My Lil' Dicky Problem
*So I tried to post this earlier but no one I spoke to got the email. I don’t know why that happened. I suck at technology…and internet stuff. Anyway, if you did receive it already, apologies for the repeat. If not, here it is.
My date watched me from behind her vegan banh-mi and said, “You look like Bradley Cooper.”
“Thank — “
“But, like Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born. Have you seen it?”
“Yeah — Lady Gaga was great.”
“So, I look like an alcoholic Bradley Cooper?”
She nodded, took a bite, and said, “Don’t watch me chew.”
I waited. She swallowed and said, “Yeah, maybe not alcohol, though.”
“So, I look like a heroin-addicted Bradley Cooper?” I joked.
“Yes!” she cried, placing her banh-mi back on her plate. “Oh my god that’s it! Thank you, yes.”
“But,” she clarified, “not like you’re on heroin, but — like — recovering from heroin addiction.”
“Lovely,” I said.
She shrugged, “At least I didn’t say you look like Bradley Cooper in Guardians of the Galaxy.”
“Great. So, I look like a recovering heroin addict version of Bradley Cooper from a movie where he is an alcoholic, but at least I don’t look like a trash panda?”
She frowned. “That’s not a very nice thing to say about raccoons.”
I hadn’t been told I look like Bradley Cooper in years. When I was in my early twenties, I used to get it all of the time.
People would say, “You know who you look like?” And I’d give them an aw-shucks look and say, “No, who?”
“Bradley Cooper! Have you heard that before?”
And I’d say, “Oh, a few times.”
I should have seen a change coming as I edged into my late twenties, and people started saying Matthew McConaughey.
They’d say, “You know who you look like?” And I’d give them my aw-shucks look, and wait. Then, after a moment, I’d say, “Bradley Cooper?” and they’d say “No…no, the one who looks kind of like Bradley Cooper but anorexic — OH! Matthew McConaughey.”
And I thought, “Well, okay.”
After that, I had a girlfriend for several years who was kind enough to say, “Oh, you kind of look like him” whenever a handsome actor would appear on the screen.
By this time, when we’d go out, people were exclusively saying, “Matthew McConaughey.” My Bradley Cooper days were behind me, but my girlfriend supported me through this transition by comparing me to Hugh Jackman, Ryan Gosling, and Patrick Dempsey.
It wasn’t until we were out one night and someone said, “Hey, have you seen Dallas Buyers Club?” that I started to resent the Matthew McConaughey comparisons.
Little did I know it was about to get much worse.
My girlfriend and I were walking through a mall in central Massachusetts when a guy yelled across at us, “YO, MAN, YOU LOOK LIKE LIL’ DICKY!”
I waved and said, “Thanks.”
My girlfriend whispered, “Who the fuck is little dicky?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Do you think that’s a good thing?” she said.
“I guess, otherwise why tell me?”
“Yeah, you’re right,” she said. “Right,” she added.
“Right,” I agreed. But something about the name “Lil Dicky” gave me a knotty feeling in my stomach.
When we got back to my mother’s house, and she asked how our day was, I mentioned the Lil Dicky comment. My little brother looked up from his bowl of nachos, his jaw dropped, and he said, “Holy fuck, you do.”
He took out his phone and showed us a picture. I could feel my girlfriend shift uncomfortably beside me as my mother said, “I mean — yeah, sweetie, you kinda do.”
“But he isn’t good looking,” I said. “I am good looking! Right?”
“Well, yes,” my mother said.
“But I look like him?”
She paused before saying, “Can’t both be true?”
“No,” I groaned. I both hated myself for caring so much, while at the same time desperately wanted someone to say something else. I would have taken a Colin Firth, or Jared Leto, or even Christian Bale so long as no one mentioned The Machinist.
“He’s kind of good looking,” my mother said. Then added, “In a unique way.”
My girlfriend turned and walked away. My brother, giddily, started playing Lil Dicky YouTube videos and muttering, “Holy shit,” to himself as I sighed and followed my girlfriend upstairs.
What I thought was a one-time ego-corrector became a trend I couldn’t escape. As I met new people, they’d say, “You know you look like Lil Dicky, right?”
It was different from when people would say Bradley Cooper — they’d be coy, like, they’d want to see if I’d guess that I looked like a handsome movie star and then reward my mock-befuddlement with a compliment. With Lil Dicky, there wasn’t anything playful about it — people would say it in the way they’d matter-of-factly say, “Hey, that building over there looks like a boob.”
When I would protest, I’d often get a similar answer, “That’s not a bad person to look like. He’s rich and funny.”
“But I’m not rich or funny,” I’d remind them.
And people would say, “Oh…oh, yeah.”
I decided it had something to do with the hair. When I was young, I grew my hair longer, and so, surely, that was it. My hair, when short, fluffs up in a Lil Dicky-ish way. That was it, surely.
So, six months after I came to this conclusion, two months after I sat staring at two finished off plates of tofu banh-mi, trying to look as un-raccoonish as possible, one of my students said:
“Mr. Davis. You know you look like Sirius Black from Harry Potter.”
And I watched as “Holy-shit” faces passed like a contagion over my class — a virus that then spread throughout my other classes and to other teachers until it was confirmed by one of my colleagues who said:
“Yes, yes — but hey! Gary Oldman is a very distinguished older man.”
“Older man!” I cried.
“Hey,” he consoled, “it’s what’s on the inside that matters.”
“Right,” I said. “You mean a self conscious petty man who obsesses over which celebrity he looks like?”
My colleague shrugged, thought for a moment, and said, “Well, yeah, and — like — other stuff.”
“Gee, thanks,” I said. “And I guess Sirius Black isn’t so bad. I’ll take distinguished. Anything is better than Lil Dicky, right?”
My colleague’s eyes went wide, his jaw dropped, and then he said, “Oh my God!”