I made a silly face in the mirror. My brother, standing beside me, giggled and tried to make the same face. We were so short we had to stand on little stools at the bathroom sink so we could see into the mirror. Looking back at us were two identical faces. Both were blonde and had chubby cheeks. Both had brown eyes and a scattering of little freckles. We were, in fact, identical twins, so identical that virtually no one could tell us apart.
Before we were born, our parents knew that we would be twin boys and selected the names Skyler and Tyler for us. When one was born, the other followed immediately afterwards. The births happened so quickly that at first someone may have mixed us up. By the time little ID bracelets had been put on our arms, none of the adults was exactly sure which was which, so it’s possible I was born first and given the name Skyler, but it’s also possible I was born second, in which case I have the wrong name. But Skyler I became, and Tyler is my brother. I suppose the birth order doesn’t really matter but we do laugh about it occasionally.
When we were taken home, we were put in separate bedrooms, but both of us voiced our objections with tears and crying, so Tyler was moved into my room. We still objected until Tyler was put in my crib with me, where we hugged and immediately fell asleep.
When I say we were identical, that does not just pertain to our looks. When one was hungry, the other was hungry. Mother held each of us at a breast and we ate together voraciously. More to our parents’ annoyance, when one of us pooped or peed, so did the other; when one was sick, so was the other. Our parents kept our little plastic hospital nametags on us until we outgrew them, whereupon they were replaced by silver ones.
One of our favorite games was to trade identities. When we went to a birthday party or played with friends, we would exchange our nametags. If someone addressed me as Skyler, I would point to my twin and say, “He’s Skyler,” whereupon Tyler would show the nametag he was wearing. The person would then believe that Skyler was wearing a blue shirt, while Tyler was wearing a red one. As soon as the person left us, we would trade the nametags back again, so the next time the person addressed me as Tyler, I would say, “I’m Skyler,” and point to my tag. Sometimes the person would accuse us of trading clothes, although we both denied it.
Other times we wore identical clothes, even though Mom tried to discourage that. We could play the game for hours.
We were born in April, and when we turned five it was time for us to go to kindergarten. We lived in a small town near the western border of Massachusetts. There was only one elementary school.
Mom told us that we were embarking on a new adventure, but she didn’t tell us the nature of the adventure until we walked into the school on the first day of classes. We looked around, awestruck. Children of many ages and sizes were hurrying through the halls, laughing and talking as they went.
Mom and Dad knew that it was the school’s policy to separate twins so that each twin would be able to develop his own set of friends independently. Another reason, we later learned, was that when there were twins of differing abilities, if the twins were together, it was more difficult for the twin of lesser ability.
Holding each of us by a hand, Mom walked into a classroom, introduced Tyler to his teacher, and then left, still holding my hand. We went into the classroom next door and Mom introduced me to my teacher and gave me a little kiss goodbye, saying she’d pick us up at noon. Then she left.
Immediately, I began to cry. I suppose kindergarten teachers are accustomed to tears the first few days of school, so Mrs. Hollings, my teacher, tried to soothe me and get me interested in some wooden blocks. That didn’t work. I began throwing the blocks around the room. Then she gave me a couple of soft Teddy bears instead. I threw those too, but they couldn’t hurt anybody. Other kids, a few with their thumbs in their mouths, stood nearby, gazing at me silently. None of them said anything; they just looked before moving on to other pursuits. I cried and screamed for three solid hours until Mom came to take us home.
In the car, I learned that the same thing had happened to Tyler, who had also cried and screamed for three hours. We both vowed that we wouldn’t go back; Mom vowed that we would.
We could barely stay awake through lunch and then went up to our bedroom for our naps. While we each had our own bed, we often slept together, and that day there was no way we would be separated.
The next morning, when it was time for us to get up and go to school, we refused. Unfortunately for us, our parents were bigger than we were. They pulled us out of bed, dressed us, fed us, carried us out to the car, plunked us into our car seats, and strapped us in. Of course, we knew how to get out of the seats, so we promptly did that. Our parents put us firmly back in our seats and once again strapped us in. By then we were both howling. I have since wondered what the neighbors thought was going on.
