The One with the Twin Brother

I live in a 1920s-era building (read: no central air conditioning), so in order for Reggie and I to stay cool and sane in the summer months, I install an air conditioner in my window. These units are as common in NYC windows as rats on the subway tracks. But air conditioners don’t always stay in windows. They are awkward, heavy things. Trying to hoist one into an open window while balancing it with one hand and securing it into the frame with the other requires the dexterity of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat and the brute strength of an Olympic weightlifter.

Last year just as I was closing the window on top of the unit for stability, the air conditioner started teetering this way and that. In a split second, my body reacted without thinking. I grabbed the air conditioner as quickly as I could and my little pinky finger got caught in the vent holes. I saved it from crashing four flights to the sidewalk below and my finger, while black-and-blue, made it out intact, but I had had enough. It was time to get one of those portable air conditioners on wheels.

Doesn't this look like something out of The Jetsons?

Doesn’t this look like something out of The Jetsons?

I decided to sell the old air conditioner. There was probably someone in the neighborhood who had one of those sleeves built into the wall and didn’t need to worry about things like ballast. I posted an ad and received a quick response from a guy who lived just a few blocks away. We arranged for him to come by the next day. When I opened the door, I was completely caught off guard. Standing before me was a very familiar face, but he didn’t seem to recognize me. He was well over six feet tall with brown hair and eyes. He had a kind of lumbering, almost sorrowful gait to his walk.

“I feel like I know you,” I said, by way of apologizing for staring at him for so long. Did he think I was trying a pick-up line?

He looked at me. “No, sorry.”

In a city of eight million people you’re bound to run into a doppelgänger or two along the way, so I let it drop. He effortlessly picked up the air conditioner seeming to balance it on one finger like a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. As an afterthought, he said, “Well, maybe you’re thinking of my twin brother Aaron.”

Yes! That was it! I had worked with Aaron about ten years ago, before he left the company to pursue greener pastures. Without the daily interaction at the water cooler, we’d lost touch. I have no clue what’s going on in his life. Where is he working now? Is he married? With children? Does he live in the city or did he move to the ‘burbs?  I hadn’t even thought about him in years.

I don’t know the odds that the identical twin brother of a guy I worked with a decade ago would respond to an ad I placed for an air conditioner, but it seems they would be rather slim. As soon as he left I ran down to the corner store to buy a lottery ticket.

Have you ever run into someone from your past in an unexpected way? Did it prompt you to do something different or did you see it as a coincidence? 

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

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21 comments

  1. I hated installing the AC in Boston. Hated it. Went one summer without it because I hated it. I ran into an old college roommate at the art museum in Philly. It was awkward since we really didn’t get along as roommates (I lived in a house with five or six other people).

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      1. I didn’t, but I saw many people doing that. On our tour, the guide did hum the theme song for us. Pretty cheesy, but still funny.

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  2. Jackie, I have never had air conditioner hassles because my apartment is not wired for it, so in July and August I’m basically living in a sweat lodge. If I could have it, I think I’d be inclined to go with the wheeled version, too.

    I’ve unexpectedly run into exes. That usually feels like an ambush for both parties.

    That is so cool that you’re showing that you’re reading my book on your “what I’m reading now”! Thanks for the endorsement!

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    1. I sympathize on the a/c plight. In my first apartment my crazy landlady had painted all the windows shut except the one in the bathroom. Come to think of it: I should write a post about that.

      I’m enjoying your book! It’s such a fun read! I have to meet Milton. 🙂

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      1. That’s some crazy landlady you had! Jackie, you must publish that post on one of the upcoming dog days of summer. Please ask Reggie to forgive the slur.

        Milton recently told me that he’d like Courtney B. Vance to play him in the TV series of our tome. Milton does not think small. That would be great if you guys meet. I think you’d hit it off.

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      2. It’s definitely one of those “only in New York” stories — a summer-long lame adventure, if you will.

        Not that anyone’s clamoring, but I should give some thought to who would play me in the movie version of my life. 🙂

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  3. Those window air conditioners are the worst! Glad you’ll be living in comfort this summer. I could not live in NY without air conditioning.

    Years ago, my boyfriend and I met a lovely couple from London at a camp outside Beirut, Lebanon. Weeks later, we ran into them at a camp in Greece. Didn’t think much of it at the time, but now I’m amazed.

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  4. Great story, Jackie! I thought it was strange after Sara and I began dating to find out that our mother’s had been friends, and we didn’t know it. I love these kinds of synchronicities!

    Hope you and Reggie have a wonderful–and cool–weekend!

    Hugs,
    Kathy

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  5. Ugh! I had one of those window units when we lived in New Hampshire. What a pain to put in. Was recently visiting my son-in-law’s sister in L.A. She lives in a very old building – also sans central air. She had one of the new A/Cs and it worked great! Sooo much easier for you I’m sure, Jackie. Some purchases are just worth the expense.
    Stay cool! 🙂

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  6. I’m kind of spoiled at this point (and by ‘kind of’ I mean completely)… our current building has central air-conditioning… which is SO nice! It really is a small miracle there was never an ‘incident’ with our window unit. Or a more memorable incident, anyway (there were always ‘small’ ones). I’m pretty sure if we hadn’t had such a wide window sill something major would have gone down!
    Hmm… I don’t know if I’ve ever bumped-into someones twin like that…
    unless there’s something some twin isn’t telling me, I guess!
    🙂

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    1. What did people do before air conditioning? Right? It’s hard to imagine working in an office building or on a factory line and trying to be productive. My brain would fog over in a haze and I’d spend the day staring and sweating. 😛

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  7. Okay, first, how did I miss this last week? I LOVE this post… because second, we HAVE dropped an air conditioner out a window (only second story but still)… so thank goodness you didn’t. Third, your new AC looks like a paper shredder! Amazing! Fourth, I had almost the same exact thing happen with a set of twins… one guy who comes into the same coffee shop I write in who I *thought* I saw one day at another coffee shop and *he* looked at me like I was crazy when I kept saying hello. Finally, a week later I saw them together at the coffee shop. It was soooo funny! Great post, Jackie, and I’m glad you didn’t drop your AC, sorry about your finger, but glad you sold the unit AND got a blog post out of it!

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    1. Too funny! I can’t believe that you had a similar “twin experience”! I can just imagine you thinking, “why isn’t this guy saying hello back?”

      My a/c does look like a paper shredder. Now if it would only wash the dishes, I’d be all set! 🙂

      Did your air conditioner survive the drop?

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  8. I agree with Julia. Great post. While I haven’t run into someone from the past (since I live a gazillion miles away from my past… ha ha), I did find it interesting that, when I moved to the Boonies, AZ, several locals kept calling me ‘Michelle.’ When I said, “No, Melissa,” I got the same comment over and over … that I was Michelle’s twin. Though Michelle had moved … so I wasn’t able to confirm this with my own eyes! But what were the chances of me moving to such a tiny town only to find my Doppleganger?

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    1. Dopplegangers turn up where you least expect them. I recently saw an older man on the subway who looks just like I predict a friend of mine will look in 20 years. How crazy is that?!?

      Did you ever find out who Michelle is?

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