They say everyone has a double, a doppelganger, someone who’s their mirror image. What if you just met your double? What if you were a thirteen-year-old kid who’s gay and you just met your double?
We didn’t learn anything about sex in Biology. The first part of the semester we would learn about the skeleton and all of the bones. Everyone groaned when Mrs. Weil told us we’d have to memorize the names of all of the major bones. Hearing our groans made her smile. Apparently she liked making her students squirm. She didn’t say anything about Todd and me looking alike, but she sure stared at us every chance she had during class.
Todd and I headed to the gym for PE. I was excited about PE. It would give me a chance to perv guys in the showers without getting caught, especially Todd. We looked exactly alike, same height, same weight, same everything, and I was super curious about whether what we had in our pants looked the same too. Yeah, I like boys, to look at their private parts and behinds. I like to look at girls, too, but not nearly as much as boys. I’d never done anything with any boy, but I sure wanted to. My dreams were about boys, and that’s what I’d think about when I jacked off. Feeling boys up and looking at naked boys. I never dreamed about girls, but I got hard the few times I had a chance to look at pictures of naked girls. I’d decided that I was mainly a sex maniac, and that I was bi, but mostly on the gay side. I thought that was way cool. My dad likes to say ‘any port in a storm’ when there’s some choice to be made and he doesn’t care which one is picked, like what restaurant to eat at. I think that’s funny, and it fits my personal philosophy about sex, too.
We didn’t get undressed for PE. We did the normal first-day-of-PE bit about what equipment we’d need, how many sets of gym clothes and jocks we’d need (one set for each day, otherwise we’d smell rank), locker room rules (everyone has to shower, no snapping each other with towels wet or dry, no horse play, take your dirty gym clothes home every day and wash them all every week, we have to get a combination lock, yada, yada, yada). Then we filed into the gym and sat in the bleachers to listen to what we’d be doing. I like to run, so I was waiting for something about track or cross country, but they never got to that. I hate just doing exercises, so of course that’s what we were told we’d be doing the first month, to ‘get us into shape.’ Bummer! We’d also be having a weekly health class, every Monday, instead of gym. I turned to Todd.
“Looks like you’re gonna learn about sex in PE instead of Biology.”
“Yeah, I guess I can put up with that. Every day in PE will be a new sex learning experience.” He grinned a kind of evil grin at me, and wiggled his eyebrows.
I was surprised at Todd’s comment. ‘Every day in PE will be a new sex learning experience’? Does he mean perving the guys in the showers? Could he like guys? Like me? How cool if he did. Maybe we could mess around, if he was interested. That was a very sexy idea, and I started to get a little hard. I grinned back at him, and wiggled my eyebrows too.
After the lecture we were escorted through the gym by the coaches, just like the tour of Old Town when my folks and I went on a trip to San Diego.
“This is the basketball court. If you’ve never played basketball that’s the hoop and this is a basketball.”
“This is the weight training room. You can’t use this without permission and supervision by one of the coaches.”
“This is the baseball diamond. We’re standing at home plate. This is a baseball. This is a baseball bat. This is a softball. These are softball bats. There are two kinds of softball bats, fast pitch and slow pitch. That’s first base….” and lots more yada, yada, yada.
After the tour, which I didn’t really need because we had mostly the same stuff at Carver Middle School, we were escorted back to the gym and told to sit in the bleachers and talk quietly or read until the bell.
I looked at Todd. He seemed to be counting the bleachers on the other side of the gym. I asked him, “Did you like the tour?”
“The part where we went in the weight training room. Man, I’d love to take that for PE.”
“Did you ask about it?”
“Yeah. Because they want to protect our vulnerable young bodies or some sort of crap like that, we can’t take Weight Training until we’re sophomores.”
I grinned. “We could sue them for age discrimination.”
Todd laughed. “Damn, that’s a great idea. I’m gonna ask my dad about that tonight. He’s a lawyer. Say, I was thinking about what Greg said on our way to the Spanish 3 class. You know, how you could probably fool my mom? And I said we’ll do it?”
“Are you still willing to do it?”
“Of course. Not just willing, like totally wanting to try it on both our moms. I think it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard of anyone doing. This’ll be the best practical joke ever played on a parent by two students at Wilson High. We’ll be famous, a legend in our own time — that’s something my dad says.”
Todd grinned. “Okay, it’s definitely a go.”
The bell rang and we headed out of the gym and back to the classroom wing for our eighth period classes. On the way we talked about going to his house, the ‘logistics,’ as Todd called our plan.
“Let’s meet at the bus stop in front of the admin building. I take the 110 bus. You can use your student bus pass. I’m sure my mom will drive us to your house after. She’ll think it’ll be totally funny for me to pretend I’m you to surprise your mom, just like you’ll have surprised my mom. So I’ll see you about 3:30 at the bus stop, Tony.”
“Okay, sounds good. See ya there, Todd.”
