Glimmersofsilver posted this wonderful essay today about the hidden depth in seemingly absurd questions posed by children. In response, I told her that I would enjoy answering this type of a question with as much genuine thought and seriousness as I could apply to it. Apparently, she works routinely with kids, and so immediately gave me this one to ponder: What if you had two heads and didn’t like the other head? Well, let’s see if I can adequately address this query and satisfy a child’s curiosity, shall we?
What if I had two heads and didn’t like the other head? I’m afraid you’ve taken us into a world of paradox, my young friend! But that’s okay. I can work with that. In fact, you could say it’s a hobby of mine.
Now, if you were here, I would ask for a bit of clarification. Did I already have my current head and then suddenly found that I had sprouted another one? Or was I born with the extra noggin? Since you can’t answer me, I am going to assume that I was born this way: a single-bodied man carrying around two heads on his shoulders, neither of which likes the other one very much. Or at least one of them doesn’t like the other one very much. Also, I’m going to guess that the head which feels cranky about its counterpart contains its own brain that gives it its own unique feelings and opinions and memories that aren’t necessarily the same as those of the other head.
This would be a nightmare! Have you ever watched a dog chase its own tail? It spins in circles trying to catch something that’s attached to its own body, never thinking about what might happen if it actually caught it one day. Considering how angry my own dog seems to get when involved in this activity, I’d guess that in the unlikely event he ever caught up with it, he’d end up biting himself very hard on the tuchas and would probably quit playing this game forever after. So that’s what happens when a dog has a tail and doesn’t like it. Imagine how much worse life would be for me if I disliked my other head!
My extra head probably disagrees with a lot of things I say. And it’s quite possible that he considers ME to be the “extra head”. Now that I think about it, this might be a very common argument between two quarrelsome heads resting on the same body: just who is the main head and who is the extra head? The answer, of course, would depend on which of the heads you’re asking.
Q: Who is the main head here?
Head 1: I am.
Head 2: Don’t listen to him. I’m the main head.
Head 1: I knew you were going to say that.
Head 2: If you had told the truth in the first place, I wouldn’t have had to say it.
Head 1: I did tell the truth. I am the main head. I’ve always been the main head.
Head 2: I knew you were going to say that.
Head 1: If you had told the truth in the first place, I wouldn’t have had to say it.
Q: I’ll let you guys figure this out while I go grab a burrito.
Now sooner or later, these heads would have to come to a compromise. All of that bickering is bound to get tiresome, and of course, two heads sharing a body can’t settle their differences by fighting. The first thing I might do is remind myself that it doesn’t matter which of us is the main head because we can both do everything that heads are supposed to do: see, hear, talk, smell, eat, nod, and whistle a tune. There isn’t any point in letting my closest neighbor get to me like that. Since we share a body, me and my other head have probably seen a lot of the same things, met the same people, tasted the same foods, and listened to the same music for as long as we’ve been alive. Like any two people, this might be a good place to start a conversation that could help us better understand each other. For instance, “Hey, Other Head, what did you think of that song?” or “Hey, Other Head, did you see that dog chasing its tail? What do you think he would do if he caught it?” Once we got to talking about something other than who is the main head and which head is more annoying than the other, I bet we’d have plenty to discuss. Think of all the shared experiences we’ve had that we never got to talk about because we were too busy disliking each other! It might be like meeting a new best friend with whom you instantly hit it off. And if not, at least it would probably make them much more tolerant of one another going forward.
So with that in mind, I have a question for you. What if a planet had 7.5 billion heads and none of them liked the others? The answer might be surprisingly simple. Just ask the guy whose two heads finally made friends with each other. If they can do it, I think it’s safe to say that everyone can if they just try to be a little more patient and tolerant and understanding of all the different heads with which it shares a habitat.
But I still can’t stand my other head’s taste in hats. I mean, really, a pom-pom?