Last week I was telling you about how a very common pastime amongst my bar patrons is to try and figure out what celebrity I look like. There are many factors at work here when making this determination – how much the person has had to drink not being the least of them. The time of year you see me is probably the greatest determining factor. I mentioned that my look changes pretty dramatically with the seasons. Not by any means as a statement or style, it’s simply for my own lazy comfort. In the winter, I’m long haired, bearded, and fat so I stay warm. In the summer, I’m clean cut, clean shaven, and about 20 pounds lighter so I don’t get too hot. That’s it, no secret formula.

Living in a seasonal resort town, you’d think that the summer, when there are so many more people, would be when I get the most doppelganger queries. But they don’t cover nearly the range as the ones in the winter do. It’s because in the summer, with short hair, no facial growth, and medium build I just look like everyone else. I couldn’t be more average. I just look like any other guy who is too young to be in this poor shape, and too old to be doing what I do. The guesses do still come though and they never cease to entertain me.

It usually starts off the same… two or more people huddled together whispering while staring at me as if this practice has made them to invisible to me. Once they realize that I’m on to them, there’s that brief awkwardness which subsequently forces them to make their guesses or ask me who others have determined I resemble. My mood and the manner with which the question is delivered usually dictates my answer. It also varies depending on the people asking. The question is, “Who do people tell you that you look like?” Obviously, they are wondering what celebrity I look like, but often just for fun I’ll respond, “my Mom” then I walk away. If the party asking is 60 or older I’ve responded with the following: Abe Vigoda, Ernest Borgnine, and Bee Arthur. When the younger crowd asks, I usually respond, “Morgan Freeman, I get it all the time”. There’s always someone in the group who is completely serious and they say, “no, that’s not it”.

The list of names that people liken me to covers a pretty wide range. Early on in my career I would occasionally get Donnie Osmond. No offense to our little Mormon friend, but I can’t say that I was ever flattered by that. I was waiting on an attractive young couple in the early 90’s. We spoke at length, and they were trying to place me. Finally, he decided that I looked like Rob Lowe and she concurred. At that time, Mr. Lowe was at the point during – if his career had ever had a peak – it would have been then. And he was a good looking fella, so naturally I was a bit flattered. As the evening progressed it occurred to me that this was not a couple. They were in fact brother and sister and one of them was trying to take me home for the evening. I won’t say which one, but it was not the sister. So it turns out that the Rob Lowe thing was really just a pick up line. Both my flattery and my naivety were short lived. And, “No” is the answer to the question you just asked in your head.

I’ve had countless comparisons over the years. Some were delivered with ulterior motives, some had some merit, some were just silly, and most I’ve forgotten. Nonetheless, it’s always entertaining to hear how others see me. I usually only cut my hair about three times a year and none of those are in the winter months. So when I do, it’s pretty drastic and a substantial change to my look. It’s not unheard of for me to use clippers down to practically shaved, then let it grow until I can put it in a ponytail, and then shave it again. I don’t have to look at me, and my wife doesn’t seem to care what length my hair is.

The best attempts at matching me with a famous counterpart come in the winter. My annual rule is that the first day the temperatures dip into the 50s, I no longer shave or cut my hair until spring. The comparisons to celebrities are rapid fired at me from October to May, and I’ve discovered over the years that there’s almost a scale to gauge it by. For example, in October I seem to get Kenny Loggins from time to time. My hair is starting to grow out, the beard is still young, and I have not yet put on my hibernation weight. It doesn’t thrill me to be compared to the guy who was the voice of every 80’s movie soundtrack, but I’ll accept it.

By November, I start to get Dennis Miller quite a bit. Aside from staying on the mullet train for one station too many, I think the man is a genius and one of my favorite comics. He’s actually a pretty large influence in my style of storytelling. So while this one is not necessarily intended to be complimentary it still flatters me slightly because I try to convince the voices in my head that people are comparing me to him intellectually and not just subtly suggesting that I need a haircut.

It was in December that I once got my favorite comparison ever and not for the reasons you’ll think. A few years back, I was waiting on four women around their mid-forties at the bar. They were fun and we were having a good time. Throughout the course of the evening they playfully tried to figure out what celebrity I looked like. Now read this all the way through before you start to laugh because this is 100% true as it happened. After quite some time and heavy pondering, one of the women exclaimed “Brad Pitt!” and two others immediately concurred. Before the message had found its way from my ear canal to the self esteem portion of my brain, she was already following it with a disclaimer. I should have known that such a ridiculous claim would carry with it a ‘but’. She actually waived her arms and practically shouted the following at me with a quickness and vigor as if she were trying to warn me that I were about to get hit by a speeding train. Her painfully emphatic words were, “The Brad Pitt in Twelve Monkeys! Not like the Thelma and Louise Brad Pitt.”

In less time than it took for my brain to process the comment and raise the corners of my mouth to form a blushing smile, she had launched me into orbit and slammed me back to Earth. She wanted to make it brutally clear that it was NOT JD, the hitchhiking, hairdryer wielding con man whom I resembled to her. No indeed! I looked like Jeffrey Goines, the lazy eyed, paranoid, homeless looking psychopath. I was the unkempt lunatic who was to trigger a biological apocalypse. Most of us believe that the words, “you look just like Brad Pitt!” could never be anything shy of the greatest compliment a man could ever receive. I can now say with staunch conviction that is not the case, and if you don’t believe me, when you finish reading this, Google Brad Pitt in Twelve Monkeys. And the messed up part is that she was right. I do kind of resemble that character. Thanks for playing along.

Until next week,

Syd Nichols