The first time someone told me I looked like “Silent Bob” was in 1999.
At that time, my kids were teenagers. We were, I think, at the SkyDome (as it was then called), and a young baseball fan, probably in his 20s, came up to me out of the blue and said “Excuse me. Are you Silent Bob?”
I had no idea what he was talking about, and that must have shown on my face. He mumbled an apology and scurried away. It was left to my kids to explain that Silent Bob was a Kevin Smith character from his well-known (although not to me) movies, Clerks and Mallrats.
They agreed, by the way, that I looked a little like Kevin Smith…but not as good-looking.
Anyway, I thought nothing of it at the time. I didn’t even bother to find a picture of this guy. It was an unimportant anomaly.
The next time was several months later, having dinner (again with my two teenagers) at Shoeless Joe’s. Our server commented that one of the other patrons had asked her whether “the guy over in the corner booth” was Kevin Smith. Troublemaker that she was, she told him that she couldn’t comment on the identities of the other diners, thus ensuring that he believed I was a famous celebrity.
The next hour, watching that other table of four young guys, looking at ours and pointing, talking and gesticulating about the famous guy in their midst, was somewhat surreal. You could see that they were trying to get up their nerve to come over and talk to us, but were intimidated by the notion of just walking up to a big star. In the end, they wimped out, leaving while still casting backward glances at their faux Kevin Smith.
This incident finally forced me to find a picture of this guy, and learn a little more about him.
My first conclusion was that I didn’t look like Kevin Smith at all. Others perhaps saw a resemblance, but to me he looked like a twenty-something stoner (which apparently he was), while I looked like a forty-something professional (which I certainly was).
My kids disagreed. They said the match was pretty close, and I should be flattered that I looked like this much younger, and good-looking (to them), movie star. Or, as my daughter put it “Everyone looks like someone else. You could do worse than looking like Kevin Smith.” Of course, at that time she had blue hair, so what did she know?
That led to my second conclusion, which was that if I had to look like someone else, he wouldn’t have been my first (or forty-first) choice. Why couldn’t I look like James Garner, or Robert Redford, or someone really good-looking? (Or today, perhaps Brad Pitt, not because he is particularly handsome, but because he is married to Angelina Jolie.)
Throughout the last decade and a half, there have been a number of further examples of people mistaking me for Kevin Smith, of which the best happened in, of all places, Manila.
It was 2005, and I was in Greenbelt Mall in Makati, the upscale, Western-style district of Manila. Greenbelt is really a series of connected buildings, some of them open to the outside, with mostly American and European chain stores. I was wandering around “shopping”, but not really paying attention. I was really just marking time for a couple of hours, waiting to meet someone.
Greenbelt is not like most Westerners would picture a shopping area in the Philippines. There are no open vats of fish for sale, or freshly baked empanadas being sold by a wizened older lady. Greenbelt is Starbucks, and Burberry, Lacoste, Oshkosh, and Louis Vuitton. With a slight nod to the tropical climate, Greenbelt could be in Houston or Toronto. Although most of the shoppers are Filipinos, there are also a large minority of tourists, mainly from Europe and the United States.
As I looked in the stores, I had a sense I had attracted some attention. It turned out I had. A young American tourist in his mid-twenties approached me and asked if he could have my autograph. I could see his two friends, ten meters away, talking and laughing while watching his approach.
By 2005 I knew what this likely meant, so I told him as nicely but as clearly as I could that, while I understood he might have mistaken me for Kevin Smith, I was not that great man. Then I walked away.
He wasn’t convinced, and for more than an hour he followed me around the mall. Perhaps he was hoping that I would meet up in the Jimmy Choo store with some other famous star (Jason Mewes?), thus vindicating his recognition of that lying bastard, Kevin Smith. I found it amusing, I guess.
But eventually it was no longer cute, and I got tired of it. Abruptly, I turned around and was directly in front of him.
“Look, man,” I said to him. “I’m not supposed to be in the Philippines. I’m supposed to be doing a shoot in New Mexico, so I don’t want people to know I’m here. What you’re doing is drawing attention to me that I don’t need.”
We had a short discussion, and he introduced himself as a tourist, seeing the Philippines for the first time with his two buddies. I didn’t say explicitly who I was, but I did agree that he could have one of his friends take a picture of the two of us. I made him promise that he would not post it online, or share it publicly, until after I had left the Philippines three days later.
So now, somewhere in Ohio, a guy has a framed photo of himself arm-in-arm with his hero, Kevin Smith. Don’t tell him the truth. He doesn’t want to know.
My son had a similar experience a couple of years ago. He doesn’t look like Kevin Smith, the lucky devil. He really wants to look like Russell Crowe, but that is not his fate either. Waiting for a plane in Vancouver airport, he had to deal with a fellow traveller convinced he was Seth Rogan.
I think he handled it better than me. He also allowed his picture to be taken with the starry-eyed fan, but when asked to give his autograph, he signed “I am not Seth Rogan”. It didn’t make any difference. The fan thought this was hilarious, and still believed he had met his idol.
Maybe my daughter is right; we all look like someone.
Anyway, this whole Kevin Smith thing came up again because a few days ago, in my local supermarket, the cashier said to me “Did anyone ever tell you that you look just like Silent Bob?”
Frankly, I was surprised. Even if I once looked like that, surely I don’t any more. With my new long hair, and a beard that is now more grey and white than brown, the resemblance, if it was ever there, must be gone by now.
Apparently not, or not totally.
Worse than that, now I have another problem. The long hair prompted someone to suggest over the holidays that I should most certainly not shave my beard. “With the gold-rimmed glasses and the long hair, you would look just like Benjamin Franklin.”
I checked out pictures of Ben.
The beard stays.
– Jay Shepherd, January 16, 2015