Twins Mandy Westerman and Brandy Laman lead similar lives in the same neighborhood – The Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Twins Mandy Westerman and Brandy Laman lead similar lives in the same neighborhood – The Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Couples (left to right) Kris and Mandy Westerman and Brandy and Daniel Laman had a double wedding in May 2008. They followed up with a joint honeymoon in Jamaica. Mandy and Brandy are identical twins. (Photo by: Brandon Dill, Commercial Appeal)

By Stacey Wiedower, Memphis Commercial Appeal


Saturday, August 29, 2009


Identical twins Mandy Westerman and Brandy Laman fit several of the classic twin stereotypes.


When they were kids, they shared a secret, made-up language, and even now they finish each other’s sentences.


They were so hard to tell apart as babies that their parents first painted their toenails different colors, then had their ears pierced at 2 months old, putting tiny hearts in one twin’s earlobes and stars in the other’s.


“We have an aunt who couldn’t tell us apart when we were younger,” Brandy said. “She babysat us one night and there was a joke that she didn’t remember which one of us was which.”


“So she might have mixed us up,” Mandy joked. “I might really be Brandy and (my sister) might really be Mandy.”


As they got older, Mandy and Brandy had fun with their twin status, dressing alike until they were 13. In high school, they shared clothes, played the same sports and played in band together. They were inseparable, and growing up as they did in the small town of Trenton, Tenn., they were known to everyone simply as “the twins.”


Today, at 27, they still have much more in common than blond hair and similar features.


For one thing, they share not only a birthday, but also an anniversary.


“We had a double wedding last year,” said Mandy of the ceremony that took place in May 2008.


The two couples — Mandy and husband Kris Westerman, 26, and Brandy and husband Daniel Laman, 27 — followed up the wedding with a joint honeymoon in Jamaica.


And then a few months ago, the couples bought their first homes, closing, of course, on the same day. The houses, just down the street from one another, share the same floor plan, only in reverse. The vaulted-ceiling living rooms in their new Cordova homes even contain identical beige sectional sofas, side chairs and TV stands. The twins didn’t set out to match, but they’ve found over the years that it’s simply hard not to.


“We just like the same things,” Brandy said.


“More often than not, they try to be different,” added Daniel. “It just ends up that you can tell the similarities.”


And although the sisters insist they’ve never used their remarkably similar faces to play tricks on unsuspecting friends, teachers or family members, they’ve managed to trip up even their closest loved ones without trying.


“One time Daniel walked up behind Mandy in Cracker Barrel and smelled her hair and said, ‘Man, your hair smells different,'” Kris said, laughing.


“I’m leery now,” Daniel joked, but he added that, incidents like that notwithstanding, it’s easy for him and Kris to tell the twins apart.


“Even though we look alike, we are very different,” Brandy said. “We’re like one person put together, but opposite halves.”


Brandy, for instance, is the more serious and reserved of the two. Mandy is outgoing, energetic, playful.


“We play off of each other well,” Mandy said.


The twins haven’t spent much time apart in their lives, but they did attend different colleges. While Mandy was at Austin Peay University in Clarksville, Tenn., Brandy went to Murray State University in Murray, Ky.


“We knew we wanted to go to college separately, and that was good,” Brandy said. “But we always talked about, after college, moving to the same area.”


So when Brandy, a pharmacist at a Walgreens store in Millington, was attending pharmacy school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Mandy moved here to be with her sister.


Mandy, who earned a master’s degree from a UT satellite campus in Nashville, now works as regional supervisor for Youth Villages’ West Tennessee Specialized Crisis Services.


To make their web of similarities even more complex, Daniel coincidentally wound up working for Mandy as a lead counselor at Youth Villages. Kris, for his part, is working toward a degree in information technology and has been employed for four years at ExcelleRx, a hospice pharmaceutical company.


Although the timing in the sisters’ engagements and nuptials worked out perfectly, their relationships with their respective husbands began very differently. Brandy and Daniel began dating in college but had known each other since they were 5 years old, growing up together in Trenton. Mandy and Kris, on the other hand, met through an online dating service and dated for about a year before getting engaged.


Brandy and Mandy each went with the other’s fianc? to help pick out her sister’s engagement ring, and their rings are, of course, very similar. They had a slightly tougher time picking out houses, considering their strict criteria.


Working with family friend and Realtor Joanie Whitaker of Crye-Leike Realtors, the couples knew they wanted homes within a short walking distance of one another. The biggest challenge when looking at existing homes was that, when two houses were for sale on the same street, both couples tended to like the same house.


“So we decided we weren’t going to get any of those because it wasn’t fair,” Mandy said.


The compromise came in finding newly built homes, meaning they could buy homes with the same floor plan at the same price.


Now that they’re settled in to their new homes in the Fountain Brook subdivision off Berryhill Road, Mandy, Brandy and their husbands are enjoying the advantages that come with having a twin.


“It’s good because someone is always available down the street,” Daniel said. “And since we’re not around our immediate families, it’s nice to have that.


“We don’t feel lonely because we have a little family here.”


Online Story Link: