The Resemblance Is Uncanny
I’ve been told by more than a few people that my essays often remind them of Seinfeld episodes. I take that as a compliment, and I also know exactly what they mean when they say it: “Your stuff isn’t about anything, but it’s usually funny and relatable.”
With apologies to Jerry and the entire Seinfeld cast, welcome to this week’s episode: another essay about nothing.
“Oh my God, he looks just like you!”
“She’s a spitting image of her mom at that age.”
“The resemblance is uncanny!”
How many times have we said or heard statements like that in reference to ourselves or others? And it’s true, but that’s what happens when your parents give – not lend but give without any form of repayment required – a huge wad of their genomic “cash” to us as a “birth”day gift; that is, a gift we receive not on our first recognized birthday (one year from the day we arrive), but on the day we’re born.
QUESTION: If it’s called a birthday, why isn’t our first one on the day we’re born?
ANSWER: I think I know why. It’s because then our age and birthday numbers would not match and that would drive us all – or at least many of us – up a wall. Therefore, long ago, a small cabal* of self-proclaimed influencers in some dark, smoked-filled room decided it best to call the anniversary of one’s birth their birthday. This makes no sense to me since we already have a word that describes the anniversary of something (like a birth), and it is (drum roll, please) … anniversary.
On the other hand, I completely understand that “Happy 4th Anniversary of Your Birth, Andrew” is clumsy when spelled on a cake, making “Happy Birthday” a much more logical option from a brevity standpoint. I digress …
Returning to our original topic of genetics (don’t worry, we’re not doing a deep dive, and none of what follows will be on the test), it shouldn’t surprise any of us … ever … that we resemble our parents or siblings or when our own offspring resemble us, which could rightfully (albeit sarcastically) result in the following responses to our opening statements. Let’s revisit, shall we?
Them: “Oh my God, he looks just like you!”
You: “No shit, he’s my son.”
Them: “She’s a spitting image of her mom at that age.”
You: “Your point being?”
Them: “The resemblance is uncanny!”
You: “Correction, it’s as canny as canny can be.”
ASIDE: Offspring, what a sterile and insensitive word that is, isn’t it? Sounds like a dig at someone, or at least, a term one might use for an undesirable child. I’m sure there’s good history on the word and if I cared enough, I’d look up its origin and it would make perfect sense, just like if I looked up the origin of “spitting image,” but at this moment I have neither the time nor the ambition to do such research. Truth be told, while I’ll likely have the time later on, I’ll probably never possess the ambition. Again, I digress …
As you can probably imagine, if we went into the Haznaw photo archives (a semi-rare collection with questionable value at any art auction and likely nothing the prominent museums are climbing over one another to secure), you’d see that I bear a strong resemblance to my father, not only in facial features, but also in stature, the way I walk and (ugh!) my “progressive” hairline. (When I say progressive, I mean it’s continuing to “progress” it’s way off my head.)
I also resemble my mom, but not so much in outward appearance but in some of my movements, expressions and speech patterns.
Save for the hairline issue, I’m happy – for the most part -- with what I’ve inherited from both. (I hope you can say the same.)
The thing that does surprise me about my appearance (at this age, anyway), is that I also look like someone with whom I have no relation; someone whom I can claim with certainty I share no genetic material: Charlie Brown. (It’s OK to laugh. It’s also OK to agree.)
Now, I didn’t always look like him, but I do think as an adult, I have taken on many of his features. I’m short, with a round head, thinning hair and generally, a deadpan expression on my face. I often walk around with my hands in my pockets, I have a history of participating in long, one-way conversations with my dog (during times we had a dog), and I also have my share of “missed footballs” and other “goof grief” moments. (Fact is, “good grief” is one of my favorite phrases, no doubt because Charlie Brown was, coincidentally, my favorite cartoon character when I was a kid, a time when I looked nothing like him.)
The interesting thing to me (and likely, only to me), is that since Charlie Brown never grew up in the comic strip and is, as such, still an eight-year-old boy, I guess I shouldn’t say I look like him, but rather, he’s a spitting image of me. And if he should ever grow up (which he never will), he’d likely look even more like me.
On the other hand, since Charles M. Schulz created Charlie Brown (and the rest of the Peanuts gang) before I was born, does that mean I resemble him because, in reality, this eight-year-old kid is actually older than I am? (This is getting as confusing at the whole birthday/anniversary discussion.)
I’ve brought up this whole “I look like my favorite cartoon character” in discussions with friends and family, and after the obvious, obligatory “Oh, c’mon Dave, you do not!” comment (because that’s what people who have been made uncomfortable say when one talks about looking like a cartoon character), usually two or three beats later, when everyone’s had a chance to visualize and digest the concept, they start to realize I’m right, and they nod and chuckle to themselves.
And I know just what they’re thinking:
“The resemblance is uncanny!”
And you know what? They may be right.
Does any of what you just read make sense to you? Does it matter? Do you care? Probably not, but I’m thinking it makes perfect sense (or at least, some sense anyway) to those with whom I share genetic material because, well, genetics. And maybe it makes sense to Seinfeld fans. And to those people, and hopefully to you as well, I hope it gave you a little chuckle, just like all those Peanuts cartoons gave me when I was a kid.
© 2023 David R. Haznaw