photo credit: brightside.me
Years ago I was surprised to learn what celebrity I look like.
My dad was visiting me in NYC, and he took me to lunch at the Blue Water Grill. I was a young man in my early twenties with longer hair, overweight, and broke.
Thinking back on it now, I don’t know how I got fat. I barely had money for one meal a day. Anyway, a free lunch at a nice place in NYC was a treat. We sat at a table where my dad was in the booth, and I was in a chair with my back to the center of the restaurant.
I was in the middle of ripping lobster meat from the tail like a starving castaway when a woman tapped me on the shoulder. As soon as I turned to face her, she recoiled.
“Oh, sorry, I thought you were someone else,” she said, laughing nervously.
“No problem,” I said, slightly confused.
My dad stopped her before she walked away.
“Who’d you think he was,” he said, slapping some bread into his mouth.
“Oh, it doesn’t matter. Someone famous,” she said. She looked to be in her 40s. She had big, kind eyes.
“Really,” my dad pulled at the waist of his trousers. “Like who?”
“I was mistaken. I’m sorry.” She said, backing away.
“You think he was Tom Cruise?” he said with a reassuring raise of his eyebrows.
“No,” she said, politely shaking her head in a way not to offend.
“Oh, I know. Robert Downey Jr. right? His Aunt Jann says it all the time.”
“That makes sense, but it wasn’t who I thought he was. I’m gonna go now. Sorry to have disturbed your lunch.” She said, scanning the room for the exits.
“Dad, just forget it,” I said, feeling embarrassed.
“C’mon, I really want to know. I’ll tell his mother what handsome celebrity you think he looks like. Please.”
The woman took a breath and closed the lids over her big, kind eyes.
“Rosie O’Donnell,” she blurted.
My dad looked like someone hit him in the face with a shovel.
“Get the hell of here,” my dad yelled, “Rosie O’Donnell! What the hell is wrong with you?”
The woman briskly walked away, repeating “I’m sorry.”
I put my head down and poked at my lobster with a tiny fork.
“She’s crazy. You don’t look like Rosie O’Donnell,” he said, attempting to console me.
“I don’t want to talk about it, dad.”
A few seconds went by.
“You might want to consider cutting that hair,” he said, staring at me sideways.
“Ok, I got it.” I snapped, rubbing my hand over the back of my hair.
“Maybe losing a couple of pounds may make you feel better,” he said, seeming to realize how someone could see the resemblance between his son and Rosie O’Donnell.
“Alright! Maybe I should stop hosting a talk show too,” I barked.
“I could quit being a lesbian while I’m at it,” I said, louder than I meant attracting the attention of the other diners.
“Ok, don’t make this a big deal. She saw you from the back. Once she got a look at your face, she knew you weren’t Rosie O’Donnell.”
“So from the back, I look like Rosie O’Donnell?! I got no problem with her, it’s just not how I identify myself. You know what I mean dad?”
“Mmm hmm. You want dessert?”
“You think I look like Rosie O’Donnell, don’t you?” I said, pointing at him.
“Nah, no way. It’s just people look like lots of people. I’ve been told I look like Bob Villa, so you know, it doesn’t mean anything.”
“Ok, whatever,” I said, shaking my head.
“How about an espresso?” He said.
My dad paid for lunch. We walked out of the restaurant, and he pulled me in for a hug, one that felt longer and stronger than ever before.
“I’m not going to tell you’re mother about the Rosie O’Donnell thing,” he said, grasping my shoulders looking me in the eyes.
“Ok, thanks then. Drive safe.” I said, looking away.
My dad took my hand and put a $20 bill in it. He knew I was broke. Or maybe he thought it would make me feel better. Or perhaps it was hush money, so I’d never speak of the Rosie O’Donnell incident (as it came to be known) again. He left in the direction of his car.
I walked the opposite way, my arms folded, and my brow furrowed so hard that I thought it may stay that way permanently.
After a few blocks, I looked up and saw a barber’s pole. I read the sign on the door:
I reached into my pocket, pulled out the twenty, and went inside the shop.