People ask me why I persist in referring to Matthew as my younger brother when we are twins. The answer is (besides the obvious answer that I am actually about one minute older) probably that it bothers him when I say he's younger. If he would quit being upset by it, I would have no reason it say it; the joke would get old very fast. Saying and doing things for the sole purpose of irritation is something siblings do to each other better than anyone else. Matthew has things he says just to irritate me as well. I'm not sharing them here because doing so would irritate me. Furthermore, this is my blog. If Matthew wants to start a blog of his own where he writes things to annoy me, he is free to do so, but I'm not going to write those annoying things for him. Why should I annoy myself?
Matthew and I maintained a reasonably normal brother/sister relationship in childhood. We didn't have any of the twin telepathy or secret twin language that I've read about others having. I'm not sure how much I believe it anyway. The secret twin language thing is something I think only seriously exists when the children in question have some sort of a language deficit and compensate by devising alternate means of communication. I've never actually studied the topic, but if I get bored enough at the loony bin, I might eventually look into it. In any event, the secret twin language sounds pretty far-fetched to me as far as the "normal" population is concerned.
With the outlook and overall objectives of boys and girls usually so dissimilar, and the inherent competition for resources and attention between siblings so strong, it would be almost unnatural for conflict not to be present fairly often. There was nothing "unnatural" about the relationship between my brother and me in this regard. We knew and still know better than anyone else how to push each other's buttons. Early, our fighting occasionally escalated to the point it became physical, but our parents were not tolerant of fighting between us, so the desire to cause pain to each other had to be weighed against the pain we would get from our father if we were caught hitting, kicking, or anything else of the sort. Besides that, I was smart enough to know that Matthew would prevail in any physical fight; he had too much of a size advantage even from infancy. (He was over six pounds at birth while I was under two-and-one-half; I never came close to closing the gap.) Most of our altercations involved my doing something to irritate Matthew and his retaliating physically. Of course, in order to retaliate physically, he would have to catch me first. That is possibly why I am, or was anyway before my hurdling injury last spring, such a fast runner.
Now that we are both seventeen, I'm smarter, but Matthew is better-looking, is a better athlete, and is more popular. His popularity with adults is interesting. There was a really old television sitcom called "Leave It to Beaver." Some of you may be old enough to remember it, while others may have seen it on TV Land. "Leave It to Beaver" had a snake-like, insincere, sycophantic character named "Eddie Haskell." I could say my brother is the real-life incsrnation of Eddie Haskell, but that would only be partly true. It would perhaps be more correct to say that Matthew is a much better Eddie Haskell than Eddie could ever have hoped to be. Adults actually buy his insincerity, and other kids like him in spite of it, or maybe even like him more because of it. My parents -- especially my mom -- have a hard time believing anything Matthew might ever do could be motivated by ill will. His actions aren't always motivated by ill will, but they can be.
This is where Matthew and I differ, and it is a major source of conflict between the two of us as well as between my parents and me. I've done and gotten away with a few really sneaky acts in my lifetime. I won't divulge them because even at the age of seventeen, I would be punished beyond belief if my parents knew. (Eat your hearts out, Mom and Dad. You have, in my own words, an admission of guilt, which is so incredibly vague that even you cannot conscientiously punish me for the unknown misdeeds!) The difference between Matthew in me is this: I've done maybe three really sneaky and bad things IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. Matthew does maybe three sneaky and bad things roughly every week of his life.
If I have a problem with a rule or policy my parents have instituted, I debate the policy, often to the point of being punished. Sometimes my hard work and personal sacrifice bring about change, as my parents occasionally realize that their draconian policies are either tyrannical or simply not worth enforcing. When this happens, the rules don't change just for me, of course, even though I was the one who fought for the change. To me, it's much like a system, such as a union, where members of the union go to considerable effort and expense to bargain for better working conditions and a higher salary. Then, when these benefits are finally realized, all workers derive the benefits of the union members' efforts even though the non-union workers contributed nothing in the campaign to achieve the gains. (Please don't interpret this as some sort of rousing endorsement of labor unions on my part. The verdict is not yet in regarding what I actually think about the subject. I'm merely making an analogy that my brother achieves a lot of gain through my pain.)
Matthew, on the other hand, says or does nothing to get himself into trouble when the disputes between myself and my parents inevitably occur. He just quietly goes out and does whatever he pleases, waiting in the meantime for Alexis' strike tactics to liberate him.
Matthew, you can be angry with me, but I told nothing specific about you, just as I've never ratted you out for anything else you've done.