During lockdown, something magical happened: I found myself.
I'm hoping my story can be an inspiration to you, and others.
How are you going? I hope you’re doing okay. Thanks for the feedback on Webworm, this lil’ newsletter I started while on lockdown during a global pandemic. I’ve really loved reading your comments, too.
It’s been cool to hear that Webworm’s been a fun distraction from all the heavy stuff in the world right now. The idea that my ramblings can be a temporary escape from reality is really appealing to me.
Today, I wanted to share a story from my lockdown experience here in Auckland, New Zealand. Thanks to my friend Dylan Reeve for helping me with detective work in this one.
It’s a story about my twin.
Every week I get a message from at least one person saying:
“David, is this you in this advert?”
Here’s another example, from my very own brother!
This man is everywhere and it’s infuriating.
And I don’t know how to best describe the ads he’s in, beyond saying all of them promote the whitest, lamest, most millennial shit possible. Here he is again, in yet another advert:
Compare this with the real me, as per my Twitter profile:
It’s annoying for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it’s disorientating when people accuse you of being in adverts for stupid things like “Virtual Meetings” and joining a “Subaru mailing list” (I exclusively promote the Webworm mailing list, damnit!)
Secondly, if people assume I am in these adverts that’s fine, but if that’s the case I might as well actually be in the ad, getting paid those big bucks.
Like, technically, if I found this man — I could lock him in a basement (with plenty of food and water, I don’t want him to die) and take over his stock modelling job and actually be making some sweet bank — and it wouldn’t be any more embarrassing than it already is, because people think it’s me anyway.
So this lockdown, I decided to find myself.
I tracked most of the photos to iStockPhoto, and an account called Bojan89. There were very few clues as to the identity of Bojan89, who I assume was the photographer.
In desperation, I fired off a message to iStock. The contact form on the website only allowed 400 characters, and I think it’s fair to say I used those 400 characters to sound like an absolute lunatic.
Something along the lines of, “I need to find my twin, help me find my twin.”
I sounded deranged and I didn’t fancy my chances of hearing back.
With that dead end, I wondered if the handsome model — due to his overwhelming handsomeness — was doing modelling for any other photographers or agencies.
The photographer behind these snaps was called nd3000, and it turns out they were the one who’d taken the offending Subaru shot, “Happy family having fun time at home” — which apparently only cost $14 to download.
Fortunately for me, nd3000 returned much more helpful Google results. If my detective skills were on point, nd3000 — the person who’d taken my photo — was in fact someone called Andor, from Hungary.
Andor had also worked with the big boys over at Shutterstock — the motherload of stock photos. His profile there described him as having “Positive vibes with a clear message”.
Looking through his portfolio, I couldn’t agree more. My double exuded positive vibes. They dripped out of every pore. It was truly disgusting:
As well as exuding positive vibe in the office, my alternate self was also vibing in the bedroom.
It turns out that Nd3000 also had a profile on Alamy, where my double also kept popping up. On there, the photos of my doppelgänger are tagged as being taken in Serbia.
Was my double Serbian? Or was he just in Serbia on August 21st, 2019?
Then I stumbled on the motherload. Andor the photographer’s email address.
I quickly penned an email, trying to sound as sane as possible:
I hope this finds you well. I hope you are safe and well during this pandemic. I am writing with a slightly strange request. I am a journalist and documentary maker, and over the last year I keep getting people sending me photos of a man they think is me. I understand their confusion, because he does look exactly like me.
I have become very curious to talk to this man in order to find out a little about him, as I end up looking at his face at least once a week whether I want to or not.
After a big of digging I found out you have taken quite a few of his photos.
I am really hoping you can provide me with some clues. I don't want to violate his privacy, but would love to talk to him over email perhaps, just out of my own curiosity.
Thanks so much,
And I hit send.
I’m going to be honest - I didn’t rate my chances. It was a better email than the one I’d sent to iStock at the start of this mess, but I still think I came across like a total creep.
I went up the road and bought a bottle of whisky, and when I returned — I had a single unread email in my inbox:
I swigged some whisky.
And I waited.
Note: To celebrate finding myself during lockdown, and as a gesture of goodwill to both Andor and my twin, I purchased one of their stock photos. It was $14. I am going to get it printed and framed for my wall.