I've seen them around ever since I can remember. They're as much a part of this city as the parks and piers - hopping on and off buses, sitting on benches downtown, walking everywhere quickly, deep in conversation. I don't think I've ever, in over twenty years of memories, seen them apart. I was away for 13 years and when I returned, I caught a glimpse of them downtown not 36 hours after my return - I knew I was home, then.
I don't think life has always been easy for them. They have a lot of friends, and they are always happy, but I'm an accomplished people-watcher and I can see how some others react to them. I sit a few bus seats back from where they do, so I can hear and see things they can't. It's pretty subtle...mostly a matter of glances exchanged, maybe the occasional whispered comment. I think I remember that it used to be worse for them than it is now.
I'm not sure what their disability is, so I can't give them a label for you. Their thick glasses tell me they don't see well, but they seem to have no other physical inhibition, even though they must be in their mid-fifties by now.
We were in a hurry when we left the house and I called my kids from the backyard where they were 'farming'. I was searching frantically for change and keeping an eye on the clock as the kids got their shoes on. We made it in time, luckily.
It was the 2.43 bus today, so the back was full of high-school students. Unable to sit where we normally do, I guided the children towards the front seats. We sat behind and across from the driver, so we could watch him operate the bus.
A few stops before our destination, they got on. Backpacks and jackets matched: in fact they are identical down to the moustaches. They had a friend with them - as well as having an intellectual disability, his speech was impaired so I couldn't understand what their conversation was about, but it was earnest and seemed important. I happened to glance to the back and, amid the chaos of teenaged conversation, teasing, and flirting, saw one kid give a little smirk to his friend.
My daughter asked me if it was time for her to pull the stop cord, and I looked over at her to answer. Suddenly noting the state of the shirt she was wearing, I exclaimed "Good grief, Charlotte, look at your shirt! It's filthy!" She gave me a rueful smile as I reached over to brush in vain at her shirt. I heard a voice across the aisle say quietly "Throw it in the laundry," and another, almost identical voice say, serenely, "it'll come out." I wasn't sure if they had intended to be heard, but I looked across and smiled at them. "Yeah but you should have seen how nice and clean she was a half hour ago!"
They were pleased at my response, and leaned forward a bit. "It doesn't take long," said one, then "no it sure doesn't" said the other. I started to laugh, surprised for the first time by twins who actually DO finish each other's sentences. "Too bad I can't throw all of her in the wash," I remarked, to their great amusement. My daughter crowed with laughter, too.
"They get dirty,"
I stood up to get off at the next stop. "Well, bye now," I said, "enjoy your afternoon."
"Bye!" said one, "and you have a good day too!" said the other.
On the sidewalk again, I stopped to take stock of jackets, wallets, keys, transfers. My daughter watched the bus pull away and said, still laughing, "Those guys are sure funny and nice."
Yes, they are.