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Once upon a long time ago when I was just becoming a teenager I suffered my very first personal crisis. This is the story. It will have a happy ending for me.

My twin brother, Peter, and I were out in the street playing stick ball with a bunch of the other kids from the block. Pete was much better at athletics than I and was one of the team captains. You know, there are two team captains and then the rest of us guys standing in a bunch with our hands in our pockets waiting to be picked for one side or the other. I always ended up being in the last twosome to be picked -- and my brother chose the other kid which hurt my feeling a little bit. I say “a little bit” because this was a common occurrence and my skin had gotten a bit thicker. Well things were going along OK until about the third inning when not only was my team behind by five runs but I struck out leaving a man on second base – and then perhaps because of the embarrassment my nose began to run profusely. Passing me by as I took to the field, Pete noticed and said out loud for all to hear: “Hey, snot nose, that was some whiff!” I of course got angry and turned away and ran up into our house – to get a handkerchief I said.

As I walked into our bedroom I caught my image in the big mirror on the wall over our chest of drawers. For some reason this had never really ever happened before. I walked slowly to the mirror to take a good look at myself. I began looking right at my face – and then noticed my nose. I began to stare at it – study it as a “thing” there in the middle of my mug. It looked ugly. Perhaps every one’s nose looks ugly if you stare at it all by itself. You’re supposed to look at your whole face as a oneness and then every part just kind of fits in together. Dumbbell me, I just fixated on that nose of mine as if using a magnifying glass. Holey Smoley! My nose not only had a red pimple on the point of it but also a bunch of blackheads on either side. It was grotesque. It looked like a dirty old potato stuck to my face. I fell into a deep angst. I was cursed with an ugly, Polish, potato nose! I felt a cramp in my stomach and fell back to sit on my bed in utter despair. “God,” I cried out from my wounded soul. “how could you do this to me?”

Just then Peter came walking into the room. He paid no attention to me sitting there on the bed but just walked straight up to the same mirror. He pulled a small black comb out of the back pocket of his jeans and began to comb his blond pompadour on top of his head. I had flat brown hair and didn’t have any pompadour – couldn’t even spell the word. Peter got all the good looks. He had blue eyes like Paul Newman, and I had brown eyes like our dog. He had a thin nose, and I this fat bumpy potato. He already had a muscular physique and I was somewhat round and dumpy still. The kids called him “Pete” and me “Rolley Polley Pauley Boy.” You get the picture. Even though we were twins, we certainly were not identical twins.

Well, as I was saying, Pete comes walking in, goes up to the mirror, and starts combing his gorgeous locks. All of a sudden he stops – stares at his face –drops the comb –whips around and stares at me then back again at his face in the mirror which now has a look of horror on it. “I’ve got an elephant ear!” he screams out. ‘I’ve got a Dumbo ear!” You see, Peter had this one ear all his life – his left ear – which stuck out perpendicular to his crown – I guess he never noticed it before – like me and my nose. Well, he screams one more time as he runs out of the room, “I’ve got an elephant ear!” and then he’s out the front door with me chasing behind him. He is running toward Castle Hill Avenue holding onto that left ear as if it were going to fall off or something.

I almost catch up to him as he is crossing Castle Hill dodging the traffic. I’m sure he is going to get run over by some truck, and I’m glad I’m there to see it happen. He makes it across and runs up to Dr. Goldberg’s office. He’s our family doctor. As I approach, Pete is banging on the door yelling, “My ear, my ear!” The nurse opens the door and Pete and I go in all out of breath. Peter is still crying out hysterically about his dumb ear, and the doctor comes out to see what’s happening.

“Peter – and Paul! What’s the matter?”

Pete pulls away his hand and says: “Can’t you see? My ear, my ear, I’ve got an elephant ear!”

Seeing no blood or other such disaster, Dr. Goldberg simply guided us into his office and closed the door. “Peter,” he says, “I don’t see what is the matter with your ear. It looks fine to me. Does it have an ache inside?”

“No, no, can’t you see how it’s sticking out. It’s an elephant ear – I don’t want a Dumbo ear – can’t you fix it or something – pin it back maybe. Look at Paul’s ears. None of them is sticking out, and he’s my twin.” They both turn to look at me, and I am just standing there enjoying the adventure like a Bronx Tom Sawyer.

“Well,” says the doctor, “I am afraid you are just going to have to live with it. You have that ear because your Peter.”

“What’s my name have to do with it,” exclaims Pete.

“Everything,” answers the doctor. “Why are you Peter and not Paul?”

“How am I suppose to know – ‘cause my mother named me that – that’s all.”

“But why, Peter, why? Why did she name you Peter and then named Paul, Paul?”

“I don’t know,” yells Peter. “You tell me why!”

“OK, I will. You were named Peter because you were born first – by six minutes – I know because I was there, I delivered you twins. In fact you were my first set of twins that I ever delivered and one does not forget that – like you don’t forget the time you hit your first double or home run. And because you were born first, your mother had to name you Peter, ‘cause even though I am Jewish I know that it’s Saints Peter and Paul – not Saints Paul and Peter. Don’t you see? If Paul had been born first he would have been named Peter and you would have been named Paul.”

“What’s that got to do with my Dumbo ear,” cried out Peter really getting exasperated.

“Everything, Peter. Your being born first has everything to do with you having that stuck out ear of yours. Think for a moment. Why were you born first, Peter? Why were you born first?”

“How am I supposed to know that!” answers Pete. Even I was befuddled over that one.

“Well,” the good doctor continues. “I know why you were born first, ‘cause I was there. You were born first because all the time you were inside your mother, your brother Paul had his foot on your head, and his foot bent your ear out like that for nine months, and then it was his foot that pushed you out of your mother! That’s why you were born first, and that’s why you are Peter, and that’s why you have got that ear of yours. It’s all Paul’s doing!”

With that Peter turns and looks at me with eyes filled with hatred for now he knows it is me, his kid brother by six minutes, who has disfigured him for life. And when he looks at me he finds me laughing, laughing, laughing – and in that laughter I forgot about my ugly potato nose forever.


The following comments are for "POTATO NOSE & DUMBO EAR"
by Lapwing

identical twins...not!!
Firstly, I have to say that I had a really long day. From the moment I awoke, everything went wrong. It is now late evening and I have just finished reading your story. Well I'll tell you it was a perfect finish to a rotten day. I laughed so hard, I thought my insides would explode. My family thought that I had gone completely beserk. I really enjoyed this story, and I loved the ending. Well done.

( Posted by: mollie777 [Member] On: February 11, 2006 )

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