It's a Twinderful Life

Looking For the Silver Lining in All of Life's Clouds

The “Twin-Mix-Up” Phenomenon

This post is by me (Britt) and not Bre. Apparently WordPress is having some issues.

Can I just say that I am SO glad that Bre is back with us. I missed her and her fantastic posts.

OK, today I’d like to talk about something that is hilarious/slightly uncomfortable, depending on your take on it. I’m referring to the “twin mix-up” phenomenon (where one twin is mistaken for another) which often occurs in fraternal twins of the same sex who look very similar or identical twins (like Bre & me). Growing up this was a common occurrence for us and it happened everywhere – school, church, with friends and family, etc. Right after we were born we looked extremely similar (we can’t even tell who is who in baby pics) and our Mom had this great fear that she would accidentally get us mixed up and never know it. The solution? Nail polish. She would paint a nail on each twin a different color until she could easily tell us apart. Worked like a charm.

As we got older Mom could always tell us apart (even on the phone!) but for most of the general populace this was hard to do. For some twins this can be annoying, but for us, it was never a big deal. I always loved my sis and didn’t mind one bit if I was mistaken for her. Time went on and eventually I was the first one to get married, and this introduced an entirely new element to the twin mix-up phenomenon – what happens if/when your husband mistakes your twin for you? What awkward/uncomfortable situations might arise from this? What can we learn from such situations? We’re glad you asked.

Case Study #1: It was within the first two years of our marriage. It was a Sunday afternoon and we were sitting around the dinner table at our parent’s home talking, laughing, and generally having a good time. I was sitting next to Steve when nature called. I got up and left the room and after a minute or two Bre came over and innocently sat where I had been sitting. Out of the corner of Steve’s eye he saw me (who was actually Bre) sit down again and grabbed my hand. Instead of a reciprocal grasp (as would have happened usually) he received a cold, limp, uncomfortable grasp and, noticing that something wasn’t right, looked over to find Bre. Needless to say nervous laughter ensued as hands were quickly separated and awkward apologies were exchanged.

Learnings: If you are married to a twin make sure to conduct a complete visual verification that it is indeed your spouse before making physical contact of any kind. If you are a parent/friend of a twin perhaps you could help the twin’s spouse out a little and warn them when you become aware that physical contact with the wrong party is imminent.

Case Study #2: Also within the first few years of our marriage and, again, at our parent’s home. I was standing at the kitchen sink doing the dishes after another Sunday dinner (something about those Sunday dinners – watch out!). Steve had been assisting with the dishes when he had to make a visit to the porcelain throne. I then left the room for some reason (I can’t remember why) and Bre walked over to the sink and started where I had left off. Steve walked back into the room and saw me (who was really Bre) at the sink (her back was to Steve), all alone, and decided that he wanted to come over and give me a hug from behind/initiate some loving. As he walked over and was about to put his arms around me (Bre) an ever so quiet mental alarm went off, warning him that something was off. Bre then turned around and found Steve standing there, way too close for comfort. An explanation was quickly given.

Leanings: Please see learnings from Case Study #1 and check to make sure that your mental alarm is up to code.

Case Study #3: Finally, the twin mix-up that could have been hard to recover from. A couple of summers ago our family took a road trip. Just before the vaca Bre had decided that she loved my haircut and wanted to get the same one. We had also decided to make packing more enjoyable (we HATE packing) by putting outfits together that the other twin would wear (one of the many advantages of having an identical twin of the same size – double the wardrobe). The first few days of the trip were fabulous, but  by day 6 or 7 of sharing a room with the entire fam/no privacy Steve decided to take advantage of an opportunity where we found ourselves alone (or so he thought). The details are fuzzy, but all I remember is that Steve thought that Bre was me from behind (remember, she was wearing my clothes and had the exact same haircut) and came to “cop a feel,” if you will. Luckily, his mental alarm was still functioning well and he stopped himself before anything happened. Here are a couple of pics to demonstrate just how similar we looked on that trip:

Learnings: See learnings from Case Studies 1 & 2.

And there you have it kids. Awkward situations that may arise in the life of an identical/similarly looking fraternal twin and how to deal with them.

Now you might be asking yourself, “Why hasn’t anything ever happened with Miah (Bre’s husband) and you?” Let’s just say that he’s learned a thing or two from his brother-in-law’s mistakes. And as for Steve, we haven’t had an incident in years…

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