Do you know you look like . . . ?
When I was in collage a fellow student and I went around for a couple of days sort of presenting that we were the characters in the movie Easy Rider. He had a jacket with fringe on it and I started calling him “Billy” after the character played by Dennis Hopper. He responded by calling me “Captain” after Peter Fonda’s character. It never really caught on and I don’t think that anyone else caught the reference. The truth is that he didn’t look like Dennis Hopper and I didn’t look like Peter Fonda.
A couple of years later, when I first met my wife’s grandmother, she made no bones about the fact that she didn’t like my beard. My beard was a bit thin and sketchy in those days. She said I looked “scruffy” and said, “Ugh. Whiskers! I don’t like whiskers! I’d never kiss a man with whiskers!” When we parted from that visit, she gave me a kiss on the forehead. Over the years I began to look forward to those kisses on the forehead. Even back then, I didn’t have any hair on my forehead and she was in no danger of kissing whiskers. Amy was a wonderful woman. She lived to be 100 years old and she got up dressed herself, had three meals and hosted a card group as well as got herself ready for bed on the day that she died. Not bad. She always had her dignity. And she had enough years of my being in the family to accept me, whiskers and all. One time, in a church meeting, she defended a minister who was a candidate for leading their church by telling her fellow congregants that I had whiskers and I was a darn good minister and they should give this minister, who also had a beard, a chance. One time she even introduced me and my wife as “my grandson and his wife,” instead of the other way around, which was the way we were. As I said, I learned to look forward to those kisses on the forehead.
Furthermore, she was right. I am kind of scruffy.
So it surprised me the first time someone said that I looked like Robin Williams. That was back in the days when my beard wasn’t white. Williams had a full beard in the movie Good Will Hunting and there might even have been a touch of gray in his beard at the time. He had a slightly receding hairline, but his hair was nowhere as thin as mine. I didn’t think we looked much alike at all.
But it kept happening. People kept asking me, “Did you know you look like Robin Williams?” We moved from Idaho, where we lived at the time, to South Dakota and people in South Dakota also asked me the same question.
Then one day I stopped at a gas station in Nebraska. It was a station that did not have pay at the pump, so after I filled up my car, I went inside to pay. I handed the cashier my credit card and she said, “Are you Woody Harrelson?” I was thrown by her question and stammered, “If I am, its going to be hard to explain why I just gave you Ted Huffman’s credit card.”
As I aged, my hair started to turn all white and my hairline receded even more. I began to hear folks asking me, “Did you know you look like Richard Dreyfuss?” I’m pretty sure that any resemblance that they saw was with the scene in Mr. Holand’s Opus when the character is old and retired.
I don’t think I look like any of those people, but it was interesting to me that others thought that I looked like them. It also may be the case that some people aren’t very good at estimating the age of another person. Robin Williams was, at least, near to my age. He was born a couple of years before me. But Woody Harrelson is nine years younger than me and Richard Dreyfuss is six year older than me.
It’s been several years, however, since someone has asked me if I knew that I looked like someone famous. Robin Williams, of course, has died, so the images of him that we see on the Internet are of a man who is younger than I now am. We don’t know what he would look like if he had continued to live.
Woody Harrelson and Richard Dreyfuss haven’t been appearing in popular movies and television shows quite as much as they did earlier in their careers, so perhaps they aren’t on people’s minds as much as once was the case. It is also possible that they have aged more gracefully than I.
At any rate, I’m perfectly happy not to be considered to look like someone who is famous. I like being me and I never did think I looked like those people. I’ve no problem with just being Ted.
Then, a week ago, we were at a wedding reception. Seated as tour table was the photographer for the event. He took a brief break from his other duties to eat a bite and as he ate he was busy, photographing his plate, perhaps for instagram, and playing with his phone. Then, suddenly, he looked at me and then at his phone and said, “I’ve got it now. I thought you looked like someone I knew. Did you know you look like Bono?” And he handed me his phone with a picture of Bono on it. I didn’t know how to tell him that I don’t think I look much like Bono at all. I do wear round glasses. But he has dark hair.
And, for the record, I’ve never worn earrings. Never had the urge.
On the other hand, maybe I’m gaining in my appearance. Bono is the youngest famous person with whom my appearance has been compared. He’s 13 years younger than I.
I don’t think I look like Bono or Dreyfuss or Harrleson or Williams. I do think, however, that Amy was right. I do look scruffy.