It made sense. Kind of. I guess.
The job posting was seeking two actors to play conjoined twins at an upcoming tech convention. My friend, Michelle, would play the role of WordPress (a major web design platform), and I would play the role of Media Shower (the company that hired us). By being stitched together, we were supposed to represent how seamlessly the two integrated. Again, it made sense. Kind of. I guess.
Conjoined twins are formed in a slight variation of the process that generates identical twins. The fertilized egg splits into two identical copies and then, depending on who you believe, either doesn’t split all the way or does but then fuses back together. Regardless of which camp you’re in, Michelle and I didn’t make a hell of a lot of sense. She’s a foot shorter than me, a few years older, and, oh yeah, a woman.
Meanwhile, our costume wasn’t very convincing either. We were given an XXXL T-shirt to squeeze into, a feather boa to cover the neck hole in our shirt, and a pair of orange hats and sunglasses to help us stand out from the crowd. Trust me, we didn’t need help standing out from the crowd.
The layout of the convention was about what you would expect. Bored-out-of-their-mind representatives manned booths with giveaways no one cared about. My favorite booth belonged to a company named BAM! Their sign displayed the word BAM in giant, colorful, crazy-font letters, and it hung next to an employee who looked on the verge of falling asleep. Michelle and I joked that they should have been called Phhbbttt.
As I looked around this less-than-ideal environment at the people who didn’t seem especially eager to laugh, it occurred to me that we weren’t just going to look silly, we were going to bomb terribly.
But then something amazing happened. People’s slouched-over bodies stiffened and the corners of their lips turned upwards. They snapped pictures and had witty conversations with us. They ate up our jokes which were mostly all an extension of us always getting screwed both ways when it came to the question of how many people we were. Stuff like having to buy two airplane tickets but only getting one in-flight meal. Not being allowed to drive in the HOV lane but having to pay a larger toll because of how many passengers were in the car. I know it looks kind of dry, but trust me, in a room filled with zero other entertainment options, that stuff killed.
Some people laughed and joked with us. Others seem frightened and walked past us the way you walk by a man on the street that you’re worried might mug you. I had mentally prepared myself for both possibilities, but there was one thing I hadn’t prepared myself for.
“I told my friend you guys are actually Siamese twins,” a short woman whispered to us. “She believed me.” We should have laughed at the joke. We didn’t.
“Oh no, we’re actually like this.” I explained. “And we prefer the term conjoined twins.”
“Oh!” The woman was both sorry for her faux-pas and morbidly intrigued. “Wait! Are you really? No! Oh my God, you are?”
Michelle pulled out a picture she had made of us the night before that was either funny or horrifying, depending on how you look at it.
“Oh my God,” she said clearly undeterred by the heads of people several-decades-old on the bodies of children.
The humane person inside me ached, and figured I should spare her the embarrassment and come clean. “Yeah, they were really excited when we applied because they only had to pay one salary.” So much for the humane person inside me.
“Oh my God, I have to go tell my friend.”
Yes. Do that.
As the day wore on, I realized that our employer was not so much crazy as he was brilliant. Everyone was paying attention to me and Michelle. Even people afraid of us took pictures that would probably go up on Facebook and Pinterest with the company’s name plastered across the image.
Our time there ended, and Michelle and I strutted for the exits with a leg-coordination we had fostered over our six hours at the event. People waved goodbye, sad to see us go. There was no doubt about it: we were the cool booth at the convention.
Kind of. I guess.
Jonathan Krieger is a writer, trivia host, podcaster, actor, and odd jobber. You’re gonna wanna check him out. We’re fans.