My superpower is not existing

The superpower of not existing.


When I was in college, a discovery was made about my face. “You have classical features,” the guy said, not meaning it as a compliment. He meant that my face was neutral, everything in proportion, according to the stage makeup class.


We all got out tape measures and measured each other’s noses and mouths and the distances between our eyes, and found that it was simply not possible for a person to have a more neutral face than I did, and that no one present had a face even close to as neutral as mine.


This was a relief. It explained to my why people have always mistaken me for other people. No matter what country I go to, someone calls me by someone else’s name. There have been times when people actually get hostile when I try to explain they are mistaken. “Knock it OFF, Betsy, I know it’s you!”

Also, my neutral face means people THINK they are looking at me, but they are not. They can’t. My face is too bland. So that if I get a new haircut or wear a hat, people who have known my all my life will fail to recognize me. It is, or at least sometimes is, a relief to know that I don’t have to talk to people if I am feeling reserved on a particular day, because no one ever notices me unless I want them to.


I realized after being “recognized,” again, last winter, that this is sort of a superpower. Because, usually, the person I am taken for is a long lost person the speaker misses, and is glad to see. So, if the speaker is unlikely to see me ever again, I have learned it is smarter—and kinder—to pretend to be the person I resemble. The person who “recognizes” me gets that happy reunion, and no one is the wiser. My superpower is to help people not miss people they love and have lost touch with.


But recently I found some down sides to this weird superpower: Rarely is anyone as happy to see me, really me, as they are to see the people I resemble. And the other is: my superpower is not existing. My superpower is being mistake for other people, and not being myself, at all.


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