Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Separated At Birth: Me And Penn Jillette

OK, I'll admit it. At various times in my life, I've been mistaken for a celebrity. Depending on tiny elements such as hair, wardrobe and weight, determined who I've been mistaken for.

Usually, the person that I'm mistaken for is a lot older. In my late teens and early twenties, I was mistaken for Eddie Vedder a few times. I was clean shaven and wore my hair long, at that time. When I wore my hair short, I was mistaken for John Cusack. Either people were seeing something that I wasn't or they really needed glasses. Maybe it was the Chicago area connection. Who knows.

Over the years, various names popped up and were quickly dismissed by me. I guess I have a face that has some quality that people subconsciously identify with but can't put a finger on.

The last few years, it's been Penn Jillette. I can kinda see that one. We even share a similar lack of facial recall, meaning it's hard to pick people we know out of a crowd. When I'm usually mistaken for Penn, I have my hair long and wear it in a ponytail. The worst example came from when I was dining out at an Indian restaurant about two years ago.

While I was eating my dinner, I noticed a woman in her fifties staring at me. This continued the entire meal. If I looked in her direction, she would immediately turn, as if I wouldn't notice the quick movements. It was painfully obvious because my seat was facing in her direction.

I saw the woman excitedly tell the rest of the people in her party something and then they all turned and looked while trying not to draw attention to themselves. The restaurant was serving a buffet that night and my table was in between theirs and the buffet. This served as an excuse for each of them to walk past my table.

I watched as they walked past one by one. As soon as each had a turn past me, and the entire party had returned, the table buzzed with activity. The group finished their meal and got up to leave. The lady who first "recognized" me stopped and placed her hand on my shoulder.

"I hate to bother you, but may I ask a question?", asked the woman. I said yes, thinking that she already asked one question without my permission. "Are you Penn Jillette?", she asked.

When I told her that I wasn't, she seemed a little disappointed. "Has anyone told you that you look exactly like him?", she exclaimed. I told her that I get that all the time. "Are you sure you're not him? You look just like him!", she said.

I assured her that I wasn't who she thought I was. She walked away and I heard her say to the rest of her party, "I bet he just wanted to eat in peace and didn't want to be recognized." Yeah, you got me lady. Sorry about that.

Penn Jillette turned 54 in March. I turned 33 today. Should I be flattered that I was mistaken for a celebrity or insulted that said celebrity is 21 years older than I am?


Johngy said...

Happy Birthday, Penn...I mean Steve.
As I have written on my blog a few times lately, as I get older (and grayer), I keep getting a Jay Leno question. Maybe together we could hit the autograph convention scene. Make some extra cash.

deal said...

Happy Birthday - once while in college (Late 80ish) a drunk girl told me I looked like Patrick Swayze. For a long time I was quite happy to have that one.... not so sure how I feel about it now.

Chemgod said...

Happy B Day! I've been mistaken for Drew Carey quite a few times. My uncle gets stopped all the time because he is a dead ringer for Roger Ebert. People ask to take photos with him and ask for an autograph all the time.

Doc said...

Happy Birthday!

I too have been mistaken for John Cusack. At one point the resemblance was so uncanny I was accosted by a worker at Arby's in rural Indiana who wouldn't leave me alone until I signed a napkin for her.

I've even fooled Jim Nance and Ron Jeremy in an airport.

So whenever I fly, I keep a pen handy and wear my hat low.

Collective Troll said...

Happy B-Day my friend!! I used to get mistaken for hip, cool young people all the time. Now I get asked about the infomericals that I do for the Sham Wow (sp?). I don't actually do those commercials and for the last time I am NOT the shamwow guy! It sucks getting older...

White Sox Cards said...

Johngy, we'll have to go on the Vegas circuit and cash in!

Great stories everyone!

And thanks for the birthday wishes!

night owl said...

Happy birthday! I would be told I looked like John Boy Walton -- Richard Thomas -- when I was younger. I was horrified, but girls seemed to think it was a compliment when they told me that.

But that was when I was younger.

Dinged Corners said...

Steve, are you super tall, too, like PJ? Can you make stuff disappear?

Happy, happy birthday!

White Sox Cards said...

I'm 6' 2" and I can make food disappear rather convincingly.


Jim said...

Happy birthday!

Dave said...

Happy Birthday!
Wow you really have a pretty close remsemblance.

White Sox Cards said...

Scary, isn't it?

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to send birthday wishes, either in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter, or through e-mail.

I really appreciated it!

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