A few years back, a coworker and I gave out our version of Dunder Mifflin’s “Dundies.” There were awards that were awkward like, “most likely to sleep with animals,” ones that were true, like “nicest eyes,” or almost too complimentary like, “best in show” – and then there was my trophy with these words inscribed: “Most likely to kidnap the Olsen twins.”
I’ll admit this was warranted. They’re the background of my computer screen. A vision in black & white that always draw a comment when newbies swing by my desk. “Are those…?” Yes, yes they are. What can I say? We grew up together. I learned about traveling the world and FIT via Dualstar Productions. “Winning London,” “Passport to Paris,” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” were the aspirational Instagram Stories from yesteryear. Their outfits were impeccable. They always had a tween heartthrob who just “got me” and the PG-rated PDA gave me a reason to live and also hold every eighth-grade boy to unrealistic standards. As a gangly late bloomer with no income, I did what I could to get on their level: I flipped my hair, destroyed it with Sun-In and begged my parents to buy me platform MIAs and halter tops. I was a few years behind them style-wise, but I didn’t mind.
“New York Minute” came out in 2004 and was the movie I saw the day of my senior prom with some girlfriends. It was also the day my college-aged boyfriend stood me up and I never heard from him again. I moved to New York in 2008 and stayed there for ten years. I think I would have even if I hadn’t watched 91 minutes of the Olsen twins’ misadventures in Manhattan, but looking back at my life, sometimes it’s hard to separate the truth from fiction.
Snapping back to present-ish day. A few years ago Mary-Kate and Ashley designed a wedding dress for their friend Molly, and when I got engaged I was greeted by my coworkers’ craft project: my face superimposed on Molly’s body, the twins flanking my sides with bubble quotes above us asking, “Anna, will you be our bride?” I said yes to the paper cutouts of my new best friends. But like my high school boyfriend, they never showed up to the main event.
Fantasies aside, it all comes down to this: I respect their confidence, lack of social media and business acumen. I think they’re geniuses. They got out of acting; they had the foresight to navigate the shadows around the spotlight and not end up like the other actresses that grew up in the days of Delia’s catalogs, Surge and TRL. The twins have launched a fashion empire with different price points so that everyone can get involved. (Example A: they made Elizabeth & James available at Kohl’s last holiday season.) They’re effortlessly hippie-ishly trendy but march to their own beat. They’re the same height as me. They’re born on June 13th. I once friended their brother on Facebook to see if I could get in their zone by way of family. Am I starting to sound like a creep?
They’re the epitome of huge people in tiny bodies. They wear flats to just underscore their point, “size doesn’t matter.” They come up to the armpits of most people that surround them, but they don’t need to be looking down to know that they’re deities. Their petite frames slouched and swimming in oversized frocks are a huge “fuck you” to all the normal size people bumbling about them executing their vision wearing bandage dresses and sky-high heels.
I love their voices. They did the Kourtney Kardashian vocal fry before it was cool. The monotone valley girl, slow and deliberate – slight smirks when they’re amused, but never, ever, losing their cool. They haven’t giggled since 2004.
And the finger-raked icing on the cake: their mangy hair. An influence for mine, or an excuse for my laziness. It’s always limp and unbrushed, either just washed and air-dry from the shower or dirty from the night(s) before. A constant / wet curtain / shield I can count on. And it’s thin. It’s so thin. In a world of buxom beer commercial hair and cascading curls, their fine tresses are aggressively rebellious. My college roommate once put Rogaine for Women in my shopping cart at Target because my pony tail diameter is the same as my pinky finger. Maybe you’re starting to understand why this love runs deep.
What I’m trying to say is I love them because they basically (physically?) made me feel okay being me.
And while I don’t think I would necessarily kidnap the Olsen twins, I might lure them into a taxi cab with their favorite Venti Starbucks drinks and overflowing bowls of cigarettes and then implement the child lock feature while we drive around the block for a few hours. I think that’s about as long as it would take for us to really hit it off and for me to get to my final question, “Who’s your celebrity crush?”
Anna Svoboda is an American writer living in London. She’s a full-time copywriter, part-time MFA student, and recent Ancestry.com addict who can be found at obscure indie concerts when she has a few hours to kill. Anna has been published in Shape magazine, 34th Parallel, EARMILK and Queen Mob’s Teahouse.
This is the author’s first literary award!
APRIL 21, 2020 / MUSEPAPER ESSAY PRIZE #54 / MY HERO