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My life started with surprise.
I take that back. My sister's did.
Seven minutes after I was born (the time is up for debate) my twin sister, Nicole, came into the world. The joke goes that she kicked me out first, but I can't really remember that far back. I wouldn't put it past her, though.
So Nicole was the surprise. The "bonus baby," my dad quips. The thing is, my parents had no idea that they were having twins. My parents were (and are) terrifically health conscious. As a result, my mom never gained much weight while she was pregnant, and even wore her size-4 designer jeans home from the hospital. They also opted not to have an Ultrasound done - for health reasons, but they also wanted to be surprised.
Boy, were they ever.
I guess Nicole and I had our part in the scheme as well. Our heartbeats were synchronized up until my birth. As such, the doctor was unable to decipher one baby from another.
When I was born, the monitor still read a heartbeat, and the delivery room was enveloped in chaos. The nurses claim it was nine minutes until my sister was born. The doctor clocked seven. My dad claims it was 5 or fewer. In any case, by 4:45 a.m. on Monday, February 14, 1983, my mom had given birth to two perfectly healthy twin girls.
Someone at the local Fort Collins, Colorado paper immediately heard the story - twins born on Valentine's Day - and deemed it too good to pass up. We made the front page.
But being born on Valentine's Day is only cute when you're little. Sharing your birthday isn't all fun and games, and why don't you try having to do so on the biggest Hallmark holiday in existence. As a kid, your party immediately had a theme and there was no shortage of delicious candy. None of your elementary school friends had dates or anything else getting in the way.
Being the emo kid I was back in high school, having your birthday fall on Singles Awareness Day [SAD] felt like the worst possible card I could've drawn. In those days there were a lack of Valentines being thrown my way, and no amount of "Happy Valentine's Birthday" cards could fill that void. Those combination cards are about the worst thing ever on their own, so imagine having to share one, too.
Just because two people share a birthday and happen to look alike doesn't mean that you only need to get one gift/card/gift certificate. Unless, that is, it's something meant to be shared.
You'd be amazed at how many people don't understand that. If it's not a group activity or can't be split in two, don't give it to two people. Although it's fun trying to figure out a way to share a Barbie doll, it's more fun if you would've just picked up a two pack.
If you're only friends with one of us (yes, that does happen) it of course doesn't mean that you're obligated to buy a gift for the twin you don't know. In that situation, you buy one gift, for one person. Maybe just throw the other one a card just to be polite.
By this point, you're probably thinking I'm at least a little bit selfish. Maybe I am, but take into account how many people see twins as one person in two bodies, and you might have a different perspective.
Part of being a twin is finding your own identity - one that includes being a twin as well as being your own person. It's a struggle sometimes when so many people fail to recognize that just because two people are identical in looks they aren't always identical in personality, beliefs or interests.
I'm pretty much conditioned at this point to answer to the name Nicole. In some ways, I'm almost more likely to perk my ears up at her name than my own - even now that we go to separate schools in separate cities. Of course, this stems from 22 years of mistaken identity.
I can easily understand this problem, though. Nicole and I still look very much alike, even with different hair color and style. Inevitably, it will be difficult for most people to tell us apart. I myself have had difficulty telling other sets of twins apart. It's going to happen. Correcting the same people for years without result, however, makes me insane.
A staggering number of people in my life, when corrected, have responded with an eloquent "Whatever," or a strong willed, "Well, it's not like it matters anyway, right?"
Few things infuriate me more than those kinds of responses. Please, strip me of my identity! Of course my name doesn't matter! How silly of me! How about I call you 'Jim-Bob' for the rest of you life? It seems fitting. Jackass.
There are also other, more subtle annoyances to being a twin. One of the biggest is the ultimate question of dread: "Are you two twins?"
If I had a dime for every time I've been asked that question, I would have enough money to fund my own reality TV series for at least four seasons.
My annoyance to this question comes from the fact that the answer seems so obvious, in our case. I would probably wonder what was wrong if people stopped asking that question everywhere we went, but it has been posed to me more than anything other single question in my entire life. At least it wins out over someone asking, "Are you two sisters?" That way I still have some belief in American intelligence.
The best question by far though was asked back in high school by one of my classmates: "Do you ever forget which twin you are?"
Apparently he had trouble remembering who he was in the morning. I never really answered his question, because I started laughing so hard that I had to be excused from class. It took me 15 minutes to calm down.
Typically the only other question that makes me laugh as often gets the same response every time: No, I don't want to be a part of your sexual fantasy.
I've been proposed with everything from threesomes to desires to watch Nicole and I wrestle, bikini-clad in movie theatre butter. In retrospect, they're humorous, but at the time I'm usually just confused.
Why do some men out there actually think this is feasible? Would you want to make out with your brother? Sister? If you do, stop reading this. You have some issues that need immediate attention. There is a word for this kind of thing. Incest shouldn't turn people on! The Olsens, Coors Girls and Doublemint Twins should make you recoil in horror, not prompt you to come and ask me if Nicole and I want to play.
I figure it stems back to most people just not realizing that twins are two people, not one. Nicole and I have a lot in common - a love for music, a fondness for film and a similar sense of humor, for starters - but anyone who knows us both will tell you that we're very different people. But even if we weren't sisters, we'd still be best friends. We have enough in common to understand each other, but enough differences to keep it interesting.
Natalie B. David
A fresh graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, in her spare time she can be found clumsily manipulating words and phrases for LAS and Beautiful/Decay magazine, hungering for sushi, naming inanimate objects or pondering the existence of stiletto heels. If you see her, you should buy her a cup of coffee because, chances are, she probably needs it.
See other articles by Natalie B. David.
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