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The rantings and ramblings of Kimberly Allison

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Joys of Being Generic

You have to remember the 80's to really understand what "generic" means. Imagine turning your shopping cart down the aisle of your favorite supermarket. Suddenly, you were shopping in a Orwellian nightmare. Every can, box and package bore a white label with stark black lettering. Imagine the horror of generic Spam... a white label with black text announcing the contents as "processed meat product". You get the idea.

People can be generic. This term coined by a good friend describes someone wrapped in a plain white label. It's the person who is a doppelganger to a total stranger. A case of mistaken identity.
I am generic. Always have been. I have that neutral look that always reminds someone of someone else.

It almost got me in trouble at beauty school. I was the spitting image of a gal who stole the boyfriend of another student. I swore this chick stalked me! She showed up at the fast food restaurant where I worked and stood by the door, shooting visual daggers through eyes of hate. You can imagine the tension! It wasn't until the same girl showed up as a fellow student at school and learned my name, that her hatred turned to sheepish embarrassment.

As awkward as that was, it was nothing compared to the episode of a "walk-in customer" at a salon where I worked. I walked up to introduce myself, only to see her face drain to white. I looked identical to the woman's murdered niece! Now that is creepy.

Even my husband is generic. Like all good hairdressers, I kept a picture of my handsome boyfriend tucked into a corner of my mirror. One customer became incensed. She started to drill me about his name and how I knew him. Each question becoming more and more accusatory. You can guess it. Mark looked exactly like the woman's philandering son-in-law. Once the truth came out, I never saw her humiliated face again.

I guess the gist of this post is how basic characteristics remind us of someone we know. A white label marked as "person". As I started this particular sculpture, I wanted to play with a mustache. But, a 'stache this full and luxurious must come at a price. Hence, the narrow rim of hair. As I stitched in the narrowed eyes, it struck me. I knew this person! He looked exactly like my high school social studies teacher! Just to be certain, I contacted a few high school friends. As I had expected, they agreed that it looked exactly like Mr. Baggett.

I really enjoy putting this piece out for display. Everyone knows someone who looks like this. From a high school teacher, to a beloved uncle, to the man who works at the local supermarket, he strikes a chord in our memory.

Sometimes, it's a pleasure being generic.
Name: Mr. Baggett
Occupation: High School Hedwig
Contents: Remnant and recycled fabrics.