Over the past 12 years, dozens of people have commented on my resemblance to the actor James Spader. This keenly observant, celebrity-aware crowd has included random passersby, waitresses serving me lunch, and relatives of mine, among others. The following are descriptions of six of these incidents.
UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME, 1988
Early in the Fall semester of my freshman year there was an on-campus showing of “sex, lies and videotape.” I watched the movie with a few guys from my dorm. As we were exiting the theater, the future Navy pilot who lived across the hall from me turned to me and said, “That guy kind of looked like you.” The other guys agreed. Then one of them made some joke about me being a voyeuristic video pervert.
SYRACUSE, NY, 1991
At my sister’s wedding reception, a cousin who hadn’t seen me in about five years came up to me, accompanied by her husband. “Jim, you look so much like James Spader now,” she enthused. “I love James Spader. Right, honey?” Her husband, who looks nothing like Spader, smiled awkwardly as she elbowed him in the ribs and eyed him lustfully. I took a sip of my gin and tonic, hoping that I didn’t look any more uncomfortable than the average 21-year-old guy does after spending several hours in a tuxedo.
THOUSAND OAKS, CA, 1992
I developed problems with allergies that year that necessitated several visits to the doctor. One afternoon I had to call the doctor’s office because I’d forgotten the time of my next appointment, which I was pretty sure was scheduled for the next day. The blonde receptionist answered.
“James Flood… yeah, I know you. You look like that guy, that actor, what’s his name? You know the one I’m talking about.”
“James Spader,” I said confidently, used to the routine by this time.
“Yeah, that’s it. You really brighten up my day whenever you come in here.”
I froze in silence for a moment, surprised by her forwardness. Then my flirt instinct kicked in. “Well, I do what I can” was the goofy response I came up with.
She continued: “I should bring you home and tell my daughter that you’re him. She’s 13. She would totally believe it.”
I sort of half-laughed for about half a second, unsure whether she had just insinuated that she wanted to have sex with me. My heart was beating very fast, and I couldn’t think of anything more to say.
She confirmed my appointment time for the next day, and I ended our conversation with “See you tomorrow.”
I toyed with the idea of bringing her flowers and asking her on a date, because at the time I still maintained the delusion that I might really be heterosexual, and she looked exactly like Teri Garr, who was pretty sexy then, when she still had a career that wasn’t based on Lite FM commercials.
We’d eat dinner out, grab a couple of drinks, then head back to her house to have sex, her daughter in the next room writing in her diary about the sounds she heard through the wall, making plans for her exciting new life as the stepdaughter of a movie star. This whole scenario just didn’t seem right for one reason or another, so I showed up for the appointment without flowers. We never flirted again.
CHICAGO, IL, 1995
A stylishly dressed young man, upon being introduced to me at a party, offered me a limp, clammy handshake and then squinted slightly as he looked me up and down.
“You look like James Spader,” he announced, his tone scornful, mocking, as though he were informing me that my shirt was on backwards.
Not sure if I wanted to laugh or punch him in the face, I just said, “So I’ve heard.”
“I hate him,” he spat, shaking his head in apparent disgust. After staring at me silently for a couple more seconds, he turned to talk to the other people I was with, and didn’t acknowledge me again. I think I managed to have a good time anyway.
BALTIMORE, MD, 1998
I was driving around aimlessly, as I often did on Sundays while I lived in Baltimore, when I stopped at a convenience store to buy a soda. The cashier, if you can believe this, actually said, “What, are you trying to look like James Spader or something?” Her question was punctuated by an exasperated little sigh, her middle-aged eyebrows arched derisively.
“Yeah,” I answered, “I’m trying my hardest.” I slapped a dollar on the counter and walked out with my bottle of soda, thinking, “Damn, people are stupid.”
NEW YORK, NY, 2000
A friend and I were talking to a couple of guys from a punk-rock band she really digs. The lead singer, noting that I resembled James Spader, told me that his girlfriend was way into Spader. “If she was here, man, she’d be all over you.”
We were at Motor City, a Detroit-themed bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that tends to get very loud, as it did that night. I decided that it was too much of a challenge to keep up with the conversation, because I was having to strain to hear anything anyone said. Instead I just concentrated on drinking my beer and slyly checking out the band’s guitar player, who was looking ultra-sexy in his tight jeans and black leather jacket.
Other celebrities people have told me I look like:
Robert Redford (!)
John Denver (?)