My tennis racket finally restrung, I headed to the courts after work to play with a friend. Being so nice out (if you could call 90 degree weather that), there were a bunch of people waiting to get on the courts. While waiting, my friend and I struck up a conversation with two girls who were in line as well. Turns out they (quite obviously) were twins, and as this instantly turns any conversation to the subject, we started talking about life as a twin. The two girls claimed to be identical, and other than one having slightly more freckles than than the other, were pretty similar. When they asked whether my brother (who wasn’t present) was identical to me, I vaguely said most likely, yeah. When they asked me why I wasn’t sure, I responded that well, it was 1983 and according to those tests we are, but they aren’t exactly perfect, so who really knows unless you take a DNA test? Those cost money, and in the off chance I committ a crime down the road I figure I’ll get a free one anyway. My twin and I look alike, but I pointed out our hair does have opposite whorls, for example. One pointed out that a friend told her about mirror twins (which I had heard of before), adding that it seemed everyone who isn’t a twin seems to know more about twins than twins themselves.

I was just about to comment on people’s curiosity about twins, when she said, “Well, we had DNA tests done, because we took part in the twin experiments.”

First off, the way she said “THE twin experiments” made it sound like she was part of the missing link on LOST. I must have given her a pained look, because she countered that her older set of brothers were in fact also twins, although fraternal. Since this is relatively uncommon, apparently their parents thought it would be great if they could mingle with other twins in some labratory when they were seven years old. She seemed to have fond memories, saying they got momentos or something for taking part, but I was still a little creeped out. And it turns out while the DNA tests of her brothers confirmed they were fraternal, which probably you can tell just by looking at them, their DNA tests were screwed up, and they never got an answer. I hope that week was more productive than that.

In any event, I am glad that my parents never stuck me in some weird-ass twin experiment, but just like giving us the same initials, I am sure they would have found some way to screw that up too had they even known such a thing was going on…

It also turns out the two girls are from Ohio, which is where my friend is from, and they mentioned Twinsburg, Ohio, where apparently twins go to die, er, I mean celebrate their heritage. I had heard of this before, or at least assumed it existed, but they told me there is a festival each year where twins convene, and yes, these two twins had gone there before (naturally).

Otherwise known as Twinsdays.

I went to the Twinsburg, Ohio online visitor center, to learn more, and here is what I discovered.

“In 1817, a sixteen-year-old boy named Ethan Alling arrived in Township Five in the tenth range of the Connecticut Land Company, also known as Millsville. Alling was to survey the four hundred acres his Connecticut family had purchased. He is considered the first settler of the town that would be renamed Twinsburg, and eventually he became the postmaster, stagecoach operator, merchant and hotel proprietor of the community.”

 I had no idea Connecticut had its own land company, and or that they were purchasing in Ohio. It goes on…

“The set of identical twins from Killingworth, Connecticut purchased some 4000 acres of land in 1819 and began selling small parcels at low prices to attract other settlers. The Wilcox twins then offered six acres of land for a public square and $20.00 toward starting the first school if the residents would change the settlement’s name from Millsville to Twinsburg.”

Wow, 20 bucks and six acres? What a steal that was. Also, Connecticut of all states should know that the value of the land is only as good as the schools nearby. At least that hasn’t changed.

“Moses and Aaron Wilcox were reportedly so identical only their closest friends could tell them apart. They were lifelong business partners; held all their property in common; married sisters; had the same number of children; contracted the same fatal ailment; died within hours of each other and are buried in the same grave in Twinsburg’s Locust Grove Cemetery.”

Hmmm, this is so creepy maybe those tennis twins are related to them afterall. So…they pretty much led the same life? Wife was interchangable? Sick days not a problem? Need a playmate, son? how about your cousin/clone? Christ, they even saved money by having a joint funeral they were so considerate of each other. I just can’t believe they basically only led one life…seems like they were half-assing the whole thing.

The site led me to the offical Twinsdays site, which states that the festival was initiated as a local event in 1976, but clearly has grown ever since. I browsed through the pictures form the 2006 festival (this year’s is August 3-6). I never thought being a twin was that wierd, but seeing photos of so many people that look eerily similar to each other in one place is a bit unnerving. Intrigued by a link to the message board, I ventured further.

(c. Charles Robinson)

 Who wouldn’t want to spend the weekend with these two guys? 

The message covers a variety of topics, but is mostly centered around the festival itself, describing accommodations, tips, and the latest news. One whole thread was devoted to overcoming shyness at the festival, and how to approach strangers. One person (honestly, I’m not making this up) suggested broaching common topics, such as… being a twin. Wow, thank god for the message board or they may never have thought of that. “So…I hear your a twin.” “Yeah, that’s right.” “And who might this be with you?” Another wrote back “I’m the shy one, then my twin gets me going and then that’s it, we both let loose!” Wow, now I’m actually intrigued for the first time.  Hmmm…imagine if she had a triplet sister, the possibilities would be endless. Someone else couldn’t convince their other half to go with them, so they wondered whether it would be awkward to go as a twinless twin. Which I gotta admit, does cramp the experience, since I bet no one takes you for your word if you merely claim to be one, plus who really wants to talk to a random person whose twin didn’t even make it? Yet another person started his own thread apologizing for not making it this year. How tight are people at this festival that they are missing your presence with 7,000 other sets of twins around? Finally, one set of twins reported back on a “Twins Cruise”. I think a twins festival is bad enough, but being confined on the high seas with a boatload of twins is not my ideal vacation (unless of course they are single attractive  intelligent women, but I doubt it, considering this set of twins signed their thread “twinly yours”. I think I just threw up in my mouth.).

