Robert Downey, Jr.Earlier this week, I was at a client site and something GREAT happened. Something that hasn’t happened in a long time and I welcomed it’s return. It was so unexpected and hearing it helped reaffirm that I’m making progress on my diet. So what the heck am I talking about? Someone said that I reminded them of Robert Downey Jr. 🙂
Back in college, I used to hear that comment a lot. I would meet someone and they would say, “You know who you remind me of? Robert Downey, Jr.” This was in the late 80’s when Downey’s star was on the rise and he hadn’t yet shown signs of his addiction to heroin. Looking back on it now, he was kinda like the Aston Kutcher of his day, although maybe not quite so popular but a great deal more talented. I of course took it as a compliment whenever someone compared me to him. It’s not as if I was being compared to Abe Vigoda, so what’s not to like?

I was familiar with Downey’s work in Weird Science and Less Than Zero, but it wasn’t until he was in The Pickup Artist that his name started popping up everywhere. That’s also about the time that I started hearing about all the comparisons to him, but I really didn’t see the resemblance. It’s not that I thought I was better looking, or anything, just that I didn’t think we looked all that much alike. Other people thought we did though.

One day Holly and I were shopping for music at a Blockbuster (which used to sell music) and she and I were on different ends of the store. All of sudden Holly hears two nearby girls say “Oh my god!” and then a whole bunch of whispering, giggling and pointing. It seems that the two young girls thought that Robert Downey, Jr. was in the store and they were having a bit of an “Elvis moment.” I was oblivious to all this because my head was down looking at CDs and because I’m a guy and we’re not all that well tuned to our surroundings ;). I learned about this later from Holly when we were driving away from the store. I thought she was kidding, but she claimed she wasn’t. As for me, I still couldn’t see the resemblance.

All that changed on Thanksgiving many years ago. I was over at Holly’s parent’s house and her dad, James, had this odd habit of setting up his camcorder and leaving it running all day. James would put the camcorder on a tripod and connect it to the television so he could see what was being filmed. From time to time he would pick it up and walk around the room, but it mostly stayed on the tripod. I was bringing in some firewood and when I walked in the room, I saw the TV was on and it appeared to be a movie with Robert Downey, Jr. in it. With all the talk of Downey in the recent days, I pointed to the TV and said, “Hey that’s Robert Do…” It was at that moment that I realized that I was pointing at myself. James’ camcorder was on, not HBO and I had mistaken myself for Robert Downey, Jr. It was a very weird feeling, but from that moment on I had to admit that we share a common resemblance.

So I got used to people comparing me to Mr. Downey and even got to the point where I took it for granted. When people would say, “You know who you remind me of?” I’d reply with a knowing look, “Robert Downey, Jr.”, as if to say, “Yes, I know and I’ve heard it 100 times.” However I came to regret my smug attitude when people stopped making the comparison. At first I thought it was because Downey wasn’t as popular as he used to be, or because he became so gaunt during his court appearances, but eventually the reality set in that I didn’t look like Downey anymore because I was too fat. While he had been losing extreme amounts of weight due to drug addiction, I had been going in the opposite direction, packing on the weight. 🙁

Sure, maybe I’d look like Downey if he were playing Marlon Brando, or doing a remake of Raging Bull and had to put on 40+ pounds, but until then, I no longer bore any resemblance. Too much fast food and poor eating habits took that little compliment away. I didn’t realize how much I liked it until it was gone and boy oh boy did I miss it. There was something about that little nugget of validation that would give me such a good feeling. People liked Robert Downey, Jr. and thought that he was talented and handsome. So when people said that I looked like Downey, I had those same traits by proxy. It’s not that I belived that people thought I was a good actor or anything, just that some of those traits rubbed off on me. 🙂

It’s been a good 5 – 8 years since I’ve been compared to Robert Downey Jr. People stopped saying it and I had almost forgotten about the comparison. Although I’ve been doing the South Beach Diet, I’ve begun thinking that the weight loss is all in my head. Friends haven’t said that I look any different, the scale won’t budge a pound and other than my clothes being much looser, I haven’t had any validation that I’m losing weight and looking better. Then, the other day, I was leaving the server closet, having just fixed an error on my client’s server when one of the employees said to me, “You know who you remind me of?”

Oh happy day! 😀