I GEMELLI

Resemblance can be a freaky thing. Supposedly everyone has a doppelgänger; someone out there is a duplicate of you with your mother’s eyes, your father’s nose and that annoying mole you’ve always wanted to have removed. Apparently there’s a 1 in 135 chance that there are several pairs of clones walking around, each completely unaware of the other’s existence.

Speaking of doppelgängers, my husband has an identical twin – exactly the same in every way except their political leanings and choice in women. All their lives people have called Bill by his brother’s name and the same is true of Jim. Even our sons look more like brothers than cousins and have been confusing people for years.

In his late teens Bill had a cyst just below his right eye. After surgery he was left with a tiny, almost imperceptible scar. At last, something to differentiate the twins! A few months later while doing repairs on a boat, Jim turned his head abruptly, banged into a pipe and cut his face. He now has a tiny, almost imperceptible scar in the exact place as Bill. Identical right down to their scars!

My cousin Franco has lived his entire life in Sicily. The first time my family traveled to Europe I was about 14 years old and met my cousin for the first time. The strong resemblance between us was undeniable. We could easily pass for fraternal twins or, at the very least, siblings. It was simultaneously amusing and disconcerting for both of us. Everyone referred to us as “I Gemelli” “The Twins” – so named for the thin tubes of pasta twisted around each other. Fifty-plus years later and our resemblance remains strong; however, Franco has a mustache and beard and I, fortunately, do not!

It’s been said, and scientists concur, that the longer people have a pet the more they begin to resemble that pet. Pure-bred dogs have been matched to their owners by strangers time and time again. I wonder if the same can be said about husbands and wives or perhaps even friends. Apparently, that phenomenon is true. I can’t explain it – I’m not a scientist, just a writer of stories. However, the possibility became quite real when events unfolded at my son’s wedding.

There were many people in attendance, friends and family alike. My sister Rosemarie was one of the guests as was Debby, my next-door neighbor and best friend for the past 35 years. I should point out at this time that while Rosemarie and I have some familial similarities, we really don’t look alike.

Time arrived for the family photo session. The music was playing, people were dancing the Macarena and mingling about. Janet, the wedding photographer was scrambling around trying to wrangle immediate family members for photos. Craning her neck for a better look into the crowded room, Janet turned to me in surprise and said, “You’ve been keeping secrets from me!”

I was rather perplexed by that comment and asked Janet what she meant, to which she replied, “I know your husband has a twin brother but I had no idea you have a twin sister!”

Then it hit me: Janet was talking about my friend Debby who does indeed look a lot more like my sister than my real sister! Many people have said we look like twins and it just so happened, totally by coincidence, that Debby and I were wearing the same dress that day; the only difference was I wore deep purple while Debby chose black.

I laughed and said to Janet “I really hate to burst your bubble but she’s not my sister; she’s my best friend.” I spotted Rosemarie in the crowd and pointed her out to the photographer. “See the woman in the cream-colored dress? That’s my sister.”

It took a lot of convincing for Janet to accept the fact that Debby wasn’t my twin sister; I think she may still be somewhat skeptical. I wonder: would the same people who matched the pet owners with their dogs match me and Debby as twins?

You be the judge.

Me and Debby
Rosemarie and me

NAR © 2020

THE BIG “C”

“Papers! Not one, not two but three papers all due on Monday!” exclaimed Charlie in exasperation. “One on the assassination of JFK, another on the Scopes Trial and…..”  

“Let me guess” interrupted Charlie’s sister Erica. “A 1,000 word book report on ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.” 

“How could you possibly know that?!” questioned a puzzled Charlie. “You must be psychic!”  

Erica laughed. “Hardly! Mr. Cavanaugh hasn’t changed his assignments in years. I bet he still says the same thing.”  

Brother and sister looked at each other trying not to laugh as they simultaneously did their best Mr. Cavanaugh impersonations – “Remember class, the quantity of your work is second only to the quality!”   

Erica and Charlie cracked up laughing. 

