Who’s who? Tales of the twinlight zone

Just like snowflakes, no two people are exactly alike.

So while identical twins can create quite the optical illusion for most, those who know them well eventually learn to distinguish who’s who.

“Paul has a little dot next to one ear and his hair comes to a point in the back,” wrote Lanie Koziel, a Pismo Beach mother of 4-year-old twins Jack and Paul.

Kate Stulberg of Cayucos noticed that her daughter Elizabeth, 7, had a tiny birthmark on her cheek, while sister Victoria’s ears stuck out a bit. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Titus Shanks’ parents could distinguish him from his brother Timothy by the birthmark on his chest, which would show up whiter than the surrounding skin when he cried hard or if his parents rubbed his chest.

“We got them mixed up numerous times and would have to rub their chests to see which one was Titus,” wrote their parents, Randall and Julie, of San Luis Obispo.

When The Tribune published an article seeking twins, more than 70 pairs responded. Several of those returned brief Q&A’s offering a nice (though entirely unscientific) survey.

Many times, mothers were better able to distinguish the twins, though they often needed help early on with different colored bracelets, fingernail polish and clothes. Eventually, most twins wound up wearing the same clothes for a while, but by middle school eventually started wearing different outfits.

Most twins have dealt with the age-old twin question: “Are you guys twins?” And many said they had their own twin language.

“They would jabber back and forth and then start cracking up,” wrote Mari Dunsmore, mother of 7-year-olds Noah and Liam. “Apparently, I had missed the joke.”

Many twins have odd occurrences. When she was around 8, Marisa Williams fell while riding her bike, giving her a crescent-shaped scar on the bottom of her chin. Years later, her twin, Erica, tripped and fell, and now she too has a crescent-shaped scar on her chin.

“Also, last month, when we went on vacation to Cabo San Lucas, we both showed up with a Band-Aid on the second toe of our left foot,” wrote Erica, 29, who now lives in San Diego, hours apart from her San Francisco twin. “We had both cut ourselves shaving the day before.”

Sawyer and Samantha Roberts were among the very few twins who noted their differences.

“We hang with different crowds, have different goals in life and have different tastes in just about everything: style, music, and even boys,” wrote Sawyer, 18, of Nipomo.

Still, they both attend Allan Hancock and even work at the same Pismo Beach candy store.

Some twins fully embrace their sameness — like Amy and Amber Luis, two 20-year-olds attending Cal Poly.

“There have been lots of times where we will start singing the same exact song at the same time,” wrote Amber, who has a grandfather who’s also an identical twin. “We have always had the same group of friends and are always attached to each other’s hip.”

While many twins at least live in separate homes, some live under the same roof an entire lifetime.

Catherine Kornreich’s great-aunt Lena Lerza, 99, of San Luis Obispo, lived with her twin, Louise, until Louise passed away at age 96. Neither woman ever married.

“The two of them never lived apart,” Kornreich wrote, “with the exception of a six-month stint when Lena joined the Navy. They signed up together, but Louise wasn’t accepted due to her 4F status (because of a hysterectomy).”

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