It's hard to muster up too much sympathy for the plight of Austin Clay, a 21-year-old QuikTrip employee and WSU student who at the moment can't get women to leave him alone.
Poor Austin. Born with an angular jaw, brooding eyes, superior bone structure and a striking resemblance to one of Hollywood's most panted-over movie stars.
We learned about Austin from his mom, Dixie, who called The Eagle last week to report that her son bore such a striking resemblance to floppy-haired "Twilight" vampire Robert Pattinson that he wasn't getting any peace these days.
You don't understand, Dixie said. He doesn't look just kind of like him. He looks just like him.
We invited Austin to The Eagle the next day so we could verify his mother's claims, and we really couldn't argue. The resemblance was strong enough that, before he left, a few of us tried to persuade him to goop his hair up and hit the celebrity impersonator circuit in Hollywood — or at the very least start renting himself out at local birthday parties.
But Austin is probably a bit too shy for either of those circuits, it turns out.
A graduate of Goddard High, Austin is a soft-spoken, Converse-wearing everyday guy who is suddenly being asked by total strangers on a regular basis to pose for pictures.
It started, he said, about the time "New Moon" came out. Suddenly, he started noticing groups of young girls unsubtly gawking as he did his work at the QuikTrip at 21st and Ridge Road.
"It was usually really young girls," he said. "They'd ask me if I'm him, and then one of the other ones would look at my name tag and say, 'No, it's not him.' "
(As if Robert Pattinson would be moonlighting at QuikTrip in Wichita. Come on, ladies!)
Ever since, the demand has been steady. At work, at the mall, walking down a public street, Austin is approached by people who tell him — as if he might not already know — how much he looks like Pattinson.
Dixie has started calling him "Robert" as a joke.
"It's kind of amusing. And it's kind of a compliment, so I can't really get too mad about it," Austin said.
So far, his look-alike status isn't earning him a whole lot more than photo requests.
A friend persuaded him to go to the premiere of "New Moon" to see if they could stir up a riot, but because of a ticketing error, they didn't even get in.
Hardly movie star treatment.
Austin did manage to catch the movie a few weeks later and is rather ambivalent about his doppelganger's acting career.
"It wasn't a bad movie," he said. "But it wasn't my favorite movie."