My friend and I stand in the middle of a convention center, the two of us squeezed into one jumbo-sized T-shirt, playing the role of conjoined twins for the amusement of the passersby.
At this point I don’t even find these gigs strange. They are just normal. This is my Friday.
John Hargrave– the founder of Mediashower– had hired us to man his company’s booth at a convention for a product called WordPress– one of the major web design platforms being used today. His hope was that convention attendees would be so struck by the two of us that they would have to stop and chat. Then he would swoop in to discuss his company.
Most businesses hire hot women in sexy outfits to achieve this goal. John had hired this:
I represented Mediashower, and Michelle represented WordPress. The fact that we were bound together represented how seamlessly the two of them integrated.
Now if you’re looking at that picture, you may notice a problem: Seeing the two of us does not exactly bring to mind the phrase “seamless integration.”
Our outfit looked like it had been designed by a fourth grader as part of an arts and crafts project gone bad. The seams of the shirt screamed with each movement we made, threatening to split at any moment. The boa’s feathers shed around us and created the impression that we were less performers than we were a moulting ostrich.
Looking back I’m not sure exactly what we were going for with the costume. I know the boa was meant to cover up the neck hole in the shirt so you couldn’t see our two clearly separate bodies. I think the hats were there to give the ensemble a kind of unifying theme. And the sunglasses were…. well… I don’t know what we were thinking with those. I believe they were supposed to help us stand out from the crowd which, as you may have guessed, we didn’t really need.
But Michelle and I weren’t about to turn down the work. After all, we were professional actors.
As we stumbled into the convention on a Friday afternoon, I was struck by how gloomy the event felt. People shuffled aimlessly from booth to booth, more out of obligation than out of interest. Those at the booths just stared off into space, fingering their company-themed mouse pad giveaways that no one was taking, presumably because it isn’t 1997, and no one uses mouse pads.
The whole event had a drabness that did not jive especially well with the two freaks at the corner booth in an XXXL T-shirt. I braced myself for snickers, disturbed glances and an afternoon full of people hurrying past us. I am pretty sure it was two friends dressing in an outfit like ours at an event like this that first inspired the phrase ass-clown.
But it never happened. I was wrong. We weren’t ass-clowns. We were rock stars.
People smiled, screamed, whipped out cameras, posed for pictures and ate up our corny jokes. For John’s part, he not only had the busiest booth, but he also had people snapping photos of us wearing his company logo and posting those shots to Facebook, Instagram, and six other sites that I would know the name of if I was at all hip.
John smiled as his booth boomed, and Michelle and I got lost in the joy that is improv. We joked and bantered like brother and sister who had been attached at the hip for decades. In return, the people there overlooked our flawed costume and the genetic impossibility we presented. Well, most people did.
“I told my friends that you’re actually Siamese twins,” a woman whispered to us late in the day. “And she believed me.” The woman snickered.
I was curious who her friend was, but we had a role to play. It was sort of like how when you go to Williamsburg and you see some snotty guest go up to the actor and say, “Man it was really tough getting here in our CAR.”
And then the actor has to do everything he can not to shoot himself before saying, “A car? What matter of wizardry is this?!”
“Actually, we are twins.” Michelle said, doing her part.
“And we prefer the term conjoined.” I said, doing mine.
“What? Wait, really? Oh my god. I– Oh my God. I had no idea.”
You can’t be falling for this, I thought, but said nothing.
“Show her the picture,” Michelle interjected.
The night before, Michelle had found a picture of two kids online and taped our heads on top of them. The results were mildly mortifying.
“This is from when we were five,” I explained, showing her the doctored image.
Okay, I may have misused the term “mildly.”
I figured the heads of two people decades past age five, clearly taped onto children’s bodies would clarify the fact that we were joking. I was wrong. For her, this was not so much the punchline to a bad joke as it was proof.
“Oh my God, I have to go tell my friend.” And she scampered off.
Michelle and I looked at each other, slightly more concerned for the future of humanity than we had been before. Then we returned to our work.
It was Friday, and today we were conjoined twins.
Odd Job: Dressing as conjoined twins
1. Okay, maybe you would notice more like 20 problems, but let’s start with the first.
2. If you were to rank the phrases this sight brings to mind, it would probably go something like this: 1) Oh Dear God, 2) That poor, poor woman, 3) Wait, why is there a boa? 964) Seamless integration.
3. I.e. financially desperate.
In some but not all articles, names or identifying characteristics or individual lines of dialogue have been changed to protect identities or because remembering exactly how things happened is hard. Like, really hard. But in every case, an effort was made to maintain the integrity of these events that did indeed actually happen.