From What Should I Be? (Was soll ich werden?) (1888), a picture book by Lothar Meggendorfer.
Yesterday I went suit shopping with my brother. The suit was to be a birthday gift from my parents; I’d been entrusted with the task of supervising the purchase. We started out in a well-known British chain. “He’s looking for a suit,” I announced.
“Are you two getting married?” asked the salesman.
“We’re siblings,” we said at the same time.
“That would be weird, then,” he said.
After this, I was paranoid. “Our parents are giving him a suit for his birthday,” I would announce loudly. Or, apropos of nothing, “I’m his sister.”
When, finally, we went to a tailor, I decided to further clarify the situation by being abusive while my brother was measured.
“We couldn’t find a suit off the rack,” I informed the tailor, “because he has the build of an undernourished Victorian chimney sweep.”
“You’re a perfectly normal size,” said the tailor.
“Maybe if you’re used to suiting children and midgets!” I scoffed. No one said anything, so then I excused myself.
I’m not particularly proud of this display, but I think a little discomfort in these situations is natural. Indeed, it can take even stranger forms. One friend said he particularly dislikes people assuming he’s on dates with his sister not merely because it’s creepy, but because he hates their thinking he has so little chemistry with his girlfriend.
I had always figured those families who all look uncannily alike had it easier in these situations. But I had reckoned without human weirdness. “It must be great that you’ve never once had to worry about someone thinking you and your sister were a couple,” I said to a friend with a nearly identical younger sibling. “Are you kidding?” he said. “I worry that people think I’m such a pathological narcissist that I have to date someone who looks exactly like me!”
So, there’s that.
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