Sunday, May 06, 2012
Being married to an identical twin has had some interesting moments in the 54 years I’ve been in this family. We grew up on the same street one block away from each other on a short street north of the UT campus in Austin, Texas. My husband is six years older than me which now doesn’t seem like much (well, maybe some days it does) but growing up, it was a huge difference. He was starting at the University of Texas when I was beginning junior high and he was friends with the older brothers of my friends in the neighborhood. I occasionally would see him playing football in the street with his brother and was only vaguely aware that there were twins in the next block as I passed their house on the way to the bus stop.
That all changed when I graduated high school and joined a sorority at UT. I was in a liberal arts program called Plan II and was living at home until the beginning of my junior year when I moved into the sorority house. I had two wonderful roommates, Pat and Linda. I had broken up with my Aggie boyfriend and had had a few dates with guys I had met in classes but didn’t really know anyone to ask as my date to the sorority’s Christmas dance.
My roommate Linda had started dating an older guy named Allen who shared a house with two other men. One of them, Kenneth, had been dating women in my sorority for several years and usually had a date for this event. Linda suggested that I invite Kenneth since, for some reason, he was dateless. She gave me his last name and I made the connection to the boy I had seen playing football in the street. She explained that he was now teaching engineering at UT while working on his Master’s and was without a date. I agreed to consider the invitation if he would first ask me out for coffee. He did and I did and the real story begins from there.
Kenneth’s twin brother, Keith, was also sharing the house so when I would visit, I had to learn to which was which. Most of the time I did pretty well but their voices are so similar it was and still is difficult to tell their speech apart. So there were times when calling the house, I would get them mixed up. Face to face I was always grateful that they didn’t dress alike.
After we married and were living in Dallas in a small apartment north of SMU where I was finishing up a degree, Keith and some other guys would come up to Dallas for the OU-Texas game and stay with us. I do remember charging into the bathroom thinking it was Ken in it shaving and being so embarrassed to learn it was Keith.
It continues to amaze me how linked these two brothers are in totally unconscious ways. Keith married a high school friend of mine and they moved to Ohio and we moved to Denver. We began to collect a little furniture and one big purchase was a Paul McCobb desk from a dealer in Littleton, Colorado. Unknown to Ken or Keith, Keith purchased the exact same desk in Ohio. They both are still using the desks. They like the same music and collect the same CDs. They both are avid newspaper readers even though in different professions. And they both ended up in Houston, Kenneth to get a doctorate at Rice and join Nasa at JSC, Keith to join the marketing faculty of the University of Houston.
A few years ago Keith invited us to meet him and his wife at a faculty reception. We arrived before they did and you can only imagine the stares and chilly looks I got as “the other woman” on Kenneth’s arm. Thanks goodness for all of us it was all explained when the other twin arrived.
Each couple had two children, all within a couple of years of each other and we were able to spend fun vacation days together. The children were continually getting them confused. Evidently even at knee level they look the same. If a child approached the wrong dad saying “Dad?”, the man in question would just point to the other twin and say, “Over there.”
My husband grew a beard and for many years that really solved the problem…solved it until Keith grew one as well.
The mix-ups are still going on. At a party the other night at their home, a couple was really confused after Keith had met them at the door wearing a flowered shirt and black shorts. A few minutes later they found themselves talking with Kenneth and wondering why he had changed into khaki pants and a different shirt. Later they saw “him” again in a flowered shirt and the black shorts. It took them a while to figure out what was going on.
We stayed the night after the party and my sister-in-law and I had a big laugh. After getting ready for bed, the twins showed up in matching pajamas, exactly the same purchased a year apart from J.C. Penny with no knowledge of the other’s purchase.
I can’t help but wonder if there is any research going on about the long term connections of twins. These two are now in their 80s, are a little easier to tell apart, both with PhDs and still active in their fields and still very connected at some deeper level that continues to surprise their wives.