We got out of our seats four times before we finally gave up and our parents drove us to school. There we resisted getting out of the car, then going into the school, and finally going into our classrooms, our parents carrying us all the way as we cried and screamed.
By the end of the week, I’m sure we were all exhausted, including our teachers, and we knew the next week would be worse because we would begin staying for the whole school day.
On Saturday morning, Dad stayed with us as we happily played in our room while Mom went off to a meeting. We had little trucks and cars and blocks which we used to make roads and buildings. We would play with them for hours on end, making what we thought were car and truck noises. Vroom. Vroom.
When Mom returned, she told us that the school had agreed to try us in the same class together, although they were reluctant to change their policy.
Monday morning, we went to school holding hands, still apprehensive but happy we would be together. At school, we both went into Mrs. Hollings’ classroom, hung up our jackets, and sat down for sharing time. There were no tears, no screams. Through the day we played happily with the other children, who quickly dubbed us Sky and Ty. We enjoyed the dress-up corner, zooming around the room pretending to be cowboys or beautiful ladies or whatever the miscellaneous clothes suggested. We also spent time building with the big blocks which we didn’t have at home. At recess we played with everyone, running around, throwing balls, and swinging on the school swings. In the play yard there was a slide, a big, winding, plastic tube. We’d stand at the top and one of us would go down but stop halfway. When the other one came down behind, we traded IDs and then slid the rest of the way. It wasn’t until after lunch that day that our friends figured out what we were doing.
At lunch we sat across the table from each other and chatted easily with our classmates. Some of them were curious about us being identical, so we told them some of the tricks we played, like trading our identities. They wanted to see how that worked, so we traded ID tags before we went back to class.
After lunch we napped on padded mats on the floor. At first, Mrs. Hollings tried to separate us but quickly realized that was futile, so we snuggled together on one mat and slept contentedly until it was time to get up. She thought she had us identified by the shirts we were wearing, and early in the afternoon she looked at me and said, “Skyler, would you please bring me the book on the chair next to you. I didn’t move, but Tyler, who was then wearing my nametag, got up, retrieved the book from the chair and took it to her. She looked a little nonplused at first but went on with the class. We continued to play the game until, late the next day, she figured it out. We were afraid she would be angry with us, but she just laughed, and said, “Your mother was right. You two are full of mischief.”
When Mom came to pick us up at 3 o’clock, we said goodbye to Mrs. Hollings and our classmates and went home cheerfully.
Each school year after that, the principal thought about separating us, but, after consulting with us and Mom, she kept us together.
Through childhood, we had the usual illnesses, of which measles seemed to be the worst. We came down with it within 24 hours of each other. Strep throat was another illness that laid us low, and the flu seemed to hit us about every other year. Each time we were sick we lay in one of our beds together and got through the illness. As we began to feel better, we’d start to play with each other or, as we grew older, to read. That was how Mom knew we were better.
In second grade we got into bathroom humor and Mom called us ‘potty mouths,’ but I guess she knew it was just what second and third grade boys did. We learned how to make farting noises in our armpits and we quickly taught our friends the technique. Jamie, one of our friends who always sat at the boys’ table for lunch, learned how to belch on command, and soon we were all doing it.
In third grade Tyler and I began walking to school unless the weather was bad, in which case Mom drove us.
One day in third grade, after a gym period in which we did a lot of running, our friend Carl plopped himself into his chair exclaiming, “I’m pooped.” Of course we all thought that was hilarious, and burst out laughing.
“You don’t look like poop,” Mike laughed.
Pretending to lean over and sniff Carl, Ty said, “And you don’t smell like poop,” at which we all exploded again into laughter.
Talk of girls usually brought forth exclamations of “eeeew!” from us all. But one day, late in our third-grade year, Arthur looked up as Penny Scott walked past the lunch table and said, wonderingly, “Hey, guys, she’s pretty.”
“Eeeew!” we responded.
“Well, she is,” he persisted.
“Why don’t you kiss her?” I teased, and the other boys joined in. We continued to dare Arthur to kiss Penny on the playground after lunch. Perhaps her copper-red hair should have been a warning, but nobody thought of that. So as we all watched, Arthur walked tentatively over to Penny, gently held her shoulders, and kissed her on the mouth. We all cheered, but the cheers quickly turned to ooohs as Penny reached up and slapped him hard on the cheek. Returning to us as he rubbed his cheek, he protested, “Darn, that hurt!” While we all laughed at Arthur, none of us dared kiss a girl again until near the end of fifth grade.
