Tuesday, May 8, 2007

You know who you look like?

Mr. Johnson

In my adventures in the local public school system as a substitute teacher, I am asked a certain question on a daily basis. Actually, it's an hourly basis because I get a new mob of students every period. And the first thing those little turds do is point and laugh and say, "You know who you look like?" At first it was kind of offputting, but I've learned to roll with it and say, "Yes. I know exactly who I look like," and then rattle off the complete list.

It's a short list which, depending on my haircut, may deviate a bit, but for the most part it's always the same. The old faithful is Ben Stiller.

I've been hearing this for years and I think it has a lot to do with my mannerisms. That and the slightly-more-evolved-and-well-groomed-cave-man thing we both share (it's all in the eye sockets and brow.). I've also got a lof of Sein in me.

Horse face, droopy eyes, an affinity for tight jeans and white sneakers. But nobody seems to have noticed since college, and I doubt these kids have even heard of Jerry Seinfeld. So Ben Stiller it is. There is a universal constant at work here: all black people think I look like Ben Stiller. Sometimes I like to turn the tables on them just to keep them on their toes.

Student: You know who you look like!

Me: Why no, who?

Student: That guy! On Meet the Fockers! Yeah, you look just like him! Ha! [Points in my face]

Me: So all us white people look the same to you, huh?

Student: Um...[Wanders off.]

Lately, though, there have been rapid, surprising additions to my look-alike oeuvre. For years I could cut them off with, "Yes, actually. I do know who I look like. His name is Ben Stiller. Now sit down and do your worksheets." But a few months ago, coinciding with the popularity of the TV show "Heroes," the comparison to some guy named Peter Petrelli (played by Milo Ventimiglia) started to happen a lot. I think this was also because I started parting my hair.

Also as a result of the hair part, Toby Maguire.

I always kind of viewed the Toby Maguire comparison as half-assed because I clearly look nothing like him. He's pasty and has no jaw. We just both have brown, parted hair, and if hair cuts alone define resemblance then Ben Wallace and Ronald McDonald look alike (or something equally stupid). So when one of the duller students throws this down, I look at him with scorn and go back to doing my sudoku.

For some reason, last week the 40 Year Old Virgin mentions started happening everywhere, simultaneously. Which is weird because we're talking about multiple schools in multiple districts, all within the same few-day period. It's as if a bulletin went out on the smart-ass wire. It just started one day and then was everywhere. I didn't change even change my haircut. I was a little baffled. Maybe it's because I started wearing short sleeves and polos with the warm weather, which reveal a little chest hair at the neck. And that is kind of a 40 Year Old Virgin look I would have to agree. (For the record, I lost my virginity in my late 20s.)

I don't really mind the comparison to Steve Carell. He's a decent looking guy, and damn funny. But you try walking through throngs of strangers on a daily basis being referred to in a collective whisper as a middle-aged man who can't meet women. It has a dampening effect on the ego.

Also, I've been getting "The guy from Maroon 5," once in a while, just to keep things interesting. I had to look this one up:

I'm assuming they mean the guy on the left with the clenched jaw muscles and neanderthal forhead. I have no idea, but a student who uses this will receive my thanks and appreciation for their originality and I will not "accidentally" throw their homework in the trash.

Well, one of these days, I'm going to blow all of their minds with a pop quiz and the promise of a free ipod to whoever gets it right. It's going to say:

Who does Mr. Johnson look like:

A. Peter Petrelli

B. Spiderman

C. The 40 Year Old Virgin

D. That guy from Meet the Fockers

I'm going to give them a few minutes and then collect their answers. Then, when they're all quiet and full of anticipation I'm going to scare them by shouting, "Surprise, motherfuckers! The answer is E! None of the above!" And that's when I'm going to whip out a picture of this guy:

"That's right! I look like Adam Goldberg. Now get it right!"

He's not the greatest looking guy, not even out of the Dan Clone Club, but even I can see I look just like him.

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