Natalie Merchant? Who Me?

When I am in a large group of strangers, I like to keep a fly-on-the-wall vantage and watch the individuals who make up the crowd. But sometimes as the beholder, I'm given a new perspective on myself.

Before the afternoon editorial session at the Nimrod writing conference, I first sit down at a table in a lounge area outside the conference room. People in various waiting stances surround me, many of them visiting with friends or new acquaintances. A girl with a hijab is rummaging through her notebook at a another table nearby. Highschool students sit on the floor near the windows.

I lose my seat at the table when I got up to toss out my styrofoam cup from which I'd gulped a few sips of lukewarm tea.

So when I return to wait my turn, I find myself elbowing my way through the crowd to an empty place against the wall that juts out a foot or so between the windows.

I realize when I stand in this spot why no one else is already here. I feel suddenly conspicuous and as though every eye in the area is suddenly turned upon me: the girl in a denim skirt, red shirt and khaki blazer with her hair up. I decide, with just minutes before being called for my appointment with the editor, it would be silly to move again, so I strike the most confident pose I know, my "Keep Calm, Carry On" tote beside me on the floor.

I am standing, weight on my back foot with my other foot at the two o'clock position and my arms folded across my chest when I noticed a middle aged man 8-10 feet away, looking on with interest. I don't get a lot of masculine attention when I'm out, and this man's expression struck me as more complimentary than predatory. When he saw he'd caught my eye, he stepped a few feet closer.

"You look like Natalie Merchant. Has anyone told you that before?"

"No," I said, with a curious but guarded smile. "Who is she?"

"A singer. You haven't heard of her?"

"No, no, I don't think so. No. What genre?"

"Oh, I don't know. She was big, though. Really popular."

At this point I am summoned for my audience with the editor, and the man is still remarking on how much I resemble Ms. Merchant.

On my way into the conference room, I whip out my Molskine journal to record "Natalie Merchant: a man says I look like her."

And on further observation, I'd have to agree.

(More on Natalie next time! Despite her former liaison with the band 10,000 Maniacs, I feel I've been introduced to a kindred spirit!)

Image: Natalie Merchant, Google Images


{lauryl} said…
Whoa. Totally. I never thought of that before!
Anonymous said…
I love Tigerlily, an older recording of Natalie Merchant's. It's bluesy, not to listen to if even a bit down in spirits, but so original and moody.

Another comment: I'm one of those who always sees "famous" people in those around me. And I always tell them. Lately, I've seen Gretchen Wilson (in our waitress), Zooey Deschanel (a hostess), and Josh Groban (the bartender), all in different restaurants. In the first two cases, they had heard of the resemblance many times before.

I used to hear Lady Diana, myself, and an occasional Brooke Shields (its the eyebrows...:-).

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