By fourth grade, we had pretty much passed the potty mouth stage, but when, on the playground, one of our friends used the F word during a touch football game, we were scandalized and titillated. I thought that was very daring, so one afternoon when Ty and I were playing a game in the living room, I said the forbidden word and quickly learned from Mom that was not a word we used, at least not around adults. Of course, we only had the vaguest idea what the word meant but we saved it as a taboo word only to be used in private.
Late in our fourth-grade year, our classes were divided into a boys’ group and a girls’ group for sex education. As all the boys gathered in one classroom, we knew what was coming and were kind of excited by the thought of talking about sex. But, as it happened, it was certainly another eeeew time for us boys. Years later, when I thought about it, I felt sorry for the teacher who had to work his way through all the exclamations and laughter as he talked about things like sending sperm into a girl and nocturnal emissions.
At one point, one of the boys asked, “So, what’s oral sex?”
The teacher’s face grew crimson before he finally stammered out, “That’s something you should ask your parents.” Fat chance of that happening!
Then the teacher talked to us about gay people, and that was the first time that we learned what words like gay, and faggot, and queer really meant. The teacher told us that being gay was part of the natural order and certainly something we should not tease our peers about. At one point, Ty and I looked across the room at each other, but we never said anything.
Then one of the boys asked, “So, how do gay guys have sex?”
Once again the teacher blushed and told him to ask his parents. No way!
By fifth grade, Ty and I were usually sleeping in our own beds because we had become rather cramped in one, but we resisted our parents’ suggestions to have separate rooms, so we moved Tyler’s bed and dresser into my room, while all our games and stuffed animals and toys were moved into his old room.
I know that often siblings are competitive for everything from parents’ attention to friends to sports. Tyler and I, however, never seemed to compete. Sometimes the gym teacher put us on separate teams, which was all right with us as long as we could see each other. Whether on the same team or different ones, we each knew what the other was thinking and about to do. When we were on the same team, that ability gave our team a huge advantage. When we were on different teams, we usually negated each other.
At home we played a lot of board games. Early in our lives it was Chutes and Ladders. Eventually we moved to Monopoly. But we couldn’t play strategy games like checkers or chess because, of course, we knew what the other person was thinking. Even Clue was out, as was Scrabble. Perhaps we would have made really strong bridge partners, but we never tried that. And of course, most other card games, especially poker, were out as well.
It was in fifth grade that our teacher accused us of cheating on our homework. Our papers were usually nearly identical, even to the misspellings and calculation errors.
We looked at each other in horror and then Ty said, “We never do that.”
I added, “We never even look at each other’s papers.”
We were both worried about what the teacher would say when Mom went for a parent-teacher conference the next week. When the teacher asked her, Mom laughed and described how we sat across from each other at the kitchen table, working and not talking, while she was available to help if we needed her. After that, Mom tried putting one of us in the dining room while the other worked in the kitchen. The results were the same.
Of course, as little boys, we had masturbated, enjoying the sensations. By fifth grade, as we continued to do it, the sensations seemed to grow stronger. Because we had had Sex Ed in fourth and fifth grades, we knew what was happening and we knew that most likely the other boys were doing the same thing. Tyler and I never got into sex play with each other. While we would lie in our beds at night and fondle ourselves, it never occurred to us to do it for each other.
In our town, the middle school was a consolidated one, combining our town with two other towns. The school went from grade six through grade eight. It was too far away to walk so we rode the bus.
One night early in our sixth- grade year, as we pumped away in our beds, we both came. While we felt some throbbing in our cocks, neither of us squirted anything, but it wasn’t long before we were doing full-scale masturbation. We lay in bed at night breathing hard and moaning as we came, then using old socks to clean ourselves off. We never talked about it, although each knew the other was doing it and enjoying it.
