Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Contact Us | Home RSS
 
 
 

Slices of Life - It's all about the face

March 25, 2016
Jill Pertler - Columnist , Traer Star-Clipper

The young woman was our server at a restaurant one evening. Even though she was a stranger I'd never met or seen before, I had an eerie feeling as though I had. There was a familiarity about her I found hard to ignore - so much so that I said something about it when she came to take my order.

"You look so familiar."

I was about to ask if we had met previously, but before I had the chance my husband and son, who were sitting at the table with me, both piped in with the same one-word answer: Maggie.

Instantly I made the connection. Of course! She was Maggie. Or at least she looked like Maggie - a character on a popular zombie apocalypse TV program that is a weekly mainstay at our house. My server could have been her stunt double or even a first cousin. She was neither and hadn't even heard of Maggie or the TV show.

Seeing someone who looks like someone else isn't uncommon, but what struck me about this situation is that all three of us identified the same similarity. And our reactions were immediate. One look at our server and we all saw Maggie. While probably not earth-shattering, I found the occurrence intriguing and at the very least interesting.

Facial recognition - humans have developed the intricate skill in part because we don't identify one another the way many animals do - with our sniffers. At least not consciously. (Never let 'em smell your sweat.) We recognize with our eyes. And it's clear we use similar guiding points when making our determinations. Being able to look at a face and recognize who is your friend or foe is a strength that benefits us in a number of ways and is the fodder of many complex and compelling scientific studies for which we have neither the time nor space for here. Unfortunately.

At the restaurant that night my husband and son were able to put a name to the face. I was not. Recognizing a familiar person and pinpointing why they are familiar are two different things.

Whether it's a TV star or regular Joe, I'm not typically good at knowing the exact identity of someone I recognize. Especially in unexpected situations.

If I know a person from the grocery store or post office, I will recognize them at the grocery store or post office, but if I run into them at another location, I may not be able to pinpoint where I've seen them before. The effect is multiplied if they have changed their appearance in some way - cut their hair, lost weight, are wearing a hat or new sunglasses. Then I'm really thrown for a loop.

I'm sure I know them, but from where? I wrack my brain trying to figure it out. I review all the locations I frequently frequent, attempting to place them in the correct environment. Kid's sports practice? Gas station? School? Ah ha, the bank, that's it! When I finally trip on the right locale, I immediately know who they are. And in most cases, by this time they've disappeared down aisle five and I don't get the chance to say hello anyway.

But that wasn't the case with Maggie's doppelganger. We all knew who she was. And even though she properly introduced herself to us at the beginning of our meal as Laura, for the rest of the night, at our table at least, she was Maggie.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don't miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

 
 

 

I am looking for:
in:
News, Blogs & Events Web