Twins are a contradiction. Everyone is supposed to be unique, yet there are two people who look exactly the same. There are not enough twins in the world for there to be a social convention on how to talk to them. There are too many twins in the world for people not to understand how to talk to them.
● Try not to ask stupid questions.
When talking to identical twins, there are a couple things to remember: they are different people, they have different names, and The Shining was only a movie. There are quite a few sets of identical twins in the world, and it astounds me what people think passes for normal communication among human beings. No, it is not weird talking to myself because I am not talking to myself. I am an identical twin, not a clone. We are different people. Yes, my mom knew she was having twins. In fact, with today’s technology, mix-ups about the number of people in one’s stomach almost never happen. No, we have never switched classes. If we did, some idiot would give it away and we would get sent to the principal’s office for cheating. If the joke about identical twins is funny, then I’d love to hear it. For example, someone was joking that we each should do half the pentathlon instead of both of us doing it separately. That was funny. Kudos to them. If someone asks me about telepathy, my perception of their amount of intelligence plummets. It’s like someone asking you if you can read your brother’s mind. Um, no. No, and don’t punch me. She won’t feel it. We will smile and nod through every joke, even if only to hide the intentions of homicide.
● Don’t ask about telepathy.
When people ask us about telepathy, we have a pre rehearsed response. People come up to me and Amanda, and tell one of us to think of something. Then they ask what it is, and look at the other one to ask “What are they thinking?” Whichever twin is asked the question responds with “Panda.” I’m not really sure why we say this. I remember doing it one day, and then every consequent time we answered the same way, but this astounds my inquisitor. To me, this is a ridiculous question; we do not have the same brain, our thoughts aren’t on the same frequency, and whatever other theory exists for me being able to read my sister’s mind is not true. Sometimes I can guess what she’s thinking, but that is more being able to read her body language and facial expressions than actually hearing her thoughts in my head. Twins do not have a special relationship based on the science surrounding their birth. After we are born, we are just like everyone else. Once I got into an argument with a girl over the prospect of having children that look like twins. She thought that if we each married identical twins, our kids would look exactly the same. I raised the point that one couple’s kid can look like the mom while the other couple’s kid looks like the dad, but she wasn’t having it. She continued to argue her completely false realization for twenty minutes. When a kid is fertilized, they receive one half of the chromosomes from the mom, and one half from the dad. However, the arrangement of these chromosomes is completely random. My kid could receive my hair color gene, while Amanda’s kid receives her eye color gene, but not her hair color gene. The chances that Amanda’s kid receives the exact same chromosomes from her that my kid receives from me is so unlikely it’s ridiculous. Now, if Amanda and I did marry identical twins, our kids would be as genetically similar as siblings, but they would not necessarily look identical. Sorry to disappoint.
● At the very least, try to call them by their correct names. I’m aware it’s hard, but so is being a rocket scientist, and NASA is going strong. I have accepted the fact that I have two names. Mine and my sister’s. And there are a bunch of nicknames for Samantha, but that’s not the point. One half of the time, or maybe more, I am called Amanda. Amanda is not my name; it is my twin’s, but people call me it anyway. It’s kind of disillusioning for someone to get my name wrong while I’m talking to them. It’s like they weren’t actually talking to me even though they are saying words at me. Then they wonder why I get mad. If someone’s name is Jane, and I call them Beatrice, they would probably get mad. Why would they not? That’s not their name. They probably took the time to learn mine, and I just disregarded theirs. And I’m not saying I don’t get people’s names wrong. I am horrible with names. But I try. Note: I’m not trying to single anyone out. Lots of people are super cool about us being twins. And lots of people really try to get our names right and just can’t. It happens. We’re usually cool if you get our names wrong, but after five years, I kind of expect you to know. I’m demanding like that. If I’m talking to someone, I just assume they know who’s who. It doesn’t occur to me that they wouldn’t. I don’t really think we look alike. I am told I am very wrong on that front.
