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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Like Any Old Tom, Dick or Hairy

I was walking to work this morning as usual, minding my own business and barely even groaning or crying or ruing the day I was born or anything.

A couple of blocks from the office, I was nearing a crosswalk when one of the people crossing the street changed his path and made a beeline in my direction. He was a bit older than me, maybe in his fifties, with curly graying hair and a neatly trimmed beard. As he approached, his face blossomed into a warm smile.

I thought I recognized you!

Now, I’m no good at remembering people. It’s not as though I don’t want to; I just don’t seem to be equipped with the particular neurons that immediately recognize faces, pair them up with long-unspoken names and ship the twain down to the mouthpiece to start yakking comfortably. I’m more the guy who introduces himself anew rather than saying, ‘Oh, it’s been a long time‘ or ‘Wow, I know I should know you, but I apologize, I’m drawing a blank‘ or ‘Hi, Dad, how’ve you been since I saw you last week?

I blame brain damage. Someone in the family probably dropped me on that part of my brain as a child. Who? How the hell should I know? Some uncle or cousin or other that I wouldn’t know from Adam now. It’s a curse.

“I’ll often blurt out, ‘Nice to meet you‘ to a ‘new’ acquaintance, only to be told that we were best buds back in high school, or roomed together in college, or we had each others’ babies or something.”

I do, however, have just enough scraps of a wobbly-functioning cortex to mostly figure out when I’m being an insensitive non-recognizing asshole, even if there’s little I can do about it. I’ll often blurt out, ‘Nice to meet you‘ to a ‘new’ acquaintance, only to be told that we were best buds back in high school, or roomed together in college, or we had each others’ babies or something. It’s a long life. Who can remember every little detail?

But this guy, I was pretty sure I’d never seen before. I gave him a long, quizzical look and decided that yes, he was indeed a legitimate stranger. Which could mean only one thing, of course.

He must be a fan.

Ah, yes. An adoring member of the blog-reading public. Or perhaps an aficionado of the noble art of standup comedy, who caught a show back in my heyday of performing on stage.

(Insofar as I had a ‘heyday’. It was really more of a ‘mayday’. With not so many ‘yaydays’. And even fewer ‘paydays’. If I’d spent any more money getting to shows, then these would be my ‘Sallie Maedays’.

Yes. I’ll stop now. You’re welcome.)

Anyway, I’ve had folks recognize me before for my contributions to the world of comedy. Of course, that was typically immediately after I’d done a show. And usually, those people said something like, ‘Hey, it’s that guy whut we throwed all them termatoes at this evening‘. Still. Any fame is good fame, right?

I think Hitler said that. And I bet nobody ever threw termatoes at him.

At any rate, I’m certainly not one to brush off an adoring fan. I cherish each and every one of my loyal followers like… well, like nipples. I’ve only got two or three of them, and I lose track of them sometimes and I’m not really sure what they’re good for. But damn it if they aren’t fun to play with.

I should probably get back to this guy on the street. I may have said too much already.

I didn’t want to hurt the man’s feelings or scare him away, so I said, ‘Yes, good morning, sir. Hi, there. It’s a real pleasure to meet you!

That seemed to puzzle him. I guess people expect their celebrities to be standoffish and uptight. Ah, the public, bless their little hearts. I was just about to offer him an autograph, gratis, when he shook his head and said:

No, no, don’t you remember me from Cruz’s?

I racked my brain, trying to remember if I’d ever played a joint called Cruz’s. Or maybe it was a web site that had linked here or something, some sort of online fan club or other.

(Of course, in that case, it should really be called ‘Hatton’s’, now, shouldn’t it? If that was it, I was definitely going to have a talk with this gent about the importance of a good solid name for a fan club. Leave no doubt as to who it is you’re immortalizing, and all that. I’d be firm, but fair. No need to break his spirit, or anything.)

Sorry,‘ I said. ‘Cruz’s doesn’t ring a bell.‘ Which little club or dive or weekday-night open mic rathole was he talking about, exactly? I must have made quite an impression onstage for him to remember me, after all this time.

Oh, you know, Cruz’s hair salon. Didn’t you used to go there? I cut your hair there, remember?

Oh. A barber. And not my barber. The only barber I’ve been to in Boston is the haircutting hombre I’ve mentioned in the past. He speaks Spanish, mostly. Might know a little Greek, or French. Not so sure on the English. But he’s definitely not the guy who was standing in front of me, asking whether he’d snipped my whiskers at Cruz’s.

Which sounds like some sort of uncomfortable euphemism. But it’s not. As far as I know. Who knows what they do to whiskers over at Cruz’s? Might be one of those ‘haircuts and then some’ places I keep hearing about. And if Cruz’s is one of those, I might have been far more uncomfortable about this guy wrongly remembering me in his chair. But I don’t know, so I was just kind of miffed that he wasn’t actually a fan. Nobody’s ever a fan. And now he probably didn’t want that autograph I was going to offer him. Sigh.

So I told him that sorry, I’d never been to Cruz’s. He apologized, and told me that I looked just like some other head of hair he’d apparently had his comb and clippers into sometime in the past. Apparently, my hair has a body double out there somewhere. I’m the one slaving away at comedy, and my follicles are already set up with a stand-in? What’s next? Do my toenails have an agent? Did someone sign my earlobes to a book deal? Will my ass get its prints on the Walk of Fame someday?

Dunno. But I did notice as I continued to work that my bangs are getting a little unruly. Maybe I should go see that guy about a haircut. Sounds like he’d already know how to cut it. I’ll just stop him short of any ‘whisker snipping’ or monkey business like that. My hair’s not that kinky.

Permalink  |  2 Comments

2 Responses to “Like Any Old Tom, Dick or Hairy”

  1. Karen says:

    Amazing. I was just visiting my hometown and someone I apparently knew stopped me in the store and wanted to chat. Neither of us called the other by name, so I’m not sure she REALLY knew who I was. Had it been ME I would’ve just walked by like I didn’t have a faint and distant memory of her face. I really wish people would just do that. Ignore me people, please. I’m begging.

  2. Charlie says:

    Hi Karen —

    I’m with you. I’d much rather live in a place where people are considered ‘rude’ because they don’t force you to explain pleasantries or explore whether you’re long-lost cousins or something than be put through that wringer every time I walk on the street.

    I’ve only got so many quasi-normal social interactions in me. I don’t want to be wasting any on strangers.

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