Talking to myself, Part 2

As recounted in this space last week, PPL Replications ­ a now defunct biotech firm ­ working with this reporter's robust, gladly given DNA, did, in September 2000, produce the first-ever

May 3, 2001 at 2:06 pm

As recounted in this space last week, PPL Replications ­ a now defunct biotech firm ­ working with this reporter's robust, gladly given DNA, did, in September 2000, produce the first-ever human clone.

Through circumstance and wrong-headedness, however, this clone ­ my clone! ­ while still "pre-natal" was exposed to and saturated in unproven, as well as excessive, hormonal solutions. As a result, my non-conjugal spawn matured at an inordinate rate; today, though a mere 7 months old chronologically, he is, by all other measures, a man of 21. In an effort to conceal their appalling error, PPL has kept his existence a secret.

Until now.

As also explained last week (you really did miss a lot last week; where the hell were you?), on April 18 I finally had the opportunity to come face-to-face with my genetic duplicate, to meet and talk with my clone for the first time. A transcript of this momentous encounter follows.

Me: It's odd, really, I've observed you growing up here at PPL since, well, since your first cell was just a gleam in a microscope's eyepiece, yet this is the first time we've been allowed to meet.

Me Two: You're tellin' me about weird?

Until I was 12, I called a graduated 500-milliliter beaker "Daddy."

Me: OK, but now you know better. You know your story. So tell me: What are your thoughts right now, as you look me, your progenitor, right in the face for the first time?

Me Two: I'm thinking I better start flossing more regularly.

Me: Um-hmm, um-hmm. I have to say though, on the subject of looks, I don't think you have anything to worry about. You're an extraordinarily handsome man. Arresting, really.

Me Two: You have to say that, you're my father. And my biological twin.

Me: No, really. I'm being objective. A stranger would tell you the same thing.

Me Two: Right. Whatever.

Me: It would also seem that the hormones that accelerated your physical maturation effected your mentality in the same way. I mean, your language skills, your demeanor, the fact that you're not blowing spit bubbles, hey, for seven months old, you're doing very well.

Me Two: Thanks. I try hard to present myself as a mature, responsible adult. But believe me, I'm still a work-in-progress. For instance, I just made a poo-poo in my pants. (He begins crying.)

While Me Two changes his Huggies for Hyperpituitary Toddlers, I take the opportunity to change the tape in my recorder.

Me: Uh... Let's shift gears a bit. Do you think it's been harder for you growing up as a clone, than for, say, the traditional fertilized egg-type person?

Me Two: Well, I can tell you it's no picnic going through an Oedipal phase when, technically, you have no mother.

Me: I hear that. Tell me, how did ...

Me Two: Hold on, man. So far, you've been asking all the questions. But, you know, the people at PPL, they've told me stuff about you. Trying to provide me with a context. And based on what they said, I have some questions for you, too. About your motivations to perpetuate yourself this way and the role of your bloated ego as it relates to that whole thing and about how and where I fit into your life and why you wear leather loafers with no socks and...

Me: And we'll get to them. Honest. But you know, right now, I was thinking we'd flip on the TV. Do a little tube bonding. Hey, the 1978 Sugar Bowl is on ESPN Classic.

Me Two: Are you avoiding my questions, and if you are and we're gonna watch TV, can we watch Comedy Central?

Me: What channel is that? I forget.

Me Two: So do I.

Me: You know, I blame my poor memory on my youthful overindulgence in drinking and illegal drugs.

Me Two: That's funny, I blame my poor memory on your youthful overindulgence in drinking and illegal drugs, too.

Me: And what's that supposed to mean? That all your problems are all my fault?

Me Two: I couldn't have said it better myself, you rusty bucket of genes...

Me: Hey, boy-o, I'm your DNA source material. When you talk to me, you'll show some respect.

Me Two: Respect? You want respect? Hah! I may only have an IQ of 110, but I think I'm smart enough not to waste my respect on some underachiever like you with a lousy 110 IQ.

Me: Oh, yeah, clone-boy? Yeah? Well, go fuck yourself!

As a heterosexual, that, it turned out, was my poorest choice of words ever. ©