How many times have we seen someone and we’ve said, “I recognize the face, I just can’t place the name...” It has happened to all of us occasionally. Like fingerprints, no two faces are alike -- every face is slightly different. Almost from birth, babies are able to recognize faces, even subtle differences in faces. However, there is a small percentage of folks – about 2.5% -- who cannot recognize faces at all. This condition is called prosopagnosia and can be inherited, or can be caused by a brain injury. People with prosopagnosia often cannot recognize even their own face, but they often can identify people by touching their features.
Have you ever been told “You look just like such-and-such-a-person...?” Oh, goodness. I remember once my mother met one of my brother’s friends on the street, and had a long, chatty conversation with him. “How is your mother? How are you doing in school this year...?” The only problem was, it wasn’t my brother’s friend; it was a complete stranger, and he had no idea who my mother was. I was so embarrassed for my mother, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her, as she and I strolled merrily on our way.
Yesterday I went shopping after work, and it became an exercise in frustration because everywhere I went, no one had any of the items I needed. The Bay – my good old standby – has discontinued just about everything I like. So, by the end of my fruitless expedition, I was tired, my feet were sore, and I decided to take a taxi home. I strolled over to the Four Seasons Hotel taxi stand, and was immediately treated like a celebrity. Well, I know the folks there are polite, but this was ridiculous. They practically rolled the red carpet out for me. When the taxi rolled up, the doorman held the taxi door open for me and said, “Have a wonderful evening, Ms. Campbell...”
And then it dawned on me. They had mistaken me for Kim Campbell, who had once briefly been the Prime Minister of Canada. I don’t think I look anything like Kim Campbell, but I have been mistaken for her before, so I suppose there are enough facial recognition points in our faces for people – strangers – to think we look alike.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever been mistaken for someone, or mistaken someone else? Who do you look like?