Two such people were Jonah and Ezra Weatherby. There were only three Jewish kids that went to my elementary school and the Weatherby Twins were two of them. I didn’t realize at the time what a non-Jewish name Weatherby was, though I later found out that their father was Catholic and that they had been tapped for their mothers religion. Their mother was very, very Jewish in appearance and demeanor. The Twins got some of the dark features from her, but that was about it.
I got to know Jonah Weatherby first because we were in the same kindergarten class together. The two kindergarten classes at West Oak Elementary were mostly separated by age, though they made an exception in the case of the twins in order to split them up. Since Jonah was a few minutes or an hour or whatever older than Ezra, he got to be in the old kids class with me. Always seemed odd to me because Ezra seemed to be the more mature of the two. Maybe he had something to prove. They were identical twins and the only way that you could tell them apart physically was Jonah’s duck curl in back. I suppose that you have to mark some sort of difference to keep from going insane.
By the time they got to high school, their physical differences had become much more pronounced. Jonah got heavy in the stomach and had a slouching posture while Ezra seemed more “broad” than heavy with his weight more evenly distributed. Also notable is that Jonah had become something of a geek with an interest in geeky things. No surprise that he remained the one I talked to most, though since they were both honors students I didn’t talk to either very often. Ezra became a theater dude and developed a winning smile.
Looking at the two of them, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have an identical twin brother. When I look at my own brothers, the differences make comparison difficult. Ollie is adopted so he’s dealing with a set of genes that Mitch and I aren’t. So when Ollie became the more athletic and popular than Mitch, there wasn’t the rivalry that you’d more likely see between two brothers in the same grade. Mitch and I were three or so years apart, so there wasn’t much in the way of competition there, either. He was ahead of me in every way and it was unavoidable. Even if we’d been fraternal, though, our common parents and heritage only goes so far. I got a creative trait that he didn’t and he got… a lot of other… traits that I didn’t.
If you have an identical twin, though, it would seem to me that everything changes. You suddenly have a benchmark with which to gauge your success. It’s difficult to impossible to dismiss your relative shortcomings or have your relative successes explained away. If I had a twin sibling that went on a first date before I did or had a higher GPA that was the sort of thing that would drive me insane. I’m not an inherently competitive person, but that’s partially because ever since I was little I was told that I was developmentally stunted. So in a sense anything I did was an achievement.
Of course, the downside to this is that I never had to try very hard. Because the experts had me pegged wrong, I was left in a situation where I only had to try a very little to meet or exceed expectations. Sometimes I wonder where I would be if my parents had held me to the same standard that they held Mitch and Ollie. Sometimes I’m grateful that they recognized that I wasn’t him (and even if I hadn’t been pegged wrong, I still wouldn’t have done as well as he did), though at other times I think I could have accomplished a lot more if more had been expected of me.
Anyway, back to the Weatherbys. By the time we were all in high school, it was had not to say that Ezra wasn’t “ahead” of Jonah. Ezra was in better shape, was relatively popular, seemed to have more charisma, and was comparably good scholastically. Most of the above thoughts about my brothers and I were the product of thinking about what it would be like to be Jonah and perceptively behind my twin sibling and not really being able to cite any genetic reason why that should be the case.
Apparently in the intervening years between high school and the reunion, their fates flopped. They both went off to the University of Delosa together where Jonah excelled and Ezra did not. Jonah had an advanced degree and was working in some super lab somewhere while Ezra was struggling to get his masters. Ezra had gained something of an acerbic demeanor, more arrogant than actually charismatic. Jonah had become somewhat arrogant, too. Both of them had always been… confident in their abilities… but it was usually inwardly directed pride rather than outwardly directed scorn. Both, interestingly enough, had become anti-government, right-wing loons to the point of making Ron Paul look like a pragmatist.
While at DU, Ezra had ballooned up to 300 pounds or so, though he’d lost a lot of it by the time of the reunion. I don’t know whether it was their builds had gotten more similar or just that I hadn’t had time to differentiate their appearance in my mind, but I had a lot of difficulty telling them apart. Too bad that duck curls have gone so out of style.