Posted by: donaldgallinger | July 30, 2008

Your Mystery Twin

One day I received a phone call, and this guy from my past told me he was in town on vacation with his family. I was delighted to hear from him. I hadn’t seen him in twenty-five years. We had been childhood friends back in Connecticut, and then, while we were in college, we had a falling out, mostly because we were changing as we became adults.

We arranged to meet at a local pub.

After the first glad greetings and handshakes, we began to reminisce and to fill in our personal histories from the last time we saw each other. At one point, my old friend expressed some degree of surprise when I told him that I was gainfully employed as a teacher and had earned a doctorate degree in my subject area.

When I asked him why he was surprised, he appeared embarrassed, hesitant.

He told me that about ten years before, he had been walking down the Atlantic City boardwalk with his wife when he saw a guy who gave him chills. This person was sitting with his hand out, begging for change. According to my old friend, the guy had long, straggly blonde hair and beard, looked as if he hadn’t washed in weeks, and was pitifully thin, as if strung out on heroin. My friend stopped, horrified. He thought the guy begging was me—a grown up, filthy, drug-addicted, emaciated Don Gallinger.

It’s interesting how people think we’re going to turn out. To be fair, my friend mistaking the homeless junkie for me—at least at first glance—was not entirely unwarranted. I was once very thin and my hair and beard, although clean, were very long. There was also a time in my youth when some people thought I was utterly lost.


Sometimes, I wonder if all of us have “mystery twins.” Perhaps somewhere, out there, in another existence, I am that wasted individual begging on the boardwalk. Perhaps, together, we are making a life that neither one of us can yet see nor understand.

Who might be your mystery twin?

Donald Gallinger is author of the novel The Master Planets.

View Donald Gallinger’s official website blog:



  1. While I was in college, I often had the very strange experience of having people who knew me tell me that they’d seen me earlier that day in parts of campus I hadn’t been to in weeks. Or that they’d called out to me and I’d ignored them. Or that they’d seen me doing things I couldn’t imagine doing. This went on for all four years I was there. I never saw him, but I came to the conclusion that there was someone on campus who bore an uncanny resemblance to me. I often wondered if he’d had similar experiences.

  2. A couple of years ago, I delivered two presentations at a conference. At the end of the second one, a woman came up to me and said, “I just wanted to pass this one to you. A lot of people liked your first session.” Before I could ask if something was wrong with the second one, she continued: “I know because several people have come up to ME to tell me how much they enjoyed MY session!”

    We looked at each other: Same hair, similar facial structure, and glasses. She was (to my mind) CONSIDERABLY thinner (dammitall), but overall I could see how the mistake could be made. We both had a giggle over the few, EXTREMELY surface qualities that make us recognizable to others.

    It’s humbling to realize how little of our “real” selves are absorbed into people’s consciousness. I imagine I can stop worrying about the fact that my bangs don’t wave the way I want them to. Ha!

  3. Hmmm, that was interesting. Looks like somethings will always remain mystery.

    I myself has been trying to solve the mystery of the legend that forces you to have “earn it before

    having it”, for a wile now. Could not understand much though.

    Let me know in case you get to understand the mystery of the Old Hound and the Legend

    By the way, good writing style. I’d love to read more on similar topics

  4. Man, I followed that dark truth link, and was completely in the story. Damn exciting. The latest post talks about a friend of him who’s gone missing . Somewhere on his way to Leh, India. And the guy is asking for help find it. Soundss like an online game . This looks interesting. M already hooked on.

    Hey, btw, nice post you have there – keep rocking – 😉

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