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.