I was delighted to read the New Yorker profile (subscription required) of Bryan and Bryan, the identical twin doubles tennis stars. I’ve long been fascinated with Bryan and Bryan, although I have to say that it’s the same sort of ambiguous fascination that I have with the music of Perry Como where I’m legitimately uncertain to what extent I really appreciate them and to what extent I find them fascinatingly corny, where the dividing line lies between these feelings, and whether that dividing line is actually real or meaningful in the first place. It’s all somewhat confusing. On the plus side, they seem like legitimately nice guys, they’ve almost double-handedly kept doubles tennis alive as a sport, plus they have the cool twin E.S.P. thing going on where they make the same moves on the court at the same time without knowing they’re doing it and defeat more individually-talented tandems of singles stars through their single-organism style of play.
On the other hand, there’s just something about them that exudes a sense of all-American ham. Perhaps this feeling has its roots in the observation of their clean-cut twinny appearance, or in their boring names (‘Mike’ and ‘Bob’). But, whatever its origin, your suspicion feels well-founded by the time you read the New Yorker’s commentary on their musical activities: ‘… the twins ran through one of their own, tennis-themed power ballads– “I can’t be broken again. I’ve got to hold on now.”‘ Yikes. That’s up their with Dirk Diggler and Chest Rockwell’s fledgling recording career in Boogie Nights.
The real thing that mesmerized me about Bryan and Bryan in the first place was their signature on-court chestbump celebration, a quirk that marries both their lovable exuberance and harder-to-take-seriously sides together in one glorious, goofy expression. [Grammatical note: ‘Chest bump’ is officially spelled as two words, but I’m putting them together for editorial effect, to make it seem like a familiar part of our cultural landscape.] Part of the magic of the chestbump is that they seem to launch into it via the same twin E.S.P.– it’s not like they exchange a knowing glance and go into it, or like one brother leans towards the other suggestively to initiate it. It’s more like, they win a point and suddenly – bang! – chests are bumping.
As an homage to Bryan and Bryan, my friend Patrick and I adopted the chestbump as a legitimately-enjoyable-but-also-basically-just-goofing-around move during a trip we took to Portugal a few years ago. We tried to develop the same chestbump-E.S.P. that the Bryans’ display. But mostly, it was just fun to gratuitously celebrate things that don’t really merit celebration during our trip. Our top 3 dumb chestbumps, in reverse order:
3. Getting completely lost on steep, remote hills in the Portugese countryside and then finding the path back to safety just as we were entirely running out of energy… chestbump!
2. When our on-flight drink service arrived after we were belted into our seats. Nothing is sillier than doing a chestbump when you’re physically restrained around the waist.
1. A chestbump (I can’t remember the provocation) executed in a doorway, causing Patrick to smash his head into the doorjamb. Rank amateurism, I know.
To summarize: the chestbump is a physically exhilarating gesture that promotes camaraderie, and I highly recommend it. You can’t let yourself be restrained by social self-consciousness from executing it in public. That’s just society telling you what you can’t do, man.