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Monday, April 18, 2011


Anything can happen in Key West. You might run into a pirate, a painted lady, or the twin brother you never knew you had.

On a recent trip there, Francesca and I stopped at our favorite restaurant, Blue Heaven. They serve delicious food under a huge banyan tree and roosters run amok in a clearing where Hemingway once refereed boxing matches. It is eclectic but I never expected to encounter a body snatcher. It happened a few years earlier.

On a sunny afternoon in 2003 I was sitting at its outdoor bar. Fifteen feet away a man walked by that looked like me (I'd only had half a beer). Freaky it was, like looking in mirrors that let you see your own profile, but this was no reflection.

Encountering your clone is like a bad dream, the rarest of occurrences unless you're Kevin McCarthy. He played the man running from the aliens in "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers". In the movie invaders were quietly replacing people with their own replicas. A part of me wondered if it could be happening to me.

He probably looked quite different from the front so I followed. From the back I could see he was off a bit, two inches shorter and maybe five years younger. As the guy walked into the garden's bathroom I remembered "The Stepford Wives". Didn't the robotic clones kill and tear out the eyes of the wives they were replacing?

"Ay", I thought, "I'll hide behind a palm frond, wait, then see if he really is me". Two minutes later he stepped out. From the front he had my face, hair, and even the granny glasses I used to wear. The guy was good.

Every year Key West holds it’s Ernest Hemingway Look-a-like Contest. It takes place at the writer's old hangout, Sloppy Joe's Bar. Old guys with short white beards line up and read a few lines from "The Sun Also Rises". Ever year I see the winner's photo in the paper, a smiling dude who looks a wee bit like the writer in his 50's. But you know its not Hemingway.

Twins don't even look the same over time. But I was looking through leaves at a guy who looked like me and it was oh so unsettling. He veered off to the left to return to his table. I followed at a distance to see more of what my other life was like.

Glenn #2 was greeted by a wife that I would never marry. Never. Me being single and somewhat lonely at the time made my little nightmare even worse. I could take no more of The Other Glenn so, like Kevin McCarthy, I fled. Big Blue was waiting outside and we peddled quickly to Sloppy Joe's. In the middle of the day a blues band was blaring. Its like a 24/7 party there. Surrounded by people that did not look like me, Ernest Hemingway, or anyone else familiar, the body snatcher would have a hard time finding me.

He never did. I expect he is back in Ohio selling insurance.

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