The most uneasy feeling in the world is that feeling of recognizing a person but not knowing how you know him.
This happens all the time in movies. The other night, I watched Whatever It Takes—one of those teeny bopper films we used to love in middle school. One of the female leads always seems to play the snobby popular girl in chick flicks, but which movie? Who was the male lead—didn’t he play the villain-turned-monster in some other movie? And I recognized the baseball coach from somewhere.
Luckily, we have IMDB.com, the Internet Movie Database, to look up information like this.
But what about in real life? I often find myself in situations where I recognize a person, and I know him somehow, but I can’t for the life of me remember how. The result is either a) a burning sensation in my brain, trying to picture his face in every possible context, or b) some sort of awkward conversation.
I propose we invent the IPDB—the Internet People Database.
Sure, there are Web sites like Switchboard.com that serve as online phonebooks, and Classmates.com helps you reunite with your high school friends. And, of course, our beloved Facebook.com tells you more than you could possibly want to know about any of your “friends.”
These sites are great, but they rely on knowing one small piece of information—a person’s name. But how do you find that short girl with the long red hair who you swear is a friend of your cousin? Who is that cute boy you pass on the sidewalk every day? Did the girl with too much eye makeup go to your elementary school?
The Internet People Database would allow you to search for a person based on whether she has red hair, a squeaky voice, or even “man hands.”
Last year, I noticed a guy on campus who looked exactly like my friend. I only knew they weren’t actually the same person because I saw “Jason” in the room, and then I saw the real Jason walk in. The real Jason didn’t believe me that he had a twin on campus. If the IPDB had existed then, I could have searched for “looks like Jason” or at least some of his facial characteristics, and the twin easily would have been found.
For now, I’ll continue to use IMDB to identify movie and TV stars. Jodi Lyn O’Keefe played the popular girl in She’s All That. James Franco was Harry, the villain in the Spider-Man movies. And, yes, the baseball coach actually is Richard Schiff, West Wing’s Toby Ziegler.
I can almost sleep easy tonight.
But if you’re the tall guy with the curly brown hair I saw walking down Sheridan Road, give me a call and tell me your name.