Even in middle school, we were both in the same homeroom and classes. More than once we had to deal with the question of whether we were cheating on our homework. The question became even more important when we had tests. Although we sat on opposite sides of the classrooms, our test papers were nearly always identical. If I couldn’t think of the answer to a question, I would simply look at it for a bit and the answer would come to me. Was it telepathy? I honestly don’t know. I only know that it was rare for us to be unable to understand what the other was thinking.
One night, when we were in seventh grade as we were both lying on our beds, a thought occurred to me. Again, was it telepathy? I don’t know. What I did suddenly know was that Tyler believed he was gay, and I believed I was too. We looked at each other in the dim glow coming from our nightlight, and we both smiled. Neither of us said anything, but we knew.
At first, we were uncomfortable with the knowledge. What did it mean for us? Yes, the school had a policy of accepting kids for who they were, and yes, the subject had come up in Sex Ed, but we also knew there were kids who didn’t accept gays, so we were careful about what we said and to whom we said it. The year passed with no complications, but we were both looking for boys we could hook up with.
On the first day of eighth grade, a new boy walked into our homeroom. In our eyes he was beautiful. He had jet black hair with a forelock hanging over one eye. His dark eyes were deep and mesmerizing, and he clearly had the beginnings of a strong, well-proportioned body. I looked at Tyler; Tyler looked at me. We knew instantly that we were both attracted to this boy, whose name was Toby.
Toby wasn’t in all our classes, but he was with us in English and PE. When the three of us were in the same room, Tyler and I couldn’t help gazing at him. In PE we watched, awestruck, as Toby changed into his gym clothes. He seemed to be unaware of our attention, but we knew that wouldn’t last long.
That night, Tyler and I talked about the situation.
“Sky, what are we going do? We can’t both have him.”
“I don’t know,” I replied.
We talked for some time and the conversation sounded like we were discussing a commodity which only one of us could own. I don’t think it occurred to us to ask Toby what he might want, but for the first time, we knew we were in competition.
When we grew silent, we still didn’t know what we would do. What I did know was that I couldn’t help picturing Toby, naked, every time I jerked off, and I knew that Tyler was doing the same.
In the days that followed, each of us tried to talk to Toby as often as possible. Tyler invited him to join us at our lunch table. I invited him to sit next to me in English. He was confused, as most people were when they first met us. Much of his confusion arose over what he had said or promised to whom.
One day, he came to the lunch table and asked me, “Did you invite me to sit with you?”
“Yes,” I said, although I hadn’t.
When Tyler arrived, he looked at the two of us together and said, “Toby, I thought you were going to sit with me.”
Poor Toby didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, a boy on the other side of Toby moved over so Tyler sat down next to Toby, glaring at me through lunch.
Later, Tyler asked if I had lied to Toby, and I had to admit that I had.
That night, Tyler and I had our first and only fight. We each accused the other of trying to monopolize Toby. We each said hurtful things to the other. While we didn’t attack each other physically, we came close. Tyler moved into the other bedroom as I helped him move his bed and dresser. We both had tears in our eyes, but both of us were too stubborn to apologize.
On Sunday, our parents brought us together and wanted to know what had happened. We didn’t answer, but again, there were tears in our eyes. Neither one of us actually cried because we didn’t want to give the other one the satisfaction.
“Tyler,” Mom said, “it’s fine with us if you want a separate bedroom. We rather expected that would happen at some point, but clearly the two of you have had an argument and we want to try to help.”
Tyler said nothing.
Turning to me, Dad asked, “Skyler, can you enlighten us?”
Shaking my head, I said nothing.
At last our parents gave up and Tyler and I went outside.
“We can’t go on like this,” I said. What are we going do?” We thought and thought, and finally decided that we would alternate days. One day, Tyler would have Toby and the next day I would. Since there were five days in a school week, in two weeks we would both have him for five days.
That worked okay for a while, but we found we had to define what ‘having him’ meant. Did it mean that the other one of us couldn’t talk to Toby at all? No, we agreed, it didn’t mean that. We decided that it simply meant that whoever had him that day would sit next to him in class and in lunch and the other wouldn’t try to butt in.
