Saturday, February 04, 2006
February 4, 2006 - Mistaken Identity
I haven’t exactly been out and about much in the last day or so – mostly I’ve been hunkered down at home, making phone calls, catching up on various things and working on tomorrow’s sermon – but I’ve had a few interesting reactions from people who have seen my new look.
Our Thursday-morning staff meeting was relocated to a more open area, because one of our Presbyterian Women circles was using the room we usually meet in. That meant several of the circle members walked by our little group on their way to their meeting. I said hello to a few of the women as they passed by, and got some mild “double-take” responses. One woman had little reaction of any kind. I supposed she hadn’t heard me, so I thought nothing of it. Yesterday I received an e-mail from her daughter, who had been speaking with her mother on the phone. She wanted to be sure I knew that her mother – who has vision problems – had no idea who I was. After hearing her friends talk about how different I look, she made the connection, and immediately worried that I might have concluded she’d been ignoring me. I wrote back immediately. Please assure your mother I understand completely: I look so different, even people with normal vision are having problems identifying me!
Yesterday I ran into another church member in the hallway, and nodded hello. She nodded back – but then, as I said something, I could see the look of recognition appear in her face. She took a good, long look at me, then said, “Oh! It’s you!” She apologized for not having recognized me. Not to worry, said I. I’m getting that a lot, these days.
Some friends and family members – both those who have seen me in person, and those who have viewed the “before and after” photos online – have remarked on how young I look with no hair or beard. I find that hard to believe, for some reason. I associate baldness with aging, so “younger” is not exactly the word I would choose – though maybe a beard has an aging effect as well, so losing it makes me appear younger. It’s hard to say. I’ve had my beard for so long, it’s become part of my self-image. It’s a bit disconcerting, after all that time, to look in the mirror and see a virtual stranger looking back!
Going through some cards in my wallet, I glance at my driver’s license. I wonder what’s going to happen, should I need to show I.D. during this chemotherapy season. I don’t suppose most chemo patients, losing the hair on their heads, have a huge problem with identification – though when the beard is added to (or, rather, subtracted from) the equation, it’s a near-total change. If I should have cause to board a plane before my hair grows back, will I be pulled aside for interrogation as a Homeland Security threat?
Tomorrow’s Sunday. I’ll be leading worship for the first time with no hair. A part of me is wondering if, after donning my pulpit robe, I’ll look a little like Uncle Fester on the old Addams Family TV show. Oh, well. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Maybe I should stick a light bulb in my mouth...