Photo by: WhineAndDine, CC Licensed
It happened again. It freakin’ happened again!
I was on the F train and saw Mike, a guy I knew 15 years ago. He was a bandmate of a fellow I was dating at the time, and he looked exactly the same as he did when I’d last seen him, across a nasty basement club on Bleecker street that no longer exists: thick-framed retro-nerd glasses, the kind that only the least nerdy among us can pull off. He was short but had a swagger, and always seemed to feel that he was better than the rest of his band and that no one realized how egregiously they were holding him back. He had his axe strapped to his back, which I took as a good sign—perhaps he’d made it as a working musician, despite the odds.
I snaked across the crowded train to say hi, but the closer I got, the clearer it became.
It wasn’t Mike, but Mike 2.0 or even 3.0. It was the guy who is now Mike, only younger, newer and improved for 2009. It was Mike’s replacement, because Mike, in all likelihood no longer looked or behaved like Mike. A new version had been generated, and odds are the life he is living mirrored Mike’s in every way, except with a few new bells and whistles, like a backpack contraption to hold his guitar (as opposed to those heavy hard cases they used to carry back in the early ’90s) and an iPod instead of a Walkman. It was entirely possible that he was wearing Mike’s actual motorcycle jacket, as Mike’s wife likely donated it to the Salvation Army when he was out of town selling widgets or whatever he does to pay the bills.
Why is it that I’m painfully, excruciatingly aware of every droopy body part, every pucker, each stray hair and both nasal-labial folds on my own person, but IÃ‚Â imagine somehow everyone else is frozen in time?
I mean, I know they’re not, but when I see these updated versions of people I used to know, and am reminded in such a Twilight Zone manner that time marches on, I get a little weirded out. It’s as if the real Mike and the real Stephanie, the ones we used to be, were abducted by aliens and simply replaced by the new Mikes and Stephanies who populate the F train just like we used to.
For a second I saw myself through this new Mike’s eyes: Here’s some middle-aged lady in yoga pants and sneakers clearly chosen for function over fashion who is probably somebody’s mother coming my way. I must be blocking the door because I can’t imagine she’d have anything to say to me. And then he’d go back to whatever was on his iPod, which no doubt will be hip in an old-school kind of way among the next versions of him.
I’m just sayin’. Mike, if you’re out there, someone is stealing your identity, circa 1994. And to that hot but secretly bulimic sophomore at Wesleyan who is shaking her fist at the patriarchy even while hooking up with frat guys, things will be fine. Just hang in there and find a way to laugh at it all.
Photo by: WhineAndDine, CC Licensed
October 8, 2008 at 10:19 am
Well, you can at least console yourself that you still get tol ride the groovy train (the F)….and take decent yoga classes….and buy decent cheese….and gaze upon the hipsters. I would argue that your environment is precisely what keeps you hot and hip….aside from your overall gorgeousness, of course. Down here, rednecks, hillbillies and shellacked southern belles are the barometers of style. It’s sad! I’ve actually caught myself looking at cheap, slave-labor frocks at Walmart, thinking, “that’s kinda cute.” SOmething that would have been unthinkable 3 years ago. It’s all downhill for me!
October 11, 2008 at 12:28 pm
this is a test to see if comments are being allowed.
October 13, 2008 at 8:51 pm
Two things come to mind:
1. 5 friends and I, including Andrew Borsanyi ’90, went back to Wesleyan in 2004 to judge the national debate championships. (Or, as we called it, “Dorkfest ’04.”) There was this kid from Yale who looked just like Andrew did when he was in college, and so we called him “Andrew’s Mini-Me.”
2. Skip this one if you don’t want me to spoil the last five minutes of the last episode of The Wire. Many of the characters get replaced one way or another by younger versions (Michael becomes Omar, Dukie becomes Bubbs, etc.) It reminded me of that episode of Land of the Lost when the family finally escapes, but is replaced by identical people from a parallel universe. Unlike The Wire, of course, the object was to enable the show to continue. And the Wire was making a statement, I think, about how institutions shape individuals, which might give us some insight into why more Mikes keep getting generated.
Not that I’m your shrink or anything, but is it fair to say the bulimia (and maybe at least some of the hooking up) was part of an effort to fit in? If so, it becomes less surprising that there are others who are similar. Everybody’s trying to fit in, and that means looking like people on TV. (Remember when all the girls feathered their hair like Farrah? Or the Pat Benatar lookalikes in Fast Times at Ridgemont High?)
Though I suspect that even trying to be different (having a mohawk or tattoo or whatever) may bring a sense of being so, but really just moves you into a different group of similar characters.
But yeah, especially if you’re focusing only on physical appearance, there’s nothing new under the sun. Do we need to be unique to have value? If you look hard enough, we are, but what if we were not?
That was more than two things. And I haven’t even mentioned that my favorite band is The Replacements. Who themselves spawned many imitators.
I guess what I’m saying is that I agree with you about the phenomenon. But, as a guy who’s been told his whole life “You look just like this other person I know,” the concept doesn’t really phase me. And yeah, there’s always a way to laugh at it all. You just have to find it.
October 14, 2008 at 3:35 pm
“a nasty basement club on Bleecker street that no longer exists”
the scrap bar?
October 14, 2008 at 3:37 pm
Quite possibly. One of the many things going south on me these days is my memory.
October 14, 2008 at 4:17 pm
“Not that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m your shrink or anything, but is it fair to say the bulimia (and maybe at least some of the hooking up) was part of an effort to fit in? If so, it becomes less surprising that there are others who are similar. EverybodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s trying to fit in, and that means looking like people on TV. (Remember when all the girls feathered their hair like Farrah? Or the Pat Benatar lookalikes in Fast Times at Ridgemont High?)”
Yeah, no, the bulimia and hooking up was more about self-loathing than trying to fit in. Although insofar as many, many girls at Wesleyan were self-loathing and doing the same thing, I was in good company. But it wasn’t like we all hung out talking about how great it was to throw up after Mocon or sneak out of Psi U the next morning.
BUT I LOVE THAT YOU ARE MY FIRST TWO-TIME POSTER!! Keep visiting and thanks for taking the time.
October 25, 2008 at 6:21 am
Keep up the good work.