“You looked so nice I almost didn’t recognize you.”


‘Appearances can be deceiving. Or something like that.’

So. Today is February 14. And yes, I did get something red and shiny for Valentine’s Day: my nose. Maybe by next week — when it’s (fingers crossed) only a miserable memory — I’ll find this cold amusing enough to write about. We’ll (sniff) see. In the meantime, I’m going with what I originally planned.

Which is a riff on Being Compared to Someone Else.

You know. Like when someone comes up to you at a family reunion and says something along the lines of “You remind me so much of your Aunt Net”. (A real Aunt of Mine whose name was Annette. She wore a hairnet, which is how she got that nickname. Or so we kids thought.)

Or maybe you’re at a party and someone says, “Has anyone ever told you that you’re the spitting image of George Clooney?” In which case I’d like to meet you. But, meanwhile, back to my riff.

I was once compared, in my Salad Days, to Glenn Close. Seriously. My younger Ogilvy Days coincided with the Days of Spy Magazine, which used to pick on Donald Trump way before he was “45” and before Graydon Carter was Vanity Fair.

Spy (well, Graydon) is infamous for christening Donald the “short-fingered vulgarian”. But in case you’re thinking poor DT was singled out for abuse, Spy also mocked “churlish dwarf billionaire Laurence Tisch“, and “bosomy dirty-book writer Shirley Lord”. (Monikers that are pretty funny even if you do have to click on my links because you don’t know who the heck those people are.)

Anyway, Spy used to run a feature called “Separated at Birth”, where they would compare photos of celebrities like Mick Jagger and Don Knotts. (heh heh heh) And, because it was such a craze at the time (and because this was back in the days when ad agencies did wacky camaraderie-building things like this), Ogilvy ran a series of “separated-at-births” of their own. I was paired (in a poster! in public!) with Glenn Close. Now this would be seriously flattering, except for the fact that Ms. Close’s most famous role at the time was as Alex in ‘Fatal Attraction’.

Fatal Me. I never thought I’d say this, but now I know how Kellyanne Conway feels

At least I was compared to a female celebrity. My mother was once told she was the spitting image of Robert Culp.

Speaking of my mom, the title of this piece (“You looked so nice I almost didn’t recognize you”) is something an actual person said to her once. Which, of course, is a little different from being compared to a celebrity. Or even Aunt Net.

Incidentally, I chose that main photo because everyone in my family — not just mom — looks uncharacteristically formal in it.

Here is how my family usually looks sitting on a couch

But back to celebrity comparisons for a sec. The Dude, of course, is compared to James Taylor pretty much every time he leaves the house. He hears “Did anyone ever tell you that you look like James Taylor?” so often that I wrote a whole piece about it (“I’ve Seen Fire and I’ve Seen Birthdays”) for his birthday (The Dude’s, not James’).

To me, though, the person The Dude resembles most is The Child. (Or would that be the other way around?)

Well, I simply must wrap this up before Tuesday (and my dripping nose) run rapidly out of control. I’ve mentioned it before (in “Yachts: many many boats”) but, speaking of father-daughter resemblances, here’s my entry in a New York Magazine competition years ago.

It’s the one where you were supposed to write down what a person said, and then what that person was really thinking. Mine was:

(Says) ‘She looks just like her father.’

(Thinks) ‘Omigod. She looks just like her father.’

Heh heh heh. Yeah, it won. Which tickled me pink. But not as pink as my nose is right now. And, speaking of tickled, please feel free to compare me with anyone, any time. Extra points if the compared-with are among my role models. Like Mary Tyler Moore. Or my mom.

New York City. February 2017




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

14 thoughts on ““You looked so nice I almost didn’t recognize you.”

  1. josypheen

    Wowza! That was a whole lot of memories crammed into one post! I love your family couch photo! Everybody looks so happy and giggley!

    I used to be told I look like celebrities all the time in Japan, but it was just that people aren’t used to seeing white faces, so they’d think I looked like people that look nothing like me!

    • Thanks for the read (yes, that was one crammed post; before I learned to be crisp and succinct –hah!) AND the great comment. I love that you were an all-purpose celebrity in Japan. I can totally see that (!)

  2. I’d much rather look like a celebrity, even if both of us were wearing a very dated hair-do (and I’ll admit to having a photo or two of myself with the same curly/poufy look) and/or if one of us didn’t have the sunniest of reputations at the time. I, on the other hand, cannot recall ever having been told that I looked like a celebrity. I have, however, been told too many times to even count, by a variety of people, known and unknown, that I look like somebody they know, but I don’t! When I was younger, I actually knew those people other people said I looked like. Amazingly, I agreed with them then. I know how one of those people looks today, and I think we still bear a resemblance to each other. This person was a good friend in college and we were in band together there for a while and have recently reconnected, now that we both have husbands and two daughters apiece. The others are people near my age that I went to junior high or school with. No idea if we still look like each other or if they’re even still alive and well!

    • Thanks for chiming in! Yes, it’s a mixed blessing to be compared to anyone, even a celebrity. I know my mom used to tell me that I looked like — ME. So wise, my mom. And wasn’t that poufy hair just the limit? Those were the (sigh) days (!)

  3. Denny

    Loved the title of this one.

    It reminded me of turning up at a friend’s house having put a lot of effort into my hairdo. It was the eighties…we were doing big hair. He was just transfixed in his doorway. HIM: “Have you been to the hairdresser”? ME: (anticipating a big complement on how I looked) “No, I did it myself” HIM: “Oh that’s good…I’d hate to think of you spending a lot of money to end up looking like that”.

    It is not insignificant that shortly thereafter I adopted the very short hair I still favour today…and yes we are no longer friends!

    • Hah! What a great example of what my mom used to call a ‘backhanded compliment’. Which means just what it sounds like it means (!) Sounds like you did a great job with ‘friend editing’. And I do love your hair the way you wear it now — personally, I am glad that ‘big hair’ and ‘crazy perms’ (me) are as out of fashion as shoulder pads.

  4. judy robbins

    I can see the Glenn Close comparison. You and Glenn have aged well, Alice. Yes, I noticed how much your husband and daughter look alike. Both beautiful. I think my favorite American Raucous Family Photo is the one of the family on the couch, some in awkward positions. Feel better soon, Alice. Colds suck.

    • First, thanks for the get-better message. Colds DO suck. And one of the reasons is because they don’t get no respect. (Ooo, there’s a blog title!) Anyway. In my sniffling, delirious state I really appreciate not only readers like you — but YOU. Happy Valentine’s Day. May yours be raucous! xoxo

I'd love to hear from you