September 21, 2023

Column: “That Got Me to Thinkin’…? “On Twins”


“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “On Twins” Chapter 94
By Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have had a twin.  Especially an identical one.  I think eventually I would get tired of him—he’d be a know-it-all who took up too much of my personal space, and we’d both be racing to get more of our share when we ordered a large pizza.  People would expect us to dress alike and pull twin shenanigans, and treat us as interchangeables.  On the plus side, there’d be someone to bark “Yeah!” from behind me every time I made a public point—that kind of bully affirmation we all seek.  We could walk shoulder to broad shoulder down the sidewalk making everyone clear a swath as we sashayed about (even better with a triplet!)  We could split costs on housing, share rides, go to movies together…but he’d have to buy his own bucket of popcorn.

I polled my high school friends recently about sets of twins from Olympia in the mid-80’s, and we came up with no less than ten pairs just at Tumwater High School.  It seemed like an awful lot since it was pre-in vitro fertilization.  Must’ve been something in the wells or local beer (Oly: “It’s the Water”).  And I think they were all fraternal sets, excepting the Winther Brothers who I couldn’t tell apart.  There was Beef and Bean (Doug and Dean, the McLaughlin twins), the Carpenters, the Koontzes, the Kraemers, the Berisfords, the Hargraves, the Grays, the Toneys, the Tanners, the Benincasas.

Identical twins that wear the exact same outfits and speak the same words in stereo—heck, even if they rotate their heads in unison—have been creeping people out ever since those girls in the blue dresses down the hall in The Shining went and gave everybody the heebie jeebies.  It’s like a door to a parallel universe got opened, and here is this flat-affected duo that seems perfectly content whether watching me eat a sandwich or be horrifically tortured—it does not matter to them because they’ve got each other, you see.

Fraternal twins share a birthday and are in the same class at school, but otherwise they’re completely different.  They seem much more likely to have different tastes in mates or be more willing to attend different colleges.  Many studies have been done on identical twins, and if they can get them separated at birth through some miracle or tragedy they’ve found their life arcs to be alarmingly similar.  In the case of Jim Lewis and Jim Springer—identical twins separated at birth—both married and divorced a woman named Linda, then both went on to have a second marriage to a woman named Betty.  The two of them also named their sons James Alan (or James Allan in Springer’s case).  Crrreeeeeeppyy…but also quite fascinating.

Josh and Jeremy Salyers are identical twin brothers that married identical twin sisters Briana and Brittany.  They live together and their offspring, though cousins, are genetically speaking closer to siblings.  I’m looking at each pair dressed alike in multiple pictures (including the cousins) and making the kind of value judgments you allow yourself to make in your own head.

Identical triplets or even more so quadruplets seem like a little mini army.  We’ve had Octomom and Jon & Kate Plus 8 (Kate being the progenitor of the haircut that later demands to speak to the manager)—a celebrity centered around their ability to create human litters.  As a kid I was absorbed by conjoined (once known as Siamese) twins, among other human abnormalities—the 3-legged man, Jojo the dog-faced boy, assorted hermaphrodites and the nearly 9-foot Robert Wadlow, for instance.  Not that twins are abnormal by any means, but popping out a baseball team all at once is…a little bit.

If you’re a mother of twins, you needn’t write me a damning letter—as usual I’m just thinking aloud and have no intention of offending anyone.  Waxing rhapsodic about my non-existent brothers Brice, Bruno & Bryan keeps me occupied while in my recliner or lawn chair. May God continue to bless the power of two.  Or three.