Minding my own business, trying to finish my pizza, when two teenage boys come up to the table. I know what it’s about, and I know my pizza is about to get very cold.
“Sir, do you follow the Patriots?” one asks?
I let out a sigh, which probably sounded more like a grunt, and the same thought comes back again. “This is that Belichick thing, and I’m pretty damned sick of it.”
So, I find a way to put my thoughts into words.
“This is that Belichick thing,” I say, “and I’m pretty damned sick of it.”
“You aren’t him?”
No, but I’ve been getting that a lot lately. It started about a year ago, when a guy on the elevator in my building asked me if anyone had ever told me how much I look like Bill Belichick.
I said no, for two important reasons. First, no one had ever said it and, second, I had no idea who Bill Belichick is. So I looked him up on that internet thing and it turns out he’s the general manager of the New England Patriots, who apparently play in Boston and count Giselle Bundchen among their most ardent fans. Who knew?
So he tells me I’m a dead ringer and he wants to take a picture with me to send to his friend in Boston, as a prank. I demurred, but he asked me again on the next three or five elevator rides when I saw him. Eventually, he gave up and found some other innocent soul to torment.
I thought that was the end of it, just one of those things, until I’m at the phone store and one of the other customers comes up with a question. “Has anyone ever told you that you look exactly like Bill Belichick?”
This time I’m prepared. “Oh, you mean the general manager of the New England Patriots, who play in Boston and count Giselle Bundchen among their most ardent fans? Why, yes, this resemblance has been mentioned before.”
And so it goes over the past year until I’m trying to finish my pizza and telling a couple of teenagers that, no, I am not Bill Belichick and, no, I will not be taking a picture with them to prank their friends. I’m not sure why people think this would be a hoot, but apparently it’s a common thought among the paparazzi in training.
After my first encounter with a BB fan, I checked out his photo online and it probably goes without saying that I was very disappointed. While I think of myself as young and dashing with a chiseled jaw, piercing blue eyes and cheekbones to die for, my alleged doppelganger looks like a standard-issue old guy.
Even worse, he’s a standard-issue old guy who is even older than I am. So, when people tell me I don’t look my age, they really mean I look much older. Insult, meet Injury.
I’ve learned a lot about Mr. Belichick over the past year, and not just from the internet. First, it appears that he isn’t very popular. With all the people who have confused me with our leading Patriot, nobody has offered to buy me a drink, or dinner, or suggested a ride on their private jet. Hell, nobody has even hope I have a nice day. On the other hand, nobody has hit me, either, so he is clearly not the most disliked guy in football, or on my elevator.
Equally insightful, nobody has come up to me to demand the $20 he owes them or to repay his $20, either. Clearly, he is fastidious in his financial habits, neither a borrower nor a lender being. Now you know all there is to know about the man, courtesy of my investigative skills.
Of course, there is an upside to being confused with someone famous, including the opportunity to scam $millions from the gullible masses. I can make some chump change by charging teenagers $5 for a selfie, even if it’s just to prank their friends, but the real money comes from endorsements. Not that I am admitting to any felonies here, but watch for next month’s rollout of the new Bill Belichick Grill, the Belichick Diet and, my/his greatest invention for people of a certain age…the Belichick walk-in tub. (Happy to split the endorsement fees, Bill, just in case you’re wondering.)
While I am a bit weary of being interrupted in the middle of my pizza, I must admit that the situation is absolutely much worse for him. It can’t be very pleasant for a guy to be minding his own business, eating his Boston scrod or Boston baked beans or Boston cream pie or whatever, when some yutz mistakes him for me.
“Hey, Dad Writes guy, where the hell is that $20 you owe me?”
“Hey, Dad Writes guy, why did you block my, um, selfies, on your Facebook page?”
“Hey, Dad Writes guy, I swore I’d beat the crap out of you next time we met and now I’m gonna make good on my promise.”
Sorry about that, Bill. It was all a funny misunderstanding and I’ll take care of it very soon. Meanwhile, it might be best to keep a bunch of linebackers around at all times, just in case.
Also, has anyone mentioned how much better looking you’re getting as you age?
It's only a matter of time before I get sued for all of my BB endorsement deals, and then the hilarity will be nonstop. Catch every minute by clicking here to subscribe to our weekly updates. Or you can click here instead. Totally your call.
Over lunch one day, a friend and I were discussing the challenges of leading people to the best decisions. He suggested that one way I am limited in that area is that I am too much a contrarian. In one group that we belong to, people anticipate that I will be the one to rain on their parades with challenging questions or comments. When I meet those expectations, my comments get discounted and my influence disappears.
He’s right about the impact of my actions, and I’ve seen this situation play out more often than I would like to admit. In fact, I know one guy who believes I am always wrong, because he believes I am always opposing the wisdom of the crowd. As a result, he becomes even more certain that he is correct if I say I disagree with his view. In his world, my accuracy is two steps lower than a stopped clock.
What if he’s wrong, though? What if the wisdom of the crowd isn’t always wise? What if the emperor is really a flasher?
Often, when people get together to make a decision, some ideas will gather momentum and others won’t. It’s not necessarily the value of the idea that drives that momentum, though. Sometimes, it’s espoused by a forceful individual, or it’s a view shared by two people in quick succession and the group dynamic flows from there. Once enough attaboys are issued, the idea becomes a truth destined to be chiseled in stone.
That’s where I join the conversation. I’m looking for the missing guest, the thing that should be considered and isn’t on the table. I’m trying to anticipate the unintended consequences of today’s big idea. I’m looking at how the ultimate audience is going to respond when the committee issues its report.
In fact, most of the time, I’m trying to figure out how to make the idea work in the real world. And then, I open my big “contrarian” mouth.
How many customers do we have to acquire in order to make any money on this? What’s to stop Amazon from simply offering the same service and putting us out of business? What if Uncle Ernie decides to invest the money in a boys’ boarding school?
By the time I chime in, however, the train has left the station, that ship has sailed, and the chicken has crossed the road. My question becomes the final evidence that this is the best idea ever. “We all believed it was a great idea and then, even better, Rosenbaum didn’t like it. Pure gold!!!”
Time for some introspection. If I’m trying to help a person reach a better conclusion, but my approach often leads to a suboptimal decision, shouldn’t I change my tactics? Perhaps I should be more active in the chorus of attaboys when someone makes an inane comment like, “let’s break the mold,” or “we dare to be different.” Should I be more manipulative in the pursuit of a greater good, or is that one of those slippery slopes they talk about in law school?
So, thanks to my friend for giving me something to consider in terms of the way I’m perceived. I’m working on it. Meanwhile, I keep thinking about the guy who has concluded that my disagreement is proof of his brilliance. There’s a great prank in here, somewhere.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.