On a recent Wednesday night I found myself in the emergency room waiting area of a New York hospital. Like many people who aren’t characters on medical dramas, I detest hospitals. I see them as breeding grounds for death and disease, and on occasion I’ve been known to slap a nurse silly. (Granted, I was seven at the time, and the nurse was waking me at 2 am for a routine though entirely unnecessary cat scan.)
This time around I tried to refrain from physical violence. Only this time around I was seated in the waiting area between two ERs: the regular and the psychiatric. And as I sat there plotting my inevitable escape, a woman recently released from the psychiatric ER approached me. Instead of initiating conversation, she just stood there for a solid 90 seconds— invading my personal space through non-verbal communication.
Then, suddenly, she shouted, “It’s Lena Dunham!” She, of course, wasn’t the first to notice the resemblance. At least once a day en route to work some tourist or native New Yorker will stop and ask for my autograph, mistaking me for my significantly more successful and articulate doppelganger. And in those moments of mistaken identity, I will humbly clarify that I am neither rich, nor famous, nor willing to go naked on camera.
However, this recently released psychiatric patient did not believe me when I attempted to deny her claim. Instead, she began to scream louder, attracting the attention of fellow waiting room visitors and ER doctors alike. And those doctors—rather than save lives, or something—stopped their time-sensitive procedures to weigh in on the matter. Some, like the psych patient, thought I was a celebrity in denial, while others stated I was “too pretty” or “too chubby” to be the director/producer/actress in question.
After several minutes wasted on non-life saving discussion, I interrupted, “Seriously, people, if I were Lena Dunham, don’t you think I’d have a private waiting area? Why would I wait around for an ER doctor to assist my friend when I could make a few calls and have an ER doctor at my apartment door?” The room went quiet, and then a small child—barely six—said, “You may not be Lena, but you’ve got her sass!” And, as you can imagine, there was quite a bit of laughter after that. Even the psych patient chuckled.
As the doctors returned to their imminently important duties, the woman who had created the entire debacle took a final look at me and said, “You’re right; you’re not Lena. Your boobs are too big.” And with that she walked away, leaving me and my boobs alone.