Have you ever seen someone who looks exactly like someone you know?
I was one hundred percent convinced today that I saw my old friend, Anna, in the bank. Five years ago Anna moved to Paris with her husband and I haven’t seen her in the flesh since (although, obviously, I’ve spoken to her on the phone, emailed her etc.) but I thought she might have come back to Sydney to surprise me because she is the kind of person who does things like that. So I was excited when I saw her in the bank.
It was uncanny how much the person I thought was Anna looked like her. Anna is a beautiful brunette with long hair and even longer limbs. She is willowy and ethereal looking. Not many people look like her so it would be difficult to mistake someone else for her.
When I saw Anna in the bank I actually gave a little yelp. Sort of like a cowboy going ay-ay-yippy-yippy-ay. It was an involuntary response. The people in the bank looked at me, wondering if they should alert security, so I sort of adopted the cowboy theme I’d set up with the ay-ay-yippy and swaggered over to Anna as if I’d just lassooed a few cows and eaten a pot full of beans.
Except that Anna wasn’t Anna. When she spoke I knew it wasn’t her, but until that point I was convinced it was my old friend – even up close.
Seeing the pseudo Anna unsettled me a bit because I am pretty good with faces. I usually don’t get people I know mixed up with complete strangers. The only conclusion I can come to is that today I encountered Anna’s doppelganger.
They say we all have a double somewhere in the world. A doppelganger. The problem with a doppelganger is that even though it might look exactly like us it is supposedly representative of evil. Our evil side come to life, perhaps. However, I don’t think the woman in the bank was the evil Anna. In fact, she seemed quite nice.
I know several people who have had a doppelganger interlude, including my friend Jules. She saw a woman she thought was me when she was on holiday in Sweden about ten years ago. The funny thing is that she was still convinced it was me even after striking up a conversation with the woman. She thought it was me putting on an accent. To this day she will bring it up occasionally, saying : ‘Are you sure it wasn’t you?’ I laugh about it in a slightly nervous way while Jules says (pointing at me): ‘She looked exactly like you. Exactly.’
I don’t know what the frequency of genetic variation in the general population with regard to facial characteristics is but it is probably fair to say there are a finite number of combinations when it comes to the composition of facial features. Chances are there is someone out there somewhere who looks just like me. Or you.
In some traditions seeing the doppelganger of a friend or relative means illness or danger while seeing a doppelganger of yourself is an omen of death.
Let’s hope that any cases of doppelganger spotting we encounter are just a trick of the light or a case of mistaken identity. But if you are convinced it is in fact another person’s double my advice to you is to run. RUN.
Run and don’t look back.