The seniors organized a dance with a local rock band for grades nine through twelve. During the mid-60s it was still cool to attend school dances and I couldn’t wait. I had a new dress. And it wasn’t handed down to me from my cousin.
A few days earlier Mom visited my Aunt Sophi and returned with a surprise from her. Aunt Sophi was my favorite of Mom’s sisters. Next to Mom, I thought she was the prettiest and most stylish. She and Aunt Mary K were each thin, so I identified more with them.
As a young teen I walked like a clod-hopper with my toes pointed outward. My Aunt Sophi tactfully showed me how to walk with one foot in front of the other, toes straight ahead instead of East and West. Once boys finally noticed I was alive they often complimented my graceful walk.It wasn’t my birthday. For no reason at all, Aunt Sophi bought a dress and sent it home with Mom. It was a black and white hounds-tooth print, with white and black ruffles around the neckline and cuffs. It was the most beautiful and sophisticated thing I’d ever worn.
I called immediately. “Thanks Aunt Sophi. I absolutely love it. I’m wearing it to our school dance this Friday.”
“You’re certainly welcome, Dolly. I’m glad you like it.”
Mom dropped me off at school a few days later. I stood in line, paid my entrance fee, and got my hand stamped.
The normally bright lunch room/auditorium/old gymnasium/dance hall was transported to another dimension with muted lighting and crepe-paper decorations. Folding chairs ringed the perimeter.
I looked for Marcia and crossed the dance floor to sit by her.
“What a pretty dress,” she said. “Is it new?”
“Thanks, my Aunt Sophi bought it for me.”
“I wish my aunts bought me dresses.”
We got up and walked to an adjoining hallway where home baked refreshments were sold.
Martha, Nancy, and Stephanie intercepted us.
“See, I told you it was the same,” Nancy announced to the other two girls.
“Oh my gosh!” said Martha. “You’re wearing the exact same dress as Bonnie (name changed to protect the innocent).”
“Where is Bonnie?” asked Stephanie. “I can’t wait to see her face.”
Marcia and I scanned the room, no Bonnie. We bought our soda, cookies, and brownies. Re-entering the auditorium, we spotted Bonnie on the edge of the dance floor surrounded by several friends. I walked over (with straight feet) to show her my look-a-like dress and laugh with her.
Bonnie didn’t laugh. She was not ecstatic to have me as her twin.
“I can’t believe you wore my dress,” she accused.
Your dress? Hmmm.
“They aren’t exactly alike,” I pointed out.
Her dress had short sleeves; mine had long. She only had a ruffle around her neckline. Mine had ruffles around my neckline and cuffs. No one needed to tell me I just won my first ruffle-off.
Bonnie and her friends went into a corner, where she pouted. Marcia and I enjoyed the dance. I silently sent extra thanks to Aunt Sophi for choosing the version with long sleeves and extra lace.
Fast forward: I’ve encountered many other duplicates over the years. At an office Christmas party in the 80s, Nora and I were the two senior supervisors of customer support. We showed up in identical new dresses; hers was red and mine was green. We laughed it off and said dressing alike was a new requirement for our position.One of my best college friends, Mary#2, and I once went on a double date intentionally wearing the exact same brown crepe dress-pants and cream wrap-around top. We smelled the same too; Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew.
Mary#2 and I once bought the same navy and white shoes, and stopped at Aunt Ann’s on our way home. Aunt Ann loved our shoes and tried a pair on.
“Would you mind if I bought a pair?” she asked.
“Of course not!” we replied.
The most memorable twin occasion was my cousin Ed Jr.’s wedding in the early 80s. I showed up wearing a short version of the bridesmaid’s silk fuchsia dresses, complete with poofy Princess Diana sleeves. Their matching fuchsia shoes were silk, mine suede.
Lesson learned: If you unexpectedly find yourself with a twin, get over it, have fun, and be grateful you aren’t both accidentally naked.
Now it’s your turn: Did you ever find yourself with an unexpected twin?
Related posts: Chapter Ten: Girly Boys
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