I’m an identical twin, so you’d think it would be easy for me to tell other twins apart.
In fact, sometimes I can’t even tell me and my sister apart.
I’ve never thought my sister Lisanne and I look all that much alike. Our differences, which often seem virtually nonexistent to those who don’t know us, are so obvious to me that I can’t for the life of me figure out why people confuse us.
Yet even I goof.
Prime example: I’m in my twenties, shopping with Lisanne in a department store. Shopping together is both a pleasure and a convenience. We’re the same size (fancy that) and try stuff on for each other to get the 3D version of what something will look like on us. No mirror necessary.
On this particular day, I’m flipping through a rack of shirts and talking to my sister, telling her a story about a particularly bad date (a guy who decided that spitting chewing tobacco into a glass midway through dinner was a great idea–but that’s a story for another post).
When I glance over my shoulder now and then, I see that she’s pretty absorbed in her own shopping but she’s still glancing back at me and smiling, so I assume she’s going to have a choice word or two to say about this asshole. We’ll have a good laugh at his expense.
But once I finish my story and it’s time for her to respond–at least a giggle or an indignant snort–there’s nothing.
Now I’m pissed.
“You’re not even listening,” I say and whirl around to confront her.
Except there’s nobody there but me and the store mirror. Oh, yeah, and some chick who’s staring at me like I’m certifiable.
So you’re thinking I’m kind of crazy too, right? Like I should never get myself confused with someone else, even my identical twin, even in a frigging store mirror. Well, take a look at this childhood picture:
and this one:
I’m not sure who’s who. For real.
You tell me. Here’s a recent picture that might help:
If you look between the three pictures, the way I just did, you’ll notice subtle differences that have stayed the same over time. Different shaped eyes and chins. Different hairlines. Different noses.
I’ve got my own guess, but what do you think? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Even with all the times I’ve confused myself with my sister (in pictures or otherwise–the mirror incident wasn’t the only one), all the times that our kids have called the wrong twin “Mom,” all the times my parents have mixed up our names, all the times I’ve had to tell some well-meaning, chatty soul in a cafe or grocery store that no, I don’t have any idea who s/he is because s/he knows my sister, even so, I still didn’t truly understand how confusing, how downright disconcerting it can be to encounter one twin and think she’s the other one.
I was out walking my big black beast of a German Shepherd (no one screws with me when I’m out with my boy), when I turned a corner and saw a woman walking away from me a few blocks ahead. She also had a dog with her, only hers was white and not quite as big as mine. But she looked eerily familiar: the long black hair, the swing of her arms, the sway of her hips.
It hit me then. How creepily similar we are. How, if I didn’t know any better, if I weren’t living in my own skin, if I believed in ghosts and poltergeists (which I kind of do), I would have thought that I was watching myself walking away from me.
Set your timer for 20 minutes.
Imagine yourself walking down the street (crowded? deserted? sparsely populated?) when you notice someone in the distance who looks strangely familiar. As you get closer, then closer still, you recognize the walk, the sway of the hips, the swing of the arms.
That’s you. It’s you ahead of yourself.
What happens next?
Start your timer. Ready, set, write!
Place here an image gallery shortcode (Add Media → Create Gallery) or video-page URL starting with http://
I think Lisanne is on the right in all the pictures and you’re on the left. This is a great writing exercise, yet I question whether one would recognize one’s own movements and gestures unless you spent some time watching yourself on video. And now I wonder if I should have continued that sentence with the preposition one instead of you.