Growing Up “Irish Twin” Part Two*

If you have not yet read part one of the thrilling saga of me and my Irish twin, back your ass up and click here to read the post. Two reasons…

1.) This information is imperative to understand what happens next

2.) I said so (I am a mom…these three words are like second nature to me)

Seriously, do it now. You would not watch “The Empire Strikes Back” without first watching “A New Hope” would you? “Aliens” before “Alien?” Come on people, get with the program. Did I also remind you I am a huge nerd? I cannot lie, sci-fi is my JAM. For my friends here who don’t know what “A New Hope” refers to, I’m not even going to tell you to Google it. I just can’t even wrap my geek brain around a world where someone does not know what “A New Hope” is. Sorry, not sorry.

OK, so now that you’re all caught up with the details, I bring you to the second act of the story. Namely those years after my sister and I left the nest. I headed to college and my sister headed to work. As I sit here writing this while unemployed (thank you Coronapocalypse) and she runs a fleet of buses from an office bigger than my master bedroom, it’s conceivable that I took a wrong turn some place along the way. But more on that another day friends.

My sister and I drifted apart during those years. Our priorities were quite different. She was making her way in the world and I was making my way to house parties. She did come to visit me once on campus and my friends and I treated her to a great night of draft beer and dancing at the local watering hole. We also insisted she buy all the snacks on the walk home to campus. Hey, she had some disposable income at that time that was unheard of to a poor college student like me. I sometimes had to debate…laundry or quarter drafts? Quarter drafts usually won. I lived for those occasional letters from my grandparents which usually included a crisp $20 bill. Thanks Gramps and Grandma for all the beer you unwittingly provided me during those four years.

My friends and I had almost convinced her to give up the world of work and join us on campus. Once again, all my friends thought she was all that and a bag of chips and this feeling was only enhanced by the fact that she did indeed buy us bags of chips (and Cheetos too) that night at the convenience store on the walk back to campus. What would she major in, we all wondered? “Space,” she said with a laugh, “I will take up space!” Alas, it was not meant to be. She headed back home the next day and we kept going to house parties while she made bank.

Fast forward to post college graduation, and my sister and I found ourselves working for the same company. When people learned we were sisters (our last name was not common, so it’s not like it was a big leap), the resulting expression was usually something like this, “Ohhhhhhh, well that makes perfect sense.” They realized what we already knew, we had the EXACT SAME LAUGH and many of the same expressions and mannerisms. This laugh is something to behold. It appears out of nowhere. Then we get quiet for like a millisecond and both look at each other and do “ahhhhh!” in the same exact pitch and cadence. It’s almost creepy. Though not as creepy as this.

I think I know what we need to dress up as for Halloween next year. This would beat the crap out of that year we went as MaryAnn and Ginger from Gilligan’s Island.

Years later, we learned that people at this company used to joke that we shared a brain; on any given day, one of us had the brain, the other did not. Apparently, the general consensus was that it was me that was not in possession of the brain for the majority of the time. I’ll admit, my job took me to many parts of the plant we worked at, and I spent a fair amount of that time flirting with the many cute guys that worked with us. I was not what anyone would call particularly serious at the time. I was single and ready to mingle, people. My sister was much more level-headed and responsible. The word “invisible” was not even in my vocabulary at that time. But, fun fact, that’s not something you even worry about or consider when you are 22.

Around this time we both met the men that we would someday marry. Both of them named “Jim.” Now, I get it. “James” is not like a super unique name. But I ask you, what are the odds? Seriously? My mother affectionately refers to them as “The Jims,” usually when she is asking them to assist my dad with some home improvement project, like re-roofing the garage or painting the house or lifting some heavy furniture.

Wedding planning with my Irish twin proved that while we can be wildly different in our approaches, but we usually land right in the same spot. She led the way this time which was oddly strange by me; I was not in a huge hurry to walk down the isle and was also planning a bit of a three ring circus for my nuptials. I was, after all, going to be the bitch in the BIG WHITE DRESS, so I wanted to make it a pretty grand affair (well, as grand as my budget would allow).

In typical “share a brain” methodology, we picked wedding dates that were ELEVEN MONTHS APART. We used the SAME PHOTOGRAPHER. No shock, but we served as each other’s maid of honor. Though I must admit, I was the more responsible maid of honor as I didn’t get tipsy with her best friend and decide to kiss all the heads of the bald men at the wedding after reapplying lipstick. To this day, I don’t know who instigated that business, but it was pretty damn funny to walk around the reception and see a bunch of bald guys with lip prints on their domes, including our dad. Yeah, I’m looking at you, ladies. This is why we can’t have nice weddings.

Life swept us up and pushed us along. We bought houses and settled down. We had kids; she had two boys and I had two girls. This was always my wish; two girls. Shocker… I get what I want, people. Everyone knows this.

Our approaches to parenting are similar, though that’s much more the result of “nurture” than “nature.” We both tend to be anti-helicopter moms. I will admit to telling her at one point that her boys never STOP BOUNCING. Her retort? “Yeah, your girls never STOP TALKING.” Point taken, twin. Regardless, I’m super glad that they all grew up close to each other. And my nephews definitely don’t bounce nearly as much now that they are in their twenties. My girls are another matter; they have grown into whip-smart, fast-talking, opinionated young ladies. I could not be more proud.

We maintain traditions like holiday dinners and annual trips to the beaches of North and South Carolina. One of our favorites is our annual Black Friday shopping extravaganza. The day typically includes us entertaining our fellow shoppers. One year, we happened to be in a shoe store, browsing with mom for a new pair of crocs (remind me to tell you how I feel about crocs someday…suffice to say, HELL NO). While we were in the store, “You Should be Dancing” by the Bee Gees was playing over the speakers. Neither of us said a thing to the other, but clearly that tune had been firmly lodged in our connected craniums. Largely silent as we exited the mall and were loading our purchases and our mother into the car, the song continued to play on in our heads (bags in the trunk and mom in the front seat even though we threatened her with the trunk on more than one occasion). Then, as we shut the trunk, both of us broke out at the same exact moment with the “YEAH!” from the chorus of this musical masterpiece of the 70’s disco era. I can only explain this phenomenon in one way; we share a freaking brain people. You’re welcome for the ear worm; you will be humming the Bee Gees for the rest of the day.

Though a little older and maybe a little wiser, every once in a while the Irish twins come out to raise some hell. Usually it’s the night before Thanksgiving or a class reunion or even sitting around a campfire. Then the stories get told once again and we revel in our utter inability to become invisible. Because when you’re an Irish twin, you cannot help but be the life of the party. And look out when we show up together; shit may get crazy. There’s definitely more to tell…someday I may share our thoughts about how every family has a people-pleaser and a rule-breaker. Or the night a comedian absolutely ROASTED us and our parents on learning we were eleven months apart. And because we will not be contained, the stories just keep coming.

*Afterword…I just learned that “Irish Twin” is apparently an offensive term. Who knew? As someone with Irish blood (though the German genes tend to win out much more than the Irish ones, I do have a shamrock tattoo and no, I am not telling you where it is) I feel that I can still use it. Irish people don’t really get offended by much; if they did, Amazon would not be making so much money on novelty t-shirts like this one around St. Patrick’s Day.

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