Sicily, 1942: A young peasant girl goes to the local market to buy food for dinner.
Shit; wait, wrong story.
Suburban New York, 2015: A mother, still in her pajamas in the middle of the afternoon (well, the pants at least). She is going through the supermarket with her two young children, a task she attempts to avoid like episodes of those idiotic Real Housewives. (By the way, why do they call them “real housewives”? That’s about as unreal as a housewife gets, but I’m getting off track.)
All is going well – one kid happy in the front of the cart, one in the back and behavior completely manageable. Then the cart starts to fill up. Suddenly, the one she calls Man is stepping on bags of chips, cartons of eggs, bottles of beer. She places him on her shoulders, only a few items left. “This is totally doable,” she proudly thinks to herself. And for an aisle or two, despite having grabbed one of the carts that had Scurvy, (one wheel turning while the other stays in place) it definitely was. Then, they made their final stop, the fish counter. Man liked to see the lobsters in their tank.
An elderly woman was waiting for her order, “Oh, they look so happy, but are you ok?” she says.
“Oh sure, I’m fine. He’s not too heavy.” The mom replies.
Then she hears it, her most hated question, the one that forces a faux smile on her face while attempting to answer politely through gritted teeth. “Are they twins?”
“No, they’re just close in age.” She answers as nicely as possible.
“Oh, of course, she is clearly older then he is.”, says the old crone, echem, old woman, as she points towards the little girl called Lady sitting happily in the front of the cart.
The haggard, tired, pajama mommy had a choice. She could ignore it, and give a polite “yes,” ooooooor she could make sure this sweet old lady, who, let’s face it, made an innocent mistake, know that “NO, she was NOT older, HE WAS, DAMNIT!!!!!”
It doesn’t really matter how messy mommy answered. It just mattered that everyone had finished crying when she finally stepped away from the fish counter.
For the record they are not twins and the “messy mommy” in the story… well, if you couldn’t figure it out, was me. With my four-and-a-half year old Man a little small and Lady, only 18 months his junior, and a one pound (Lady weighs more!) and two inch difference (but Man is taller!) I can see how one could, initially at a quick glance, believe it’s so. I mean, people ask us so often that my husband and I almost considered attempting to pass them off as such at Disney World; Lady having been legitimately free because she still hadn’t turned three. And then we thought, why would we do that? They are NOT twins. (And, of course, Man would have spoken up and sold us out in a heartbeat.) But really, if you take the time to look at them and then think before you speak (something I actually rarely do, so I get it, this blurting out of questions and statements of enormous inappropriateness) the answer is pretty clear.
It’s also a damn good thing Man was busy watching the lobsters and did not hear the question. Just a few weeks earlier, he almost ripped some random woman a new one, having heard and understood the question for the first time.
“Why do you think we are twins??” He said heatedly as he stomped his foot, “I am not a little girl like my sister!” At this point, he only knows same sex twins, so naturally he did not understand why this person thought he was a girl. He showed her his short hair, his blue and green clothes, and seeing that we were in a locker room and allowed to be naked, he threw in a quick viewing of his junk before storming off to go blow dry his hair. Seriously people, stop asking me – I can’t risk Man dropping his pants in public in an effort to prove he is not a twin.
I take some comfort in listening to people’s responses after they realize they could have possibly offended me. They always start to backtrack and come up with some ridiculous explanations.
“Oh, she’s further away so at this angle they look the same height.” (I actually appreciate this one; it shows an understanding of math that I lack.)
“Oh, they just play so well together!” (This has nothing to do with being twins.)
“Boys grow more slowly then girls. You’ll see, when he is 18 he will shoot up right past her.” (Thanks for the encouragement.)
“She’s just acting so mature for her age that I thought she must be older.” (Really. She just threw herself on the ground because I told her she couldn’t leave the locker room naked. It’s obvious to me we have different definitions of “mature”.)
Let’s just add this to the long list of offensive questions you are never allowed to ask a mom. That, or I can keep giving my evil mom death stare to anyone who asks, while Man provides them with adequate proof and laugh about it later.