● Twins are not necessarily the same as they appear in TV shows and movies, but then again, no one is like those overexaggerated people with two character traits. I read this theory–on tumblr so don’t worry about its credibility–that Fred and George from Harry Potter pulled pranks because no one bothered to know each of them individually. Pranking was their way of getting back at people for treating them as one person. They never pranked Harry because he could tell them apart, when not even their mom could. Pranking people as revenge actually sounds like a pretty good idea to me. If I had any guts, I’d follow their example. Alas, I turn my frustration into cynical sarcasm and thinly veiled rage instead. On the topic of twins in TV, I think that most portrayals of twins are the same. Twins are either mischievous, scary, or sexy. Sometimes the portrayals go further than this one character trait, but not that often. Also, why do TV shows use one actor to play twins? Why not cast twins? It’s got to be less money even with another salary. If the twins ever interact, then a stand-in has to be hired, and they have to be paid. Also, those scenes that keep having to be refilmed cost more for their long hours. Or they can use a split-screen, which is one person filming as each character then cutting the scenes together; it basically just seems like a headache working a paying CGI people. And the main actor will probably want more money for playing more than one part. TV shows do this a lot. They did it on Supergirl, and that Disney show Liv and Maddie. I’m not saying that everytime this happens, that it’s bad. On Orphan Black, Tatiana Maslany plays like nine different people, and she is amazing. Every character has a different accent and personality, and it’s breathtaking. But, she is playing clones not twins. And Nina Dobrev on The Vampire Diaries plays four different parts, and she’s really good too; however, she is playing doppelgängers. I know there’s probably not as many identical twin actors as there is a demand for identical twins in the media, but there’s got to be a couple. Oliver and James Phelps played Fred and George in Harry Potter. Dylan and Cole Sprouse played twins on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Max and Charlie Carver played twins that could combine into a mega-person on Teen Wolf. Quick note that it is extremely rude to kill off twins. I’m looking at you J.K. Rowling and Jeff Davis. Spoiler Alert.
● Understand that while twin telepathy is not real, just as TV is not real, twins are familiar enough with each other that they can read each other’s emotions. Reading emotions is not the same as hearing someone else’s voice in a person’s head. At a track meet, one of my coaches was talking to me about “twin talk.” Apparently, twins talk to each other in a different way than they talk to other people. And usually twins can tell what the other is feeling from across the room. Twins communicate while knowing each other more personally than the average acquaintance, so they can understand or guess the other’s emotions more easily. It’s true. She has nervous ticks and little things she does when she feels awkward, and she feels awkward a lot so I’ve gotten used to those tells. I don’t know about “twin talk,” I don’t know if I would be able to tell. Nothing about our relationship feels special or weird. People ask us what it’s like to be a twin and we respond that we can’t imagine life differently. That answer receives a lot of “aw”s, but it’s the truth. I’ve never not been a twin. I don’t know what it’s like not to be a twin.
● Be gracious when they win at family game night. Sore losers make the world a worse place. One day we had a family game night. Those fantastic nights where the family pretends that they want to be in each other’s company more than they want to be watching television. We were playing a game of gestures, which is like charades but faster. Amanda and I destroyed my mother and brothers. They said we cheated with our “twinness.” We played normally, but some of our associations were strange to an outsider’s view, and honestly to mine too. Amanda held up a plate, and I guessed salt. Salt was right. The way I came up with that word is a blur to me. All I know is that Amanda’s association was the same as mine. I can’t explain our ability to communicate. It’s strange even to me sometimes. Our relationship is strangely close, but it doesn’t feel closer than other relationships are.
● Not all twins are best friends. Going into high school felt weird and familiar at the same time. I was never in the same class as Amanda in middle school, so it didn’t feel weird being without her in classes. That being said, we looked for each other every lunch. Every time we could see each other, we did. Until high school, it never occurred to me that twins weren’t always best friends. I met these twins who wouldn’t sit next to each other on the bus, twins who wouldn’t stand next to each other in photos, and they make no sense to me. These twins who I was one a soccer team with never sat next to each other on the bus. I always sit with Amanda, and it’s not even to talk because we don’t talk to each other. On bus rides to sports games, we both like to listen to our music and zone out. It always surprised me that they didn’t sit next to each other. It felt like such a natural thing to want to sit next to Amanda.
