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Obeserver Sept. 9, 2004 

It has happened to The Observer again. We took our car into the body shop for an estimate on some repairs. We returned the next day, to leave the car so the work could be done. The owner said, “Hey, I thought I saw you on TV last night. They showed this guy, and I thought it was local TV, and I said, ‘I know him! He was in the shop today!’ But it turned out it was national TV. And you know who it was? Vice President Dick Cheney!” A couple of weeks ago, The Observer was on a bus going to a John Edwards rally when a woman told us we looked like Dick Cheney. How much must we endure? We don’t expect to be told we look like Brad Pitt, or even John Edwards — though when we were younger … — but that wretch, Cheney? There’s hardly anybody on earth we’d rather not look like than Dick Cheney. We’d rather be told we look like Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies. A nicer guy. The Observer is looking for a silver lining here. Unless Halliburton mistakenly sends us a huge check, it’s going to be difficult. The Observer can be many things to many people. It took a while for The Observer to understand why shouts of “Boom!” rang out every time he walked into the sandwich shop across the way from the office. Finally, it was explained. The Observer is a dead ringer for John Madden. “Boom!” is the football broadcaster’s trademark, apparently. It turns out a clerk at the neighborhood Kroger also counted The Observer as one of the store’s “celebrities,” in the Madden role. He has various other customers who resemble famous folks. Including, he tells us, one guy who looks a lot like Dick Cheney. Indulge The Observer with a couple more lookalike stories. One was on a plane flying from Des Moines to Chicago. A woman nearby kept casting glances in our direction throughout the flight. She was a looker, too. The Observer (Madden, remember) isn’t accustomed to much attention from female lookers on airplane flights. On arrival, as we shuffled in the line toward the exit, the woman looked some more. And, finally, she spoke: “Are you John Candy?” If only. Of course we wouldn’t be here to tell the tale. And then there was the time The Observer was a temporary journalism instructor at Philander Smith College. Our small section of Journaliism 101 included a young woman who had no alternative but to bring her young child to class. She was generally more attentive to the child than to her classwork, which was understandable. But one day, the young woman seemed nearly rapt as The Observer’s lecture on the inverted pyramid droned on. A tiny smile played at the edges of her mouth and then it broke into a toothy grin and, finally, a big laugh. The Observer was curious. We invited the young woman to share the thought that had amused her. She demurred. We encouraged. Finally, she ducked her head and responded: “Mr. Observer,” she said, “has anyone ever told you that you looked like Gomer Pyle?” The Observer was strolling downtown the other day when we came upon an overheated gentleman wielding a leaf blower against about two dozen leaves and some dust sullying a sidewalk. The leaves were winning, landing back on the sidewalk in random locations. It was then that we realized that a leaf-blower is just a vacuum cleaner with its hose on the wrong end, and we wondered who ever got the brilliant idea that would be a good way to clean anything up. We wanted to go find the poor guy a broom and put him out of his misery. We’ve been swept away by such cogitations. The Observer’s mother stopped by recently and noticed The Observer’s regulation green-handled straw broom leaning up against the kitchen wall. “Where did you get that broom?” Ma Observer exclaimed. Who remembers where they bought a broom? Wal-Mart? Target? Ye Olde Broome Shoppe? “You can’t find a good broom ANYWHERE anymore,” she lamented. We had no idea the world had come to this. Here we’d been, merrily sweeping away, all the while unaware we might be able to sell our treasure on e-Bay for 10 times what we paid for it. Then again, we’d probably stand to make a lot more money if we rigged a Hoover backward and called it a Dog Hair Blower. Crumb Shooter. Dead Roach Ejector. …
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