This morning I was riding an escalator from the train platform up to the street, standing right next to this woman who turned to me to ask, “Has anybody told you that you look like Keith Richards?” Taken aback, I said, “Do you mean has anybody told me that I look like someone who has been ravaged by heroin?” And I thought, wow, that was kind of a defensive response.
Then she said she was paying me a compliment… she said she thought Keith Richards was very handsome. Then she strolled off the escalator with her small suitcase, which I imagined was filled with some product she was on her way to demonstrate to a possible client. She was probably a sales rep from a pharmaceutical company. It was one of those suitcases.
But, as far as I can tell, she was probably the first non-insane, non-intoxicated, non-drug crazed, non-dangerous person ever to speak to me at a train station or on the train in my first 5 months of living in Boston. I had begun to doubt that this would ever happen.
Years ago, when I was an independent contractor for Microsoft at their office campus in Redmond, Washington (yes, that is true), 2 people in the food court turned to me to ask, “Has anybody ever told you that you look like Lou Reed?” Yes, at least one person had told me some time before that I looked like a “young Lou Reed.”
I’m not sure what to make of all this. How is it that I only resemble rock stars who have been ravaged by heroin? Am I living in some unhealthy way that gives me the appearance of someone who has survived their own deaths on numerous occasions? Am I not hydrating enough? I have to remind myself to drink more water. There’s never enough water. And I could use a good moisturizer and SPF 70 sunscreen. Maybe I should go on a plant-based diet.
Maybe I should be less concerned about looking healthy and more considered about living healthy. Maybe vanity is more destructive than heroin addiction. Maybe I just don’t know how to accept a compliment.