I used to know a Bakersfield man, a Paul McCartney look-alike, who was fated to live in the shadow of the great celebrity. He had the same nose, mouth, chin, ruddy jowls, sad-shaped eyes, and arched brows. He has the same hair, which he kept groomed the way McCartney did in the 1970s and 1980s, long in the back and feathered in the front.
However, Bakersfield McCartney was a tad shorter, stockier, and most noticeably had acne scars peppered on his cheeks. I first noticed him “trolling” himself at clubs, standing by himself in his black sport jacket, his “Beatles jacket,” and patiently waiting for an attractive woman to approach him and “break the ice” by commenting on how much he looked like Paul McCartney, as thousands of past successes had taught him. At clubs he would wear a stupid half-grin since his brain didn’t really have to be active in any sense as he simply used his resemblance as bait. The whole pick-up sequence must have been a rote, perfunctory affair.
Perhaps his biggest challenge was trying to show that his heart hadn’t become too calloused by this routine and that the woman fawning all over him was one of a few to make the brilliantly observant connection between him and the real Paul McCartney.
I later saw Bakersfield McCartney at my health club, where he had the same dumb half-grin on his face. His expression betrayed a certain expectancy, as if he knew it was only a matter of minutes before an attractive woman approached him and commented on his celebrity resemblance, a precursor to greater pleasures ahead.
Not surprisingly, I later found out that Bakersfield McCartney was a salesman—of cars and cell phones mostly—and that his resemblance worked to his advantage in the sales arena. All he had to do when people gawked over his resemblance to the great Beatles legend was act coy and “Ah-shucks,” and he could remain effective in the realm of sales—whether it be cars, cell phones, or, at the clubs, himself.
You could tell by looking over his life that he had no real challenges other than feigning good-natured surprise when the 99% of people he met commented on his striking resemblance to Paul McCartney. Otherwise, he was content to live in the shadows of the Liverpool crooner. Last I heard, he had never married, had never carried a long relationship, had never really put much effort in anything he did at all. He was a man content to live off a one-note gimmick and he had no shame for being so easily satisfied. Lacking any rigorous struggles to become a real person, he had become somewhat of a cipher, a hollow man with nothing to say about anything. His mind was simply full of the expectations of receiving “goodies”—accolades, sexual attention, strangers’ obsequiousness as they become elated in the presence of a mock celebrity.
His life lost its cheap glory in middle-age when his facial features distorted—bigger ears and nose, a reconfiguration of jowls and chin—so as to significantly obscure his face so that he no longer looked like the Beatles legend. With no more celebrity connection, his posse of friends and lovers abandoned him and his sales dwindled. Sullen and bitter, he moved back with his mother, a widow, where he now resides. I imagine him now introverted and chubby from a sedentary lifestyle, his bedroom cluttered with Beatles souvenirs, as he languishes in his bedroom where he daydreams of his past glory.