Have You Seen Your Doppelganger?

I used to think that a doppelganger was a member of a gang. Just as an appledumpling-ganger was a member of the Apple Dumpling Gang, or a poormarksman-ganger was a member of The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, I figured a doppelganger rode with those who doppled in the occult and rode doppled horses.

And then one day I was having lunch at a gang hangout, Auld Gang Syne, and ran into a fellow I knew. With him was a graduate student at the University of New Mexico, who told me that he was finishing a dissertation on Wyatt Earp. He was astounded by how much I looked like Wyatt. He’d been through lots and lots of old pictures, and I was Wyatt’s doppelganger, his double.

My life changed at that point. When I was a kid, watching The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp on TV, 1955-61, my brother and I had a routine. One of us would ask, “Did you see Wyatt Earp this week?” and the other would answer, “No. I didn’t even know he was sick.” But from that fateful lunch onward, all I had to do to see Wyatt Earp was look in the mirror.

So, I ask you, “Have you seen your doppelganger? And who is he or she?” To be honest, Wyatt and I did not look like each other when we were younger. It’s only as chronologically gifted adults that our likeness has emerged. And this is but part of the story. There’s more.

The church I haunt sent several adult mission trips to New Orleans to help after Hurricane Katrina hit that area in 2005. It’s a long way from Albuquerque to New Orleans – like the width of Texas, Louisiana, and half of New Mexico – and so one of these mission groups stopped at a rest area outside Quanah, TX. And there in a display case on the wall of the rest stop was my picture alongside various other Texas heroes. But the historians had my name wrong. The posting said that I was Captain Bill McDonald, Texas Ranger.

This group of volunteers was incensed that I had not received my due for heroic service to the State of Texas. Alerting me to this slight, I looked into the matter. Turns out that there actually was a Captain Bill McDonald, indeed, one of the Four Captains. Again, he did not look anything like me when we were younger. It’s only as he was gifted chronologically that he became my doppelganger. We look so much alike in the rest area picture that the State of Texas says that it will compensate me for using my likeness by posting a picture of me on the wall of a yet unnamed restroom in Lubbock if I ever do anything heroic within the bounds of the Longhorn State. Sounds fair.

So, I have two doppelgangers, Wyatt Earp and Captain Bill McDonald. Or, here’s another point of view. People who see the pictures ask me if I believe in reincarnation. No. I believe in REINTARNATION, which is the feeling, “Tarnation! I might have had an exciting life or two, and I don’t remember a thing about them!”

You can find my picture, or rather Captain Bill’s, online. BUT you have to find the right picture. There are many other pictures, older and younger, that obscure the likeness. The correct likeness accompanies the book, Captain Bill McDonald Texas Ranger: A Story of Frontier Reform, by Albert Paine. It’s the photograph taken from his/my left. He’s/I’m wearing a dark suit and a dark hat, white shirt, white tie. The picture looks so much like me that my wife Cheri framed it and put it on the dresser. I think she likes the notion of my past as a Texas Ranger.

The point of all this being that the Captain Bill picture is also the one attached to my website. It’s small, hard to see there, so I thought I should explain what it is. He’s one of my doppelgangers.




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