Saturday, April 28, 2012


Thoughts of doppelgangers and a finite number of body and facial types were proliferating early this afternoon when you took a break from a weekend-long intensive workshop you are co-hosting to secure a cup of coffee at the sprawl of a café in which the workshop is being held.

A man in his mid-to-late sixties, in apparent health and posture, approached, embraced you, then announced that you had not changed one bit since he knew you in Muncie, Indiana, where, indeed, you appeared always to be ahead of the curve.

You did not know what curve he referenced and although you were impressed by the warmth and sincerity of his greeting, you were forced to admit to him that he’d clearly mistaken you for another, citing as evidence the fact that you have never set foot in Muncie, Indiana.

Your greeter was not at all taken aback, venturing how well he remembered your wit and spontaneity.  He was pleased to see that the years had in no way diminished your sense of mischief.

You again appealed to his reason.  His observation about your sense of mischief was accurate to the person you were, not the individual he supposed you to be.  Since such conversations are dear to you, you persisted with the observation that you were happy to see him because he was such a chipper and agreeable sort who was, nevertheless, a complete stranger to you.

At this point, he was joined by an equally fit-looking woman with an elaborate coil of fluffy white hair, piled imaginatively on her head.  Almost immediately, this lady agreed with you that you were not the individual the man thought you to be.  The man began laughing.  “You’ve worked this all out, you two.  How rich this is.  What fun we’re having.  Shall we go inside for some wine?”

Soon, the woman, whose name was Iris, repeated her firm belief to the man, whose name was either a Stewart or a Stuart, that you were indeed not the Philip Stewart or Stuart supposed you to be.  Shortly after, a waitress brought you your coffee, addressing you by name, which is to say your name, not Philip.

You tried to explain to Stewart or Stuart how you have in recent months been taken for other individuals, at which point Stewart or Stuart grew toward the truculent in his behavior.  He appreciated that you were trying to spare him some embarrassment but began to suspect you were having him on as well, taking advantage of the situation to poke fun.

At this point, without the slightest conscious intention of mischief, you may have made a mistake.  “The way the real Philip had you on?”  you asked.

Iris shot you a warning look, which seemed all the more poignant when Stewart or Stuart replied with some belligerence, “What do you know of those times?  How could you possibly know what Philip was like?”

Your own naivetĂ© visited you with the awareness that Stewart or Stuart’s effusive earlier greeting of you could have been fueled by his having a snoot full or at least some head start on being in, as they say, the bag.  This explained in part his seeming pleasure at seeing you and his immediate displeasure at the news of you not being Philip.

There have been times when you have apologized for not being yourself.  This usually meant you were feeling a tad or more off course, ill, plain tired, possibly, when you consider certain years of your life, in the bag yourself or close to it, or hung-over from having been.

This all conflates in the knowledge how much unlike our self we may be from time to time and how, through the whimsical varieties of individual personality, even when we are our self, we are not our self.

The self—the normally agreed upon tenant of the shell we call home—we believe reports in on some regular basis or that takes off on other, less regular bases is neither always trusting nor trustworthy.  

These over-the-top situations and circumstances intrigue you as much as any thriller or noir mystery thrills you, appeals to the comedic side of you which, like the Phil you’ll doubtless never meet, loves to complicate the situation known as identity.

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