There are very few certainties in life other than death, taxes,
and Britain never again winning the Eurovision Song Contest. If
you're in a lesbian relationship you can one more to the list: the
fact that people will mistake you for sisters.
Random passersby, shop owners, waiters, and so forth often mistake
my girlfriend and me for sisters. They never let the fact that we
don't look alike faze them - oh no - like a soap opera audience
they'll willingly suspend disbelief, even after they find out that
we hail from different continents.
People sense that there's closeness between us, but lesbians is
not their go-to explanation. A few years ago I was in hospital,
morale was low from the combination of constant pain and beige
food, and my girlfriend sat with me all day until visiting time was
over. On my last day a fellow patient commented, "I wish I had a
sister like that." Sister? Oh brother.
When people mistake us for sisters my first instinct is to correct
them. But once the idea of "sisters" has been introduced it feels a
bit confrontational to pull the ripcord on their little sibling
appreciation society and say, "lesbians actually."' They react as
if you've deliberately tried to trick them with your little sister
Recently, while out shopping, a woman stopped us and said, "Oh my
God twins!" Twins? Eew! We immediately separated in an unconscious
effort to highlight our differences - our romantic mooch reduced to
mush. One minute I was looking at place mats, and the next someone
was holding up a mirror to my narcissism. I found myself in Heals,
in the midst of a deep personal panic. We don't look that alike do
we? Oh God, do I just really just want to date me?
People had now stopped to gawp at the 'twins', and the woman even
called over her husband to confirm the sighting.
"Twins!" he confirmed.
God help the mister who was about to come between me, and my
"NO!" I replied horrified.
"But you look like sisters?"
"NO. We're not sisters."
No is usually is pretty definitive, but in this case I sensed that
more explanation was required. Everyone was looking to me to
provide more information - including my girlfriend.
I know I should have just told them straight, but I also know it
will get us out of there fast, with minimal fuss, so I lied and
said, "We're very close friends".
The woman still wasn't buying it, "But you really look like
I turn to look at my girlfriend, and then look back at the shop
owner and say, "We're obviously 'rubbing off' on each other."