Friday, February 04, 2005

I'm not a Sundance winner

People often recognize me. The problem is, they think I'm someone else.

If I'm in the theater district, I'll occasionally run into someone I know. It's a cliche that New York is actually a small town, but it's true. I'm talking about something else. People I don't know at all will recognize me. It may be that I have that kind of generic face that people mistake for their cousin/their pharmacist/that guy they went to high school with. Or - this is the more likely theory - I have an identical twin running around New York (just as often happens in Pine Valley and Llanview and similar places.)

Perplexed person: "I know we've met ... have we met? I know we have, I just can't think where."

Me, trying to jog Perp Person's memory: "Lord of the Crumbs? King of Stains? Emperor of Disarray?"

"No... no, that's not it. Did you go to high school in Manitoba?"

Here's the best example of this: I used to hang out a lot at a place called Drip, which was on Amsterdam Avenue and 84th Street. I remember when it opened; I had lived on the Upper West Side for about a year, and one summer night it seemed to magically appear. It had that sort of retro-coffeehouse feel, with mismatched couches, chairs, dinette sets and high school desks. They sold coffee of every sort, along with cookies, cakes and Rice Krispie treats. At night they became a bar. It was crowded from about seveon o'clock onwards, but during the afternoons I could almost always have some quiet time to sit and clack away on my laptop. After I met D., we would often go and clack away on our matching laptops, like the computer-geeks-in-love that we were.


One day I had ensconced myself near the window, ready to write some article or another on the laptop. I went to the counter, where a Lisa Loeb-esque girl waited on me. She seemed oddly disconcerted and nervous. When I pulled out my money to pay for my giant cup of coffee, she smiled.

Lisa Loeb: "Oh, no, Sundance winners don't have to pay for their coffee."

Me: "Oh ..." (bewildered, pushing money at her) "No, no, no."

I took my coffee and walked the two feet to my chair. I had been thrown off-balance by her comment, and I hadn't had the presence of mind to say something like, "That's nice, but I don't think I'm who you think I am." Instead, by smiling, shaking my head, paying and then tipping generously (as I always do) I inadvertently became "Big time Sundance winner who still pays for his coffee like a regular guy - and still tips, because he remembers the Little People."

I could tell she was talking about me with one of her cohorts behind the counter. Whispering and pointing - "don't look! don't look! That's him." I was hoping someone would set her straight, although then it was possible she would think I was a fraud - someone who went around pretending to be a big time Sundance winner so he could get free coffee - which he still paid for like a regular guy.

I considered never going back there again. Or waiting until there was more staff turnover (which would not have been a long wait.)

Of course, I became obsessed with finding out who she thought I was. Maybe this person was the person that people kept mistaking me for.

Sadly, there is no handy website to consult with a photo gallery of "Sundance winners," whoever they may be. (Okay, there might be now, but this was a couple of years ago, and believe me, I tried to figure it out.)

There have been a couple of times when I've actually been recognized by someone I didn't know, who actually knew who I was. Just the other night in fact - "Excuse me, aren't you ?"

"Yes, yes I am."

"That'll be thirteen dollars."

I wonder if Sundance winners ever get free rum and cokes.


Blogger David said...

Oh come now. Even I am a Sundance winner for my glorious performance in "That's My Foo."

8:39 AM  
Blogger jwer said...

David: what you won was a Capri Sun. That is not the same.

12:25 PM  

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