Imagine this: two small, skinny boys named Stevie and Stanley were identical twins born on April Fools' Day. They grew up in a metal house where they constantly shocked each other. In high school they had identical grade point averages. When they grew up they married women with the same first name.
Sounds like a zany children's book, right? Yes, but it's also the true story of Stanley and Stephen Toompas, who recently published their funny childhood memories as "I'm the One the Other Isn't: The Stevie-Stanley Stories."
"The book has already sold 400 copies in eight weeks," Stanley Toompas, an optometrist in Philippi, said this week. "People are laughing like crazy. People call me and say, 'My face hurts.' I say, 'Why?' They say, 'From laughing.'"
Brothers Stephen and Stanley Toompas recall memories from their childhood in their new book ‘I’m the One the Other Isn’t:?The Stevie-Stanley Stories.’ Barbour County natives, the duo have lived lives of continuous similarities.
He and his twin brother Stephen, a pharmacist and drug store owner in Bridgeport, began telling stories of their childhood to their own children as bedtime tales.
"At bedtime my son would say, 'Hey, Dad, tell me a story about Uncle Stevie.' Later on we realized that both his kids and my kids called them the 'Stevie-Stanley Stories,'" Stanley said.
"Eventually we said, 'We need to turn these stories into a book.' It was a great idea, but 1993 quickly turned into 2011 - the years just go by," he said. "Eventually I told my brother we needed to write the book before time passed us by. So I started and showed him what I'd done, and he loved it and started writing as well."
The twins grew up in Clarksburg in the 1960s and '70s. The house they were raised in was made entirely of metal, one of a small number of experimental model homes in the area.
"We really were constantly shocking each other while we were kids. Everything in the house was metal," Stanley said. "We always said that's why we have no common sense."
After a fun childhood of riding their Stingray bicycles through town and having unusual adventures - such as running away from storms with their mother - the boys graduated as co-salutatorians of the 1976 class at Roosevelt Wilson High School in Nutter Fort.
"People always find that interesting, identical twins with identical grades, but we did not have the exact same grades," Stanley said. "We would take the same class and one would get an A and the other a B, and vice versa. But it was really close to identical. And when they averaged it all out, we tied."
The title of the book comes from the twins' high school days.
"People would run up to one of us and say, 'Hey, Toompas, which one are you?' We'd say, 'What do you mean? I'm the one the other isn't!' And then we'd walk away," Stanley said.
Each brother married a woman named Kim, and they each have two children.
"Sometimes people think we're making it all up, or at least that we're exaggerating, but we've just had funny lives," Stanley said. "All the stories are true."
And there's more on the way.
"We've got a sequel already written," he said. "Our publisher says if we can sell 1,000 copies we can do a sequel, so we're doing book signings and trying to get the word out. We're getting such great feedback from people, they're really enjoying it and asking for more. So we really want to do another one!"
The Toompas' book is available on Amazon.com and at headlinebooks.com.
Contact Brad Johnson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.