I am totally fascinated by twins — the more identical, the more fascinating. What must it be like, I wonder, to have another person who looks just like you sharing your life from your days in utero. How cool must it be to know what you look like by looking at a real person versus a mirrored reflection. And how amazing must it be to be able to pull the old switcheroo on others by pretending to be the other twin and totally getting away with it. I imagine being a twin has its own set of challenges, but, to my non-twin eyes, it looks like fun. Or did, anyway, until I fell prey to the twin spin.
The first words I heard upon entering a public restroom recently were those of a harried mother attempting to shepherd her six-year-old twins out of there. “Chloe, come on! Are you done yet? Zoe and I are waiting!” The words were followed by Chloe saying, “I’m waiting for it to flush!” Her mother replied, impatience rising, “Come on, get out of the stall — now!” But no. “I’m waiting for it to FLUSH!” Exasperation mounting, her mom yelled, “Just come out NOW! I’ll deal with the flushing!” (I kid you not). “No! It’s not flushing!” (I hadn’t heard the word “flushing” used so much since the last US Open.)
The problem, I realized, was that the facilities were controlled by motion sensors, and that as long as stubborn little Chloe continued to stand there, nothing would happen.
All this time, Zoe (aka the good twin, or so I thought) was doing everything perfectly. Washing her hands without having to be reminded. Waiting quietly for her mom and her twin by standing out of the way. Looking too, too adorable in her long braids and “Twins Rule!” t-shirt.
Finally, Chloe emerged (after a little more “encouragement” from her mom) and her mom walked into the stall (presumably to handle the flushing dilemma and to use it herself). “Do NOT forget to wash your hands!” she admonished, as Chloe headed for the sink.
And then it happened. As I stood at the mirror, Chloe and Zoe exchanged their secret twin look and, without a word, exchanged places. When their mom emerged, it was Zoe-as-Chloe washing her hands while Chloe-as-Zoe stood off to the side. Believing that it was Chloe who all of sudden was cooperating with the motion-sensored sink and soap dispenser, their mom dispensed big praise upon the little trickster — great mothering, if only Chloe had legitimately learned something versus a) having known how these devices worked all along; b) having only been stalling while in the stall; and c) having escaped having to wash her hands because she just didn’t feel like it.
Thinking I was being supportive of the little twins’ little joke, I gave both girls a big smile in the mirror. Nothing. Well, not nothing — more like a stare from Chloe that would have made Wednesday Addams’s blood curdle. And the same we-killed-our-babystter-and-we-can-do-the-same-to-you glare from Zoe. Nice kids.
But their fun wasn’t over yet. When their mom went back into the stall to get her purse, which she had left hanging from the door hook, Zoe quickly dried her hands on her shorts and moved back out of the fray while Chloe took her place at the paper-towel dispenser (yes, motion-driven) and proceeded to wave her hand in front of the red light once. Twice. A dozen times. The moment their mother saw that, we were back to the old routine. “Come on, Chloe, let’s go!” “I’m waiting for it to stop!” “Just step away from it NOW — I’ll deal with it stopping!”
Giggles ensued from Chloe and Zoe. Cute. And from me. Not so cute, apparently. Because as I attempted an “excuse me, please” in order to pass behind Chloe, who was now blocking the entrance with her little charade (and her growing pile of paper towels), the twins struck again. “Chloe, move! You’re in the nice lady’s way,” the mother exhorted. “No, it’s okay,” I said, stepping deftly around the child and pushing open the exit door. But no. The twins had had it with me. Not-so-sweet little Zoe stuck out her little Keds-clad foot and tripped me so that I stumbled on my way out.
And Chloe? Her voice followed after me — “Maybe she needs to get out of MY way!” Zoe’s voice echoed the sentiment — “Yeah, maybe that lady needs to get out of OUR way!”
Obnoxious, obviously. Rude, ruthlessly. And bratty, brilliantly. Game over.
Twin some, lose some.
ⓒ 2019 Claudia Grossman