When I was in elementary school, lo those many years ago, a pair of identical twin boys moved into our school district. It was a small district, and I don’t think there was ever a pair of identical twins in the district before they arrived.
There was really no warning for us kids. We went home for summer break, did our summer break things, and when we came back to school in the fall, there were two new kids. Identical twins.
But it wasn’t as if, by magic, there they were, side by side for all to see. They put the boys in different homerooms. Homeroom in U.S. schools is the first class of each day, where they take roll and make sure everyone is present. The teacher introduced the new student, Greg, I think, and we all said “Hi”, and then it was time for the next class.
I think I was in my 5th or 6th year of elementary school at that time. In their earlier years, students stayed in the same classroom for the entire day, and the same teacher taught all subjects. But by the 5th and 6th years, the students moved between classrooms to teachers with different specialties who would teach specific subjects.
I had to change classrooms for my next class, so I gathered my stuff and moved out the door with the other students who were changing. I looked over my shoulder and saw Greg sitting there. Apparently, his next class was in the same classroom.
I filed into the classroom next door, found a seat, and got out my stuff. As I was settling in, I looked to my right, and there sat Greg. It was as if he had just materialized from thin air because I knew he had not walked out of the last classroom.
But how could that be? I just left him in the last classroom. But there he was, same shirt, same pants, same shoes, same haircut, same notebook, same pen, everything identical. Right down to the voice, a slight U.S. southern drawl.
I would have chalked it up to inattentiveness if I had known what that was at the time. The class finished up, and I had to move to my next class in a classroom across the hall. Once again, Greg remained behind. And once again, there he was, in the classroom across the hall, identical.
This time, I mustered up some courage and said, “Hi, Greg.” He said hi back, and class went on. Class ended, and my next class was in the same classroom, so it was Greg who gathered up his trappings, said goodbye, and moved out the door.
And then, I swear, he walked right back in the door. Identical. He sat down just behind me, so I turned around and said, “Hi Greg, I thought your class was next door.” He looked at me and said, “Oh, you must mean my brother, I’m Jeff.” I imagine I was looking a little confused.
Class ended, and my next class was back across the hall. Apparently, so was Jeff’s, or Greg’s, or whoever he was. I stood behind him in the line forming to enter our next classroom, across the hall. I looked over his shoulder at the students streaming out of the classroom, and there he came. Jeff, or Greg, or whoever he was. Walking out of the classroom that he was entering. Identical.
I knew Greg and Jeff for quite a few years after that. As they aged, it became easier and easier to tell them apart. But that first year, I wasn’t alone, even the teachers had to ask, “Now which one are you?”