“Well, kiddo, good thing our folks are at the cabin this weekend and I’m going to Six Flags with Kate. You’ll have plenty of peace and quiet to get all your work done. Good luck, bro!” Erica laughed as she waved goodbye to Charlie. 

“I’m gonna need it!” he groaned. “My grades haven’t been very good lately.”

Charlie went to the den where he and Erica always did their homework. First he read his emails, then went on Facebook, YouTube and TikTok. Bored, Charlie started looking through the drawers of the desk. There were recipes, catalogs, magazines and at the bottom of the pile was a binder marked “My Junior Year” in Erica’s handwriting.

“Hmm … I wonder?” Charlie asked himself. He looked through Erica’s binder and found a tab that read ‘ESSAYS‘. 

Sweet!” Charlie exclaimed. “Let’s see what we have here.” 

With anticipation he ran his finger down the list of Erica’s essays, his eyes almost bugging out of his head when he spotted  ‘JFK Assassination’. Further down the list he found ‘The Scopes Trial’.

“This is too good to be true!” Charlie exclaimed. “Two out of the three essays I need are here! I’m sure Erica’s book reports are here, too … fingers crossed.” 

Sure enough Charlie found another label which read ‘BOOK REPORTS’. Pouring over the titles, he shouted “Bingo! There you are! ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. Three for three!” This was an incredible find. Charlie wondered if Erica even remembered her binder was there.

Taking all three of Erica’s assignments, Charlie sat at the computer station where he scanned and forwarded all the papers to himself. He then changed the dates, margins and fonts so his work wouldn’t look identical to Erica’s. Finally, changing her name to his, he printed out the papers, returned the originals to the binder and shoved it back under the pile. 

Done!” he crowed,  feeling quite pleased with himself. “And I didn’t have to do any work!

Charlie spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with his friends and watching movies on Netflix. On Monday he confidently turned in his assignments. On Friday Mr. Cavanaugh handed Charlie a large folder. To his shock inside were his reports as well as copies of Erica’s reports. All Erica’s papers were marked with a big red ‘F’; his were marked ‘CF’

“Obviously you had no idea that I save all my students work. You also did not know that Erica failed her assignments” Mr. Cavanaugh reprimanded Charlie. “By copying her work you not only cheated, you failed. Therefore, I’ve given you the grade of ‘CF’ – ‘C’ for ‘Cheating’ and ‘F’ for ‘Fail’. Your parents have already been informed of this. I hope you have learned your lesson – the lazy student will cheat and malinger and by doing so will always fail.”

Charlie felt sick to his stomach; he never saw this coming. How could he have been so stupid? He didn’t notice that none of Erica’s papers were graded; they were just copies of her work and not the actual reports she handed in. Charlie knew his parents were going to be furious with him. It was bad enough that Erica failed; he cheated and failed.

No point in putting off the inevitable any longer. Time to go home and face the consequences” Charlie thought as he dejectedly walked out of the classroom.

Mr. Cavanaugh shook his head. “There’s one every year. When will they ever learn?”

NAR © 2019

Reposted for Fandango’s #FOWC http://fivedotoh.com/2023/01/12/fowc-with-fandango-malinger/

JUST AN ORDINARY SUNDAY

Eavesdropper! Go away, Cathy, and stop being so nosy!” 

“I’m not an eavesdropper, Susan! I was just walking down the hall. Besides, you’re not my boss!” 

“Don’t make me come up there, girls! What’s going on?” shouted Cathy and Susan’s mother Evelyn. 

The girls stomped down the stairs, both yelling at the same time. 

“QUIET!” They took one look at their mother’s face and immediately stopped talking. “That’s better! Now, one at a time tell me what happened. Cathy, you first.” 

“Why does she get to go first?” whined Susan.

Because I said so” sneered Evelyn. “I’m tired of you girls arguing all the time. Start talking Cathy.” 

“I was on the phone talking to Marcy about Rabelais and I saw Susan listening at my door .. as usual.” 

“About him .. your French boyfriend” teased Susan, making goo-goo eyes and kissing noises. 

