“Do I know you?”

23 March, 2019. “Do I know you? You look very familiar…“

I put my pen down, momentarily confused. The lady at the next table was staring at me intently. At first I thought it was because I was surreptitiously trying to sketch her and her companions without obviously doing so. It was our second or third day on Galveston Island and I was making every effort to sketch my surroundings wherever I happened to be.

“I know I know you.” She waited for me to reply.

“Only from television and the movies.“ My response was glib, and I smiled. In fact we all smiled, and everyone chuckled.

But as lunch progressed, her continued gaze made it more and more apparent that she wasn’t going to let her curiosity go further unremarked upon. Where, oh where did she know me from? My admirer made no secret about studying me closely, reversing the voyeuristic role that artists more normally assume.

Suddenly her body language changed entirely. She straightened, sat upright and brightened, exclaiming, “Oh! I know! You’re James Patterson!”

Clearly, I am not. And just as clearly, I don’t look anything like James Patterson. (More like Bill Bryson if I had to pick an author as my doppelgänger. And even that is an awfully long stretch.)

Nevertheless, I replied, “You got me. Be sure to buy my next book.“

Uni-Ball Vision and watercolor washes in a Stillman and Birn sketchbook.



  1. Elizabeth Varadan · March 23

    This was great! Love your reply to her.

    • azorch · March 23

      I sure hope she never meets the real James Patterson. She will be so confused!

  2. Michael Scandling · March 23

    When I was 11 years old in the early 1960s, I was already committed automobile fan. I devoured every issue of Motor Trend magazine. Then I discovered an issue of Car and Driver. I was in immediate convert. The cars, mostly foreign, were far more interesting. The writing, especially the writing of David E. Davis Jr, was deeply engaging and influenced me as a writer at an early age, and the illustrations by Ken Dallison shattered my mind and strongly influenced my taste in art and illustration for ever more. This reminds me of Ken‘s work, and that, from me, is the highest possible compliment I can imagine. So, if I had asked you, and you had said “Ken Dallison,” I would’ve — well I don’t know what I would’ve done…

  3. areilly88 · March 23

    My version of this, which has happened more than once, is for people to realize they are mistaking me for Shawn White (Olympic snowboarder), before he cut his curly auburn hair. There is a resemblance, I’ll acknowledge, but I’m a woman and at least 20 years older. It’s amazing how the brain discounts some details and overweights others to arrive at very wrong conclusions.

    • azorch · March 23

      Ha! That is so true. On two previous occasions I was mistaken for (are you ready?) … Elvis (uhhhh… beard? Hair? Dead?!?) and John Candy. (Ditto on the dead thing.) So do you notice the family resemblance between Elvis, Candy, and Patterson? Because there’s not any. At all! People see and believe what they want to believe, and more power to them, actually. Just don’t ask me to sing Blue Suede Shoes or sign a copy of your book. 😁

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