It was, at best, an uneasy truce, but Tyler and I truly loved each other so we did our best to make it work. Tyler moved back into the bedroom with me and we continued to be best friends. When our birthday came in April, we decided to simply spend it with each other, because including Toby would just be too complicated. And so we navigated the year and the high school years through eleventh grade. There always seemed to be tension between Tyler and me, but we were able to rise above it. I think the only time we truly shared Toby was when we both thought of him as we masturbated at night.
On the next to the last day of eleventh grade, Toby announced at lunch, “I’m moving to Oregon.”
“What?” we asked in unison. “Why?”
“My dad has a new job and we’re moving in a couple of weeks.”
I looked at Tyler and he looked at me. We both knew that this was something we had to talk about at home.
In my bedroom after school Tyler said, “Well, at least his moving will end our competition ̶ for now.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, “but I’m going to miss him. And besides, if it’s not Toby, this problem could come up again with someone else.”
At the end of the last school day, we both hugged Toby and we all promised to keep in touch. That happened for about half a year before his emails, which he had always addressed to both of us, tapered off. We assumed that Toby had made new friends and was busy with them. We were sad, but we knew that his leaving was probably the best solution for our competition.
Over the previous year our parents had been talking with us about college. We both wanted to go, and it never occurred to us that we wouldn’t go together. Mom and Dad, however, had other plans. They talked to us; we talked to them. They argued with us; we argued with them. Finally, it came down to Dad’s ultimatum when he said, “I am simply not going to pay for the two of you to go to the same school. Your lives are too intertwined. You need to develop your own lives, your own interests, your own friends. I won’t do it.”
We were stumped, but as Tyler and I discussed the situation, we knew we were beaten.
“Even with scholarships, neither of us could afford to pay for college on our own,” Tyler pointed out.
“So what do we do?” I asked.
“Well, if we both applied to The Little Three, we could just wait and see what happens. If we both get into all three, then we’ll have to go to Plan B, whatever that is, but the odds are that we won’t. That way we’d have some wiggle room.”
In the end, we applied to three colleges ̶ Amherst, Williams, and Wesleyan, sometimes known collectively as The Little Three.
In March, we both received acceptance letters from all three. Our guidance counselor told us that was very unusual and asked us what we were going to do. We told her we didn’t know. And we didn’t.
We discussed the problem for several days. Then one day I suggested, “Maybe we can eliminate Wesleyan because it’s the farthest away from us.” Tyler agreed, but neither of us had a real preference for which of the other two schools.
Finally, Tyler said, “Perhaps we should flip a coin.”
“But how would that work when neither of us has a preference? The winner of the coin toss would have to make a choice, and neither of us wants to do that.”
At last we came up with a solution and told our parents that we wanted them to flip a coin. If the coin came up heads, I would go to Amherst; if it came up tails, Tyler would go to Amherst. Whoever didn’t go to Amherst would go to Williams.
Before he flipped the coin, Dad reviewed the agreement to be sure that we were all on the same page. He flipped the coin, which came up heads.
Tyler and I sent our acceptance letters and began planning for college.
Mom and Dad gave us each a used car as a combination birthday and graduation present, so in the fall, we drove to our respective schools. At Amherst, I checked into my dorm and discovered my roommate already ensconced. We introduced ourselves and unpacked. His name was Evan. He had taken the top bunk, which was fine with me. He seemed okay but I didn’t really feel any vibes. Through the fall we got along congenially but really didn’t have much to do with each other.
At first, I was very homesick at college. It was the first time in my life I had been away from Ty as well as my parents. I could tell that Ty was feeling the same way. Soon, however, we became immersed in our studies and college life and our homesickness began to fade. Ty and I found that our connection didn’t work as well over long distances. I could get general feelings from him, like sadness or joy or anger, but we couldn’t actually send messages that way anymore.
I quickly discovered that, across the hall from my room, was a boy who lived in single room with no roommate. I found him very attractive. He was a little taller than I and a little more filled out. He had sandy red hair and beautiful blue eyes.
When we happened to meet in the hall one day, I said, “Hi,” and he responded. We introduced ourselves. His name was Ken Keating. That was our first step. From then on, we became friends, fast friends. Soon we began studying together in Ken’s room. Since it was still hot on some days we often wore just shorts as we studied. When I occasionally glanced over at him as he sat at his desk, shirtless, I would grow hard at the sight. While that was distracting as I tried to work, I certainly never thought of complaining. Once in a while I would look up and catch him gazing at me; other times he would catch me, which I guessed was fair. We both would grin before going back to our work.
