Conjoined Twins, by Alex Pearson

People are generally fascinated by the concept of conjoined twins, yet rarely do any of these people actually ever know any conjoined twins personally. I, on the other hand, actually do know conjoined twins, and while I am fascinated with them as individuals, the general concept of conjoined twins bores me. So yes, I know two conjoined twins, but no, they are not the only thing I ever want to talk about. You might ask how I came to know a pair of conjoined twins, and while I would prefer to talk about something more interesting, I would have to answer by correcting you: I never said I know a pair of conjoined twins. I said I know two conjoined twins. There is a difference.

To clarify, the two conjoined twins I know are not twins with each other, and it should go without saying that they are not conjoined to each other. As far as I know, conjoined non-twins have never happened and, by all that is holy, never will. What I am trying to say is that I know these two people who each happen to have a conjoined twin, but I only know of each of their respective conjoined twins. Or think about it like this: I know two conjoined twins. They are from two different pairs of conjoined twins. This means there are two conjoined twins from these same two pairs whom I only know of. I don’t know any two people who are conjoined twins with each other.

One of the two conjoined twins I know is a pen pal with whom I have had a meaningful correspondence for years. We have never met in person or even spoken, but I can honestly say I know him better than many of the friends I see every day, conjoined or free-bodied. My pen pal has a conjoined twin with whom I have never communicated, but I would not say having a conjoined twin is what defines him. To be clear, “him” refers to my pen pal. I can’t speak for his conjoined twin. I don’t know him. I only know of him.

The other conjoined twin I know is a co-worker with whom I have shared a cubicle for years. He has a conjoined twin, but they strictly maintain the exact opposite sleep schedules. This way, the one I know works the day shift while the one I only know of sleeps, and the one I only know of works the night shift while the one I know sleeps. You have to admit the plan is ingenious. Imagine the money they must save by never having to pay for an apartment, but then again, they would only need a one-bedroom. I am ashamed to admit that, after all these years, I have never once set up a breakfast/dinner or dinner/breakfast with the two conjoined twins from my cubicle. It would be a great chance to get to know one of them and to get to know the other even better.

I think it would be fair to say a pair of my friends are conjoined twins, but it seems deliberately unfair to say I am friends with a pair of conjoined twins. So, whenever someone asks me if I know conjoined twins, I try to explain as honestly as possible. If they seem bent on a simple yes or no answer, I do say yes, but with my voice raised at the end like a question. Now, can we please talk about something else? Something interesting? Like contortionists.

Alex Pearson is a writer from North Carolina. This is confirmation you read his piece “Conjoined Twins.” Please print or save for your records.

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Conjoined Twins, by Alex Pearson