Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Girl With My Face

“Oh you came back.” The smiling clothing store saleswoman walked over to me. I glanced at her Express name tag.

“I’m sorry, do we know each other?” I smiled back uncertainly.

“You were in here a few hours ago. And now you’re back again.”

Her smiled slipped a little as the confused look on my face deepened.

“That wasn’t you? There was a woman here earlier. She looked just like you. She was wearing almost exactly the same outfit you’re wearing now.” She looked at my zipped up white Abercrombie feather down jacket with brown faux fur hoodie trim, my black Civil War military style hat, and black stiletto boots peeking out from my straight legged dark blue jeans.

The fact was I’d just arrived at the mall a few minutes ago. The last time I’d been in the Express store had been a good six months ago and it had been at a different mall. It had not been me. It was the phantom girl with my face.

Over the past two years or so I have been repeatedly confused for someone else. Someone about my height, about my weight, build, hair color and length and has apparently not just my face, but also my wardrobe.

Who is this woman?? I have been approached by strangers thinking they know me, emailed to on social networking and dating sites by people who think they’ve seen me and talked to by restaurant staff and store employees who claim to have helped me before.  

It’s been a bit like living in a movie about parallel universe, twins split at birth or a DNA experiment. It’s unnerving, exciting and somewhat annoying.

And tonight I nearly saw her for myself.  

I got a call by someone who had been with me that day I was in Express telling me that my twin was at the gym he and I go to. The gym I decided not to go to tonight because I’d stayed up all last night remodeling one of my bathrooms and cold symptoms I’d just gotten over, claimed their victory over my immunity regressed throat and nose yet again.

I threw on my gym clothes and drove a few short blocks to the place where I would finally confront my look-alike. On the way over I imagined what I’d say to this girl if we really did share that strong of a resemblance. Would we stare at each other in awe, feeling like our reflection had just stepped out of a mirror? Would we like each other, this person who we share so many features with? After all these years of being mistaken for her, I planned to just walk right up to her, say hello and ask her name. I had a ton of questions. I didn’t know where to start.

I wanted to ask what her ancestry was, where she was born, what her astrology sign and age were. Find out what she did and if she’d also been mistaken for me. And then I had some bazar questions to ask, like if she’d throat punched someone who had hit on her at a club the way a stranger on a dating site emailed me to asked if that had been me one summer weekend.

I already knew I wanted to like her. As a kid I used to pretend I had an identical twin. Someone who knew exactly what my childhood experiences were like, who understood me on a level that only someone who shares your same face and body can. Someone who has been met by the same prejudices and advantages created by a specific combination of appearance, background and personality.

Chances are good though that if this chick were the kind to throat punch another girl in a club, she probably would find me more dorky than similar. I’d probably want to Facebook friend her. She might hate me on sight and refuse to speak to me.  

Either way, I never got to ask.  

I missed her by barely two minutes.

I walked in the gym wildly curious and left moments later completely disappointed. She’d just left. Probably while I was parking my car.

I was surprised at the depth of my frustration at having missed her. Maybe if I hadn’t been constantly hearing about her and being confused for her, for over two years, I wouldn’t have been determined to finally meet her.

It almost seems like there is some cosmic force causing us to walk a similar path, yet never meet. Would it destroy some grand plan or cause a hyperbole, time warp tear in the space/time continuum if she and I met face to face? 

Genetics have always fascinated me. And aside from my childhood game of pretending I had a twin, I found in college research on twin studies, both biological and non-genetic anomalies particularly intriguing. And I’m not the only one.

                                                           Identical Twin Stories

Whether exploring the Nature vs Nurture argument, developing marketing tactics for predicting spending habits or unraveling the genome of how human life started, studying twins have given scientist and researchers some of their most valuable data.

                                                            Twins Sexual Orientation

Aside from twin studies, something that people find fascinating are individuals who are not genetically twins but look like they could be. One term for that is Doppelganger. This can include anyone from parents and their children, to complete strangers. The Internet is full of pictures, websites and examples.

I found several photos where the mom and daughter look so much alike, you almost can't tell at first glance which is which.

People are especially fascinated with celebrity look-alikes. You can view pictures of their "twins". Enter contests for looking like one. Or generate a list that shows what celebrities you resemble.

Since certain looks are found to be universally attractive, it's not surprising that people who look like each other, act like each other and share talents can end up all becoming celebrities.

Scientists guess that every person has about six people on the planet who resemble them. After all, there are a finite number of possible genetic combinations in the world; eventually they will accidentally be duplicated. It's just that in past generations there wasn't much chance of bumping into them, much less finding them on another continent.

There is even a website devoted to helping people find their doppelgangers all over the planet. The site is called I Look Like You.

As for my own Virginia Doppelganger: We live in the same town. We shop at the same stores. We eat at the same restaurants. We have a membership to the same gym and rec center. How much longer can we possibly continue to narrowly miss each other??

Maybe I should use this site: Find People Who Look Like You On Facebook

Wouldn’t it be mind blowing for the sales clerk if I did meet my “twin” and we both decided to go shopping at that same Express store together? Being the same size, having the same look and sharing the same fashion sense, we certainly would be able to share clothing.

But... what if it turns out the girl at the gym is NOT the same girl at the Express store and there is yet another girl out there who looks like BOTH of us…

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