Deception – Twins, Part II

elizabetholdhamDeception, MusingsLeave a Comment

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Loads of excitement visiting family in Kentucky

Of the two of us, I was the more naturally deceitful. I had been sneaking around since I had discovered – first, the thrill of boys, and second, how to strategically place a few towels in bed to resemble my sleeping body. I had shoplifted on occasion. I had cheated on tests.

But I wasn’t twisting her arm. Long before our ESP test, in elementary school, she and I would covertly switch sides to help the other’s team while playing large group games like capture the flag. Because we were both good at sports, we were always placed on separate teams. We would wear identical outfits so that no one else could tell us apart, and it became our own personal one-one-on contest.

One night in high school when a date came to pick me up, I was in the bathroom giving myself a final glance. My sister opened the front door, barefoot, in shorts and a t-shirt and eating toast. I’m ready!

My date greeted my dad, and they chatted a bit. Then he turned to my sister. Let’s go. He started to walk away, and my dad chided my sister who burst out laughing. He was red-faced and sputtering when I arrived.

We didn’t use our twin powers of deception very often, but when we did, we fully invested in the illusion. In most cases, we judged the risk of capture to be less than the thrill.

There was the time in junior high when I mouthed off to the wrong girl coming out of the school bathroom.

School bathrooms in the 70’s were used as student smoking halls in high schools and middle schools for the student smoker with too little time to make it off-campus between classes. Due to the mild winters in California, an open layout allowed for all classrooms, offices and facilities to open onto an exterior corridor . In elementary school, an occasional student would brave a smoke in the bathroom.  In junior high, it was commonplace. So in grade seven, while wading through a cloud of cigarette smoke in the entry with a friend, I made a snarky comment about the stench. The girls who were leaving stopped. The tallest one, older and unfamiliar, blocked my entry.


I refused. It stinks.

She challenged me to a fight after school. I agreed then left for a doctor’s appointment before the day ended. The next day at school, it became clear that,

  1. the girl still wanted to fight me
  2. the girl had many friends
  3. not all of the friends knew that I had an identical twin, and
  4. those who did could not tell us apart
Hard to believe that these faces would deceive….

Thus began the deception. When cornered, I would claim to be my sister. When cornered, she would justly claim innocence. They chased either one of us. Athleticism was on our side – we were fast, and we could maneuver. She and I were able to steeplechase our way through campus to avoid them on multiple occasions and evaded them for over a week. I outran three of them and escaped into Mr. Archer’s open science lab where I had to finish my lunch one day. But it was tiresome being always on the watch. And there were casualties. 

There was the day when a pursuer tripped over the bench my sister had just perfectly vaulted. She skidded on her hands and knees then stood up shrieking and pointing to a freshly torn hole in her light blue Ditto jeans. You owe me a new pair!

In the penultimate deception, I’d been confronted at one end of the school and had sent them looking for the other me at the opposite end. I followed and watched as they surrounded my sister. There were many other students there, too, bystanders, and I pushed my way through them.

One of the girls in our own grade stepped forward, hands on hips. Apologize.

My sister shook her head. I didn’t do anything.

I think it was the frustration of not ever knowing who they were talking to.  Or maybe the anger after a week of fruitless pursuits.  The girl didn’t care anymore if she had the right twin.  She slapped my sister.    A tear fell slowly down my sister’s cheek, and I felt shame and sadness. 

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