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...


Anonymous said...

I've also heard the comments that you look younger - you've been given a 10-15 year age advantage, some say! And I've also heard people observe how your theological, transparent, and humorous approach to your NHL treatment has been helpful to them and, seemingly, therapeutic to you as well.

But today you gave me my LOL of the day! I didn't know who Uncle Lester was . . .

I certainly never anticipated that your blog would be the source of great humor, but I do affirm laughter as one of the best therapies - for us all!


Carlos ("Carl") said...


Well, you evidently had other things on your mind from 1964-66, when the Addams Family series was on TV! There were also a couple of full-length film remakes in the early 1990s.

Loosely based on the macabre New Yorker cartoons of Charles Addams, the Addams Family was a half-hour sitcom that was on during my elementary-school years. Everybody in the show was crazy (except for the "normal" relative Marilyn, whom the rest of the family all considered strange). Weirdest of all was Uncle Fester, played by Jackie Coogan. Part of his schtick was to put a light bulb in his mouth, which would then light up.

Can ya see the resemblance?


Anonymous said...

The resemblance is meager!!

Don't rub in the age difference - especially now that you look even younger! Yes, in the late 60's, I was concerned with other things: boys, boys, boys, chorus, and choir. (Well, actually ONE boy . . . totally dominated my time and my "mind", such as it was!)

I have seen occasional Addams Family episodes, though not a groupie. But I had no idea the series was based on a New Yorker cartoon. If there was a series based on the New Mexico Magazine, perhaps I would've taken note!


Anonymous said...

Very nice cosmetic transformation! Your eyes, smile, and humor continue to make you YOU! Your twinkling eyes invite us to see into your kind soul, and also allow you to look deep within us. I believe eyes are a telling attribute, and your eyes shine! Keep yourself and us "laughing" through this difficult time.

Karen B.