Life with 2 names

Twenty six years and around eleven months ago, a zygote split in my mother’s womb, meaning that today there are two of me.

The result: In life, I easily confuse people – but I’ve got somebody I’m incredibly close to and have a lot in common with.

The twin bond is close to infallible. From shortly after conception, early experiences are mostly shared. I was born three minutes after my twin brother. Our first steps, teeth and words were all within a few days or weeks of each other. For our first few years, barely anyone could understand what we were saying – but we could understand each other. And in some baby photos, I wouldn’t know it’s me, if not for certain distinguishing outfits.



I’m the one on the right.


Being a twin is my version of normal. The correct term for a lone foetus that reaches full term is a singleton. Imagining my life as one is weird and I can’t really do it. From my earliest memories to my present self, I’ve always had my twin brother by my side and without him, I would be an entirely different person. For somebody without a twin, it’s the equivalent to imagining what your life would be like if you had a twin.

As you can probably guess, I share my birth date with my twin brother. This meant that growing up, we had joined children’s parties. This wasn’t a bad thing, especially since we always got our own cakes, but it did create a problem when it came to present time. While guests were always kind enough to fork out double for the occasion, presents were almost always identical. And so, parties became a race to open your present first, or else have the surprise ruined. The devoted friend who went to the trouble to buy unique presents for each of us earned a great deal of respect.

The benefit of the shared birthday revealed it’s worth at the 90s McDonald’s party. Back then, McDonald’s had a policy of offering the birthday child a choice of birthday present: a pass-the-parcel or a tour of the back of the restaurant. For single children, the choice must have been very hard. Twins were lucky enough to experience both.

Midway through primary school, the concept of individuality took shape. Up until that point, we were dressed the same, albeit in different colours. From this point on, until early adulthood, separate styles became mandatory. Before school, if either of us found the other to be wearing the same thing, conflict would follow. Never did we turn up to school dressed the same.

In High School, we developed entirely different wardrobes. An unspoken rule existed between us that said we couldn’t own the same item of clothing. This avoided the risk of accidental likeness on any given day and also bred an image of difference that went beyond the present. The clothing rule also led to the formation of a miniature marketplace between us, where money could be made. If one twin bought a stylish item that the other wanted, he could sell it well and truly above cost price, since the other twin wasn’t allowed to buy it in store.

It can be hard as a twin to assess your own individuality, but in our teenage years, I’d say we naturally developed very different identities. He played clarinet. I had a pet alien on the internet. He liked Eminem. I listened to Ray Charles. He gravitated towards relationships. I wasted hours drawing artwork in Microsoft paint. During this time, I would argue that our similarities weren’t much greater than those shared by ordinary siblings. Not counting looks, obviously.

But differences mean squat when you spend time in public together and a stranger suddenly screams out in excitement, “Twins!” But as a twin, you do reach a point of acceptance in life where you realise that it is weird for people the first time they meet you. I’ve been creeped out enough times in my own life by other sets of identical twins to appreciate this fact. It helps too that I once drunkenly mistook myself for my twin brother in a mirror, so can truly empathise with those who mix us up.


Too young to choose our own outfits.


Likeness carries with it the odd perk too. Not that long ago, I lost my ID, but had already made plans to go to a bar that night notorious for checking it. Usually, in this situation, I would just borrow my twin brother’s ID, but he planned on going to the same place. Deciding it was worth a shot, we presented the same ID for the both of us. The bouncer hesitated at first, stared at us for a while and waved us in.

Our likeness can also create the odd social issue. People who know me, but who don’t know about my twin, have occasionally run into him on the street and faced flat rejection. The flip side of this is those times I’ve run into somebody I’ve wanted to avoid and have simply pretended to be him. The stock standard set of twin questions strangers seem pre-programmed to ask still strikes at a certain nerve too.

Can you feel pain when he gets hurt? 
Have you ever swapped places?

Who is the evil one? 

For all the confusion and frustration being a twin has caused at different times in life, it’s still a very good deal. Having somebody who I can share just about anything with since he knows me so well, who will actually read my short stories when I send them to him and who can always provide me with a 3D example of how a jumper looks on me, is a very useful thing in life.

The life of the singleton isn’t appealing to me in the slightest, but then, neither is the life of the triplet.

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