“Excuse me?” Evelyn asked sarcastically. “What’s all this about a French boyfriend?” 

“It’s true”, replied Susan. “I heard her talking about him .. how he’s smart and funny, he’s a writer and a doctor. He must be ancient .. like 30 or something!” 

“Nice trap you set for yourself, Susan”, commented Evelyn. “For someone who claims she’s not an eavesdropper, you seem to know an awful lot about your sister’s private conversations.” 

Susan’s face turned bright red in embarrassment and anger and tears welled in her eyes.

“But, mom…..” Susan stammered.

“But nothing, Susan. Be quiet! Cathy, you start explaining just what’s going on and it better be good!” Evelyn demanded. 

Mom, there’s no boyfriend. And Susan, you’re such a dummy!” snapped Cathy. “Rabelais lived during the French Renaissance! Do you even know how long ago that was? Marcy and I were discussing our book reports about him. Mom, she’s just jealous because you gave me a Princess Phone for Christmas and not her. I am 15, after all.” 

“It’s not fair!” cried Susan. “I’m 14 and all I got was a stupid record player!”

“The very same record player you use every day listening to your beloved Beatles?” interjected their dad peeking over his newspaper. “And if I’m not mistaken, the famous foursome are appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show tonight. Now .. if you think there’s even the slightest chance you’re going to watch that show then you better stop arguing, apologize and help your mother set the table for dinner.”

“We’re sorry!” the girls sang in unison and ran happily together into the dining room. 

How did you manage that minor miracle?” Evelyn asked her husband.

“Elementary, my dear. It’s called communicating.”

Is that so? Sounds more like ‘bribery’ to me!”

NAR © 2018

FIELD DAYS

Justice, Fergus and Eustace were little triplets, abandoned at an early age. They never knew their father who was the ‘love-em-and-leave-em’ type and their mother was a floozie who ran off with a smooth-talking rat. They were in dire straits for a while but now they lived on a farm and life was pretty good. 

Days were spent romping in the tall grass eating berries, seeds and an occasional bug. At night they slept in the barn loft – a discarded half-filled bag of mulch as their bed. And they always kept an eye out for cats, snakes, owls and other creatures of the night .. the typical life of a field mouse. 

Justice was the self-elected leader. Fergus was somewhat dim-witted, obviously not the brightest bulb. Eustace, the only female of the trio, was a free spirit who apparently took after their mother. Most nights Eustace could be found across the yard getting it on with the Hamster Boys. Eustace was not very discriminating but size definitely mattered. One night she took off with one of the hamsters; her brothers never saw her again. 

Sometimes the farmer’s teenage son and his friends would come into the barn, hanging around smoking some funny smelling stuff and laughing their fool heads off. One day Fergus noticed something the teens had left behind – shiny and glittering in the sun. He climbed down to investigate and discovered a long glass tube with a bowl attached to the end which contained remnants of something that looked like weeds. ‘Lunch!’ thought Fergus and began chowing down.

It wasn’t long before Justice heard Fergus’s excited giggles and went to see what nonsense the dimwit was up to. There he was, chasing his tail all around the top of a well, Bob Marley music playing in the background. Suddenly Fergus screamed ‘CANNONBALL’ and jumped into the deep well. Justice heard a tiny squeal followed by an almost imperceptible splash .. then silence. ‘Poor little twit’ Justice muttered to himself and slowly walked back to the barn.

Alone now, Justice packed a few items and bid farewell to the barn. Along the way he came across a young couple enjoying a picnic. Reaching into her basket, the woman produced a small piece of cheese and gingerly offered it to him. Tentative at first, Justice looked up into the woman’s twinkling blue eyes and was immediately besotted. He took the cheese in his tiny hands, placed it in his little hobo sack and ran off. 

Justice had been served.

Once he was far enough away he sat down and nibbled happily on the cheese, staring at the wispy clouds and reminiscing about his siblings, now gone. 

That day Justice had prevailed. 

NAR © 2018