Twin Speak

Identical twins talk about their identical counterparts.

By PT Staff, published on March 1, 2004 - last reviewed on July 12, 2005

If you think DNA dictates all, be prepared to have your beliefs
shaken. In spite of having the same set of genes, these identical twins
couldn’t be more different, personality-wise.

Sandra Peña (left) and Marisa Peña, 32 Both
work at MTV: Sandra is a graphic designer and Marisa is an event

Sandra, who was born a few minutes before her twin, has clearly
taken the role of big sister to heart. “I put her in line,”
says Sandra. “I have more self-control, and I shield

After their parents died unexpectedly, the Peña sisters were
devastated—and another trauma was just around the corner. Sandra
decided to strike out on her own, following her boyfriend to Germany.
“I cried for days,” says Marisa—it was the first time
that the two had ever lived apart. “It completely backfired,”
agrees Sandra. “It broke me and my boyfriend up. She was all I
thought about, and my boyfriend and I would just fight, fight,

The sisters are now about as close as two people can be: They live
together, commute to work together and hang out with the same people. But
they don’t ask each other for advice: “What advice can she
give me, when I know what she’s going to say?” asks

Debbie Quinn (left), stay-at-home mom, and Diane Schierer,
nurse, 44

“Debbie’s more like my mother, and I’m more like
my father,” says Diane. “When I try to give her advice, she
gets upset. She thinks I’m always telling her what to do. I just
think I have a stronger personality. Growing up, Debbie had a lot more
boyfriends. I was a lot more standoffish. And when we would go to
parties, she would drink more. I was always the designated

Although they have quarreled seriously in the past—and even
stopped speaking to each other at one point—the two sisters are
close now, says Diane.

“I’m nice, and she’s nasty,” says Debbie.
“She used to chase the boys home with a broom. Everybody says she
always had a puss on her face, and I always smiled. It’s true to
this day. And she’s always trying to tell me what to do. She acts
like my mother.”

Randy Sklar (left) and Jason Sklar, comedians, 32

The brothers are “different shades of the same color,”
according to Jason. They share a creative sensibility and have toured the
country with their stand-up comedy act. They’ve also had a show on
(Apartment 2F).

Yet they live apart and have slightly distinct styles: Their
friends can even tell them apart on the phone. “It’s subtle,
but they know how I say hello,” Randy says.

Other differences are more revealing. For example, “Putting
together an Ikea cabinet,” says Jason, “Randy would just be
done as quickly as possible. If there were extra screws, he’d throw
them behind the washing machine. I would look at the directions for so
long before I dove in—and then still get it wrong.”

What’s for certain: They have no extrasensory twin
perception. When the brothers were 14, they were involved in a university
study investigating reports of telepathy between twins. Randy sat in one
room looking at shapes, and Jason was supposed to draw them. “Not
only did we show no telepathy, I was so far off, they ended up stopping
the study,” Jason says. “I felt kind of bad about

Pam Spiro Wagner (left), poet; Carolyn S. Spiro,
psychiatrist, 51

Growing up, Pam was the “smart one,” more assertive and
outspoken than her sister. She still wins prizes for her poetry, but
since young adulthood, she’s also been struggling with
schizophrenia, a disorder that often lands her in the hospital. Shy
Carolyn is now a psychiatrist—she began her studies before she
fully realized what was troubling her sister.

The two are now jointly writing a memoir,
Solo for Two, due to be released in early

“Our first word, after
mama, was
we, which meant
I. We weren’t merely similar and separate, we
were—we knew—one,” writes Pam. “Basically, we had
no concept of being separate” until the beginning of school,
Carolyn adds. At age 6, Pam broke her leg on a ski trip—and Carolyn
felt so betrayed she refused to speak to her wounded sister. “I
just didn’t understand how she could have a broken leg, and I
didn’t,” says Caroline. At 17, the two were in a car wreck
that injured a motorcyclist. Pam was driving, but Carolyn feels like it
was her fault, too: “
We were driving the car.”

Even though Pam’s illness makes her delusional and suicidal
at times, the sisters relate to each other well. “I still feel like
Lynnie understands it all, that she’s been through it with
me,” says Pam. “It’s sort of jarring when I have to
explain it to her, because I think, ‘She was there with

Sha-Asia (left) and Na-Asia Jones, 13

These girls insist that they are as different as two sisters the
same age can possibly be. They go to the same school but are in different
classes and have different friends. They don’t agree on boys:
Na-Asia, wiggling a ring on her finger, is confident that she’ll
eventually marry Lil’ Fizz of the hip-hop group B2K; Sha-Asia is
more interested in rapper Lloyd Banks of G-Unit.

They both insist it’s only an accident when they finish each
others’ sentences—something any sister might do. But
“because we’re twins, people think there’s something
special about it,” Na-Asia says.

Still, they keep close track of each other’s taste in
clothes, in books and in food. “Even when it’s 110 degrees,
they’ll be lying on top of each other to sleep,” their
mother, Tonya Nunn, says—although Sha-Asia says that’s only
because the bottom bunk is closer to the bathroom.