Reg Strikes Back

by ERTEL GRAY
edited by ANDREW HICKS

An epic battle is waged between Ertel and his supposed twin at a convenience store that is very, very blue.

Ever have a friend come up to you and say, “Man, you look EXACTLY like ______ who works at _______”? My buddy recently told me there was a dude at a Sunoco convenience store who was my twin. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me who in his right mind would want to look like me. Was it a lack-of-self-respect thing? Did this other me not realize I already had the market cornered on the disheveled, night-fry-cook-at-Denny’s look?

Totally off the subject, but a waiter once remarked to me that I look a lot like “an older Elton John.” An older Elton? That fucker’s like 65. I left the dude a .000001% tip, which was less than a penny, so I actually left him a rudely worded IOU instead of a tip. However, in honor of the Tiny Dancer himself, I’m going to name my nameless body double “Reg,” which was Elton’s nickname before he was Elton.

In my head, I kept hearing the phrase, “You look just like____” until it consumed me. I started having visions of Highlander-style epic sword battles with my doppelganger*. So, after a sensible breakfast, some impromptu sword training courtesy of Nintendo Wii tennis, and a bagged lunch of various condiment packages I stole from Wendy’s, I had to drive to the Sunoco store to meet Reg.

I had a lot of questions going through my mind during the drive there. What will Reg do when he sees me? Has hearing about my existence been just as difficult for him to adjust to? Will we do the Lucille Ball/Harpo Marx mirror routine? Not once did the obvious question, Does this legally qualify as stalking? enter my mind as I pulled into the gas station.

I decided that if there was any sort of trouble, I’d have to think on my feet. I needed an alias, and I needed it fast. I came up with Bruno-Pierre LaSange, French fur trader, en route from the Canadian wilderness to the forests of Oregon**. Bruno-Pierre was, of course, in need of a full tank of gas and some Funyuns.

I entered the Sunoco and made my way to the farthest point possible from the cash registers. He’s here, I thought to myself, as I tried to look occupied with the wide selection of car-mirror air fresheners on the back corner wall. They’re all here, I thought. Royal Pine, Vanillorama, Strawberry. Ooh! They even have Fresh Linen! Careful Ertel, don’t get distracted. Eyes on the prize, m’man.

All the while, I wondered how this scenario would play itself out. Years of self-preservation skills would come to fruition in this epic encounter. Soon, the only other customer paid and left, and it was just me and Reg. I was time to make my move.

I grabbed a Vanillorama and made my way to the counter, prepared for the inevitable. Shockingly, Reg didn’t even bat an eyelash. I looked at his name tag and studied his face, and although we weren’t dead ringers, we could have easily passed for brothers.

Donald Duck, Elton John, Ertel Gray and Sunoco Reg: 4 dudes who reap the benefits of a pantsless lifestyle.

“Brothers in spirit, you and I,” I remarked, rather awkwardly.

“I’m sorry, what was that?” asked Reg, suddenly confused. Justifiably so, I’d say, with a ball-dropping opening remark like that.

“Oh, I umm… y’know, a lot of people say we look alike. So, I had to come see for myself,” I said, and I could see the alarm bells ringing in his head.

“What people…? Who says…? They say we look alike?” asked Reg. His tone of voice suggested he’d decided to mentally check in to his panic room. “People say we look alike?”

“Yeah, some people that come into my store that have been here in your store saw you and said we were dead ringers for each other. I had to come see for myself.”

“Wow, I can’t believe… You drove here to see if we look alike?” His mental alarm bells must have been reaching Defcon 2 status. “And I thought I had no life… Wow.”

“You don’t think we could pass for brothers?” I was shocked at his instant dismissal of my fraternal olive branch.

“Dude, I… I don’t see it,” Reg said. “But you do kinda look like my friend ______ who works at ______.”

This was a cycle I was not going to allow to perpetuate itself. So I got in the car, put up my air freshener, listened to the real Reg’s album Too Low For Zero*** and drove home with the satisfaction of knowing that, as in the Highlander mythology, there could be only one Ertel Gray.

*Sorry, I haven’t figured out where the umlauts are on this keyboard. Germans are extremely secretive when it comes to these things.

**For some odd reason, every time I panic and attempt to assume an alias, it’s always the worst possible choice. Obviously, I don’t look like a grizzled fur trader named Bruno-Pierre. I don’t own any clothing handmade from animal skins. And even at my scruffiest, I could barely pass for a REALLY-let-himself-go-to-shit Kip Winger.

***Which suuuuuuuucks. For shame, Elton.

One Comment to “Reg Strikes Back”

  1. when you are Asian you get that from everybody. What’s worse is that most of the time these people don’t draw portraits so a Mr. Potato head has the same features you do to satisfy the mild demands for a match. Well written btw.

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