Thursday, November 30, 2017

Mistaken Identity

All these years and I’m still not accustomed to my face. If I met myself in a crowded elevator I’d probably think the guy looks slightly familiar but then again….

There is a face in the mirror but it hasn’t registered with me. When I shave I see a chin, a neck, a nose (still in the middle of it all)… the sections but not the aggregate.

I’m often confusing faces. When we watch a movie at home I’ll say to Peggy how this guy looks like Cary Grant and she’ll tell me he looks more like Ulysses Grant.. Of course I could tell Danny de Vito from George Clooney or Woody Allen from Kobe Bryant. But young Pacino looks to me like young De Niro and ten other people. I just recently found out that John Hurt, William Hurt and William Hurd are not the same person.

I am your classic unreliable witness. Thirty years ago I was held up at gun point in my pharmacy by a crazed drug addict. I gave him what he came for; even offered to gift wrap it for him to get him out of the store. He was so pleased by my service he returned a few months later. Even called me by name as if we were old friends. He was a white guy with an afro hair style. All I saw was the gun and the hair.

When he was caught I was asked, along with about ten others, to pick him out of a police line-up. Of course I nailed the wrong person…as did 2 other victims. Fortunately they arrested him anyway and he was convicted no thanks to me.

When I met Peggy in 1980 she was sitting alone during my poetry reading at the old Venice jail. During intermission I went over to her and greeted her a loud HELLO…as if I’d just recognized an old friend. I have no idea what prompted that. Maybe I confused her with Ava Gardner. Or maybe I had read my life story and knew this was the woman I would marry in a few years.

In Pharmacy College I was one of 150 students. The highpoint of my time spent in that drab institution was in my sophomore year. By then I realized that just about everyone cheated on exams. The fraternities had the test before-hand. In fact the same questions had been passed down from the previous decade. A few of us chose not to join any frat. One day a classmate came up to me after a midterm test.

You are Wolitsky, aren’t you?
No, I’m Levine.
Damn, I just copied the whole exam from you.
Not to worry, I copied from Wolitsky.

That proved to me I had a common face, easily mistaken for Wolitsky and probably a dozen others. In fact maybe that impostor in the elevator really is Wolitsky. Where are you now Wolitsky? I want to see what I look like.

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