On Being Friends With Identical Twins


The biological facts of how monozygotic twins come to life go far beyond my below-basic-positive-science knowledge. I have always been fascinated by the idea of having an identical twin, but unfortunately, my mother failed miserably in getting one single egg fertilized and then splitting it into two. As a result I am limited to the next best option: being friends with twins.

I am not entirely sure how I first heard about the existence of identical twins, nor where my fascination stems from. Naturally, over time I had fallen in love with a young and innocent Lindsay Lohan in Parent Trap and thought about the vast array of activities I could avoid if I had the option of sending my twin to perform a perfunctory task. This is not how pragmatically things work for twins, but I romanticized a lot of things back then. (I used to think Lindsay was innocent.) In high-school I watched The Shining and for some peculiar reason the effect of a young girl getting axe-murdered by a tyrannical father-figure was doubled when the girl wasn’t one, but two. Most are familiar with the iconic horror scene Kubrick produced, a scene that made me pray I will never have to “come play” with young twins in an isolated mansion. The fascination—even when prompted by fear—continued.

Then, very late in the game, I became familiar with the Olsen twins, who—to my grand surprise—happen to be fraternal, not identical. So late was I to include them in my popular cultural Rolodex, that some may argue their careers as performers had already started strongly leaning toward their decline. I was curious about the reason they appealed to such a gigantic audience. People truly enjoyed them: when someone is paying for “you” as a product you know you have succeeded, and the Olsens “sold” a lot. Frequently, press coverage unfairly tilted toward Mary-Kate. This made me question how “the other one” felt. They are different people, but until they entered their adulthood they had almost identical lives, partaking in the same projects and building a business that liquidated on the public’s enthrallment with twins.

Dreams Come True

I was able to make my mom give me an identical twin. Not exactly, but I befriended twins. I had not crossed paths with identical twins prior to attending college. What is eerie about my college experience was that it was marked by the attendance of two pairs of identical twins: the Russian twins and the Lesses. This populace might not be weird for a big state school, but for a small-sized liberal arts institution… I felt that one of my 11:11 wishes had finally come true.

My much-envied work-study job during college was at the Fitness Center. I had to unlock the gym’s door and sit at a desk, while attempting to get some work done for classes. The attempts were usually fruitless: the Fitness Center supplied tabloids, which triggered my voracious interest in the classics, and watching the fit get fitter and the fat getting jiggly with it. Thank you for the body dysmorphic disorder, Fitness Center. The highlight of my career as Fitness Center Facilitator, and certainly one of my life overall, occurred when I bore witness to both pairs of twins exercising simultaneously within a small confined space. At that moment the Huntingtonian basic difference between the Russian twins and the Lesses was evident: the Lesses were exercising following a different routine, while the Russian twins were running at the same pace on treadmills that placed one next to the other. The synchronization of the Russians drew attention from the other students who were exercising. It was not positive.

The Russian Twins

I find the Russian twins endearing and sweet. This paralyzes me from being able to provide all the juicy information in a snarky tone. Having found my dialogues with them pleasant and engaging, it’s hard to partake in the negative buzz that surrounded their presence. However, I would be a liar if I asserted that I was not aware of it. The jokes students made due to the fact the twins wore identical outfits always caught my ears. I tried not to think about the malicious comments too much.

I would never identify as a benevolent non-critic. On the contrary, I think of myself as a painfully judgmental over-thinker. However, it perplexed me that people decided to follow the easy route of making fun of the Russian twins. I understand how their gaits that seemed coordinated, their decision to enroll to the same institution and pursue similar majors, their shared decision to transfer away from that college and their choice to attend the same second institution following that transfer all provide ample sources for social comic relief. But the Russian twins seemed like an easy target that didn’t deserve to be made fun of if one accounted for how nice they were. Additionally, they seemed utterly unaware of the commentary that surrounded them. I don’t think, due to their intelligence, such unawareness was plausible; I think they actually performed it.

If life were a movie, they would be perfect caricatures to ridicule, but life isn’t a movie and unlike film caricatures the Russian twins are not easy to understand. I never became well acquainted enough with them to voice my query about why they wore matching outfits. They could have doubled their wardrobe if they would just stop sporting the same look on the same day. Not to mention, they would possibly own the Louis Vuitton handbag collection in its entirety. My intention isn’t to make an ad hominem attack at the Russian twins. I respect them both, I just am not entirely sure I know how I feel about them individually. I don’t understand them.

Lesses Are More

The Lesses—yes, that is their name—are the identical twins who became my close friends. They are individuals I hope to always have in my life. We all shared the same residency floor as first-years, initially confusing numerous residents who swore the same girl appeared wearing different outfits within seconds. Shortly, the mystery was solved during our first RA floor meeting. We finally all understood that that girl’s constantly changing wardrobe was not illustrating an impending transfer to Parsons, but rather that there was two of her.

I apologize, I realize this may appear offensive, but I do, indeed, realize the Lesses are two completely different people. My approach to getting to know the Lesses was the complete antithesis of how I treated the Russian twins: I felt immediately comfortable to accentuate the fact that they were twins and relentlessly joke about it. I could never resist using any inappropriate joke I was aware of to poke fun of the fact they were twins, including farcical references to twin porn-stars. (That really was a joke.) While I am certain it was more aggravating than endearingly-aggravating initially, I loved that they were able to surpass my offensive jokes. The moment I was capable of telling the Lesses apart I decided I would consistently call them by their sister’s name. I was alone in seeing the comedic aspect of this faux-confusion, but soon they realized it was intentional and ceased correcting me. Maybe my smirk gave me away, maybe they were too intelligent.

The Lesses hated it when people grouped them together by title in high school by calling them “the Twins.” Thus, it is paramount that I introduce them separately at this rather early point: Amy and Kristen. I am still puzzled about the reasons I thought it was funny to send Amy letters that addressed her as Kristen and vice versa, but I did it. My other favorite not-okay joke was to tell Amy she was my second favorite Lesse and Kristen that she doesn’t even make it to my top-five. The only time my idiotic joke got sour was when I intentionally called Amy Kristen and she actually turned out to be Kristen. She caught that I was trying to use my banal joke, and had thus screwed it up in reality. I cried meta-tears of embarrassment.

I would indulge in a comparison of the Lesses, but I know they will read this story, as I previously asked for their permission to write it. Actually, I asked Kristen, but she’s the one whose opinion actually matters. The Lesses are true friends. Amy’s long emails about her innocent errors with—usually French—men make me guffaw loud enough to scare the people surrounding me. Kristen’s quirky postcards from whatever developing country she finds herself trying to help develop make me smile more than that YouTube video of Beyoncé falling in slow motion.

If life were a movie, the Lesses would never launch the Olsen empire. I respect them both, and I am sure of how I feel about them individually. I understand them and I want them both in my life. Lesse is more, after all, and I hope to “come play” with them forever. And ever. And ever.

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image – The Shining