Ok, that is enough on twins for now, but clearly there is another whole level of ‘twinliness’ that I have never experienced before.

 At least for now, I hope it stays that way.

6 responses to “Twinsdays

  1. I understand your skepticism. I used to share it.

    My brother and I went “just once” in 1991, to check out the freakshow and tell people “yes, we’ve been to that thing in Ohio.”

    After an initial adjustment period, we were suprised by how much we enjoyed ourselves.

    Rather than writing it off, I think you should come and check it out in 2008. There are two possibilities:

    1) you will confirm your suspicions, and we will add more grist for your writing mill

    2) you (and your brother, please) will have an AWESOME time partying with a bunch of people who “just get it” and won’t bother you with the lame jokes and tiresome questions you’ve probably been hearing all your life. And you may come to appreciate your relationship with your brother in a whole new way. Who knows?

    (BTW, the guys in your picture are Don and Dave. They drive a rig together, and are two very nice guys)

  2. You are right, I should probably go and see for myself. I have always embraced being a twin, but also appreciate the chances when I can be my own individual, not just “one of the twins”. I feel that my best trait is my own distinct personality, and so going the other direction and spending time with exclusively twins where the stress is so much on sameness would perhaps seem self indulgent and overwhelming to me. But as you said, only one way to find out…

  3. Believe me, I (and MANY OTHER TWINS at the Festival) share your feelings. Having come out the other side of adolescence with all of its “personal identity” issues intact, though, it can be fun to just revel in it for one weekend. Believe me, 99% of us do.not.dress.alike in “real life”.

    (could you please credit my brother for that picture?)

  4. I’d say for my sister and I it’s not even so much revel in it as it is relax about it for one weekend. It’s the one weekend of the year where it’s absolutely normal to look just like the person next to you. And to be 100% certain that every other person there knows exactly how it feels to be the *freak show* in real life the other 362 days of the year.

    There are no rules that say you have to dress like your twin at the festival, btw. Most of us do, but not all. Frankly, my sister and I had no intention of dressing alike, ever. But once we got there we found that it’s actually a kind of goofy fun. It’s not creepy, or weird, like we thought, and hey, WE’VE always known that we’re two different people, thank you very much. It’s only in the *non twin* world where that seems to be a difficult concept for others to grasp.

    A few of us even like to use the non-twin idea of what it’s like to be a twin to poke a little fun at ourselves, and them. (ie “twincerly yours…?”)
    Sure, there are some twins we meet who take it to OTT excess, but isn’t that true of everything in life? Sis and I just smile politely, excuse ourselves from their company as soon as possible, and go on with our fun.

    If I had a dollar for every set who came their first year ready to feel superior and make fun of all the dorky twins, my butt would be in a bikini, on a beach in Hawaii right now … especially if I also had another dollar for every set of those same twins who’ve ended up coming back year after year after year. (*cough*my sister and I are on year 21 now*cough*)

    So if you and your twin ever decide to check it out, even if it’s just on a lark, I hope you’ll see what we see. A bunch of people with a whole lifetime of similar experiences, both good and bad, getting together for a weekend, and having a blast.

    If you decide you and your twin have nothing to add to the fun, well, so be it. There’s always two in every crowd.

    P.S. I haven’t been on it myself, but the twin cruise is actually a fund raiser, and on a ship of 2000+ people, 40 or so sets of twins hardly makes a ripple in the pond. Er, ocean.

  5. I think you should check out the Twins Day festival, before you make such rude comments. My twin and I were teens when our mother made us go to our first festival, we have been hooked since….that was 24 years ago! It is the one weekend a year we can BE twins and not feel out of place. We can’t do that at any other time without hearing “hey look at the fags dressed alike” or some other rude comments. Kind of like your article!

  6. I hardly think my initial reaction to the festival can be equated with your “hey look at the fags dressed alike” characterization, or at least I hope it doesn’t come across this way. Talking to other people about the festival who didn’t know it existed were surprised at the extent Twinness is celebrated, and just because I am a twin doesn’t mean that can’t entitle me to a similar reaction. In fact, your fellow festival goers comments confirm my amazement that everyone is so tight knit and truly wears being a twin on their sleeve. But I also wonder, is this the only place that you (and your twin?) feel comfortable and won’t receive rude comments from others? I find that disturbing, and it certainly highlights why others are drawn to such a celebratory environment where they can be comfortable…fortunately, I haven’t come across this adverse reaction. What were your inital thoughts going into your first festival (even though you were “made to go”?). I’ll venture that you were less dubious than myself…

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