How the hell do Ronnie and Donnie Galyon do it? Permanently fused at the collarbone and ending at the groin. Fifty-eight years of coming back around to having to look each other dead in the eye again for another twenty-four hours once they're done checking out girls and heckling the ref. The Schappell sisters have it easy, as far as I'm concerned; sisters whisper secrets in each others' ears and don't stop when they reach "the age" where they're not supposed to do that anymore. Given the choice I believe most sisters wouldn't mind sharing a brain. Each one would be right there for the next secret that cannot be disclosed to anyone else, the next problem that needs immediate unlicensed psychoanalysis and treatment.
Brothers joined at the head? They'd bleed to death from pelting each other with cans of half drunk beer. They'd drive each other batshit and you and I know it. A six-inch sub's distance is enough of a proximity, and even then. My twin and I quit whispering secrets ear-to-ear by age nine.
It goes without saying this is another scenario in which the batshit statement holds equally valid (and I truly, truly don't intend for this to sound chauvinistic) but we'd never have made it if he and I kept whispering secrets to each other in public until we both went.
That aside, being the Galyons, being the world's oldest living conjoined twins (or living conjoined twins period), is no picnic. I don't care if it's a picnic to them. For one thing they can't stand precisely vertical without their spinal columns bending them into a permanent and surely extremely debilitating arch. For another the Galyons and the Bunkers were prostituted out as sideshow freaks. I guess I'm still just always surprised at how the four of them not only perservered but lived through all that and on to retiring from that kind of existence. You do not get a pass in this life.
You probably have at least a cursory idea of what conjoined twins are so I won't get specific. Half of all cases result in stillbirth and the survival rate across the board is about 25%. In any of the thirteen different types--as if that isn't bad enough luck already--a smaller number of them who do survive and live past an expected age possess abnormal organ functions or psychiatric impediments that would not traditionally be conducive to life.
From birth to death conjoined twins are targets. At least to the sideshow audience called the world. The same could be said for twins who aren't conjoined--look who you're reading--but it is hell on Earth for the conjoined. Forget that everyone who passes you by on the street who knows somebody in their family who turned out to be 'irregular' will still look at you as just "the twins" [(that statement was probably not the best one to make if the stereotype of a large statistical probability is to be avoided (it only takes place in 1 in 50,000 pregnancies)]; those same people will point, whisper to each other while fixing their contemptuous gaze on you and laugh heartily. No, I didn't have to fight the same kind of prejudice or insults flung at me but, as an identical twin myself, I definitely understand what kind of impact verbal barbs and playground bullying from classmates have on a person. Or verbal barbs and playground bullying from their parents. If they believe in reincarnation I hope those parents come back as conjoined twins so they can find out how animalistic a world they'd be up against.
I can't ever know what life used to be like or what it's like now for Ronnie and Donnie Galyon. Maybe if Ben and I had been the Galyons we'd have been a little less high and mighty ourselves. Conjoined twins are some beautiful people.