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I was browsing questions, when suddenly this one popped into my head, unfortunately with the details very vague. I'm pretty sure I read this in a short story collection some time before 2000, likely from an older book. Somehow (I think through a form of higher technology) two men get swapped at around the waistline. Wherever the upper body is (I don't remember which part got swapped), it can still control the lower body at the other location, which leads to all sorts of comic hijinks as they blindly try to walk around in the other location. I want to say they figure out some sort of communication between the two men, which helps them is trying to find a solution to their predicament. The tone was largely comedic, focusing on the slapstick antics resulting from conflicts between the upper and lower halves of the body. The closest I remember to drama is some worry over accidentally getting walked into traffic.

I have a vague memory that the connection between the upper and lower halves wasn't complete, such that there was at least one scene where someone looked down into a lower half of the body (or up into the upper half) and could see the body's workings still functioning through the portal. I want to say that there was also some sort of mixup where one of them was on a different floor of their residence than the other, which meant trouble trying to "descend" the stairs when they were already at ground level.

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    "I teleported home last night with Ron and Sid and Meg. Ron stole Meggy's heart away and I got Sidney's leg."
    – Valorum
    Mar 9, 2022 at 13:58
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    @Valorum agree, it sounds like another civil suit against the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. Mar 9, 2022 at 14:00
  • Dang, that does sound vaguely familiar. Also, excellent aside @Valorum! A similar relationship occurs in the 9th episode of the 5th season of Rick and Morty "Forgetting Sarick Mortyshall", where Morty and another of Rick's erstwhile companions have parts of their bodies become gateways to one another after an accident with some portal gun fluid. Hijinks ensue as they try to figure out a linked coexistence.
    – Lexible
    Mar 9, 2022 at 17:39
  • There was also a running gag (geddit?) in Red Dwarf where Rimmer's legs go off on their own.
    – Valorum
    Mar 9, 2022 at 18:13

1 Answer 1

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Possibly "Half an Oaf" by Spider Robinson.

It's only one person with a time travel belt - legs stuck in the future (2007 - the story was written and set in 1976) and top half in the present, but otherwise a match. The time traveller is memorably described as the

Fat Man
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It's got the legs blindly walking around in the future, a comment about being run over ("Either half") and a bit where the kid that befriends him sees the cross section (and says "You had lasagna for dinner")

The fat man / 2 does say that he checked historical records to make sure he would arrive in a building with floors at the same level, but then there's a bit where the legs fall down stairs, slamming the top half into the floor.

The story is in a number of Spider Robinson collections ...I first read it in "Melancholy Elephants" (1985)

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  • And I read Melancholy Elephants, so I suspect that is the one. Thank you.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 10, 2022 at 1:45
  • Dang, I was sure I had read it, and it had the taste of cringy puns, but I could not place it. Well done! Mar 10, 2022 at 2:25

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