Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Doppelganger Knocks

I'm kinda freaked out.

As Lavie and I were running around town yesterday she recounted the following story:

At work, one of her electrical design co-workers came over and confirmed where she had previously told him I am working. He spelled our (real) last name, and she said said yes. He asked what first name I went by and she told him.

He then told her that his wife works on the other side of Houston and once a week, a vendor comes into their office and has my same name. That's not something that you just easily pull out of a hat. Supposedly, this Doppelganger is even in my same age-range and physical build.

Lavie jokingly asked me if I had any thing to confess. She told me the company the Doppelganger works for as a vendor, and it definitely wasn't me.

We kinda laughed it off as just a probable mistake in pronunciation/spelling.

Now it gets weird.

So last night I had some free time so I used TorPark to run some non-search-page-cached web-searches on my name. (After that AOL fiasco, I don't plan on using Google or anything else like that directly to do a name search.)

It took me quite a lot of digging, but finally the 6-degrees of separation factor began to kick in.

I actually found an individual VERY close to my given name who had performed two acts of heroism a younger child and again later in college.

A little more digging found what appeared to be the high school this same person went to. In some incredible act of Internet bravery, he listed not only a physical address but a local area phone number and email address (which is just a couple letters off from my own).

This was getting kind of strange.

So I pulled out our family's genealogy history which goes way-back to our original relative who immigrated to the US from Germanic Prussia back in the mid 1800's.

I searched through all the names of family members in our approximate age range but couldn't find any matches. It is possible that someone got missed, but the family tree was painstakingly researched by my Great-Great-Aunt and I seriously doubt it.

However, in the paper, we have a copy of a letter from someone who is likely off one of the other male son's of that original ancestor. In it, he writes about visiting a particular state where his branch of our family had had a long history of settlement. It is the same state, area that this person comes from. So there is a very good chance this person is indeed from a different branch of our same family--far distant.

So what's the next move? Lavie can't wait for Monday to come so she can ask her co-worker to ask his wife to ask this person if he is the same person I found.

I'm not sure I'm comfortable sending the person a cold-call email. I'd be kinda suspicious about this, especially with the very close similarity in names and all. "Hey dude, you'll never believe this, but we got the same names and are likely from the same descendant back in the mid 1800's. Isn't that spiffy?"

We've grown up being pretty much the only kids in Texas with our last name, and now the world just got very small, very fast. I mean, it's so unusual that Lavie's co-worker's wife remembered how different it is and instantly picked up this Doppelganger's name as being the same as my own and was curious if we were one and the same.

For the very reason of the family name's relative rarity (no pun intended), I've maintained Valca as my "nom de plume" and had to pass up what would have been a pretty neat higher-profile blogging offer just because I knew I would be instantly picked out, and as a public servant, keeping a low public profile is a Good Thing.

Lavie isn't willing to take on "Valca" on a more permanent basis, so I guess I'll just have to learn to live with it.

How weird is that?

Wikipedia: Doppelganger

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