When strangers tell you that you look like someone famous, don’t believe them. Usually it has more to do with a haircut or an outfit then being a true doppelgänger. In my younger days, I was told I resembled Helen Hunt or Ellen Barkin, but really, I think it was merely that my hair was blonde.
One comparison hung on through the years: Kathy Bates. I don’t recall the first time someone told me that I reminded them of her, but I remember feeling honored; I love her.
I decided to make the most of it when, in 2009, the Washington Cemetery and Funeral Association invited me to speak at its annual convention. (In my law practice I carved out a specialty for legal matters involving human remains. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but over the years I enjoyed working with cemeteries, columbariums, and funeral homes on their litigated cases.)
The convention is held near Halloween each year, and the theme of the Saturday night costume party was “Come as your favorite horror movie character.“ When my adopted mom, Maria, saw my getup, she lamented, “Leave it to you to be in a room full of eligible, successful men, dressed as the woman they fear the most.” I reminded her that I never seemed to have the mindset of a single girl in search of a mate.
I met most of the attendees at the cocktail reception on Friday night, and again when I gave my presentation on Washington law on Saturday. On Saturday night, I entered the hotel ballroom as Annie Wilkes, the sledge hammer-wielding fan in Stephen King’s “Misery.”
No one recognized me. I mean no one. During dinner, a man quickly glanced across the 10-person table at me and said, “I’m sorry, I can’t even look at you! You’re scaring the shit out of me!” During karaoke later that evening, I sang the Dixie Chicks’ hit, “Goodbye, Earl.“ A bit too on the nose, perhaps, but good times, good times.
Since I have allowed my hair to return to its natural gray, the Kathy Bates comparison is being drawn more often, especially in profile. She just so happened to be featured in a Web M.D. magazine at my doctor’s office recently. What do you think?
Now that I am on the road, there have been more Kathy Bates sightings. At a restaurant in Massachusetts, a woman and her sister asked if they could take a photo; they truly believed I was Kathy Bates, changing their minds only when they heard my voice. In Detroit, as I was squired around town for a tour by friends, a group of people on the sidewalk began pointing and waving frantically at me; they thought I was somebody famous, and I can only assume it was her.
The most hilarious occurred in New Hampshire. I saw a free bumper sticker in a gift shop I thought my friend and members of his family would like. I took one, then a few more, and then a few more. They were free, after all. A woman approached, “Excuse me, are you Kathy Bates, and are you stealing those bumper stickers?” I told her I wasn’t, and the stickers were free. What I should have said was, “Yes! I am Kathy Bates. Would you like an autographed bumper sticker?”
So, from this day forward, if you are in North America and see Kathy Bates speeding on the highway, making that third trip to the buffet, stuffing ketchup packets in her purse at a fast food restaurant, or slurring her words as she calls a Lyft at the local bar …
Yes. Why yes, that was Kathy Bates. Be sure to tag her, not me, in any social media posts.