They say everybody has a twin somewhere in the world.
I must have several. That’s why I answer to Calvin, George, two Bills and a Joe.
When I was in high school, there was a guy from a nearby school named Calvin. We must have been twins separated at birth. I could be shopping or eating at a restaurant and somebody would wave and say, “Hey, Calvin!”
Later, people began to mistake me for a Twin Bill. I had a mustache and was sometimes confused for Bill Tush, a former TV personality for WTBS.
Other times, it was another Bill by the name of Gates. While attending a festival in North Carolina a few years ago, some friends and I arrived late at a banquet. As we sat down, a man on stage entertaining the crowd singled me out.
“Hey you in the red shirt!” he hollered. “Yeah, you. Bill Gates. Stand up for a minute.”
Truly a case of mistaken identity. Bill Gates has a much thicker wallet.
George Will is another one of my twin brothers, poor fellow. OK, maybe there’s some resemblance. We both are journalists, although he has won one more Pulitzer Prize than I have.
I have most of his books, and one is personalized to me “from one author to another.” My sister got it for me, so I did not get to ask him if we might be on the same family tree.
In Macon, my twin is Joe McDaniel. Every time we get together, at least one of us has a story to share about being confused for the other.
First, let me say it’s an honor just to be mentioned in the same sentence with Joe Mac. He is the associate pastor at Mabel White Memorial Baptist Church and a dear friend. He is one of the kindest and most compassionate men I know.
Our resemblance has been noted at gas stations, ball fields, school auditoriums, the post office, banks, hospitals and church parking lots.
Once, it happened at a funeral. I showed up wearing a dark suit, and the attendant motioned for me ahead of several other cars waiting to park in the rain. “I’ve got a special place reserved for you over by the chapel,” the man said.
It wasn’t until I parked that I realized Joe was officiating the memorial service, and I was in his parking spot.
Although Joe is little older than I am, we live in parallel universes. We both have blond hair and wire-rim glasses. I am about 2 inches taller, but his heart is at least 10 times bigger. I am trying to measure up. I’ve got a long way to go.
He is a preacher who has written a book. I am a writer who has preached a few sermons. He once autographed one of my books for a lady who thought he was me. She never knew. (Until maybe now.)
About a month ago, I suggested to Joe that we go down to Central City Park on Wednesday at 4 p.m. for the Cherry Blossom Festival’s annual double-header.
They call it Twins Day on Wednesday. Even if we were disqualified for illegal participation, at least we could have some fun with it.
Imagine our disappointment when Joe realized that Wednesday is the day he leaves on a medical mission trip to Mexico with his church.
I haven’t given up, though. Since Bill Gates lives 2,250 miles away and isn’t available on short notice, I’m going to have to find a surrogate Joe, a cut-out Joe or hold up a caricature of Joe on a Popsicle stick.
If I don’t win, maybe I’ll gain enough experience for us to try again next year.
Good thing Joe is a preacher, though. If he really does look like me, heaven help him.
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org