When my roommate Mikey and I used to work together, we'd take the train to Washington, D.C. every morning. From day to day, we'd see a lot of the same people along for the ride. There were certain folks that we'd identify (not to their faces, of course) with a certain public figure that they resembled. One middle-aged gentleman with thin gray hair and a neatly trimmed black beard was known as Michael Gross, the actor who played Michael J. Fox's father on Family Ties. A particularly unfortunate woman with short auburn hair came to be linked with Michigan State University men's basketball coach Tom Izzo. But our favorite psuedo-celebrity was one that involved a little creativity. There was a burly, light-skinned African American man with close-cropped hair and an equally short beard. He also had small, light wire-rimmed glasses. He seemed stern and stoic. We called him "Papa Stu", the implication being that he was the father of SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott. We thoroughly entertained ourselves with imagined stories of Papa Stu's feats of strength and prowess and gave each other knowing glances on the occasions that he was seated nearby on the train. It was all the more entertaining to us because we assumed that if he ever caught us looking at him sideways, he would crush us with the mighty paws that he called hands.
After a few months of sharing our commute, Mikey got a new job and began driving to work on his own. I continued my daily commute, and to this day I still see Papa Stu on the train from time to time. Once he even sat next to me, and I fortunately kept my cool. I did happen to catch a glimpse of his I.D. badge, which contained the answer to an ancient and mystical secret: his real name. For the sake of his privacy (and my own safety), I won't divulge it here, but I will tell you that it's one of the most appropriate names I've ever encountered in my life. This name was truly meant for its owner, and I almost wonder if he had it legally changed to better suit him. You know, like the episode of The Simpsons where Homer becomes Max Power. As soon as I got home, I told Mikey what I had learned. I just couldn't resist.
Last summer, I was with Mikey and his girlfriend in Washington, D.C. on a Sunday evening. We'd seen our friend John's one-man show and then accompanied him to dinner and a movie, and now we were taking the Metro back home. As the subway car pulled into the station where we waited, my roommate and I noticed a familiar face sitting inside. We very carefully pointed him to Mikey's girlfriend, whispering and stealing furtive glances as we entered the car and took our seats on the opposite end. We almost got a fit of the giggles, which certainly would have been the end of our shallow little lives, but somehow we made it back in one piece, disembarking at the same station as Papa Stu. I wondered if he had recognized us as well; maybe he even had goofy nicknames for us. After all, I probably look like at least a dozen lanky, gawky white guys with bad facial hair who dot the current landscape of pop culture. In my more self-referential moments, I've even compared myself to professional wrestler Austin Aries (though he's much more manscaped and toned than I'll ever be, naturally). Maybe someday I'll ask him about it.
Maybe someday I will look at this Lee Lacy card and I will be able to think about something other than his uncanny resemblance to Martin Lawrence. I doubt it, though.