We’re All Clones (Except Me)


A RECENT FACEBOOK POLL (OF which I generally conduct one daily) revealed that few people have experienced the mindbreaking awe of encountering their own body double.

Let me assure you: No matter how often it happens, it is a very weird feeling, as it undoubtedly was for one such Other Me I spotted across the BART tracks late one night in the Walnut Creek station (we kept looking at each other nervously; he in sports jacket and briefcase, me in long hair and T-shirt). It likewise may be or have been weird for those other Other Mes I’ve seen in newspaper and book photos (mostly Afghanis, Pashtun and Russians, but once of a forced-smiling Jew in a Nazi-overseen road crew).

To date I have yet to converse with myself, although I once got into an argument with a fast-food cashier who swore I was the beverage guy “making fun” of her.

Perhaps an ancient ancestor was emphatically fecund, or otherwise genetically impressive. But I tend to think this communal physiology is more construction than consanguinity (a fine word, but of too-little conversational relevance, meaning “relation” ). My DNA was crafted among the Eastern Europeans on my mom’s side and Russia and Germany on my dad’s; on my dad’s side I’m also a Levite, those touchy servants of the ancestral Temple, and I sometimes wonder if the Other Mes are too.

But my bigger questions concern the fluidity of identity: How much of who “I” am depends on what I look like? Where I came from? And just how unique are we all, anyway? If someone looks like me and acts like me, I might be tempted, a la the mad monk Nasrudin, to tie a balloon to my leg to tell us apart, were it not for my inner sense that I’m the one wondering about him. But what if he thinks he’s me? Well sir, I should hope my friends would know the real me (the one who’s writing this now, or did before you read it) well enough to help me do the same when needed — especially in that waking fuzz when I don’t know who I am, only that it’s time to feed the cat.

As I say, few people have experienced this phenomenon, but those who know, know — as do, of course, those who only look like them. Everyone else will just have to take our word for it.

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8 Responses to We’re All Clones (Except Me)

  1. Kathryn on 2011.06.14 at 1453

    BTW, I find the dark-haired, Russian Jewish male phenotype you describe to be quite beautiful, enough to make me forget I’m gay. ;-) So, I did notice there seemed to be a good many of you in the population available for me to ogle – but all this time, I was assuming that was just my own awareness.

    • Neal Ross Attinson on 2011.06.14 at 1508

      Why ahem thank you cough. Me, since I find the male form to be as misshapen as the female is divine, on an aesthetic level I don’t “get” male homosexuality (or female heterosexuality, for that matter. The inescapable-attraction part I understand; I think that’s an essential part of love’s appeal/glory/mystery, regardless of chromosomal balance). Maybe I’m just a lesbian trapped in a man’s body, unless that’s a cliche in which case I’m above it all. Sniff.

      • Kathryn on 2011.06.20 at 2259

        Yep. That’s where the profusion of lush, sable-brown, ringletted hair and full, thick beard come in. They soften and feminize all those awkward, hard bodily angles. ;-) And the soulful eyes don’t hurt either.

        I don’t think you’re alone in this. In my 49 years of observation, I’ve come to realize that hetero woman love to look at each others bodies. And it ain’t just envy, or “sizing up” each other. Further, artists of both sexes paint, draw, sculpt, or otherwise depict far more female nudes than male, and art patrons of both sexes patronize far more naked lady art than naked man art. Women are just purty, that’s all. :-)

  2. Kathryn on 2011.06.14 at 1448

    Count me as one of those who’ve never encountered their doppelgangers, but in my case, I wish I would. I have this rather kinky fantasy about a surprise encounter with a “separated at birth” twin. I’m narcissistic that way. ;-)

  3. Me Taphorager on 2010.09.24 at 1320

    No, he parted his hair on the same side.

  4. alana Dill on 2010.09.23 at 2236

    I always find “separated at birth” stories about identical twins who discover years later that they’ve been living eerily parallel lives. But are also twins who have nothing whatever in common except their genes? Their story might ultimately be more telling. As for bone structure, that’s definitely part of the story. I once had a blond Russian-Jewish-Irish boyfriend and ran into his dark-haired Peruvian doppelganger at a restaurant in Berkeley. Long face, long straight nose, round eyes, full lips, rounded chin. Same exact face: different color scheme.

  5. Richard Attinson on 2010.09.23 at 1920

    Someone from Bizzaro World???

  6. Kathryn on 2010.09.23 at 1804

    Reminds me of a certain series of FarScape episodes. The main character kept playing Rock-Paper-Scissors with himself. Damned if it wasn’t a draw every time.

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