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A Voice-Doppelganging Toddler

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“So, funny thing happened to me over the Winter holiday season. I was with my wife, Anna, and my dog, Petunia, and the three of us were enjoying a stroll through New York, as one does, and it was snowing, as the Winter Time Clouds does, and we were having a grand old time. There was an icy glitter decorating every discarded candy wrapper on the ground, frost clinging to the backs of the sewer rats— and I guess the snow was nice too— but we were taking a walk, when all of a sudden my little french bulldog decides the time to rise up against the bourgeois is now, motherfucker, get the guillotines and break out the pinot noir, and just bolts out of our sight. 

“I immediately take control of the situation, as I always do, of course, and tell Anna to wait there, just in case Petunia decides to return to the scene of the crime and circle back— very cunning, the French. Always thinking four times twenty and ten steps ahead— if you got that joke and you don’t speak French, thank a talking pineapple, and if you got that joke, I am so, so sorry you had to see that talking pineapple. Anyway, I tell Anna to wait, and I run off after my escapee dog.

“I run after her– which was very hard considering the amount of snow; I still have no idea how she crashed through all that with the grace of a professional Kool Aid Man impersonator– and finally as I’m following this Bugs Bunny style snow trail, hoping I didn't make a wrong turn at Santa Fe, I come across what appears to be a family consisting of two dads– one of them much more… tall dark and handsome … than the other– and their four children enjoying a nice day in the snow, and also enjoying Petunia being a small friendly dog.

“The kids immediately recognize me, which, I must say, always throws me for a loop. I don't know why thirteen-year-olds are so keen on a man in his thirties doing stand up about topics that in all honesty shouldn't be relatable to anyone, let alone children, but I digress.

“In any case, Petunia is being absolutely worshiped by the four kids, and I’m out of breath after running about three inches, so I decide to strike up a conversation. It also helps that I didn't want to be that moderately-famous guy who takes his dog back and doesn't bother to even ask how your day was.

“So we exchange some pleasantries, and of the kids mentions he did my Salt And Pepper Diner prank, which I absolutely do not recommend, do you hear that all you prepubescent troublemakers? It’s not funny if everyone starts doing it. Give it a few years until I eventually fade into obscurity and have to take side gigs at workplace team building field days. 

“We’re chatting, everything is mostly normal, aside from every one of them talking like they’re all keeping a secret from me. In hindsight this was very obvious. However, Past-John didn’t notice anything particularly strange, because Past-John doesn’t know jack shit. 

“Petunia runs off to bite the head off of a Nobleman, by which I mean faceplants into the snow, and the three older kids run after her, assuring me not to worry. They called me Mr. Mulaney , also, which I was tempted to reply to with a very witty actually that’s my dad! My name is John!

 “So, the child being held by the tall dark and handsome dad– did I mention he was wearing a sweet hat?– we’ll get to that soon, I promise— starts giving me a look. A knowing look. Suddenly, me and this toddler were thick as thieves, we were in it together, and I had absolutely no idea what “it” was, but if this baby had told me the earth is flat, which, and I may get some stern backlash from people with overactive twitter accounts here, it definitely isn't , I probably would have believed it.

“And then he says “Hi.” Notice that I did not put on a toddler voice to say that, and hold on to that thought for my next few sentences.

“Now… Have you ever had a feeling, not deja vu, but a feeling that something you’re experiencing is something that you’re also doing?

“No? No one else?

“Well, anyway, this toddler says hi, and it’s weird because, uh, he says it in what is practically my voice

“And I hear what you're saying! John, how could a toddler possibly have your voice, the voice of a naive and underpaid radio anchor who is in the back of a lot of old sepia tone photographs?

And I would like to explain that to you. The key phrase here, of course, is “ would like to,” because I definitely would, if I were in any way capable of explaining it.

“So I’m standing here with two dads and an all-knowing, voice-doppleganging toddler, and wouldn’t you know it, those three crazy little rugrats watching over my dog are having a snowball fight. And naturally, one comes careening toward the most obvious target for a wayward, off-course snowball to hit: my head.

“Fear not, however, because tall dark and handsome dad steps in at the last second secret-service style to block the shot with his own head. 

“I know.

“I think what I said as his hat fluttered to the ground was “Oh no,” which, thinking back, was not a very cool thing to say. He bends over to pick up his hat, and I catch a glimpse of his face.

“Now. Several times over the duration of this story, I have called this man tall, dark, and handsome. And I can now explain that I meant that literally, because he is tall– that one isn't the interesting one– dark as in “completely grayscale”, and handsome as in “holy shit, that dude is in black and white, and I am suddenly Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot .

“Well, I don’t know if any of you lovely people have heard of Spider-Man , but if you have , then you might remember the time that six versions of them were all in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Because I definitely remembered it at that moment. And it hits me like that snowball that didn’t get to hit me earlier. Two dads, four kids. Six. We can all do math, I’m very proud of you. There are also six spider-people. Even I, a man who predicts every wrong possibility of a situation as I am actively participating in it and making stupid choices, had no doubt in my mind that not only did this man look like a crime fighting vigilante, this was one of the spider-people, and oh wow Petunia just led me to the Spider-Fam.

“Along with Spider-Noir, who I no longer have to call tall dark and handsome dad, you also might remember Spider-Ham, who is a small pig. Do not ask me how this exists, superheroes in New York are already so goddamn weird that I have learned to stop being surprised. I was surprised, however, when the toddler in Spider-Noir’s arms pulls down his scarf to reveal a snout and ears. So this toddler, who I now realize is actually Spider-Ham, winks at me. He winks, and he says– and I can do a perfect impression of how he said it– “You can use this in your next comedy special!”

And the reason I can do it perfectly is because now that the toddler cover is blown, he’s just speaking with my voice. No subtle differences, nothing. My voice, coming out of a cartoon pig disguised as a bundled up toddler. 

“So my next move, logically, is to ask why he has my voice. And I’m very, very reassured to know that none of them know why either , which is a great thing to have in your life– someone else with your exact voice. It’s like pressing your ear into an auditory mirror. It’s even better when no one knows why this is a thing that has happened in real life.

“You may have realized by now that I took him up on that offer, because you just listened to me perform it. I don’t have superpowers, but my ability to take the advice of a talking pig who sounds exactly like me is second to none.”