Sunday, July 22, 2012

An Unholy Alliance

My brother and I are friends now. We started out that way. For a time in between our early years and the present, though, we were not friends. The way in which our relationship has evolved  is interesting, but i suspect not all that unique.

Because Matthew and I are twins, except for the five weeks or so when I was still in the hospital and he was basking in my mother's undivided attention at home, always been together. I am the older twin. The doctors knew from ultrasounds that one baby was average-sized but one was tiny. The decision was made to take the tiny baby first in the Caesarean delivery to get a jump-start on the resuscitation efforts if necessary. To this day, I don't believe Matthew has forgiven the doctors for the decision that led to his being the second'born twin. It gave him  bit of an attitude -- a complex, really, not unlike a Napoleonic complex. Since then, he's had a need to prove that he was large and in charge, or something like that.

Early on, Matthew was my protector. if my mom was upset with me, he would distract her. he knew she wasn't going to hit me or do anything like that, but it really bothered him when my mom was mad at me. my mom wasn't always very patient with me. For some reason she thought I was a complete drama queen by the time I was about fifteen months old. Whenever I had  minor childhood boo boo, she had a tendency to roll her eyes. Matthew learned to put band-aids on my wounds, He was my protector at preschool and at CCD. My dad still tells the story of the time he arrived a few minutes early to pick us up from preschool to find Matthew pinning another little boy to the ground. He was on top of the kid and right in his face, saying, "NOBODY hits  Baby Lexus." That's what he called me -- Baby Lexus -- until in kindergarten, when the teacher made him stop because all the other kids in the class were calling me that as well and treating me like an infant because I was so much smaller than everyone else in the class.

By the time we were about six, his statement could have been amended to "Nobody hit Alexis, except me!"
truthfully, we fought constantly, though our fights almost never escalated to the physical level because our parents would have killed us. It was actually a pretty level playing field. I was smarter. He was stronger. Even though we weren't allowed to knock each other senseless, I knew I had to be careful because his size advantage was enough that if I pushed anything too far, I might regret it.

We made car trips sheer torture for our parents. We dared and taunted each other into truly dangerous stunts, including the infamous occasion when I performed a back walkover and cartwheel on the second-story roof beam of our home. If push came to shove, we probably knew that we loved each other, but we certainly didn't like each other very much.

The very beginning of Matthew's adolescence was as rough a time as our relationship ever reached. A hormonal fourteen-year-old boy isn't  easy to like, even for the fourteen-year-old boy himself. It probably didn't help that other kids teased Matthew about having a baby for a twin sister. It probably made it even more difficult on the rare occasions when we had to be in the same section of a class in high school. I was normally willing to do the bare minimum of work  to secure an A in a given course, but if Matthew or his friends were in the class, I did what was necessary to achieve a perfect score, all for Matthew's benefit. It was showboating to the maximum degree, and it wasn't very nice on my part.

Matthew made it through that early period of adolescence and emerged as a human being  at just about the time a boy very cruelly broke off a prom date with me after I had been seriously  injured at a track meet. By the time I was assaulted in a school restroom, he was almost back to the "NOBODY hurts Baby Lexus" phase.

Most of the time I really don't need anyone to fight battles for me. I'm reasonably good at staying away from controversy for the most part. i do like the idea that we're allies rather than adversaries now. My brother is the person with whom I've shared more experiences than anyone in the world. Boyfriends and girlfriends will likely continue to come and go for the next few years. I only have one surviving brother, however, and only one twin in the world.  It's  tie that I hope never will be severed.


  1. Oh, heaven help my parents if my sister and I had been twins! We were holy terrors to each other, but have someone threaten the other? Nope. Wasn't going to go over well! We are such polar opposites still, but I love her to my core and I know she feels the same way. Unfortunately, my hubs refuses to get along with her...because of some things that happened when she was addicted to pain killers. :( makes for some uncomfortable family dinners, that's for sure.

  2. My brother and I are opposites in many ways, too, Tina. Other than our both being musical and having rhythm, the only thing much alike about us is our senses of humor. Senses of humor are probably honed through life's experiences, and no one shares as much of life's experiences early on as siblings who are close in age. How far apart are you and your sister, Tina?