My brother and I are often confused for one another. Despite being five and a half years apart in age, we look identical give or take 3-5 years. The cashier at the Chinese restaurant where my family regularly gets takeout always asks whether I am the younger or older brother. I want to ask, What do you think? Who has deeper crow’s eyes? Who will need Botox sooner?
She is not the only person who confuses us. My grandmother has suffered memory problems the last few years, and I often find myself being called by my brother’s name and asked how is school going – or where am I in school. Conveniently on the former, I still am in school, so I can balance the act of being both my brother and myself. “School is going well,” I say. Am I answering for myself or my brother? Not even I am sure.
But where am I in school? This is when I have to decide which part I am going to play. Do I correct my grandmother that I am her older grandson Cazey and I am at VCU in Richmond pursuing my PhD, or do I step into the role of successful third year at University of Virginia who is Vice President of the Student Body? Who would you rather play?
“Tell me, Ty,” my grandmother pats my hand. “What are you studying?”
“Media and political science,” I reply.
This weekend I was home in Virginia Beach taking a walk around the block. I spotted a neighbor coming up the street with her dog. This was a new dog. I remembered in high school they owned a golden lab named Buddy. I suspected Buddy had passed on. This was some sort of shepherd.
“Ty! You look amazing!” this neighbor suddenly crowed.
Instinctually, I said, “Thank you!” Because both my brother and I do look amazing, don’t we? And who am I to correct her on which Adonis she is gazing upon? I am the slightly more attractive one, but that’s inconsequential.
(Actually, Sara has met my brother, and she told me repeatedly he could be a model, and I asked, Well, so can I, right? if we look so GD similar. Right??)
“How’s school?” my neighbor continued. “Are you still in school?”
Ha! Here is the catch-22! As my brother, yes, indeed, I am still in school. I’ve only been here three years. But as Cazey? HAHAHAHA, I’m on year nine of post-secondary education. And heck if I’m going to admit that! We wouldn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, least of all my neighbor.
“I am!” I replied. “I’m in my third year at UVA.” Third year because Cavaliers numerate the years. They don’t say freshman, sophomore, etc. “I’m studying media and political science.”
“That’s so awesome,” my neighbor said. “Are classes going well? Why are you home?”
Because I can do what I GD please.
“They’re great! I really love my majors.” I emphasized the plurality because, you know, I’m double majoring. “And I don’t have class until Tuesday.”
“That’s a lucky schedule.”
I know, I made it myself.
“Well, nice seeing you!” I said.
We parted ways. My neighbor walked one way, and my brother walked another. And I reflected that my crow’s eyes must not be that deep.