Isn’t that a weird word? I heard it in my kitchen yesterday as my daughter-in-law, Kate, related an elevator story. Seems she and our granddaughter, Anna, were in an elevator with another mom and daughter. The other mom said to Anna, “You look just like a girl on our dance team. A dead ringer for her.” The thing is Anna was the girl on the dance team, but unlike her teammate, Anna was out of her costume and that threw the mom off. By the time the door opened it was all straightened out. We chuckled at the incident and that’s when the word came up. Doppelganger . It means a person (or ghost) who looks like someone else. According to German folklore we all have one – or two in my case*. In Anna’s case she was briefly her own doppelganger.
We once used the services of a “rug guy” to clean and replace floor mats in the small building we rented for our computer business. One day he stopped to chat and he asked me a question. “Do you know who you remind me of?” And I did. Because he’s not the first person to tell me I’m an exact copy of – wait for it – Mary Tyler Moore. I almost said to him, “Yeah, me and Mr. Grant - tight.” But just in case it wasn’t Ms. Moore he was thinking of, I smiled and arched an eyebrow. Guess what he said? Okay, don’t guess, but he said “Mary Tyler Moore.” At least she’s not a ghost – yet.
Are you old enough to remember the television comedy “Hazel” back in the 60’s? It was based on a popular cartoon character of the day and starred Shirley Booth. Her doppelganger was my late mother-in-law who was slightly insulted by the comparison. When she told me the story she said she’d been hoping the person who was making that comparison had a glamorous movie star in mind. Like maybe, Maureen O’Hara or Cloris Leachman. But nope, Ms. Booth it was. I always thought she was a great actress, but not glamorous. Each has their charms, no?
We have a friend who was recently mistaken for my husbands twin. The man’s granddaughter (whose name happens to be Hazel) sat at dinner with us and her head swiveled between the two of them, the question whizzing past her eyeballs – you could see it. She leaned in to whisper to her grandmother, “Grandma, does grandpa have a doppelganger?” Ha! She didn’t really say that. She used the word “twin”. But to her, at seven, two bald guys with glasses, mustaches and flannel shirts simply must be related somehow. Dan and Donny Doppelganger.
I love great words. I feel all superior in polite company when I can use them. Next time I’ll go into depth about the word "gravitas" or maybe Pecksniffian. Wait, how about dichotomy? Now there's a word.
Anyway, until then, I wanna know, who’s your doppelganger?
*PS: My other one is Janet Lennon of Lennon Sisters fame. Imagine that.