● Try to understand the closeness of the relationships of some twins. My identity sometimes feels like half an identity, only whole when with Amanda. We gravitate towards each other, finding each other for every lunch and shared free block. I am my own person, but I’m just more complete with her. I’ve thought about people being like onions, and that friends peel back layers until they find the middle, the center of who that person is. I think that Amanda and I started at the middle and worked our way out. We found more layers with each other. When I got a layer of loving really deep music, she got it with me. I didn’t have to explain any reasoning or anything to her.
● Having a twin is just like having a sibling. It’s funny. When I look at Amanda, I don’t think “twin.” I think “sister.” I refer to her as “my sister.” I don’t think it’s for any other reason than the fact that the phrase “my twin” is rarely spoken. The environment lacking of other twins told me that I refer to a female related to me as “sister.” I have two other half-brothers. They’re older than me by ten years, but they are my brothers. Amanda feels just as related to me as my brothers. It’s not the family part of being a twin that’s special, it’s the friends part of it. Being a twin doesn’t feel exciting or strange; it’s my normal. I never have wished that I wasn’t a twin. Although I wish more people were able to tell us apart, I have never wished that we looked more different. There’s somethng about having someone with the same face as me that makes me feel special, even though it means that I am not unique. There’s something comforting that I am rare, even if we are rare together. I almost think I prefer it that way.
● Being a twin is not always on that twin’s mind. Unbelievably, there are more things to think about. To be honest, sometimes I forget that we’re twins. It almost feels too unlikely, the same way that people never think they can get cancer until they do. It feels too abnormal in a life that seems so normal. I don’t forget it the way that someone forgets someone else’s name. It’s not a blank mind with a lingering notion of missing knowledge. It’s more like a fact that gets pushed into a corner of my mind. Being a twin is a contradiction a lot of the time. I am special yet one of two. I am an abnormality in a normal life. My life is special, almost too special to feel like real life. I am a contradiction. Telepathy isn’t real, yet the way we read each other’s body language and emotions is practically reading each other’s minds.
● Twins do fight, just like any other siblings. One time we got in a fight, and Amanda walked out of the house. Neither of us really leave the house for anything unplanned (yes, I’m aware of how lame that sounds), and we had never left during an argument before. After a couple minutes, I went after her. We live near a playground, and I figured that’s the only place she would have really thought to go. Side note that Amanda has a terrible sense of direction and would not be able to go many other places. As soon as I saw her, the fight was over. I don’t remember if I apologized; it didn’t really matter. When I sat next to her, we were best friends again. We fight like hell, but we put away the pistols as quick as we draw them. We spend so much time together, of course we fight. We fight a lot. But if we had to have a long conversation every time we fought, we’d still be discussing the battles of 2009. We don’t really apologize. Someone will say something funny or something of interest, and that shows they drew their white flag. We move on. We don’t look back. It may seem detached, but it allows for a continuation in our friendship without the bruised egos that come with apologies or long talks.
● Twins are probably more comfortable with each other than any other person. I’m not super comfortable with sharing my insecurities with other people. I don’t talk to people about how I feel, not even my closest friends. With Amanda, it’s different. I don’t talk to her about what I’m feeling; I don’t have to. I look at her, and she knows. We know what home life is like; we don’t have to tell each other about it. If self-deprecating jokes are real, we can tell. We don’t have meaningful talks about it; we just know. It’s nice to have someone who knows.
● Understand why people need to read this.
I’m not writing this to understand my own relationship or show Amanda how I feel about being her twin. I write for the people without a twin, the people who ask me what it’s like. I write for those without siblings who want a taste of what life might be like to have one. I write for those whose best friend shares no blood with them, for those who are not close with their family. This piece is not for me. I know what it’s like to be a twin, and I don’t have to ponder the meaning of my relationship to her. I don’t write for my twin because she knows the circumstances of our relationship as well as I do. I write for twins who look at our relationship as strange, so that they may see what they could have. I write for my parents who think we spend too much time together, although we do. I write for the memories of all the times we fought, so that they may be glossed over by the spectacularity of the good times. I write for the future, one which contains the possibility of us parting ways. I write for the long distance phone calls and texts that can been seen over the impending horizon. I write for the school lunches together, slowly settling into sight in our rear-view mirrors.