Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bearded Look-Alikes

Ron Lindmark and I were clean-shaven young men when we worked together in the mid-1970s at Intermountain Research Station headquarters in Ogden, Utah. Lindmark moved up to a post in the Forest Service national office and that led to his appointment as Director of the North Central Research Station, the hub of renewable natural resource studies in the Midwest.

Lindmark’s messages usually contain a fascinating bit of trivia or two in addition to the normal accounts of the whereabouts and activities of mutual acquaintances. His latest communication did not disappoint. He had been reading this Blog. “I just had to include this photo after viewing your photo,” he said. “I noticed that the lower parts of our faces are similar.”

I noticed that the economist, who had been well-trained as a scientist, had carefully qualified his observation. Unlike many men of similar vintage, Lindmark still has an abundant crop of hair on top of his head as well as on the bottom. He also continues to be a rather handsome guy for an old gaffer. Unfortunately for me, those facts seriously limit the number of our similarities. However, the story Lindmark sent with the photo of himself and his alleged famous likeness described a situation with Latino hero worshippers somewhat similar to one of my experiences.

Lindmark said he had taken to sporting a scraggily full beard he started on a camping trip shortly after retiring. He converted it to the present carefully trimmed goatee after his wife, Lynette, protested that he looked like Yasir Arafat. The trim job apparently made him look like another celebrity. On a visit to Mexico, several young storekeepers insisted that he was Colonel Sanders of fried chicken fame. “I said NO, he died several years ago, but I am his brother,” Lindmark recalled. “That was a mistake! I was mobbed.” Lindmark’s grandchildren also noted the resemblance, and the bobblehead pictured with him here was a birthday present from them.

I concealed myself behind a semi-full beard for about 20 years before deciding the goatee was more sophisticated (and also called less attention to the increasingly sparse cover on the top of my head). While fully bearded, I experienced a look-alike encounter in Jamaica when Sandy and I were taking a tour with a busload of other visitors. We were in the first two seats next to the driver. I was wearing a broad-brimmed straw hat.

The driver had stopped so we could walk past some open-air shops to an historic church and back. Just as all were aboard, a teenager waving his arms ran out from one of the shops. He pounded on the bus door, pointing at me, and yelling, “Kenny Rogers, Kenny Rogers!”

The driver angrily indicated he wanted the interloper to get away. When the racket continued, the driver simply started to pull away. The Rogers fan was undaunted. He ran along beside my window, and as the bus accelerated he jumped up and clung to the rear of the vehicle. He continued to bang on the bus and yell what he thought was my name.
At the next stop the driver dismounted and pried the teenager off his bus.

Actually, Kenny Rogers and I have one thing in common. Although it is true that Rogers is a great showman who knows how to tell a musical story, neither of us has much of a singing voice.
Nevertheless, I thought being mistaken for him was quite an honor; at least I did before discovering an entire web site devoted to Kenny Rogers look-alikes.

No comments: