|I’m on the left. The only way I know is because I loved the red Power Ranger.|
I am a twin.
A fraternal twin, mind you, so don’t get too excited. Being a twin isn’t a big deal, but sometimes people have a strange fascination with them. The spectrum ranges from creepy, like the twins from The Shining, to an outright fetish. In between the spectrum, twins are marvels, illusions with physical forms.
Back in the days of yore, my twin brother and I were walking twin stereotypes: same clothes, same haircut, same room, same initials. Even though we weren’t identical, we looked close enough alike that it didn’t really matter to people. “Oh, look at the twins!” I could hear people exclaim, like we were some kind of zoo exhibit.
Being a twin is a gift and a curse, though it has gotten better the older we have gotten and the farther we get from looking the same. On the one hand, you get this partner in crime who goes through the same development as you at the exact same time. Depending on your relationship with your twin, you are either best buds or mortal enemies. The worst part, well, is the world’s reaction to twins.
Who is older?
Do you have a twin language?
Are you two just alike?
Have you ever switched places with each other?
Which one is the evil one and who is good?
Can you talk to each other telepathically?
I wish I had a twin.
Sure, if you want to be made a spectacle. I think I would have felt better as a twin growing up without people gawking and asking asinine questions.
Sure, there were ways we tried to get around the confusion and awkwardness. In elementary school, my brother and I wore shirts with our respective names stitched on them. During school photos, our parents made us wear the same clothes, but if his hair was sticking up, I’d make sure to flatten mine. During recess, we separated from each other, making our own friends.
These changes increased drastically as we grew older, changing our wardrobe from each other along with our body image. If you look at my brother, he is bald and fit, whereas I am overweight and have hair (though it is thinning at a drastic rate, so I might have to copy him sooner rather than later). At our cores, we are very similar, but, at the same time, quite different.
Something we can’t change (well, we can, but it sounds like a huge hassle) is our names. For parents of twins, triplets, quadruplets, and so on who think it’s cute to give your children rhyming names or names starting with the same letter (or worse, the same name but with a different spelling ex. Jon and John), I have to tell you something: it isn’t cute. It will never be cute. It makes being a twin a little bit more complicated.
For example, my brother and I share names beginning with the letter T. Furthermore, we have the exact same initials. Though we look much different these days, people still stumble over our names. They say they can tell who is who, but, because our names begin with the same letter, they trip over it. Go figure. And I can’t say how often my brother or I have gotten an assignment back in school that was meant for the other brother.
Not only is it demeaning, but it reinforces identity issues. Instead of being individuals, twins are seen as two people who share the same identity. Or worse, perhaps more from a fraternal perspective, one of the twins can develop an inferiority complex, feeling like a failed copy. I’ll admit it; I had those feelings while going through middle school and high school. I felt like my brother was better at everything, had more friends than me, and looked better than me, which only led me to wonder why I even existed.
I remember a certain moment with great clarity. I was in biology class in high school. I was working on an assignment when I overheard two people a few seats behind me talking. I can’t remember the exact topic, but I do remember they were talking about my brother and me.
Boy 1: Which Trosper was it?
Boy 2: Does it matter?
I didn’t say anything because I couldn’t. That tiny bit of dialogue hurt me to my core. Are we not individuals? Twins aren’t clones or emotionless robots. We think our own thoughts, emote our own emotions, and speak with our own voices. Twins are their own people, whether you think of them as the same person or not.
Through it all, my brother and I have had each other’s backs. I know, it’s one cliché of many, but I freely admit my brother is my best friend. Though we are alike, our differences help us get along. We’re adults now, and though we live together for the moment, you never know what will happen one of these days. In all honesty, I am a little afraid to think about life without him. As Gene Belcher from Bob’s Burgers would say, we live our lives from the womb to the tomb. Besides, the only problem we have to worry about these days is the weird looks we get after having our IDs checked when we purchase alcohol.
In the end, all I ask is, please, if you have twins, know twins, or hope to one day be in the presence of twins, treat them as the individuals they are and not some kind of magic trick.