We parted, each going to our eighth period class. Creative Writing was neat. Ms. Porzio was young and pretty and enthusiastic, and she told us how much she loved reading and writing. She had so much energy that she kinda bounced around the classroom, talking a mile a minute. It was really funny, but I absorbed everything she said. I loved this class, and the other kids seemed to love it too. She had us write a short-short story, not one of those stupid ‘what I did during summer vacation’ things, but she asked us to write about one of our favorite characters in any story we’d ever read. I wrote about Frek in Rudy Rucker’s SF story ‘Frek and the Elixir.’ That’s one of my favorite books. It’s science fiction and fantasy and adventure and comedy all rolled up in one story. I’ve read it three times, and that’s impressive because it’s 476 pages long. I finished by the time the bell rang, and I’d written almost three pages. Ms. Porzio collected our papers. She looked at how much I’d written, and smiled at me. That made me feel good. But I’d have to wait to find out if she liked what I had written, not just how much. I sort of wondered if she’d take points off because she asked for short-short story. Of course, she never said how many words a short-short story should have, so I decided what I turned in would be okay.
I went to my locker and got the books I’d need for my homework, loaded them into my backpack, and went out to the bus stop in front of the admin building. Todd was standing there, and waved when he saw me.
“Oh, man, I am so excited about this. Tony, you’re gonna totally freak my mom. It’s gonna be soooo funny.”
“I just hope she doesn’t get a heart attack, or something.”
“My mom? No freakin’ way she’d get a heart attack. She’ll just laugh her head off and we’ll have to reattach it.”
That made me laugh. It was the same kind of silly joke that I’d say.
The bus pulled up, and we got on along with a bunch of other kids who were in line in front of us. The only seats were in the back, so we sat near the back door. “It’ll take about 10 minutes to get to my bus stop, then it’s about a 5 minute walk.”
I checked my watch. It was 3:40, so we’d be at Todd’s house about five minutes to four. That’d give us just enough time to surprise Todd’s mom, then be at my house before my mom got home around 4:30. I was trying to think of the best way to surprise my mom. Turns out Todd was way ahead of me. He had a plan for surprising his mom.
“Okay, Tony. Here are the logistics I’ve worked up. I use the back door when I get home. Mom’s usually in the kitchen getting dinner ready. So, you’ll use my key to unlock the door, and go in. I always say ‘Mom, I’m home!’ then after she says ‘hi’ or whatever to me, I always say ‘What’s for dinner?’ or if I can smell food cooking I say ‘Mmm, smells good, what’s for dinner?’ You’ll be walking into the kitchen all this time, and mom always kisses me on my forehead. She’ll ask about school, and you can play it by ear from then on.”
“What if she isn’t in the kitchen? Where will you be?”
“We’ll have to play it by ear if she’s not there. I’ll follow you in and stay in the laundry room. I’ll be able to hear what you’re saying from there. Mom can’t see into the laundry room from the kitchen. Oh, wait, your backpack is different than mine. She’d notice that. Here, let’s switch.” We swapped backpacks. “I always take off my backpack as soon as I’m in the kitchen, and I put it under the kitchen table. Mom asks me if I want a snack, and I say yes, then she asks what I want and makes a couple suggestions. Just pick one of them, usually you have to get it out of the refrigerator yourself, then sit down at the kitchen table so you’re facing into the kitchen.”
“Okay, now when do we tell her I’m not you?”
“She’ll kinda figure that out when I walk into the kitchen.”
The bus arrived at Todd’s stop, and we got off and began walking uphill to his house. “She won’t see us walking up the street, or into your back yard?”
“Nah. The kitchen window looks out on the back yard, not the side with the driveway which is where we’ll be walking. And you can’t see our street from the kitchen, just our back yard. Okay, we’re almost there, it’s that greenish house, the next one.”
We walked down the driveway to the back door, which was actually on the side of the house. Todd handed me his house key, and I unlocked the door and walked into the laundry room just like I’d always been doing it. Todd followed me and closed the door.
As I walked into the kitchen I said, as coached, “Mom, I’m home!”
“Hi, hon. How was your first day as a high school student?” She walked over to me and, as advertised, kissed me on my forehead.
Todd’s mother was beautiful. She had the same color hair as Todd and me, and deep blue eyes and a killer smile.
“Great. Met some new kids, and Brian and Heather and Greg and I have lots of classes together. What’s for dinner?”
“Baked chicken breasts, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and yellow squash. What’s your favorite class?”
“Spanish 3. The teacher is Mr. Markham, and he’s real nice.”
I pulled off Todd’s backpack, walked to the kitchen table, and put it underneath next to a chair. I smiled at Todd’s mom, a big smile.
“You look very happy, Todd. I assume that means you are happy with your new school, and that’s nice. You want a snack?”
“There are some tangerines in the refrigerator, and some bananas in the fruit bowl.”
“Tangerines sound good.” I opened the refrigerator, pulled open the fruit drawer, and took two tangerines out of a plastic bag. I walked back to the kitchen table and sat down. I began peeling a tangerine.
