[clari.feature.mike_royko] LOOK-ALIKES NOT SO UNIQUE

clarinews@clarinet.com (Mike Royko) (01/12/90)

	A salesman named George from downstate Illinois has sent me a
photograph of his face with a request that I study it closely.
	I've done as he asked. The picture shows a man who appears to be in
his 50s. He is balding, wears glasses, and has a prominent nose and a
few wrinkles.
	A note accompanied the picture. It said: ``People tell me we look
alike, and it must be true because a man came up to me in a bar once and
asked if I was you. And when I was in Chicago on business, the same
thing happened to me in a cab. I thought you'd be interested in knowing
you have a look-alike.''
	Yes, George, I know I have a look-alike. I have countless
look-alikes. In fact, you are only about the 1,000th person in recent
years to send me their photo, or those of their dad, uncles or
neighbors, expressing amazement at how much they resemble me, or I
resemble them, or we resemble each other.
	But there is nothing amazing about this, and I'll explain why.
	There are about 240 million people in this country, maybe more. A
little less than half -- let's say 115 million -- are males.
	About 20 percent of these are white males between the ages of 45
and 62. That's about 23 million.
	From here on, I don't have any census figures, but we can make
educated guesses.
	One guess would be that at least half of these 23 million males
between 45 and 62 years of age are bald or balding.
	So that scarcity of hair is one thing that you, George, and I have
in common with at least 11 or 12 million other males in our age bracket.
	And I would guess that about about 60 or 70 percent of them wear
glasses some or all of the time.
	That is something else that George and I have in common with about
14 million of these males.
	Now, let us consider noses. Basically, there are three kinds of
noses: Small, medium and large.
	In some countries, where most of the population can trace its
ancestry back to one ancient tribe, the majority of the noses might be
small. In others, it might be medium. And there are some noble countries
where large male noses predominate.
	But Americans came from all over the globe, giving us the greatest
variety of noses of any nation on earth.
	And since men are less vain then women, the nose you see on a man
is likely to be the honest product of his parent's genes than of
cosmetic surgery.
	So for the sake of argument, let us say that one third of all male
noses are small, one third medium, and one third large.
	If so, one third of the 23 million males between the ages of 45 and
62 have prominent honkers.
	Which means, George, that you and I have that in common with about
8 million other men in our age bracket.
	So I would make a conservative guess that there are at least 8
million men in this country who share the following characteristics:
They are aging, bald or balding, wear glasses, and have a big beak.
	Eight million and maybe more. That's about the size of the entire
New York or Los Angeles metropolitan area. Many nations have smaller
populations. So that's not exactly a unique or exclusive club.
	Why, if you lopped off our our noses and laid them end to end, they
would stretch from Chicago to St. Louis.
	Considering these figures, I ask your tolerance in allowing me to
be blunt for a few paragraphs.
	Look, George and the rest of you, I am fed up with looking at
unsolicited pictures of aging, myopic, big-schnozzed skinheads. I'm even
more fed up being reminded that I look like you, or you look like me.
There are millions of us. And if you include the entire world
population, maybe hundreds of millions.
	I see them all the time. But I don't call out: ``Say, there, I
notice that you are bald, weak-eyed and have a nose of considerable
length. So do I. Isn't that amazing? By golly, it's a small world.''
	After a while it gets depressing, being told by one geeky-looking
guy after another that I, too, am a geeky-looking guy. Keep your
geekiness to yourselves, you geeks.
	That's why I've made a made a major decision in my life.
	I'm going to be taking some time off soon and will go to a special
hospital spa.
	There, surgeons will reduce the size of my nose and give it a
perfect shape, remove all wrinkles and crow's-feet, cap my teeth, use
liposuction and exercise to streamline my body, and implant a full mane
of blond hair on my head.
	Finally, they will fit me with tinted contact lenses that will
change the color of my eyes to blue.
	When this major rebuilding process is complete, and my new picture
appears, the only look-alike letter I receive should come from Robert
	On the other hand, what if I hear from Dan Quayle?
	Oh, to hell with it. I'll go fishing, instead.