It happens quite often: "Are you the actor Billy Parrott from Lars and the Real Girl ?" "Dude! Were you a Security Guard in The Incredible Hulk, Breakfast with Scot, and Resident Evil: Apocalypse?" "I loved your work in Saw III. Can you sign this?"
I just smile and reply, "Sorry, I'm not an actor. I'm only a librarian."
I received an email once from a fan of this other Billy Parrott: "Are you the same Billy Parrott from the TV show Degrassi High?" I thought about replying and taking on the role of this other Billy Parrott, to become the person I was often mistaken for.
But I didn't.
If I had this other Billy Parrott's email I could forward him the comments. I wonder if he gets emails and questions meant for me. "Hi Billy. Which Murakami book should I read first?" "What subway do I take to get to your branch?" "In regards to Dewey decimal numbers, why are books about Bigfoot so close to books about blogging?"
He probably doesn't.
When I lived in the South there was a bank teller who always called me Eric (as in Eric Stoltz). When I worked at the Ottendorfer Branch there was a patron who always called my Lindsey (as in Lindsey Buckingham). He would pull up photos in Google Images, point, and say to other patrons, "See!"
I've also gotten Michael J. Fox and the "guy from those Danny Boyle movies!" (Incidentally, the theme of mistaken identity in film has been done to death: North by Northwest, Vertigo, The Big Lebowski, The Man with One Red Shoe, Being There, The Man from Cairo, The Glass Bottom Boat, Life of Brian...) In regards to the Danny Boyle movies, I guessed she meant Cillian Murphy. I said, "No, that's not me." She replied, "Are you sure?"
I see a man on the subway almost every morning that looks like a kid who was in my fourth grade class. That kid's name was Bernie. He ate the erasers off of pencils.
Mistaken identity is common. To be mistaken by name is another thing entirely. Some names are common. How many gazillion John Smith's get mistaken for one another? I've never met another Parrott I wasn't related to, much less another Billy Parrott. They are out there though. But they are all the other Billy Parrotts.
I am the real Billy Parrott. I am a librarian.
I wonder sometimes if the man I see on the subway is the boy I went to school with, all grown up. What are the odds? One day I will go up to him, hold up a #2 pencil, look into his eyes, and say "Bernie."