This is the original source of the above picture, which I’ve shamelessly stolen and played around with. Now on with the real text.
Consider this an honest disclaimer, no really it is. If we ever meet, or we have already met, and I walk right past you, I’m neither avoiding you nor being rude. I honestly-to-goodness don’t recognize faces. Unless I’ve seen them a gazillion times.
My first clue should have been when I was little and – in a town with very few inhabitants – asked my parents how come we didn’t see the same people every day. It just spiraled from there: greeting a random lady on the steet in Germany because she seemed so familiar (turns out she looked like my French teacher – in Maine), saying hello to the wrong people in the hallways at school, and confusing my brother’s ex girlfriend’s stepmother (whom I’ve never met) with my brother’s ex while she was standing between her man’s legs (to be fair, they were pretty close in age – a matter of months I think – but the pose pretty much spoke for itself). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In Helsinki there was a guy I’d always say hi to when we bumped into each other. We did bump into each other (sometimes literally) in the weirdest places, rounding an obscure corner, coming out of a quiet bar, walking down a random and very quiet street. To this day I don’t know where we met and if we greet each other because we met through friends or if at some point in time I confused him with someone else and realized my mistake long after I’d greeted him.
Celebrities are a source of entertainment, too, if you’ll pardon the crappy pun. A very good friend of mine once amused himself by making me name all the musicians on the walls of Bar Loose in Helsinki. For those of you unfamiliar with the place, there are a lot of pictures on the walls.
I almost recognized someone once in real life though. That’s as close as I got. Who it was doesn’t matter as much as the process involved.
I was writing at my regular hangout in Helsinki and looked up at the other end of the bar. This woman was standing there, looking at me, and it was obvious that what made us look at each other was mutual recognition of our accent. She’d just been ordering something, I’d been talking on the phone. Like recognized like, and we left it at that.
Except that I had an emotional reaction to her. What ran through my mind was, this woman has incredibly bad energy. She’s evil. And then, this woman looks exactly like Jane Smith (like I said, it really doesn’t matter who it was).
I went back to my writing, she went back to her seat. Only days later did I find out via social media that Jane Smith had indeed been in town. What I found interesting was that even when I saw her on TV, without knowing anything about her, my first thought was, this woman has incredibly bad energy. She’s evil.
They say you will always recognize your own. And it’s true that whenever I had to meet someone from France or America no matter how crowded the place was, we’d always zero in on each other, like the case of Jane Smith above, and countless others. In spite of, or precisely because of these people being total strangers.
Hungarians are a tad bit more problematic. I seem to have some inbuilt antenna that changes signals when they’re around, to the point where I’m drawn to (or repulsed by) them, but I won’t make the connection. They will catch my interest, but it’ll take me a while to figure it out.
The picture above is a prime example. I follow Tiketti Galleria* on Instagram, because I like any place that doubles as an art gallery. And to quote from my Facebook status:
Just now I was idly scrolling through my feed there, and came across a post of their latest exhibition, complete with text and all. Me, looking at the picture: Who’s that?
I am not doing this on purpose, I really am that bad with faces. Next career step, bouncer?
I think I’ll just leave it at that.
*For those not living in Finland, Tikettigalleria is a ticket office that will hook you up with all kinds of events, and they also converted their premises into a small art gallery. I’m totally sucking up to them, but it really is a really cool place with great people.