Thursday, November 19, 2009

Doppelgängers and Woosels

I'm still convinced the easiest way to meet people in NYC is through mutual friends. It’s nice having a set of references out there to put your mind at ease about the caliber of company you're keeping. And, it sure as hell beats hanging out with a guy that only wants to f*ck you or eat your brain with a side of fava beans and a nice Chianti. So one night, a good girlfriend of mine took me out for a night on the town with some other friends of ours, who brought along some of their friends-- who happened to be very attractive males.

So the first of the bachelors, being a true gentleman, comes and picks us up in the car to spare us from the heinous weather. It was one of those dreary days between fall and winter (which I have come to call “shwinter”.. you can decide why). In shwinter, it does nothing but rain and temps hang out in the low 40’s. He was a good looking successful dude, just a tad older than we were. At least he was fun to be around and hot, in a very rugged Hugh Jackman way. We girls sprinted to the SUV in our five inch heels (WHAT?? I will take every spare inch I can get!) and cocktail dresses. Luckily I have practically become an expert at sprinting in stilettos, so aside from the occasional flipping of the umbrella I was practically Jackie Joyner Kersee. There in the car, the three of us were laughing and catching up on the gossip of our mutual friends when we arrived at Bachelor Number 2s place.

In the dark and dampness of the night I couldn't make out many of his features. That is, until he got inside the car. He was manpretty, but even more shocking to me: His close resemblance to my very first boyfriend. I had just met my first doppelganger.

In a city as big and vast as NYC, it’s not uncommon to see slight variations on people you know. That girl that used to make your life hell in grade school. Your best friend from college. But this one for me??.. The very first boy to break my heart.

You always remember your first true love, that is if you're even old enough to remember it. Some people argue at that age, you're too young to know what love is. Looking back, I'm still not sure I did then, or even now. But I do know at 16 years old, with hormones raging it’s hard to not get wrapped up in all the emotions of a relationship.

Phillip was everything to me. He was my best friend, my bowling buddy. And the first guy to ever really treat me like a girlfriend. Don't get me wrong, we were both still very young and ridiculously retarded when it came to understanding the opposite sex. But, we genuinely cared for one another.

He had big brown doe eyes and a genuine smile, not to mention a good old southern boy tan that had only been achieved with many hours of manual labor in the hot Florida sun.

But this guy? The doppelganger??.. He was different.

His eyes were big and round, just like Phillips. But his soul was empty. His smile screamed mischief more than s genuine friendliness. And his tan? Well, more than likely.. The result of countless hours in a tanning bed and good genetics.

The doppelganger flirted shamelessly with me in a sandbox like fashion. You know, the kind of flirtation that involves throwing insults and backhanded compliments at a girl like we did back in preschool. But when my southerness and big feelings got in the way, he quickly moved on to his next prey. I watched as he whored himself out to all the different girls in the room to make me jealous. Really? C’mon dude, what is this.. High school? I was far beyond the stage of playing games.

He was evil Phillip, as all of the crappy qualities in Phillip had seemed to have manifested themselves in THIS guy. Suddenly, all of Phillips shyness, introversion, and naivety didn't seem so bad.

"You know, you're a ridiculously attractive guy,” I said, “But your personality downright disgusts me."

"So.. Can I call you?"

So he was both evil AND delusional. I got out of his car and haven't spoken to him since. Sure from first glance he had looked like a man I once cared about, but all looks aside, he was no one I'd want to trust with my feelings.

I guess it’s okay to have a type, but dating a doppelganger is downright dangerous because while they may look familiar you're dealing with a totally different beast. And evil Phillip was not a beast I was willing to deal with.

Maybe that's why I've had so much trouble dating in NYC. The cultural barriers I am trying to overcome are just vastly different from anything I'm used to from that good old southern charm. Instead its brash statements and humor laden put downs.. And I'm supposed to swoon?

I don't THINK so.

A few weeks later, my girlfriends and I were out at a bar on a Saturday trying to catch a few college football games. I was scouring for a table, when I happened upon one with seven empty chairs. The eighth one was occupied.

"Excuse me," I asked, "is this seat taken?"

The man spun around to answer me. And my jaw dropped.

My head did one of those double takes you only see in sitcoms. Sure he was good looking, tall dark and handsome.. But that wasn't what garnered my reaction. In fact, there's plenty of tall dark and handsome running around New York. The problem is the better majority of the ones I've encountered have been assholes. No, the reason my jaw dropped was the fact I found his features eerily familiar.

He was a doppelganger for the Perfect Stranger.

For those of you wondering whatever happened to the Stranger? Well, even I really can't answer that. We really just never worked out. He was far too career focused, and perhaps even a little lost in life to even dream of pursuing a relationship. And to be frank, I'm pretty sure the perfect stranger was less than perfectly honest. But, aren't most men?

I sat down at the table, and kept the new doppelganger company as he waited for his friends to arrive. The two of us were both huge college football fans, so we had plenty of fun exchanging barbs over a few beers.

Sure the first may have been a total asshole, but this one almost seemed like an improvement on the Stranger. He wasn't guarded, or jaded, he just seemed like a good Midwest kid that just loved life. Turns out, "Iowa" was a transplant to this cement jungle just like me, and having just as hard of a time adjusting.

After a long day of college football and a few too many beers, I made my way back to Hoboken. In two days, I had met two strangers resembling two different people I had found at two different stages in my life that couldn't have been more polar opposites. Turns out you can find all sorts of things in NYC, including stunt doubles of our very own selves brave enough to take on this tough city. Maybe doppelgangers really aren't all that bad. Maybe they're what we choose to see them as: foils to compare one another with, to really see the good and bad in people. They teach us you should never really judge books by their covers, because while they may look similar from the outside, the stories they can tell will be completely different. And who knows. Maybe this one was just beginning.

1 comment:

Warren Wallace said...

"Shwinter." Good word Jenn, I think I'm gonna use that! Be thankful you've only had to deal with shwinter for a couple of years. Some of us in the NY/NJ area have been dealing with shwinter our entire lives :( I hope "Iowa" works out for you. I've found midwesterners to be really pleasant people to be around, and I can sympathize with your difficulties adjusting to living in the "concrete jungle." I live close enough to NYC that it's a nice place to visit once in awhile when I want to attend a concert or sporting event, but I could never live there.