Friday, July 7, 2023

Double Troubles Part 4

A friend recently told me he’d been up to Carmel North Hospital and thought he’d seen me in the distance. “Was that you?” he asked. “Are you OK?” I assured him I was fine but that wasn’t me he’d seen—it was probably my double.

We’re all supposed to have at least one doppelgänger—a “double walker” who so closely resembles us even a close friend would have difficulty spotting the difference. Was the woman my friend saw a Flo from another timeline that intersected with ours for a moment? A long-lost twin the ‘rents neglected to tell me about for some reason? An alien who found my appearance appealing for a disguise? A clone from a secret laboratory under Carmel North?

Here is a fun “A Doppelgänger Field Guide” featuring possibilities I hadn’t thought of:

John has seen my doppelgänger a couple of times. It’s a few days before Christmas, 1979. I start wrapping presents and discover the Stretch Spider-Man we bought for three-year-old Eoin is leaking! This is something he really wants, so that means trekking to Children’s Palace and exchanging it without Eoin figuring out what we are doing. (This is a BIG present for him, a surprise.) John drops me off at the entrance to the store on West 38th St. and he and Eoin wait in the car not far from the front. That night I’m wearing a distinctive grey cape-coat my mom had given me the year before. I didn’t wear it often because, without sleeves, it was impractical for winter weather.

The store is crowded with holiday shoppers coming and going, and John is surprised to see me come out after only 10-15 minutes. Eoin sees me, too, and yells, “It’s Mommy!” They know it’s me because I am wearing the unusual cape-coat, besides being the right height and general size with long brown hair holding a shopping bag that contains a box the right size for the toy. John says, “Let’s go get Mommy!” and pulls up to the entrance, keeping an eye on me the whole time. But then the figure steps behind a pillar—and disappears. He parks the car, gets out, and starts looking around. Then he walks over to the front window and sees me at the Service desk—halfway through a line of forty customers! Why did I go back into the store? How did I get back in there so fast? The figure he’d seen looked exactly like me. Weird.

Fast forward to summer of 1993. I’m job-hunting, laid off from running a mainframe for AARP (the whole shebang shut down, leaving more than 100 people out of a job). I don’t relish the idea of working downtown but figure what the heck, I’ll apply at Merchants Bank for a job in MIS. This time, John sits alone in the food court on the third floor of Claypool Court on the NW corner of Washington and Illinois and waits for me to come up the escalators. After business was taken care of, we planned to get a coke and share fond memories of times spent there with Eoin--one of our favorite things to do as a family was to go downtown and shop at magazine stores that stocked periodicals we couldn’t get at your friendly neighborhood drugstore—computer magazines like Antic, Analog, ST Express and ST World, esoteric ones like Weird Tales and Magical Blend, etc.—not to mention Fangoria, Famous Monsters, and Cinefantastique! (And it was really exciting when the stores selling computer magazines stocked an issue with one of John’s articles in it!) Then we’d tromp over to the food court at Claypool Court for a coke and share our finds.

Anyhow, that day I’m looking very spiffy, wearing new dusky rose slacks and fuchsia suit jacket with a nice flowery blouse, good shoes, long brown-gray hair curled, leather purse over my shoulder and carrying a briefcase. I’d say my hair was my most distinguishing feature (besides the elan with which I carried myself). So, John is waiting for me, doesn’t know how long I’ll be because I might get an interview if they take one glance at my application and decide they must speak to such a qualified candidate immediately, and he sees me riding the first escalator. Same outfit, purse, briefcase, curled hair. Oh, good, he’s thinking, she’s done. He watches me come up the second escalator and get off on the third floor. Then I step behind a post—and promptly disappear! John is looking all around, wondering, What the heck? Did she go into a shop? If one of the stores there was currently stocking a magazine with one of his articles, we’d go in together. A few minutes later he looks down and sees me—same rose and fuchsia outfit, good shoes, leather purse, briefcase, curled hair—coming in the entrance on the ground floor heading for the escalator. There wasn’t time for me to go down two floors—by escalator, elevator, stairs, or bungee cord—and leave the building and come back in and why would I do that in the first place? Strange. (Hey, maybe my double got the job at Merchants, because they never called me in for an interview.)

I always wonder, if it was my double either time, how did she know exactly what I was going to wear when I didn’t even know myself until the last minute, going through clothes in the closet.

Traditionally, doppelgängers are bad omens but I’m not really bothered by the idea—as long as they don’t get too close! I wonder how difficult it would be to impersonate me and take over my life—scary thought!

And what would I do if I met my double face-to-face? What would she do? Would she share my philosophical take on the situation and start asking me a zillion questions or attack me as an impostor?

John has met several people who have encountered his doppelgänger and has written several blogs about it. One guy insisted he was that person, that they hung out all the time, and why was he lying! The guy almost got violent. Here are his blogs about his experiences:

Have you ever encountered your double or someone who has? Has anyone ever treated you strangely because they thought you were someone else? That would be a horror story…