Thursday, August 9, 2012
Twins tell life stories
By SUE WATSON
A pair of twins, who grew up in Oxford, have written their first book, “y’all twins?,” packing it with stories about their elementary school age experiences in the town famous for producing literary giants like the late William Faulkner.
Margaret and Katherine King were recent guests of Friends of the Library in Holly Springs, where they read excerpts from their book and told stories. They enjoy spelling out what they think about their personalities and how they played pranks. They switched places while in school and still do it occasionally to enjoy the sense of shock and surprise they get from unsuspecting friends and associates.
Katherine Cecile was the first born, making it out of the womb a good 20 minutes before her sister Margaret Elizabeth. Their mother gave each a unique name rather than giving them rhyming names so there would always be something unique about each.
Kat was the kicker in the womb and their mother knew that she was the one who beat up on her sister and who would be the first one out, they said. Kat admits she was the kicker and says she still dominates situations. That is just the way it is and is always going to be.
After raising their families, they built a home so they could remain close in retirement. Each has their side of the house but a common space is also included. The have always waited for this day to retire together and write books. The first book took 10 years to write but the next one will be out this fall. They said their children pushed them to write down their funny stories before they would be lost forever.
And they did, sitting side-by-side, Kat said, with her producing more of the dialog and Margaret putting together the narrative.
The theme of the book is that “We always had each other; we had each other’s back,” said Margaret. “She sold me out only once for a milk shake.”
“Most of the time, one twin is dominant over the other,” Kat added. “I was the first one out and Margaret says it was the only 25 minutes of peace and quiet she’s ever had.”
“If I got in trouble, she got a whippin’, too,” said Kat.
What happened to one happened to the other.
“We had awful hair,” Margaret said, taking back the lead in the conversation.
“It was like a horse’s tail - long and thick. Then mother gives us a cut to three inches to give us a perm.”
“Most girls look gorgeous with a perm,” Kat explained. “We were the first in Oxford to have a ‘Fro’.”
“Like a Brillo pad,” Margaret added.
Kat drops back to the topic of who is who.
“I wanted to see Margaret go first to see what it would be like,” Kat said of who would be first out of the womb. “Mother never had hospital bracelets on us. Who knows (who is who)?”
Margaret had the answer.
“Kat was the kicker before we were born and once mother got her out, she knew which one she was,” Margaret said.
The second book will be subtitled, “Which is which?.”
“We will keep the “y’all twins?” Margaret said.
But it will contain about 15 new stories covering the girls’ lives from age of 6 to 12.
Writing of the first book began in 2000 and the twins wrote off and on until it was finished in 2011. The second book is going much faster.
Margaret explained why they split up the dialog and the narrative.
“Kat is good at dialog,” Margaret said. “She can think like me, but I can’t think like Kat. I’m better at narrative.”
Kat got on down to the point of fact.
“I’m the rascal and she’s sweet and nice and a sensitive scaredy cat.”
“I am the reasonable one,” Margaret countered.
Kat explained that they resemble each other most in the eyes.
“Margaret is neat and I am not,” Kat said.
The two stopped dressing alike in college. They dress alike for book signings, however.
Margaret explained how a picture for the cover was photoshopped. In the original photo, Kat’s left leg was not in the picture, so Margaret’s left leg was copied and put on Kat’s left side under her skirt.
Kat explained that she is the tomboy in the family – a little bit of a sloppy dresser.
“It’s a full-time job to get her dressed up for a book signing,” Margaret said. “She resists it with all she’s got.”
“And talk about mascara,” said Kat. “Who invented that, a man? I got in the car and said, I am not pinching those eyelashes.”
The most noticeable difference in the twins is their personalities, Margaret said.
“When we are together, people have an easier time of it. People who work with you, tend to know the twin they work with.”
Margaret works at a bank while Kat is a math teacher with Northwest Community College.
The two decided to pull an April Fools joke on Kat’s math class. Margaret went into Kat’s class to teach and Kat is left-handed. Margaret is right-handed and nobody noticed.
“I come to the door and poke my head in and said, are y’all learning anything? It scared them to death.”
When they pull the switching joke, Kat dresses up and Margaret dresses down.
They like to say that Kat’s left arm was hanging out when her mother held her on her left hip, and Margaret’s right arm was hanging out when Margaret was on the right hip. That a good enough explanation of the right- and left-handedness.
There were five siblings, with their mother having three children in one year. Then she had two more children after the twins arrived.
The two had ways of getting out of trouble with their mother.
“If Mother just had one, we would be alright,” said Margaret. “But Kat would get us in trouble.”
“If I was guilty, I wouldn’t look my mother in the eye and get caught,” Kat admitted.
“We don’t really look that much alike, once you get to notice,” Margaret explained.
“I’m the best-looking,” said Kat, “I wouldn’t let Margaret take on my personality. She couldn’t be dominant.”
Margaret explained that she was not good in geometry while her twin is. The teacher would call a row out to go to the board and work a geometry problem.
“I would get up and explain the problem and Margaret got an “A”,” said Kat. “Then I went right back up there and explained the next problem and I got an “A,” too.”
The two learned they would be in separate classes in first grade and were devastated. They would switch classes in the morning and switch back after lunch. After first grade the twins were always in the same class.
In the sixth grade, the twins would not let the teacher know which one was which. They never let the teacher know when she called out the right name.
“We should have been put one in one corner and one in the other,” Margaret said in retrospect.
The two did not like the same toys and refused to write a diary. They admitted to having switched a date once. They were asked if their husbands were ever jealous of their togetherness.
“It’s hard to be a twin,” said Kat. “They didn’t understand it’s the most special relationship in the world.”
Nearing retirement age, they built a house together.
“We knew in our old age we would be taking care of each other,” said Margaret.
“We always said, when we get old, we are going to take care of each other,” Kat added.
Lots of people who are twins or have had twins in their families come to the book signings and tell stories of their own.
To learn more about “y’all twins?,” readers can visit www.yalltwins.com; twitter: thekingtwins and see them on facebook: Y’all Twins.
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