This fall the strangest thing started happening to me. I’d be walking down the street, and person after person after person (mostly women) would be staring at my face.
The first couple times I assumed what anyone would assume: I had food in my teeth or my lipstick on my face or a booger hanging out of my nose. But then, the first, second, third time, I looked in the mirror, I didn’t.
The stares continued. So many women, day after day. I wanted to stop them and ask, “Why?” There was no way this many strangers were suddenly interested in my face. It was the same face I’d always had.
Then one day, one of my gawkers whispered to her friend, “It’s Kat Dennings!”
It finally made sense. They all thought I was Kat Dennings, star of the new show “Two Broke Girls.”
With the premiere of the show, Kat went from successful, low profile actress to A-list star. No one really knew either of us before and now we’re hot!
At first, it was exciting to be Kat’s doppelgänger.
Fans stopped me on the street to snap my photo. I got offered free gelato. I tried to explain that I wasn’t Kat, but the gelato man wouldn’t listen. Paparazzi slipped into my path from out of nowhere and started clicking away. I screamed, “No!” It was useless. Every step I took, word I spoke, and smile that crossed my lips was suddenly of great importance.
I gave up and gave in. I stopped saying, “No,” stopped trying to explain my real identity. It was exhausting. I took the free gelato, the glass of wine, the stranger’s kiss on the cheek. I started to enjoy it. It was fun. It was flattering. At one point I considered trying to get into a party I heard Kat Dennings might be at and live the life of a famous person for one night.
But then, it changed.
I was walking home from night-class with flowers for my husband and a man started following me. Not me, actually, Kat Dennings. I kept walking, and he kept up, snapping pictures of my back. The Greenwich Village street was crowded, so I slowed and stopped and faced him, emboldened by my new name and person and fame-power.
“What?” I said.
“Marry me!” he squealed jumping up and down like a teenage girl.
I was frozen. I had no idea what to say. I felt scared.
I realized I would not do well as a famous person. I was not doing well as a famous person.
I wondered, Why me? Why anyone?
Fame (albeit fake) feels so arbitrary. But it was such a drug at the same time.
After the proposal incident, I began wearing a sign in public.
“I am not Kat Dennings!” it said.
I wore it for two whole days and it didn’t help one bit. In fact, it had the opposite effect. People paid more attention to me than ever.
On my second day wearing the sign, I saw Cameron Diaz, the real Cameron Diaz, walking up Sixth Avenue. I was so overcome that I forgot about being Kat Dennings. Cameron was there! She was tall and glowing and amazing. People paid no attention to me whatsoever. They stared and followed her with their cameras. I was one of them. I followed her. I am, after all, a big Cameron Diaz fan.
“Hey!” I said, approaching Cam.
She looked me up and down, puzzled, no doubt, by my “I am not Kat Dennings!” sign. “What?” she said.
I froze. I didn’t know what to say. She probably thought I was insane. She walked away looking vaguely frightened. I knew exactly how she felt.
At that moment, I surrendered from the fame game. I snapped back to my real life. I ripped off the stupid sign and threw it into a trash can.
I am Aspen Matis. I am not Kat Dennings.
I went home, baked a banana cake, and cut my husband a slice.