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Oh! Look! Twins!

“I’m sorry,” the lady at Trader Joe’s said to me as I pushed the double stroller, laden with kids and shopping bags on hooks, past the twelve-foot high mountain of breakfast cereal at the end of the frozen food aisle. “I don’t mean to stare.”

“It’s okay,” I weakly smiled at her, ushering Ethan away from a stack of Pirate’s Booty. “I’m used to it.”

“It’s just that my daughter-in-law is pregnant with twins and I… well, we’re very excited. Looking at you makes it seem more… real.”

Well. That was a new one.

I often get comments when I take the kids out shopping, and it is still amazing to me — after almost two years — at how dimwitted people can be, or at how personal strangers feel they can dig. I almost always ready myself for something asinine when it seems like a stranger is about to strike up a conversation about my kids. You would, too, if you heard half the things I have:

Stranger: “Oh, my! Are they twins?” I nod, and murmur the affirmative. “Is it a boy and a girl?”
What I want to respond: “Oh, no! They are actually both boys. One of them is dripping in pink and has pigtails because I am conducting a social experiment.”
What I actually say: “Yes,  a boy and girl.” I add the ” you big fool” silently.

Stranger: “Wow! Twins! Which one of them is better?”
What I want to respond: “Oh this one. The other one is just plain worthless.” Really? You seriously just asked me that?
What I actually say: “Better? I’m sorry. I’m not sure I understand your question correctly.” This usually makes the person realize just how big of a shoe they have jammed into their mouth, and they find some excuse to walk away.

Stranger: “Twins! Wow! I’m glad I’m not you!”
What I want to respond: “For the sake of these kids, I’m glad you’re not me, either!”
What I actually say: is nothing. I think I just give an uncomfortable laugh.

Stranger: “Oh! A boy and a girl! Are they identical?”
What I want to respond: “Um, well, one of them has a penis and the other one doesn’t. You tell me.”
What I actually say: “No, they are fraternal.” (And this is where my need to educate strangers kicks in.) “Boy/girl twinsets actually can’t be identical by the mere biology of the fact that one is a boy and one is a girl. Only same sex twinsets can be identical.” People either ‘get’ this (as indicated by the proverbial slap on the forehead and an “Of course! That makes sense” type of comment) or they don’t, at which point my need to educate is overwhelmed by my need to not be around stupid people.

Stranger: “Are they the same age?” I nod yes. “So they were born at the same time? They are, what do you call it…?” Fingers snapping, as if this will will the brain to give the answer. I say, “Twins?” “Yeah! That! But one is a boy and one is a girl? How can they be twins?”
What I want to respond: “Anything I say to you will just go in one ear and out the other. Trust me when I tell you I know my children are twins, and then go and get yourself a vasectomy.”
What I actually say: “Because they were born at the same time.”

Stranger: “Wow, twins! Did you go through fertility treatments?” OHEMGEE, REALLY? Some people are just plain a-holes.
What I want to say: “Is there a particular reason you’d like to know? Because that is a really personal question for a stranger to ask. I’m not asking you about your last visit to the proctologist.”
What I actually mutter, because I am a wimp: “Twins run in my family.” And I get the hell out of Dodge.

Stranger: “Oh, look at them! Do twins run in your family?” Really, what they are trying to ascertain is, did you go through fertility treatments?
What I want to say: “Gosh, yes! They run all over the damn place. I can’t get them to sit down.”
What I actually say: “Yes.” And I don’t elaborate because it is none of their business.

Stranger: “How do you do it?”
What I want to respond: “Well, I drag my tired sorry ass out of bed every morning, manage to keep everyone alive throughout the day, and collapse into bed every night. My laundry gets ignored, the dishes in the sink pile up, and I can’t tell you the last time I ate sitting down.”
What I actually say: “How do I not?”

Stranger: “Wow! A boy AND a girl! You’re so lucky — you only had to do it once — got it all done in one shot!”
What I want to respond: “Do you not see my other, NON-twin child standing RIGHT HERE? Way to make him feel like he’s not part of the equation.”
What I actually say: “Ah, well… two shots, actually. This guy here is an amazing older brother.”

Stranger: “Did you know you were having twins when you were pregnant?”
What I want to respond: “What year do you think I gave birth to these kids, buddy? Have you never heard of an ultrasound machine?”
What I actually say: “Yes, I did.”

Stranger: “Which one is older?” I indicate that Miranda was born a minute earlier. “Really? But the boy is so much bigger? Are you sure?”
What I want to respond: “Hmmm… now that you mention it, I guess I’m not so sure. Now that I think about it, the multiple medical personnel that participated in the birth of my children all looked pretty shady. I wouldn’t put it past them to have created a conspiracy to make me think my baby girl is a minute older than my baby boy.”
What I actually say: “Yes, I am sure.” Because, really. There is only so much basic common sense and biology I am willing to teach in the aisle of a supermarket.

So when that lady at Trader Joe’s first stopped me, I was prepared for one of the above. Instead, she asked me if I could give some advice to her so she could be of help to her daughter-in-law when her twins were born. I was only too happy to continue with the conversation.

“Clean and cook.” I said. “Do all the grunt work that will definitely fall by the wayside. It makes the craziness feel less… uncontrollable. And force her — or have someone else force her — to take a four-hour nap within the first week of coming home from the hospital.”

And then I showed her how my double stroller works.


  1. Emily says:

    So, which one really is better? C’mon… (That cracked me up)

    • Abi says:

      I am so not kidding with that one. We were all in Costco. Jack and Ethan were in line to get pizza, and I was waiting with the stroller (they were maybe 4-5 months old — still in bucket seats). A lady nearby looked at them and said, “Twins? Which one is better?” I was aghast. I think she realized what a idiot-thing she said when she started to stammer, “Um, I mean, um, which one sleeps better and doesn’t cry as much?”

      I told her they were both perfect little angels.

      Believe it or not, I was asked the same question a couple of months later by some other lame-o.

  2. Jane C says:

    I so enjoy all of your entries. Your writing is terrific. I hope you’re saving all of your “stories” for a future book!!

  3. Pobba says:

    so funny!

  4. Jeannie says:

    OMG, I just discovered this post and it is SO PERFECT!!!! My b/g twins are six yrs now, but I remember all those totally stupid questions!! Are they identical?? Hahahahahaha!

  5. deanna says:

    omg this is hilarious!