Once in a while, I'll see someone who appears familiar to me but really, I don't know that person. If they resemble someone famous, I'll form an immediate opinion about the unknown person based on how I feel about the celebrity. I know a lot of people who do this and when it's hard to overcome someone's first impression of a person, this can be so unfair. When I was younger, thirty pounds thinner, less wrinkled and saggy, I had a short blond haircut and I looked at first glance like a certain celebrity. Some of my friends took to calling me by this woman's name. Complete strangers would look at me and say, "gee, you look familiar." Were they also thinking of the famous coochie shot in that movie this star made? Did they form an immediate opinion of me based on some starlet's crotch? Did they wonder to themselves if I was wearing panties? Did they wonder if I was a deadly killer? Probably. Thankfully, they'd usually keep those thoughts to themselves. My best friend Fanette is a dead ringer for Julia Louis-Dreyfus. When her long, dark and curly hair is pulled back-she looks just like Elaine from Seinfeld. Everyone loves Elaine so that isn't such a bad celebrity look alike. She doesn't have to overcome the crotch thing when it comes to first impressions.
One of my worst experiences in celebrity sitings took place in November 2004, right after the unfortunate re-election of Bush-Cheney. This was when my mother in law Patty was diagnosed with cancer. She had several areas of her body that showed tumor including bone, liver, brain and lung. Since the tumor in her chest seemed to be the easiest to get at to diagnose the source of her cancer, she was scheduled for a wedge resection of her lung. I sat with her in the pre-op area where she'd been given a mild sedative. Right across the aisle was a dead ringer for Dick Cheney who was waiting to go in for open heart surgery. The patient was surrounded by his very anxious family and he seemed loved-not a bad thing for a Cheney look alike. I turned my back to them, more in an effort to ignore their own family drama than avoiding looking at Dick. Patty couldn't ignore it though and she was facing right towards this group.
My mother in law didn't like George Bush but completely despised Dick Cheney. To her, Cheney was evil incarnate. Combine the effects of the brain tumor, fear for her life, impending surgery and sedating drugs and well, Patty let loose with her feelings for the patient across the aisle whom she was convinced, was the devil himself. She was whispering, but to me, it sounded as though she were shouting. She said some pretty awful stuff about Dick. She wondered why anyone would be sad if he died. Why were all those people standing around his bed? He wouldn't be missed if he died in the operating room. Clearly, this vision of the devil was real to her. I pulled the curtains and prayed that family didn't hear her. This was not something that this kind and loving woman I knew would ever say out loud; she'd have been mortified if she'd been aware of what transpired. It wasn't her talking, it was the cancer in her brain and the drugs. If they heard what she said, I hope this family understood.
This was such a stressful time for our family. I've put so many feelings and memories about this period away. Others I remember clearly. For instance, I completely recall what I was knitting while sitting in that O.R. waiting room. I remember having to quickly run out to Michael's because I'd misplaced a knitting needle. I remember everything vividly, including the bad coffee, the looks of worry on all the families waiting and the look on Pat's surgeon's face when he came out for the discussion. He was so compassionate and only one of two doctors to speak honestly about her prognosis; the other was my friend, an opthamologist who'd ordered her first head CT. I remember too, what I wrote in the book in the chapel. But the pre-op drama? I had completely buried the Dick Cheney debacle in some deep recess of my brain. The VP debate brought it to the surface.
I have the same feelings about our current VP as Patty had though I keep them pretty much to myself. This man has done more damage to our country and our democracy than any other politician past or present. I firmly believe this destruction may be like an incurable cancer rotting away at the core of things. I hope not. Now we are faced with a VP candidate who seems to think Cheney has done no wrong. When asked during the debate to name the best and worst things Cheney has done in the past 8 years, Sarah Palin said, "Worst thing, I guess, that woulda been the duck hunting accident, where, you know, that was, that was an accident. And that was made into a caricature of him, and that was kind of unfortunate." Really? That's the worst thing she can come up with? Cheney has done way worse than that and the first thing that comes to my mind is not the quail hunting incident. It's the lies about Iraq, his ties to Haliburton, his torture policies and his stand on the rights to privacy that every "Joe Sixpack" deserves. There is more, but that's a start. Can Sarah Palin be that thoughtless? It's possible. I'd feel so much better about that camp if someone would just remove this woman from the picture and slip her doppelgänger, Tina Fey, into her spot.