Friday, April 29, 2011

Life as a Twin- By Peter

Being a twin is not as easy and awkward free as these girls' carefree smiles would suggest

The following is from none other than one of my top guest contributors, Peter. Now, I'll turn it over to the man himself:

Every week or so, I’m asked what it’s like to be a twin.  While that question is complicated to answer, and there are few people in the world who have experienced life both with a twin and without a twin and are truly qualified to answer this inquiry, the following story encapsulates why being a twin is awkward on a daily basis.

I’d like to begin with background information.  My name is Peter, and my identical twin brother is named Philip.  We attend the same university, and, at school, we eat at houses that are next to each other.  His eating house is closer to campus, so I pass it both walking towards and coming from my own house before and after every meal.

A week ago, I was walking back from dinner alone.  As I passed my brother’s eating house, two members were exiting the front door.  One was a tall, athletic-looking African American dude with a flat-brimmed hat forwards at an obtuse angle.  The second was a medium-sized, fit white guy with buzzed brown hair.  I had never seen either of them in my life.  Upon seeing me, the African American one yelled, “Yo Phil!”  Goddamit, I thought.  I decided to speed up my walk and pretend I hadn’t heard him.  Safe, right? Wrong.  They then sped up their walks, and the African American dude bellowed even louder, “YO PHIL!”

I had to turn around.  I had no other choice.  Continuing my act would have reflected poorly on my brother.  It would have been an obvious snub.  As I nodded to them in recognition, I contemplated my options in order to distill the one that would minimize awkwardness.  If I were a computer given this objective, there would have been an error in the system.  There and then I learned that it’s impossible to divide by zero. 

“Yo Phil, did you turn deaf over night? What’s good, man?” Oh God.  If I had pretended to be Philip, I would have had to walk back to campus with them.  That walk is five minutes.  They would have realized something was wrong, and I subsequently would have had to explain not only that I was Philip’s twin but also that I had been pretending to be my brother for two minutes.  Any identical twin knows that pretending to be your twin only minimizes awkwardness in the briefest of encounters (see Addendum).  I swallowed hard.  I had to tell them the truth.  “Sorry guys, I’m actually Philip’s twin, Peter.  Umm… How are you all?”  They looked at each other.  They were clearly enjoying broing out, and didn’t want to meet somebody new.  They didn’t want formalities.  They wanted chill.  The African American responded, “Oh, uh, tell Phil we say ‘what’s up.’”  They slowed their walks.  I hastened mine.  For the entire five minute walk back to campus, they were ten paces behind me.

(Note from Clay: for help with a related issue (or simply an awareness that such an issue exists, see this post)


On a related note, saying ‘hi’ to people on a college campus is awkward as an identical twin because you never know who knows your twin.   At least once a day I will be walking somewhere, and somebody I do not recognize will casually nod and say ‘hi’.   The regularity of this situation forces you to stay on your toes because you have to say ‘hi’ back.  If you don’t, that person thinks your brother is a douchebag.  You don’t how that impacts his life.  If it’s a girl, maybe he likes her and such a snub would turn her off.  Less selflessly, you know that anything that reflects poorly on your twin reflects poorly on you because your reputations are inherently linked.   As a result, when I walk through a relatively well-populated area of campus, I am constantly alert, never pouncing but always ready to react.

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