, and said she just had to meet me, because I looked like a prince. She wore a cheap pink coat over a white grandma gown, and white socks with sandals. She had a witch doctor's eyes ---yellowed and thickly glazed, constantly watering --- and boobs (forgive me ladies) than hung well past her waist.
She told me she was from Ethiopia, and was also an alumnus of the Harvard Divinity School. She now advocated for the orphaned children of her country, and actually ran an orphanage herself. She was a staunch Christian (spent much of our conversation aggressively evangelizing me) and was utterly smitten with American politics.
She went on to say I reminded her of a young Ronald Reagan. Quick to reference her credentials for making such a claim, she noted that she had a huge poster of him on her bedroom wall.
As is my tendency, I was prepared to accept this flattering observation immediately, without question, knocking aside all apprehension, ignoring all creepiness. But it was the first I've heard such a claim, and the more I considered it, the more it seemed a stretch.
Hmm. I do feel a kinship with men who possess crooked smiles. But I'm sorry, I just don't see it.
I guess this lends evidence to that uncomfortable truth, that all Caucasians look alike.
The Savior Complex
1 month ago