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Me and Seth Rogan.

March 10, 2009

Being mistaken for famous people is not an unusual occurrence. I have generic Irish/German features, a medium build, ordinary facial fair, and faithfully dress like everyone else in the room. If there’s a six-foot celebrity with auburn hair and rounded cheeks, I’ve probably been told I resemble him. This gift for unintentional impersonation is also the reason I possess unique insight into the mind of Seth Rogan. And I think he feels the same way about me.

Our unusual relationship began—much like every indie rock band that fuses Allman Brothers sensibilities with Italian Disco aesthetics — at a party in Brooklyn. I was mid-thrust on a sweaty dance floor when a glassy-eyed fellow sidled up beside me and slurred appreciatively, “Aren’t you that dude from Knocked Up?” He was talking about Seth Rogan, a burly actor with a halo of curls who usually plays lovable stoners. His role in the raunchy-but-sweet 2007 film could fairly be described as a breakthrough performance.

As you now understand this type of encounter was not without precedent, maybe you’ll find my response of “Sure, that’s me” less dishonest and peculiar. I just didn’t want to spoil the guy’s story. One harmless, ephemeral adjustment of the truth by me, and he can regurgitate his anecdote about meeting Seth Rogan until it wheezes through his cracked lips with grim finality on his melanoma-laced deathbed. I’m the saint here, not the sinner. Glowing with gratitude, the interloper handed me a pen and a cocktail napkin. I didn’t know Seth Rogan’s name at the time, so I scrawled down a tangled string of obfuscating characters as my signature. I thought that was the end of it.

But as Seth Rogan’s star rose, so did the frequency of the comparisons. By the time Superbad became a surprise summer hit, such incidents were a daily inevitability. People I considered friends would rhetorically disembowel me by snorting “Whatever you say, Seth Rogan” to score cheap laughs from onlookers. While walking around Manhattan, I noticed strangers surreptitiously taking photos of me while pretending to check their text messages. One Japanese family even insisted I accompany them to lunch at Bouley (the roasted Chatham cod was off the chain, Ms. Tanaka!). I felt my own identity shriveling up into sad irrelevance, sort of like an unmarried, childless woman over forty.

I began shaving and wearing my hair shorter. I lost weight. I exchanged the jolly incoherence of marijuana use for the steely focus of cocaine. It didn’t matter. With red-rimmed eyes, I would stare into the mirror dissecting the facial redundancies between myself and Seth Rogan with the meticulousness of a police sketch artist. I wasn’t sure we looked alike. His nose is a sausage-like stump; mine is a graceful ski ramp. His eyes are horse manure brown; mine are as green as the most expensive emeralds in the world. He looks like a stupid Kodiak bear; I look like a handsome human.

It was my interactions with women that first convinced me that being mistaken for a successful movie star might have advantages. I was at a bar angrily drinking a beer by myself when a pretty young lady approached me. “What’s wrong, Seth Rogan?” she asked, her words cradled gently by the empathy typically reserved for wounded veterans and household pets. I couldn’t bear to disappoint this fragile, compassionate creature (she was like a legit 7), so I barreled into a long spiel about how I was typecast as this merry oaf while I pined to create important movies about the Armenian Holocaust, the meaning of Easter, and inspirational retards who coach segregated high-school football teams. As the half-truths tumbled out, a spell was cast over her, over me, over the bartender, over Big Hank the Sleepy Alcoholic on the next stool. If people yearned for me to be Seth Rogan, then my refusal to act as a conduit was pure egoism and selfishness. Thus, the monster of everyone’s expectations was unbridled. A gentleman never tells, but I nearly had sex that night.

I began introducing myself around New York as Seth Rogan. I printed up business cards inscribed with “Seth Rogan: Hollywood’s Finest.” I called restaurants, nightclubs and massage parlors ahead of time to announce that Seth Rogan would be arriving shortly and that His Roganness should be cared for with the commensurate velveteen touch. I took out several credit cards in Seth Rogan’s name and leased an expensive Tribeca apartment and a Lamborghini Gallardo LP56. I bludgeoned a stripper over the head with a champagne bottle while screeching “Look at me, I’m Seth Rogan! I did this to you!” I attempted to grab a policeman’s gun and dipped into a memorized monologue from Pineapple Express to avoid the charges. I agreed to star alongside Flava Flav in a film adaptation of David Sedaris’ “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” Life was good.

I was recuperating from a ménage à trois with a pair of underage Hondurans after brunch at the Kingsbridge dogfights when I logged on to my favorite gossip website to check if the Seth Rogans’ antics had been newsworthy. There was a disconcerting tidbit about someone approaching Seth Rogan on the street and him refusing to admit that he was the famed actor. It was abruptly clear what was going on. He was now impersonating me. In becoming Seth Rogan, I had left my entire life vulnerable to easy appropriation: my family, my friends, my career, my expired Pinkberry coupons. They weren’t much, but they were mine. Then I understood how he must have felt. I’m ashamed to admit that I never considered how weary he must have been of constantly being mistaken for me. Yes, Seth Rogan and I are brothers that the gnarled skeins of fate have entwined. But we are our own men. I reclaimed my life and allowed him to do the same.

And as this was such a valuable metaphysical lesson, I’m currently in the process of turning the entire story into a screenplay. I’m thinking it should star Sean Penn.

*Antenna Magazine, Spring 2009.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 12, 2009 11:41 am

    Since I don’t read Antenna, glad to see you have a blog now. good shit, Ben.

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