Children love symmetry, adore things in pairs. Anything good can automatically be made (in a mathematical anomaly) ten to fifteen times better by adding a second. You can’t eat one M&M. One potato chip. Oreos are not eaten as a unit, but tops are separated from bottoms, savored, and eaten individually. You can’t be expected to listen to only one bedtime story any more than you can be expected to walk with one foot, or breathe with one lung. Two is where it’s at.
Children love symmetry, and this child was no exception.
In my (long past) youth, I adored the Olsen Twins with the idol worship that little girls normally reserve for Disney Princesses. Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Detective Agency. You’re Invited to Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Ballet Party. It Takes Two. How The West Was Fun. Billboard Dad. Passport to Paris. Whatever that movie was when they went to Australia. I could go on for days. If Mary-Kate and Ashley starred in it, I probably owned the VHS tape. Actually, I probably still own all of them at present, since I never throw anything away.
By the time I was about 12 or 13, it began to dawn on me that Mary-Kate and Ashley didn’t write their own movies. Hell, even the guys who wrote the movies didn’t write the movies, I think the plots were determined by a committee made up of the guys who ran the studio.
It even occurred to me to wonder who actually designed all those clothes with the Olsen brand across them. And, for that matter, why they even had a clothing line. I grew to the rather uncomfortable realization that they aren’t 11-year-old girls making fun movies for other kids their age, anymore: they are money-making machines who, in the long run, don’t stand for anything. Except, you know, money.
Around that same time, I became more and more certain that there was no God. Mary-Kate and Ashley had nothing to do with that, in case you were wondering, the two great awakenings just occurred along parallel timelines. I looked all around me and recognized religious hypocrisy, coupled with some biblical fairy tale that shared a surprising connection with the Olsen twin stories I’d bought into for so many years – just a little too convenient and implausible to be true.
I rebelled against my peers, society, anyone willing to listen to me disassociate myself from any -ism I could lay my hands on (Baptism, Catholicism, Presbyterianism, Communism, etc). To this day I think of it as a rebellion, against society, although not my equally jaded parents. So my dander gets up a little when it suddenly becomes “cool” or “rebellious” to dedicate your life to your imaginary friend. That’s less of a “rebellion” and more what I like to call “caving to pressure”.
The religious fascinated me for awhile after that, as schoolkids are fascinated by exotic beasts prowling behind the safe bars of zoos. “Mom, do they really eat zebras?” “Mom, do they really believe all that stuff?”
After awhile, I grew out of my childish fascination with both the religious and with those alluring twins, although I still watch their doings with bemusement.
When Mary-Kate was diagnosed anorexic, I was not surprised.
Nor was I surprised to hear the religious attempting to strip this woman of her dignity under my very nose in my own home state.
When one or the other of the twins moved out of their mutual apartment, I was the least shocked of my peers. Like socks in the dryer, pairs you think will always remain – if only based on mutual color and style – inevitably separate.
So, now, when my friends and family grow irate on my behalf, ranting about Big Religion and Unfairness and Vote Tampering and Contest Rigging, I just smile beatifically.
And I explain that I stopped caring about twins, religion, and even religious twins quite some time ago.