I am rather intrigued by the idea of the evil twin, where all of us, somewhere on earth, have a twin self that is as malignant and morally corrupt as we ourselves are innocent and pure. Or just the opposite, if you like.
And of course, the opposite would have to be true, because if each of us has an evil twin, then each evil twin must have their own evil twin, aka the virtuous twin. That would be us, right?
So the question remains, if there is one twin of each of us, how do we really know which one we are? Are we the evil twin? Or the virtuous twin?
Somewhere in the world there is an incredibly attractive, sexy, petite woman who is the most horribly vicious, nasty person in the universe. This would be my wife’s evil twin, driven to such an extreme state by my wife’s incredible goodness and sweetness.
Now, my wife didn’t get so sweet and kind by accident. She had to resist a great deal of evil twin exposure. Stacey comes from a family of twins. She is the oldest of five kids, and the only singleton. The first set of twins born were fraternal, a boy and a girl, and I don’t think it would be in my best interest to discuss their individual virtues, given that I have no idea which of them is the evil one.
And I don’t know what her mother was thinking, but something evil was going on, because next time she gave birth it was to another set of twins, this time a pair of identical boys.
They are now grown men who I have known for several years, and I’m starting to think I’ve got them figured out.
One twin (I’ll call him T-A) sings in a choir and teaches children how to play the piano. He’s a vegan. He owns a cat. The other twin (T-B) drives a jet-black BMW M5 much faster than he should, prefers an IPA Pilsner, eats as much meat as he can, and has TWO cats.
Which one is the evil twin? They both are evil. How did I figure this out? They both like to sing karaoke.
The Germans have a similar concept to the “Evil Twin” known as the “doppelganger,” which I think is a really nice word to say out loud. Go ahead, try it! DOPPELGANGER. It’s fun!
The German language is full of cool words, like “fahrvergnugen” and “liebfraumilch.” German is, in fact, a very interesting language to listen to, so long as you’re not standing directly in front of whoever is speaking. The language is full of too much spit and phlegm for proper sanitation.
French, on the other hand, is a very smooth language that involves very little aerosolized saliva. But there should be a law against turning French words into English. Have you ever heard your cousin Billy-Bob say the word “reservoir”?
“Hey Billy-Jean! It’s hot! Let’s go for a swim up in the reserv... The reservo... Oh, hell, you know where I mean!”
Maybe it’s because we’re all so overweight, but American mouths are not designed to produce the sound, “voir.” And another thing. There’s a reason we don’t roll our r’s in English. It’s because it sounds stupid.
The German word doppelganger has come to be synonymous with “Evil Twin,” but it actually started as a different concept. Originally it was a word expressing an experience many people had tried to describe of seeing, briefly and only out of the corner of their eye, their own self walking beside them. It is an ancient word, which I believe comes from the Germanic root words, “doppel — to push someone over” and, “ganger — a small band of nomadic hairdressers.”
Anyway, the term doppelganger was originally used to describe that person walking next to you, and was considered an omen of impending death. And you’ve got to hand it to those Germans, they’re always good for a laugh.
But what’s so funny about “Evil Twins”? Nothing, really. Our evil twins are responsible for most all the suffering and injustice in the world. It is our evil twins who fly jets into trade towers, who strap bombs into baby carriages, who torture enemy combatants, who ship coal by rail to China, who drive when they could have walked.
It is our evil twins who keep voting for the same congressman every two years even if he is an ultra-partisan rubber stamp for a political party completely out of touch with reality. It is our evil twins who believe what they hear on talk-radio, who cheer for the wrong team, and who leave the toilet seats up. It is our evil twin who uses the cellphone while driving, doesn’t pick up after his dog, and yells at his kids.
So, do you know who your evil twin is? Have you looked in the mirror lately?
I know who my evil twin is.
He’s the guy who writes this column.
Craig Danner is a novelist and physician assistant living in Hood River with his wife and two teenage sons.