Life As A (Probably) Identical Twin

'Is that girl your twin?'

'Are you identical?'

'Do you like being a twin.'

'Can you read each other's mind?'

'Have you always been identical?'

'Who's the evil one?'

'I thought I was seeing double'.

For as long as I can remember I've been asked these kinds of questions and been subjected to that 'joke'. The short answers: yes, probably, yes, no, um … yeah …would you like to find out? And the 'joke'? I probably shouldn't write my dream response to that one down. Too many f-bombs.

So … I have a twin sister, B. We look alike (note I used 'alike' and not 'the same'). Our hair colour, eye colour, height, skin tone–all similar. If the police made an identikit image of B I would also match it (don't go getting any ideas B!).

But the truth is, we might not even be identical. You see, the 'identical' in identical twins isn't actually referring to physical appearance. Identical, or monozygotic, twins 'occur when one fertilised embryo splits to form two individuals'.

What does this mean?

Well, among other things, it means B and I could be identical twins or we could simply be fraternal twins who bear a strong physical resemblance to each other. It's actually quite a weird position to be in. One day we'll have the zygosity test (DNA test) done and we'll find out for certain. There's no rush (i.e. it's pricey and I don't really care about the answer). Besides, regardless of the truth, when people look at us they see identical twins. When they see us they're curious. They have questions. Usually the same questions. Again, and again, and again.

'Is that girl your twin?'

'Are you identical?'

'Do you like being a twin.'

'Can you read each other's mind?'

'Have you always been identical?'

'Who's the evil one?'

Honestly, most of the time these questions don't bother me. There's a certain level of charm to their curiosity. My all-time favourite question is, 'have you always been identical?' It wasn't asked of me, but B tells me it was presented to her in all seriousness. I guess someone skipped biology that day.

I'm also constantly amused by the people who, perhaps feeling a little shy, ask if B and I are sisters before going on to ask the twin question. Like there's a high chance they've got it wrong. When I do feel annoyed it's usually because I'm having a bad day and I just want to experience the one thing we all deserve–to be seen as individuals. Is that so much to ask?

When I was in primary school I remember a classmate wanting to know why I wasn't buying lunch on the same day as B, as if I was doing something wrong. Look out! The twins aren't eating the same lunch today! The world is going to implode! And we still experience this. People will ask, 'where's your sister today?', as if I've got her micro-chipped like a pet dog or cat, or we possess some kind of mental link which enables us to track each other down at any given moment. She's in the city, trying to decide on a latte or a flat white. She's going to choose the flat white, we are Australian after all. It's part of the 'mind-reading' question. Some people genuinely want to know if we share some kind of mystical bond, one that lets us know when the other is in pain or allows us to communicate telepathically. We don't, although that would be cool (pop culture has a lot to answer for). Well, not the pain part. One round of period pain is enough, thank-you very much.

And then there's that idiom, the 'joke' that just. Won't. Die.

'I thought I was seeing double'.

Usually these words are proceeded or followed by, 'I thought I was going crazy'. I know it's meant in good fun. I know it's just small talk. Just word,s thrown into conversation. So I act accordingly. I smile and I laugh and I play along because I know the speaker didn't intend to offend me. Didn't intend to make me feel like little more than a copy of my twin. But they did, they do.

'I thought I was seeing double'.

The truth is, they're still seeing double. They're not seeing two individuals with separate personalities, separate identities. Sure, we may fall into the same Meyers-Briggs category (a post for another day) but that doesn't mean B and I aren't two separate individuals. We're not a hive mind. In truth, it can feel like I'm being told I don't matter. That I'm not my own person, that B is not her own person. That I could cease to exist and it wouldn’t matter. I know that's melodramatic, but sometimes it feels like the truth (B concurs).

If you have made this joke, or asked one of the above questions before, that's okay. I'm not trying to make you feel bad. But maybe next time you meet a set of twins you can resist the urge to ask these same, make the same jokes. Because I can almost guarantee they've heard it all before.

Until next time,
Miss Fif