“Hey, what about me?” It was Todd. He walked into the kitchen and leaned against the refrigerator door, grinning from ear to ear. His mother’s eyes got huge, and she kept looking back and forth at Todd and me. By this time I was laughing so hard I could hardly breathe, and so was Todd.
“What?” That’s all Todd’s mom could get out. She was speechless. It was a priceless moment, just like in those credit card ads on TV.
Neither Todd nor I could talk, we were laughing so much. His mom just stood there, looking from one of us to the other, shaking her head from side to side. But she started smiling, first a little, then a lot, then she started laughing too.
“Okay, okay, what is this? Todd, have you been cloned in some horrible experiment in your Biology class?”
At first neither of us could talk because of laughing, but finally I stopped long enough to get out an explanation.
“Mrs. Anderson, my name’s Tony McKinley. I’m a new friend of Todd’s. We met for the first time at lunch today. At first we thought we were twins because we look so much alike. We’re the same age. And we have the same birthdays too. And we’re the same height and weight. And mostly the same everything else. It’s so amazing. No one at school could believe it. We can’t believe it either.” Then I started laughing again.
She turned and looked at Todd, who was laughing so hard he’d slid down and was sitting on the floor, leaning against the refrigerator door. “So, Mister Todd Devlin Anderson, you thought you’d scare your poor old mother half to death? Oh, you’re gonna get it!” She was laughing all the time she said that, and then she came around the counter and began tickling Todd as he sat on the floor. I could tell that he was very ticklish. He was thrashing around, trying to get away from his mom.
“Oh, you can’t escape from me, young man! I’m bigger and stronger than you, and I know exactly where to tickle you!”
The tickling went on for another few seconds, and Todd was laughing so hard I could see that he couldn’t catch his breath. His mom stopped tickling him, and turned and looked at me with a nasty grin on her face. I must have looked panicked, and frightened, because I’m just as ticklish as Todd, if not more. I stood up, and wondered where to run. She burst into laughter, and sat down on the chair opposite of where I’d been sitting.
“I’m not going to tickle you, um, Tony, is it?”
“Yes ma’am. Tony McKinley.”
“Now, Tony, I’m not going to tickle you. I just want to come over and look at you up close. You had me completely fooled. I cannot believe how you look exactly like Todd.” She got up and walked over to me. I was nervous, but she put her hand on my shoulder and looked closely into my face. “It’s unbelievable. But I can see some differences. You have more freckles than Todd. Your eyelashes are a little longer. Your eyebrows are a little thinner. The shape of your ears is different.” She looked up and down my body. It was embarrassing and I started blushing. She laughed, “You blush exactly like Todd does. Todd, come here, hon, stand next to Tony. I want to see you side by side.”
“You’re not going to tickle me anymore?”
“No, hon, I promise, I got my revenge already. Just stand next to Tony.”
Todd got up from the kitchen floor, brushed himself off even though it didn’t look like there was any dust on his pants, and stood about a foot away from me, facing the same way, looking at his mother.
“Stand right next to him.” Todd’s mom pushed us together so our arms and sides were touching. She kept looking at us, shaking her head. “I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this. You look like identical twins. Todd, if I hadn’t carried you, and only you, for nine months I’d truly believe that I’d had identical twins who had been separated at birth. Tony, did you say your birthday is the same as Todd’s, November eleventh?”
“Yes, ma’am. We’re both thirteen and we’ll both be fourteen on November eleventh.”
“I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this. I’ve got to get a picture of you two. Come into the family room, I’m going to get the camera.”
She walked out of the kitchen, I guess to get her camera.
“Jeez, another Kodak moment. Mom takes pictures of everything and everybody. It’s a good thing she has a digital camera, we’d owe millions if her camera used film.” Todd started walking out of the kitchen, then turned and took my hand and pulled me along. We walked into their family room, hand in hand. I loved the feel of my hand in his. We stood there awkwardly waiting for Todd’s mom to come back. She did return, and took our pictures, about a couple of dozen, until she was satisfied.
“Mom, it’s almost a quarter after four. Can we take Tony home?” Todd turned to me. “Where is it you live?”
“On Oakmead, near Trimble. About a mile from the Trimble exit off the 380 freeway.”
“And mom, we were planning on surprising Tony’s mom, like we did you. Tony said she gets home from work at about 4:30. Okay?”
“Hmm. Tony, your mother doesn’t have a heart condition, does she?”
I giggled. “No, ma’am, that’s what I asked Todd when we were coming here, if you might get a heart attack from being surprised by the two of us.”
“Well, I’m amazed that I didn’t have a heart attack. It’s bad enough having one Todd to deal with, much less two.”
“Ah, mom, don’t embarrass me.”
“And, why not? You don’t think that you deserve to be embarrassed? Maybe I’ll pull out your baby book and show Tony those pictures of you….”
“Stop! Stop! Now you are embarrassing me!”
I laughed. This was exactly like me and my mom. What else could be the same about me and Todd?
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing A Time When It All Went Wrong
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