By the beginning of October, Ken and I were going places together – to the pizza shop, to a movie, to get ice cream. As we sat in the movie theater one Saturday evening, I felt his hand reach for mine. Instinctively, I took his hand in mine and we held hands until the end of the movie.
As we walked back to the dorm in the dark, I finally got up the courage to ask what I thought was the BIG question: “Ken, are you gay?”
I was prepared to retreat if he took a swing at me, but he just smiled and nodded. “I’ve been waiting for you to ask because I wasn’t sure you were,” he said. He reached over, gently pulled my head to him, and gave me a sweet, lingering kiss on my mouth which I opened to his exploring tongue.
Back in the dorm we quickly got naked on his bed, and I had my first truly sexual experience. He was gentle and loving and seemed to have more experience than I did.
When we finished, we kissed once more before I went to my room for the night, praying no one would see me crossing the hall naked. After that, we became inseparable. Our roommates soon noticed and began making snide comments, but we didn’t care.
Tyler and I phoned or emailed each other just about every night. At first, I didn’t say anything about Ken, but eventually I told Ty that I had a relationship with someone, although I didn’t say anything more about him. He responded that he, too, had found someone, but he didn’t tell me any more than that. In fact, we agreed to keep all information about our friends secret for the time being, thinking it would be fun to actually have a secret from each other.
Of course, Ty and I celebrated Thanksgiving at home, happily talking with our parents about our first college experiences. After dinner, when Ty and I were sitting together in the living room, he said, “Sky, I want to bring someone here at the beginning of Christmas vacation for a few days. How about if you brought someone too? Maybe we’ve kept secrets from each other long enough, and it would be a good time to get to know each other’s friends.” That night we discussed the matter with our parents, who were very open to meeting our friends.
Back at Amherst, I invited Ken to spend a few days before Christmas at my house. I told him about the secret that Ty and I were keeping from each other. He looked a little funny for a moment, and I thought he was going to say something, but he just smiled his beautiful smile and agreed to the visit.
So it happened that, at the beginning of the Christmas break, Ken and I rode home in my car, arriving before Ty did. I introduced him to my parents and got him settled in my bedroom. As we went downstairs again, I heard Ty’s car pull in. In a moment, the front door opened and Ty entered, followed by Ken! At least, he looked like Ken.
Tyler’s friend and Ken burst out laughing before Ken said to me and our parents, “Meet my twin, Ben.” By then, everyone was laughing. Ken and Ben were as identical as Ty and I were.
We soon learned that the Keating boys had been more open with each other than Ty and I had. They had even exchanged pictures, so they knew what was going to happen.
We went to different colleges for the same reason you did,” said Ben.
“Yeah,” agreed Ken, “and we were both as homesick as you were.”
Then came the test. Neither Ty nor I had come out to our parents. The four of us went into the living room, where Mom and Dad were reading the newspaper.
“Mom…” I began nervously, “and Dad,” I paused for a minute to gather my courage.
Ty interrupted and blurted out, “We’re gay, and so are Ken and Ben.”
There was silence for a minute, as our parents looked horrified. Ty and I looked at each other and thought, uh-oh!
Looking at Ken and Ben, Mom asked severely, “And do your parents know?”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Ken. “We came out to our parents when we were high school freshmen.”
“And you never thought to tell us before now?” Dad asked Ty and me sternly.
Oh shit, I thought, and I was sure Ty was thinking the same thing. We just solemnly nodded.
But neither of our parents could hold their stern looks for long. Dad began laughing and Mom gleefully joined in.
“Of course you’re gay,” said Dad.
“We’ve known for years,” Mom put in.
“You mean,” I asked, “that you put us through the anguish of coming out to you when you both knew?”
“Yup,” said Dad. “We thought it would be best if it came from you, and of course we weren’t absolutely, positively certain until now.”
Soon, we were all hugging. Mom and Dad, who had trouble telling Ty and me apart, were also having the same problem with Ben and Ken.
