Doppelganger

I was at the VA Hospital the other day, visiting a Vet from our Mentor Program.   While riding in a crowded elevator there, I heard a nurse whispering loudly to a patient, “That’s the guy from T.V.”

I anticipated good wishes on our adoption and inquiries about our dear Island Boy — a somewhat common occurrence here.  Last week was the one year anniversary of the earthquake, and our family was featured on nearly all of the local news programs.

Instead, I heard her state (somewhat more loudly), “He’s the doctor who saved that Buffalo Bills player with the broken neck.”

It happened again.  Someone confused me with my doppelgänger.

I have the sort of face that lends itself to multiple sightings.  Over the years, I have been spotted working on cars in a garage in Rome, driving a cab in Cairo and I have “appeared” at many other points points on the globe.  People think they see me everywhere.

However, I have a true double — he is a renowned spinal surgeon here in Western New York.

Is this me?

Or is this him?

On September 9, 2007, Kevin Everett of the Buffalo Bills was tackled during a game in Buffalo.  Before a sellout crowd, Everett sustained a fracture and dislocation of his cervical spine that doctors termed “life-threatening.”

Luckily for Kevin, orthopedic spine surgeon, Dr. Andrew Cappuccino, led the surgical team that treated him very shortly after the injury.  Dr. Cappuccino performed a repair of the cervical spine that included a bone graft and implementation of hardware.

As a result of this procedure and the fine care that he received before and after surgery, Kevin Everett walked again.  In fact, he walked on to the field at Ralph Wilson stadium for the Bills’ final season game on December 23, 2007.  The crowd went wild.

Kevin Everett and Dr. Cappuccino on "Oprah"

My association with Dr. Cappuccino goes back over a dozen years.  During a trial, I cross-examined him.  Neither he nor I apparently noticed our physical similarity.  However, others did, and told us so.

Over the years, numerous people have approached me, mistaking me for the good doctor.  For instance, in a supermarket, a man came up and said, “Andy!  How have you been?”  It took a bit of effort to convince him that I was not Andy.

Walking down the street in a suit on my way to court, I am sometimes greeted with, “Doctor!  How are you?”  They assume that Dr. Cappuccino is en route to testify in a case.

Coming out of a courtroom recently, a lawyer with whom I have been friendly for years called me doctor.  “Terry,” I said.  “You’ve got me confused with Cappuccino.”  Terry stated that he had left his glasses back at the office.  We laughed over this.

However, the best case of mistaken identity came about when I had to depose the doctor’s wife’s grandfather.  I didn’t know about the relationship before the event.

When I walked into my conference room, the elderly gentleman was already seated there.

“Andy!,” he exclaimed.  He was clearly disoriented.

I had to calmly explain to the man that I was not his grandson.  He was a very nice man.

When he had calmed down, he kept stating over and over again that he could not believe the similarity in terms of looks, size and tone of voice.

Dr. Cappuccino appeared at the trial of that case.  He and I joked over our shared fate.  We learned that we were both originally from the same neck of the woods.  Perhaps we are distant cousins.

If I ever have the opportunity to examine Dr. C. on the stand again, I imagine it will start off something like this:

The Major: Good Afternoon, Doctor.  How are you?

Dr. Cappuccino: I’m fine.  Thank you.

The Major: Doctor, I am told we look alike.  Do you notice a similarity?

Dr. Cappuccino: Yes.  But, I am much better looking than you.

The jury will burst into laughter.  Having broken the ice, we will continue with the examination.

*****

In the years to come, I know people will continue to confuse me for my doppelgänger.  In fact, I have learned to have fun with this.  I often acknowledge their greetings with a polite nod and a smile.

I have a colleague at the gym who resembles a local radiologist.  We often greet each other with the mutual salutation of “Doctor.”

The other day in the elevator, the nurse was struggling to come up with the name of the surgeon who had saved Kevin Everett’s life by inducing hypothermia to reduce blood flow in his spine.

“Oh, what’s his name?” she whispered urgently to her patient.

At that moment, the elevator stopped at my floor.

As I departed the car, I looked over at both of them and grinned broadly.

“Cappuccino,” I said.

— The Major

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by lisa on January 22, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Wow so I have two brothers?!!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Kelli Dunn on January 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Michael and Erin. I took the liberty of sending this to Helen Cappuccino. She loved it!!

    Reply

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