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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Column: Double the candles

Today is my birthday! Yes, dearest readers, please feel free to send me gifts of cash, chocolate, flowers or kittens.

Because the universe wanted to make me seem awesome by comparison, today marks the anniversary of the first publishing of Mary Had a Little Lamb and the anniversary of the first opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. I share my birthday with famous people like Queen Victoria and Bob Dylan. Unbeknownst to some of you, I also share my birthday with another important person: my sister, Rachel. That’s right. My parents are the proud owners of twins!

Since you are all avid readers of The Aggie, you know that Maya Makker wrote her column last Thursday about the great camaraderie that comes with having siblings. I have to agree with her.

Sorry, only children, but I think not having siblings would just plain suck. Even math has proven that it’s better to have siblings. Thank you, anthropology class, for teaching me about Hamilton’s rule. Apparently, your kinfolk have got you covered when it comes to lion attacks.

People frequently ask me what it’s like to be a twin. Well, what is it like to have a sister or a best friend? This question has and will haunt me forever, so I want to clear a few things up for you.

Usually our culture treats twins (and other sets of multiples) like some freaks that must be mentally or emotionally conjoined. Yes, this typically means “freak” in a good way, the Lady Gaga-esque, you’re so interesting that the sociologists want to study you way, but still.

Twins are not little green people from Mars. We are human beings that have the ability to lead separate lives and have unique personalities. We just happen to have the same birthday, same parents, sometimes the same DNA, and if it so happens that twins are lucky, like my sister and I am, we fulfill the label of being “bffls.”

Last quarter, Robin Migdol wrote in The Aggie about the portrayal of twins in movies. As a twin, Migdol sees the stereotype of on-screen twins as completely wrong when it comes to off-screen life.

Take the awful blonde-haired blue-eyed Coors Light twins that are nothing more than weird twin-fetish sex symbols. Or look at Fred and George Weasley. “The twins” sure are adorable, but they seem to lack separate personalities (don’t worry, J.K. Rowling, I still love you).

I thought it was only natural that I should interview Rachel about this topic. When I asked her the generic question she’s heard hundreds of times about “what it’s like to be a twin,” she responded: “Being a twin is not my defining characteristic. It’s just a cool fact about me.”

I also asked her about the various first reactions and questions she gets when she tells people that someone else on this planet is running around slightly resembling her and sharing her birthday.

Some of my personal favorites include:

“Do you do each other’s homework?” No, we don’t cheat. We don’t even go to the same school anymore.

“Do you dress and look alike?” No, we don’t look like carbon copies since we are fraternal, not identical, twins. And if I ever start dressing alike with someone, please buy me new clothes. (Although Rachel and I do have some adorable childhood photos of matching French nautical outfits, sunflower dresses and roller-skates that are pretty legit.)

“Do you ever know what she is thinking?” Again, we aren’t superhuman. Twins don’t have ESP mind powers … yet.

“Do you have your own twin language?” I would love to have my own twin language, but I don’t think my sister has any plans to become a linguist and create a new language anytime soon.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a pretty special birthday gift that I have a twin. But even though we grew up together and have probably spent more time with each other than with anyone else, we are still two people. As Rachel puts it: “We lead our own lives but always know that we have someone there for us.” Twins are independent people that just so happen to have a special relationship with another person.

According to The Twins Foundation, twins account for 2 percent of the general American public and the odds of an American woman having twins are around one in 90. So, next time you meet one (or two) of us, don’t stop and stare. Ask us what it’s like to get two birthday cakes!

CORRIE JACOBS secretly wishes that a Beatles tribute band would follow her around all day performing “Birthday” on repeat. If you are willing to play the opening riff for her, reach her at cljacobs@ucdavis.edu.


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