It has been nearly 40 years since the last time I watched the movie, Freaks and nearly that long since I last thought about the remarkable movie.  Made in 1932, Freaks tells the story of a group of sideshow performers. "In the film, the physically deformed 'freaks' are inherently trusting and honorable people, while the real monsters are two of the 'normal' members of the circus who conspire to murder one of the performers to obtain his large inheritance." (from the film's Wikipedia entry).

Watching the movie last night, I was struck by a scene involving conjoined twins, Violet and Daisy.  Daisy is married to one of the circus clowns.  When Violet gets engaged, her fiance says to Daisy's husband something like you must come to visit us sometime.  Daisy's husband agrees, responding in kind, and you must come to visit us as well

As many of you know, in my first book, I wrote the diary of a conjoined twin, Clara Ederle.  Readers have often wondered how I could get inside Clara's head and write her diary, especially how I could write so normally of her relationship with her sister Abigail. From the outside looking in, we see conjoined twins as if they were one "freak".  But from the inside looking out, Clara and Abigail are two separate and distinct individuals, with separate lives and separate loves, connected by the bond of sisterhood as much as by an error of biology.  And that is how I wrote them. 

In the movie, the brief exchange between Violet's fiance and Daisy's husband makes total sense to me now.  It's not just an odd bit written for a movie.  Of course the two couples would talk about, and make plans, to visit.  That is, after all, what people do.   

Did I understand that, when I saw Freaks nearly 40 years ago?  Did I see past the conjoining and recognize the two young women with their separate lives and their separate loves?  I don't know.  But I wonder, so many years later, did it help me find Clara's voice when I was writing her diary?



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