Friday, October 9, 2009

Aahhh, Twins!

"Kindergarten babies, born in the gravy!" taunted Ernie. For days he had come to the end of our driveway on his way home from first grade and antagonized my twin brothers. Timmy and Teddy would stand on the front porch and seethe. "That Ernie. One day we're gonna get him!"

After days of enduring Ernie's jeers, Timmy and Teddy had had enough. Again he stood at the end of the drive and issued his challenge. "Kindergarten babies, born in the gravy!"

"Oh, yeah? Well, we can fight gooder'n anybody!" they shot back.

"Oh, yeah?" baited Ernie.

"Yeah!" they yelled, as they jumped off the porch and landed in a heap on the front yard.

Over and over they rolled, beating on each other. They hit and slugged, they pulled the beanies off their heads and lashed each other in the face with them, they pummeled one another. Exhausted, they rose and dusted themselves off. Standing side by side they looked at their horrified antagonist and shouted triumphantly, "See, we told you we could fight gooder'n anybody."

That was their last encounter with Ernie. But it wasn't their last time to stand together.

Since their birth, the twins were comrades. Whether they were emptying Mom's powder on the carpet or filling the gas tank with rocks, they worked together. "Twin-proofing" the kitchen proved ineffective. Although Dad and Mom secured the cupboard doors with roller skate straps and stowed the chairs on the utility room counters, the boys were still able to hide plastic spoons on the oven elements, only to be found when the oven was pre-heating.

They were identical; they were inseparable. They signed up for the same classes, wore matching clothes. Tim says that if he lost Ted in a crowd he would just look down, see what he was wearing, then look for that outfit on someone else.

The boys had their own system -- intricate and unspoken -- when it came to dividing up responsibility. On the mile walk home from school, one boy would carry all the books while the other walked along empty handed. Suddenly the boy with the books would slug the other who, in turn, would take the entire pile and carry it until he got tired and, yes, slugged the other. Or take the red tandem bicycle that Tim ad Ted loved to ride. The guy in the front would pedal like crazy, unaware that the guy in back wasn't doing his share. No matter. Soon the chain would come off and the responsibility for pedaling would end up on the legs of the guy in the back.

It's the humor and the music that tie them together. And it's the humor and the music that set them apart. Outlandish, silly humor, uncomplicated humor. Tim's message machine that answers by telling a story about "a priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk who go to a baseball game and it's the bottom of the ninth, or whatever, and the monk...BEEP. "What's the end of the joke, Tim?" "I don't know. I just made it up as I was filling up time on the answering machine!" Ted's epic poems that he wrote for his co-workers in response to their request for vacation time.

And always the music. Whether in vocal groups, choirs or productions, they were always singing. Too old at eleven to be the young twins in the high school's production of "The King and I," they were written into the cast as additional sons of the king. Even in college they spent more time in performance groups than in academic endeavors.

I see grown-up Tim in my mind, reading glasses perched on his nose, a stiff black folder opened and laying in his right hand, his left had cradling the bottom left corner. He looks down, then up when the instruments begin to play. His soul opens up and music, pure and clear, pours out. Heads snap up, people hold their breath while this man, whose very life is music, speaks into their hearts.

And Ted, raising his chin until he is facing the ceiling, lifts his voice with the abandon that comes from unrestrained joy. Vaguely aware of the audience he is drawing into worship, he sings his own song to the God he loves.

These men, these brothers of mine, these fine, fine men.

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