For years, I have walked down the street next to my best friend while people stare, poke their companions and whisper."Are they twins?"
"Can they read each other's minds?"
"What's it like to be a twin?"
I never understood the wonder -- or stupid questions -- that people conjured up when in the company of twins.
To my sister, Mandy, and me, our similarities weren't as obvious as they were to others. We have spent a good portion of our lives trying to distinguish our differences and shrug off our likenesses.
We have made every effort to differentiate ourselves by cutting our hair differently, keeping separate closets and accentuating even the tiniest differences.
We were not that alike, we thought.
We were wrong.
And it took a trip to Twinsburg, Ohio, to open our eyes.
Growing up, we had always planned to trek to the annual Twins Days Festival. We finally made the journey earlier this month, the week after our 24th birthday.
We were not alone in our quest. About 2,000 sets of twins made the trip to northern Ohio for the Welcome Weenie Roast, Double Take Parade and Twin Talent Show.
Along with the twins came the spectators.
We couldn't decide which we were.
Sitting on a bench next to the funnel cake stand, we couldn't stop staring. The twins were everywhere. Little boys were dressed in matching overalls. Grown women wore coordinating skirts, heels, hairdos and nail polish. Grandpas carried identical beer bellies and crooked legs.
Mandy and I sat and watched -- amazed -- nudging each other and snickering to ourselves.
Then, just as I was about to point out yet another tacky twosome, I looked down.
After some pleading, I convinced Mandy that we should wear matching pink skirts, shoes and earrings. And, while sitting on that bench, we had struck the same pose -- arms folded, legs crossed.
A man walked up. "Don't move," he said. Simultaneously, Mandy and I tilted our heads and smiled as the man's camera shutter opened and closed.
We looked at each other. Without words, Mandy uncrossed her legs and slid her sunglasses over her eyes. I ruffled my skirt and put up my hair.
As if any amount of primping would change our identical faces -- not to mention our matching pink skirts, shoes and earrings.
Special to the Pilot & Today
Every summer, Harley-lovers mount their hogs and head to Sturgis. Chocolate-lovers unite at the Long Grove Annual Chocolate Festival. And twins and their womb-mates gather in Ohio for the annual Twins Days Festival.
Attending the event was a birth right my sister Meg and I left unfilled until this year. We loaded our matching outfits and features into my car and headed to the aptly named host town, Twinsburg, Ohio.
After checking into our hotel, Meg and I prepared for the opening ceremonies, which included the Welcome Weenie Roast. When we looked into our suitcases, our expressions didn't match. Meg was eager to return to our childhood tradition of dressing identically. Images of matching flip-flops and hairdos danced in her head.
I was less enthusiastic. I've always admired and tried to mimic my sister's actions, but I was more comfortable doing so while wearing my own style of clothing. I wasn't ready to take a step back for the sake of a photo-op.
As usual, I gave in, and we left the hotel in matching tank tops in different patterns. The man at the front desk looked at us and smirked. I immediately regretted our choice.
We weren't alone. Everyone in Twinsburg was followed by a clone. Every set of twins was dressed identically, from the earrings to the totebags. Twins donned matching sunglasses, hats, scarves and lipstick. It was almost unsettling.
We passed two-by-two through the food line and sat down with Neil and Nelson, twins from Indiana. They had matching haircuts and personalities. Nelson told us what to expect of the weekend's festivities. He said that the Double Take Parade wasn't worth waking up early for but that we should not miss the Twin Talent Show.
Both Nelson and Neil insisted that the highlight of the festival was the nightly partying at the Holiday Inn. Before leaving our table, Neil said, "You have to come to the Holiday Inn tonight, but you'll have to change first; you don't match."
Meg stared at me accusingly, and I looked down at our nearly matching sandals.