Not long ago I bought my girls new collars. Their old ones were getting very old and faded and (due in no small part to Mabel’s penchant for finding scummy dead fish to roll in) a tad smelly too. Besides, every little girl deserves something new and pretty from time to time—although, with my girls, how long it will stay new and pretty, is anybody’s guess . . .
When I mentioned their new collars to my friend Pam, her first reaction was to gasp, ‘I hope you got them the same colours as last time!’ Pam has known Mabel and Maude since they were babies but even after six years she still has trouble telling them apart, especially when they are moving at speed (which, granted, is most of the time.) Personally, I can’t quite see where the confusion lies. As you can see from this photo—the girls are nothing alike . . .
Seriously though, Mabel and Maude are not twins, nor are they even from the same litter, but if you do not take into account their personalities (in which they are almost polar opposites) I admit they are similar enough that if you saw them separately you might easily assume you had seen the same dog twice. I wonder if the term ‘doppelgänger‘ can be applied to dogs?
Molly, on the other hand, really does have a twin, Holly, who now lives on the other side of town. Molly and Holly (I know, I know—but they already had their names when they came to us) lived together for the first 5 years of their lives before coming to their new homes. They have only met once in the last four years, and although they showed very little interest in each other, Holly’s mum and I were very much struck again by how alike they still are, not only in their looks, but also in their temperaments, habits and funny little quirks. (They both do the same funny little ‘ballerina’ stretches, one leg at a time.)
I have always been a little bit fascinated by twins, although I am not really sure why. Perhaps because I don’t actually know any. (Human ones that is. At least I don’t think I do. Perhaps I do and am just not aware of it.) Anyway, there is a good chance that in the future that may change, as it appears there are more twins being born into the world now than ever before. But while I find the idea of twins really interesting, doppelgängers are a whole different story. Mythology and folklore from almost every nation on earth going back thousands of years assures us that everyone on earth has a doppelgänger. This means that somewhere else in the world there is a perfect duplicate of me, with my mum’s eyes, my dad’s nose (yeah, thanks for that Dad) and that funny little piece of hair that sticks up in the front and will never do exactly what I want it to do . . .
(Some people believe we have at least seven doubles. Go to ‘twin strangers‘ and check it out—seriously freaky.)
As yet I have never come face to face with my own doppelgänger, which is probably just as well as I am not entirely sure how I would react. Would I like me if I met me? (More importantly, would I like what I was wearing?) Would I even recognise myself if I knew it wasn’t really me? And if I did recognise myself, would I stop and say hello—or would I just turn and run screaming from the building? (The latter is actually entirely possible. Invasion of the Body Snatchers springs immediately to mind.)
In my defence, there is real precedent for being slightly trepidatious about meeting your own doppelgänger. (Apart from watching too many science fiction movies I mean. But what am I saying—there can be no such thing as watching too many sci-fi movies . . .)
Although nowadays we tend to think of a doppelgänger as simply someone who looks very like someone else, originally it referred to a wraith that cast no shadow, had no reflection and was a exact replica of a living person. These apparitions were exceedingly malicious and haunted their innocent counterparts while causing dismay and confusion among their friends and relatives. (Does the term ‘evil twin’ ring any bells? Perhaps this was the twin Steven Wright was willing to use for ‘parts’.)
Anyway, twins, doppelgängers, clones, spirit doubles—call them what you will, I don’t think I will be going in search of my own any time soon and if I come across her by accident—well, I’ll deal with that when it happens.
I have been thinking though—just to be on the safe side—perhaps I should buy myself something new (and pretty) to carry on me or wear all the time (like Maudie’s purple collar—yes, of course I got her the same colour as last time—she is still ‘Mauve Maude’). Something that uniquely identifies me as me, so that if the ‘other me’ appears unexpectedly and starts behaving badly my friends will immediately know it is not the ‘real’ me. (There’s logic in there somewhere.) Besides, any excuse to shop, right?