“Jeremy Irons,” a voice squealed.
I looked up to see a woman, a few years younger than me, face aglow, her long black coat flapping open, gripping a tenuously burdened tray.
“Mind if I join you?” she said indicating the other tables at the small diner were all occupied.
What could I say? Unable to read anything but headlines due to my bleary eyes, I was having a breather before heading back to the office to argue budgets with my boss. At my reluctant nod the woman sunk down and laid out her food, leaving barely room for my coffee cup.
“Of course you’re not Jeremy,” she admitted cheerfully. “What would he be doing in a pokey café like this? But you’re sure a ringer.”
I fumbled for the newspaper to hide my pleasure at the comment. No one had ever suggested I looked like a celebrity.
“Do you get asked that often?” she continued.
When my wife Angie and I first dated, she described me as having a teddy bear look. For some reason, she considered that attractive. Now with a few surplus pounds—kindly hidden that day by my coat—and a tendency to wear favorite sweaters long past the best-before date as Angie puts it, she is less complimentary. “You need to trim a few inches off your gut,” she advises when I head for seconds. Or “Spend the money you waste on lottery tickets to replace that ratty sweater.”
Not discouraged by my newspaper, my inquisitor thrust out her hand.
“Mark Thomson,” I replied with a reluctant shake.
“You know Jeremy though?” she said.
“Not personally,” I said trying for a roguish look, which nowadays is seldom called upon. Attractive women, and Janice was that, never ask to share a table with me nor do they strike up a conversation.
“But I know his work,” I added remembering him as an English actor who played rich upper class types who in stately homes.
“Very sexy,” my tablemate said.
Noting the library book I’d picked up for Angie, Janice commented, “I usually read at lunch too but I just got drops in my eyes so I can hardly see.”
“Me to,” I confessed. We ended up talking about movies and books. “You’re really well informed,” she gushed.
Then just as we were well into a My dinner with Andre scenario, Janice jumped up, “I have to get back to work. But this is my local watering hole so I’m sure we’ll meet again.”
Nice thought. Once I left the café I checked my I Pad for information on my look alike. Even on the small screen Jeremy looked a handsome, distinguished fellow, something that until then I hadn’t considered myself. I would more aptly be described as average—that is average for a middle aged, middle class white man: brownish hair, five foot ten, not too fat, no distinguishing marks (excepting that crocodile tattoo I found on my left ankle the morning after my 41st birthday stag).
I noted at once that Jeremy dressed well—debonair—and the effect set me thinking that I should buy some new clothes. Instead of plodding back to the office, I headed for the nearest department store.
Urged on by an effusive young clerk, “That’s perfect for you,” I bought two sweaters, a jacket (“so trimming”) and a pair of slacks (“You look ten years younger”).
I felt in my prime when I sailed into the house. Even before taking my coat off, I proudly informed Angie, “A woman told me I looked like Jeremy Irons.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.”
“First glance she thought I was Jeremy Irons.”
“Was she blind?”
That evening I headed to Video Classics—the last video store standing—and got a CD starring my double. On first view of Jeremy, I felt the bond, here I was finally connected with my—what did the Germans call it my twin—doppelsomething.
I was grateful that Dr.Grimsby had advised me to switch to contact lenses. My old glasses (one arm poorly mended) made me look like an unfashionable old fogey.
When I had noted in the store mirror that my posture was not as erect as was Jeremy’s, I resolved to stand tall, and subsequently checked my stance in shop windows as I passed by. My improvements were noted.
“Are you up to something?” Angie queried, catching me in front of the bedroom mirror admiring my new look.
“What do you mean?”
“According to Women and Wear, a man who suddenly pays attention to his appearance is probably having an affair.”
And then, a few days later our neighbor—a comely widow—gave me a wink, “Mark you’re looking great.”
But although I was obviously putting a spark in women’s eyes and my double Jeremy surely had affairs, I’d no intention of straying.
Two weeks later, a changed man, having been fitted for my contacts and sporting a new jacket, I spotted Janice sitting at “our” table. There were empty seats but I made bold to ask, “Mind if I share?”
“Please do, Jeremy,” she winked and displayed the book she’d been reading, “Your recommendation. First-class but challenging.”
What could I say? Jeremy and I are intellectuals.
“I apologize for last time,” Janice said. “You were too polite to say I was crazy.”
Distinguished and polite, that was Jeremy and I all over.
“Apologize for what?”
“I’m a glitz with names. You look nothing like Jeremy Irons. It was Jack Black I meant. You know that scruffy, loveable guy who looks like a teddy bear. ”
~ Melodie Corrigall
Originally posted at: http://www.halfwaydownthestairs.net/index.php?action=view&id=436