Johnny America




Mirror image of man brushing his teeth.

We were stopped by a stranger near the be­gin­ning of the year, B. and I, on­ly to be in­formed with en­thu­si­asm that I was a dead-ringer for the “fa­mous French horn play­er” he ad­mired. Up­on smart­phone search-en­gine-ing this sup­posed dop­pel­gänger and horn-mas­ter turned out to be an even less erot­ic ob­ject of com­par­i­son than you might sus­pect. I felt nau­se­at­ed by as­so­ci­a­tion; I look like him?

That evening five sprits of phys­i­cal com­par­isons past— Cary Grant, young Elvis, Mor­ris­sey, Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, and Jarvis Cock­er— ap­peared to me in a fever dream. They scribed a pen­ta­gram in goat’s blood and glit­ter on the kitchen floor and ush­ered me in­to the cen­ter where I was to be re­born anew. I’d grown chunki­er than them, they said flat­ly, but I was no French horner. They shim­mered away. I’ve lost a few pounds since then, dur­ing this plague year. 

In front of the cof­fee shop this week, a fel­low I’ve known for a decade con­grat­u­lat­ed me on the nice write-up about the new lith­o­g­ra­phy I’d be teach­ing at the lo­cal arts cen­ter. What lith­o­g­ra­phy class? The one that earned my pic­ture on the cov­er page of the Arts sec­tion, or theirs, since this was clear­ly a new twin, or some­one like us. I opened my phone and found the sto­ry. I like this new dop­pel­gänger. He ap­pears a few years younger than me, with a bet­ter fa­cial hair and ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles. He seems ad­mirably jaun­ty. I won­der, when I look at his gleam­ing teeth on the cov­er of the Arts sec­tion, whether my moth­er might like him bet­ter yet than me, but de­cide no, she would find his grin too mischievous. 

Filed under Commentary on December 11th, 2020

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