What's in a name?

Seth Cohen is a man on a mission. 

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Seth Cohen is on a mission to meet every other Seth Cohen in the world. No, not that Seth Cohen, though yes, he gets that a lot. “A couple times a month, I’m asked, ‘Have you ever heard of that show The OC?’ Well, of course I have,” Cohen says. “I can’t escape it!” But a new Seth Cohen might come to the top of your Google search results, thanks to the Seth Cohen Project, which has the Bedford-bred Cohen traversing the country and soon, he says, the globe. Cohen started the project a couple of months ago, on a bit of a whim. “I was at a place in my life where I wasn’t sure ‘what’s next,’ and I had always wanted to go on some great adventure—chasing windmills or hunting unicorns,” he says. “So this search for my namesakes seemed as good as an excuse as any to venture out into the world, find some adventure and perhaps find myself in the process.” And he’s already had adventures aplenty. From a competitive bridge player to a high school dropout turned body builder turned WWF wrestler turned law school grad, all the Seth Cohens he’s met have led incredibly interesting, rich lives, Cohen says. And one of the best parts? “They have also, without my prompting, started to reach out to each other and connect,” he says. “Cool!” We caught up with Cohen in between stops on his journey to talk about his project.

How have you been finding all these Seth Cohens?
By all means necessary. I started on LinkedIn, because people use their real name on LinkedIn. The issue is that you can’t communicate with people until they have ‘connected’ with you, so I can’t tell the Seth Cohens why it is I am trying to connect. The same issue exists with Facebook, and Facebook is also littered with fake profiles for the fictional Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) as well as people who for whatever reason (particularly internationally) use “Seth Cohen” as their screen name, almost 10 years after The OC. So Facebook is only so-much help. I then started just calling people up from the online Whitepages and/or Pipl.com, but literally 90 percent of those numbers are out of date or just plain wrong. I have also used Google, but for the most part you just get page after page of ‘Why Seth Cohen is the perfect boyfriend’ and ‘Seth Cohen is my spirit animal’ — all referring to the fictional Seth Cohen. But if you use qualifiers like “Dr Seth Cohen” or “Seth Cohen, Body Builder’ you can eventually uncover some that way. Now that the project is getting out there a bit, they have started finding me, which is the best way!

Have you been surprised by the number of Seth Cohens willing to meet with you?
No. I’d be more surprised if they weren’t willing to meet.

Have any Seth Cohens declined your request to meet?
Two. One was quite rude about it. He said “Well that’s your project, I don’t see why I should get involved.” I explained to him that the Seth Cohens I have met have all found it to be a fun and even enlightening experience, but he didn’t care. He was a cranky old guy. The other was really nice about it, but seemed to have some serious identity issues wrapped up in his name.

Who has been the most interesting — or surprising — Seth Cohen you’ve met thus far?

Each and every one has been amazing in their own way. There was one who grew up as a severe stutterer, but has gone on to overcome it and become the best type of overachiever. He is a successful businessman, his own boss, loving family man and has visited 77 countries! I myself grew up with severe dyslexia, and so we bonded over facing extreme adversity early in life and how it shapes you going forward.

Then there was one who appeared to be a mild mannered, conservative Manhattan tax attorney. He sat down and said “I don’t think I have the typical Seth Cohen story to tell.” Turns out that he was a high school drop-out turned electronic salesman turned body builder turned WWF wrestler (Yes! Seth Cohen was body-slammed by The Hulkster!) turned strip club bouncer turned bar owner and then finally a later in life GED recipient, college grad and then, finally, law school grad. He was also the happiest most content guy you will ever meet. He has lived five lifetimes already and is now a happy family man and successful tax attorney. He told me it’s not so scary sitting across the table from a bunch of power-lawyers once you have been body slammed by Hulk Hogan. Never judge a Seth Cohen by his cover.

And there was one who is a competitive bridge player. I went to the National Bridge Tournament and I can tell you one thing for sure — the world of competitive bridge is not what you think it is. Not at all.

Those were the most interesting/surprising – but I can’t stress enough – each and every Seth Cohen meeting has been a fascinating experience and I have learned so much, and had so much fun, from and with each.

Where is the farthest you’ve traveled, so far, to meet a Seth?
I’ve only been meeting them for about a month. So, not far…yet. They have all been in the North East (New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts). But I have been talking to ones from the Dominican Republic to New Zealand and beyond, and am gearing up to visit each and every one of them.

Have you met any Seth Cohens that you think you’ll keep in touch with?
All of them. Almost every single one has asked me to get in touch next time I was in their town — a few have even offered me a place to crash next time I am in town.

 

What do the other Seths think of the project?
They all think it’s really cool. It’s not every day that you get to sit down with a perfect stranger and have a chat. They all seem to understand that it’s not so much about meeting my namesakes as it is about connecting with people I would never otherwise connect with, visiting places I would never otherwise visit and experiencing things I would never otherwise experience. And to a lesser degree, the same is true for them. It’s a new experience for them — obviously — and life is all about new experiences!

Ultimately, what are you hoping to get out of all this?
The meaning of life. And to inspire others to follow their dreams.

Last question: Did you watch The OC?
Yep. … When Facebook first became popular I reconnected with many old friends who promptly told me “I’ve been looking for you for years, but all I could find is some kid named Adam who was on some show called The OC. Damn you Adam Brody. Damn you.

 

 

 


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