My twin sister, Melanie, and I were born feet first. Younger by six minutes, I kicked her into the world. It was the first of many kicks to come.
Once in grade school, Mel got the tar kicked out of her — by a mean girl who was gunning for me. The mean girl didn’t confuse us. She just couldn’t catch me. Poor, sweet Mel was the next best thing.
“Melanie?! Someone beat up, Melanie?!” our school principal, Sister Lucina, cried to our mother. “We nuns heard there was a fight. But we thought it was Michelle. How could anyone hurt poor, sweet Melanie?”
Unfortunately, life isn’t fair.
If life was fair, Melanie would have been rewarded for her sweetness. Instead, she shared a womb — and then she shared a room — with a fraternal twin who lived to torment her.
Eventually Melanie moved out of our bedroom because my sloppiness drove her crazy. I wouldn’t have minded so much but she took her clothes with her. I couldn’t wear her pants — she’s four inches shorter than I am — but I had grown quite attached to her shirts and sweaters.
“Nooo!” I screamed the day I came home from school to discover a padlock on Mel’s bedroom door.
“You’ve stolen your last blouse,” my sister said, triumphantly.
Oh, she still loaned me clothes from time to time. But I knew I had to return them unstained. I also knew I had to find a job if I wanted to buy clothes of my own.
A straight-A student who started working at age 15, Mel helped me secure employment at a Pizza Hut where she waitressed. My first Friday night on the job, I fell asleep on the floor. I was vacuuming under a table when I went down.
“How does anyone fall asleep while they’re vacuuming?” my sister asked me.
It is a question I still ponder today.
I also ponder how my sister and I became best friends, despite our rocky start.
“I think we always loved each other,” Melanie says.
“True. We just didn’t like each other,” I muse.
We also didn’t look like each other — which is kind of weird for twins. I was tall and gangly with dishwater blonde hair and blue eyes. Mel was petite with dark hair and dark eyes.
Despite our physical differences, our mother dressed us alike.
“We were the Mutt and Jeff of Twindom,” I tell my sister.
“You’re still the Mutt,” she says.
I’ll give her that.
These days, we often shop together and have similar taste in clothes. A few weeks ago, we each fell in love with the exact, same blouse at TJ Maxx. There was only one. So I let Mel buy it.
She’ll let me borrow it. I think.