I am a proud Doctor Who fan, going back thirty years, for better (“Genesis of the Daleks”) and for worse (“The Twin Dilemma”), through sickness and health, and so on. But in all that time, I’ve given myself a headache over the Doctor’s mercurial identity.
Sure, I could get behind the fact that eleven (as many as eighteen, depending on the source) actors were playing the same character in much the same way I could get behind Roger Moore and Daniel Craig playing the same character. What I’ve always had a problem with was the Doctor being the same person; i.e. how can William Hartnell and Peter Davison be the same dude? I know that some fans can totally grasp it, but I just can’t. I even spent two weeks last year trying to explain it to myself with art and everything, but I still couldn’t get it to click.
Then the other day, I was talking to a friend who’s known me for over ten years, and it occurred to me how many separate lives I’d lived in that time. I’ve been an angsty artist, a frustrated writer, a lovelorn poet, and a cuddly cartoonist. I’ve been a doting boyfriend, a lonely single man, a terrible boyfriend, a loyal friend, and a caring husband. I’ve been a smoker, a pothead, a drunk, and sober. I’ve gone through sad periods, cheerful periods, angry periods, confident periods, and periods where I could only be described as an utter jackass. I’ve been social, and I’ve been solitary. Hell, I even went through a (brief, alas) period as a ladies’ man. I’ve worked as a devil-may-care temp, a dedicated manager, a temperamental waiter, a telecommuting freelancer, or have simply not worked.
I haven’t even looked the same. I’ve been both fat and thin. I’ve had long hair, really long hair, short hair, black hair, blond hair, and brown hair. I’ve worn a chin beard; a Master-style, mustache-beard combo; careless weeks-long growth; and no facial hair at all.
My uniform has veered sharply; one could tell who I was at what point by looking at my “uniform” at the time. I’ve dressed in baggy T-shirts, soccer jerseys, rugby shirts, and oxfords. My feet have gone from cowboy boots to combat boots; from bowling shoes to dress shoes; from Converse to New Balance. My pants have been cargo, khaki, and denim. When it’s cold, I could be seen in a leather pea coat, a denim jacket, a corduroy blazer, or an oversized cardigan sweater.
Since I’ve graduated from college, I’ve been about a dozen different people, and I’m only in my mid-thirties. Yet I’ve always been the same; I mean, Who has traveled with me through every identity. So imagine if I’d had a thousand years to reinvent myself time and time again …
And just like that, it all made sense to me–I can see that Six and Ten are the same guy.
But more importantly, it is so much fun to look back and see who you used to be. You should try it sometime.