We had a hilarious dinner together, all of us boys exchanging tales of our identity-switching exploits. Eventually the four of us went upstairs to bed. Ty and I had moved his bed and bureau into his old room when we were at home for Thanksgiving. The four of us sat in Ty’s room for a few minutes discussing how this was going to work. None of us was interested in a foursome and we were all happy with our own partners. We did agree that we had to be honest with each other about our identities, although we could still have fun with our parents.
In the following days, we continued to enjoy talking and laughing about the tricks we had played on other people.
“Did you two ever get accused of cheating on homework?” Ken asked.
We assured him that we did. Then I asked him about tests. He nodded and said, “Yeah, we got accused of that, too. Our teachers even tried putting us in separate rooms during the tests, but that didn’t do any good. One of our teachers decided that the only thing he could do was to give us separate but equivalent tests. That was okay with us and we didn’t really mind that it made more work for him. After all, he was still thinking that somehow we were cheating.”
All too soon, the Keatings left for Christmas with their family. Ty and I enjoyed our time with our parents. A couple of days later we got emails from Ken and Ben saying that they wanted us to visit them during spring break. We enjoyed the vacation, but by the time we returned to school, we were both missing Ken and Ben.
During spring break, Ty and I went to the Keatings’ home where we were welcomed by their family which, in addition to their parents, included two sisters, Susan and Jill, and a brother, Johnny, all of whom were younger than the twins and very accepting of us.
Our relationships continued to ripen through the year. In our sophomore year, Ken and I became roommates, as did Ty and Ben. All of us remained together through college and graduate school.
By the time we finished grad school, we had agreed with our parents to have a double wedding in our back garden. On our wedding day, Ty and I woke up to pouring rain and feared that we’d have to marry indoors. But by 10 o’clock the rain had stopped and the sun had begun to emerge from behind the clouds. Shortly afterwards, the Keating family arrived and there were hugs all around.
The wedding was beautiful, all that we had hoped for. Susan and Jill, in their little white dresses, were flower girls. They processed down the aisle ahead of us, strewing flowers along the way. Ten-year-old Johnny, looking very spiffy in his suit and tie, was best man for both couples. He kept the engraved rings in separate pockets and very seriously and cutely gave us the rings at the appropriate times. At the beginning of the ceremony, the Unitarian minister who was conducting the ceremony said to us, “Remember, you can’t play around with your identities or you might wind up married to the wrong person.” We all laughed. After the ceremony, we had a reception, which was attended by family and friends on both sides.
Leaving the reception, the four of us went into the house and changed into our travel clothes. Amidst fond farewells from everyone there, we departed on our honeymoons in separate cars. Since we were going to the same place, we could have traveled in one car, but we preferred the independence of two. Our destination was the Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, which would be a fairly long trip as we headed north and then east for three-and-a-half or four hours.
Ken and I chatted comfortably as he drove; I sat in the front passenger seat.
As we neared the hotel, my cell phone rang. I was inclined to leave it unanswered, but I looked at it and the caller was Mom, so I answered it.
“Hi Mom,” I said.
“Hi,” she responded. Then she asked, “Are you with Ken?”
“Yeah, we’re just nearing the hotel.”
“Are you sure it’s Ken you’re with?”
“How do you know it’s him and not Ben?”
I thought about that a bit. I had taken it for granted that I was riding with Ken, but when I reviewed all we had talked about, there was really nothing that Ben couldn’t have said as well.
Finally, I answered, “I don’t.”
“Well,” she said, “their mother and I think they may be playing a trick on you.”
I burst out laughing. “I don’t think they are, but I’ll think of something and get back to you.”
Hanging up, I thought for a few moments as Ken looked at me quizzically. Finally I said to him, “Ken, remind me what the poster was that I hung on the wall over my bed at Amherst.”
There was a long silence. Finally, he looked at me and said, “Busted! I was never in that room.”
We both laughed as we pulled into the hotel’s parking lot. Exiting the cars, Ben, for I now knew it was him, said to Ken, “Hey, Ken, our moms figured it out and turned us in.”
Ty looked at them both and you could see the light beginning to dawn. We all had a good laugh and walked into the hotel with our luggage.
From then on, we never traded identities.
Or did we? How was anybody to know?