There I was, cavorting to and fro in the gorgeous weather outside without a care in the world... while little did I know an evil Shane doppleganger was running around the Quad Cities trying to ruin my street cred.
Look, it's no secret that I'm the coolest person alive, right? I mean, why else would you be reading this column? If you were to make a list of the Top 5 coolest people in the world, it'd probably go something like:
#5 - The dude from the Dos Equis ads
#4 - Bill Nye the Science Guy
#3 - Chester Cheetah
#2 - Fonzie
#1 - Shane.
Coolness this intense doesn't just happen overnight. Such an epic ranking requires endless prep work, measured finesse, and near-constant vigil against threats to one's reputation. The minute you let your guard down? WHAM -- that's when you get an evil doppleganger showing up.
I'm trying my best to run this wicked and incredibly uncool imposter out of town -- but until then, the only thing I can do is humbly apologize for his shameful, shameful actions.
For instance, Quad Cities, if you've ever seen me around town and mustered up the courage to come say hello to your idol... only to find yourself talking to a stammering, red-faced, socially awkward weirdo who can barely make eye contact, it's clear that you've met my evil doppleganger.
If you were driving to work one day and found yourself getting cut off in traffic by some jerk in a Beetle who might have looked a lot like me, and then that jerk almost swerved into you because he was too busy futzing around with his iPod to watch where the heck he was going, CLEARLY you were dealing with my evil doppleganger.
But most importantly -- and I must make this perfectly clear -- if you were at last week's Barry Manilow show and you noticed someone who looked EXACTLY like me there, it was DEFINITELY my evil doppleganger.
I wouldn't be caught dead at a Barry Manilow concert, right? Think about it. Remember that cool list above? Well, it's got a flipside. Right now if you had to scientifically determine the LEAST cool things on Earth, it would clearly go:
#5 - The smell of burnt popcorn
#4 - Jesse and the Rippers
#3 - Urkel
#2 - Chlamydia
#1 - Barry Manilow.
If I had been at the Barry Manilow concert, which is of course mere theoretical postulating because, as I mentioned, it absolutely positively wasn't me and that's my story and I'm sticking to it -- but if it WERE me at the Barry Manilow concert, I would probably use the excuse that I was there with my parents as a birthday surprise for my mom. Good excuse, too, since I've heard that the evil doppleganger coincidentally enough was there in the company of my parents.
My folks lead what some might call a sheltered life. Were it not for their occasional forays into civilization for Wendy's and Pizza Hut, they'd be one bear cub away from leading what some might call a Grizzly Adams life. They're pretty much perfectly content to live out on the farm with few friends and few social activities, and that's by design.
They're far from corn-fed backwood yokels, but it's still occasionally fun to take them out to "big city" entertainment. Like when we were (theoretically) standing in line for the show and my mom turned to me and said, "Don't forget to put your cell phone on silent. We don't want to disturb the show."
"Umm," I (theoretically) replied, "At the iWireless Center, it's probably not gonna matter a whole lot."
Or when the ushers walked down the line handing out glow-sticks (huzzah!) and sadly informed the crowd that Barry wasn't accepting gifts tonight.
"Well," said my mother (theoretically), "I guess this means my underwear's staying on."
It's at this point that I began to worry about my poor dad. Or theoretically worry, because as I've said, I'm clearly way too cool for a Barry Manilow concert. My dad raised me on a steady diet of Chicago, Santana, and rock & roll -- and I'd expect forcing HIM to sit through a Barry Manilow concert would be akin to, well, forcing ME to sit through a Barry Manilow concert.
Except that I also grew up with my mom, who raised me on a steady diet of Barry, Barbra, Neils (Diamond & Sedaka), and any other cheezy singer you can think of. And while cool Shane would have scoffed at all of these, Evil Doppleganger Shane may have picked up an alarming early fondness for classic Manilow that's strangely survived all these years.
And had I been at last week's show, despite it being filled with Vegas-y schmaltz -- and despite current Barry being a tad bit older, wobblier, and perhaps a little more plastic than the Barry of yore -- I might have actually had a fantastic time reliving all those songs of my youth.
My mom might have even run the gamut from smiling to laughing to crying and ending up with a hoarse voice from screaming so much. And even my dad might have assessed the whole thing afterwards by saying, "I gotta hand it to him. That was a hell of a performance."
All of which should easily merit a Son of the Year Award, which I will accept with gratitude on behalf of my evil doppleganger. In the meantime, all I can do is promise you, dear reader, that I will do everything in my power to keep my evil, uncool body double at bay... but no promises.
After all, Neil Diamond might come back to town one of these days.