When I was a teenager, my Aunt Gerdi once looked at me and then at my brother. "You two look so much alike, it isn't even funny," she told me. I wasn't laughing. It isn't funny, to grow up as the less pretty version of my brother Karl. And yet, I wouldn't choose to look like anyone else.
In a family of six kids, I am the shortest and least photogenic. My brothers are so good looking that when my friend Jeff D first met them, he kept looking from them to me, and saying, "But, they are model gorgeous." I could tell he was trying to figure out where I came from. Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out if my handsome brothers had turned him, and Jeff's upcoming drag show debut is for more than fun. But, I do look like them, especially Karl. My eyes are blue, his eyes are unnaturally blue, like those aliens in "Dune."
We all laugh the same. We kick each other to shut each other up. We grab our stomachs and laugh silently, what my nephew Peter calls our "bullet dodge" laughter. We laugh until we cry, at jokes no one else really understands or finds amusing. "What do you get when you cross a dog eating baby with a 90 year old with leprosy?" "Seven fingers." See? Makes no sense whatsoever. Neither does "Aunt Erni basement rot" or the song we sing when Mark comes home for Christmas, "Carmelkorn, Carmelkorn, Mark, Mark, Mark." My sister in law Katie fits right in, with her "It's all right to be angwy, Ewik."
So, looking alike is only part of what draws us together as a family; what really are the ties that bind are all those inside jokes and stories, and shared sucky memories. If I could change my appearance or fight off age with Botox and cheek implants and all the rest, I still wouldn't. Because then, I wouldn't look like the people I love most. I can settle for being the ugly duckling in a beautiful flock, because I love my flock more than anyone.