Like many single women, I have a Saturday brunch ritual with friends. When friends aren't available—or sometimes when they are, but I feel cranky or sub-human or haven't washed my hair for so long it could be the inciting incident for Contagion 2—I take myself out with my computer or a book to inhale an embarassingly bougie omelet (that EXISTS, guys) and get some shit done.
Among the many social hazards of eating for one (being ignored by waiters; being sandwiched in between two Bloody Mary-drunk groups of friends at a bar; being judged for drinking alone, etc.) is something that may or not be specific to me.
Nearly every week, no exaggeration, some guy comes up to me and goes, "Sasha?" (Or something like Sasha.)
"Oh." Guy looks sheepish, shrugs, apologizes, derps off into the horizon.
After this happened a few times and I caught the drift of what was going on—the awkward search for your OK Cupid first date at the restaurant bar—I began to add on:
I have long been aware that I vaguely resemble every girl someone used to live with/was in drama club with/went to UJA camp with. For years, people have been telling me emphatically: "You look just like this girl I know/used to know!" to which I usually respond with a shrug and a "Thanks? I guess?" because what else can you say? It's not really a compliment or an insult; I suppose I am just a template for a certain kind of girl. Which doesn't feel good or bad so much as just a thing that exists that I have gotten used to at this point. The weirdest occurrence of this was the homeless man in a New York McDonalds who approached me and my younger sister and told me that I was the spitting image of his dead wife (he had spent the last 15 minutes drawing a picture of me on notebook paper, which he gave to me and I saved for years until deciding it was too creepy to keep forever).
It was only after OK Cupid became ubiquitous that men started coming up to me, hedging and scuffing their Converses, then smiling bravely and blurting, "Leah?" or whatever, and it's different from all the other times that I've been mistaken for other women: they think I'm Leah or Sasha because I am of a certain age (26) and alone at a place/time that is conventionally reserved for friends or couples.
I'm not on a dating website for no good reason other than the fact A) I don't feel like going out of my way to look for anybody and B) My job already requires me to be on the Internet more than is probably healthy. I'm also a complete voyeur by nature, and the idea of what is essentially playing Pokémon Snap but with human beings would be completely addictive. So were I to join up, I would lose my already passing acquaintance with fresh air and sunlight and end up looking like a shower-shriveled thumb. Who wants to date that?
I will admit: as I scarf my omelet like a Dickensian orphan with a MacBook Air, I keep my eye on the guy having a coffee at a table for two and waiting for his Sarah or Leah or Sasha or Jen. What if she doesn't show up? Maybe he'll walk over to me—Jen 2.0, an ersatz Jen, just as much a stranger and a possibility—and be like, "How's that omelet?" And I'll be like, "There's not enough goat cheese in it." And he'll be like, "That sucks," and then we will fall in love and get married?
But JenLeahSasha shows up every time, and also weirdly looks nothing like me.
Image via Jose AS Reyes/Shutterstock