Identical Twins?

DESCRIPTIONPhoto of Gladwell (left) by Brooke Williams.

I visited Bogota, Colombia, last week. When I was introduced to my translator, he told me how good it was to see me again.

I complimented him on having a great memory (my last visit to Colombia was almost a decade ago) and made the usual sorts of excuses I make when I can’t remember someone I should clearly remember. (By now I have a great deal of practice with this particular line of conversation.)

A few hours later, he says to me, “You got a haircut since the last time I saw you.” Of course I had gotten a haircut in the intervening ten years, but it seemed a strange thing to say.

He went on: “Your hair used to be … bushier.”

No doubt my hair is a little thinner than it was ten years ago, but I hadn’t realized the situation was that bad. So I pursued the issue further, telling him I thought it was remarkable he remembered what my hair looked like ten years ago.

“No, not ten years ago,” he said. “On your visit a few years ago.”

Now I realized he was mistaking me for someone else. Obviously, it could be any one of a million people, but I figured out who he was confusing me with on my very first guess.

“You aren’t confusing me with Malcolm Gladwell, are you?”

His response: “Oh, yes, of course. I was thinking of Malcolm Gladwell! I got confused and thought you were the same person!”

This is not the first time that Malcolm and I have been viewed as interchangeable.

And given Malcolm’s many talents, hopefully not the last.

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COMMENTS: 8


  1. Rob says:

    What’s up with all the references to Malcolm’s status as a ‘love guru’ recently?

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  2. Raj Pandravada says:

    What would your second guess have been?

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  3. Avi Rappoport says:

    Somewhere in our brains must be a category of “really clear explainers of interesting science”. For me, it’s you guys , Gladwell, Stephen Jay Gould, Jared Diamond, John McPhee, and Alison Gopnik.

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  4. Lee says:

    At first glance, I thought you readily jumped to my suggestion of an Afro-hair test in the previous post about Malcolm Gladwell.

    I’ve had similar experience where people confused me with someone else and it causes severe embarrassment especially when it comes too late. Sometimes I go through with the charade and spring the surprise later on.

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  5. Eric M. Jones says:

    A girlfriend I once had was in JFK Airport in NYC when an older lady came up to her and said, “I say you’re Yvette Mimieux but my husband (pointing towards the guy at another table), says you’re not….Well?”

    The girlfriend whipped out a pen and signed “Love, Yvette Mimieux” on a napkin and handed it to the lady.

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  6. Sean S. says:

    Don’t forget Carl Sagan, Avi. He was the king.

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  7. Timothy Snow says:

    Are you any better now at remembering names?

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  8. Felipe Valencia says:

    What did you think about Colombia in general and BogotA in particular?http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/global/buttons/submit.gif

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