I still remember my first time. I was young, but I was probably older than most people. I’m not sure why I had waited so long, but I knew that if I had done it any earlier, it wouldn’t have meant as much as it does now. I still remember every detail.
Not everyone remembers the first time they looked in the mirror. Looking back, I’m probably certain that it wasn’t the *first* time, but it surely was the first moment I realized something that I think every kid has to realize: I don’t look like Indiana Jones.
I was as obsessed as any 5 or 6 year old boy could possibly be. He was the cool, handsome, smart professor that always saved the day and found the relic. Who wouldn’t want to be Indiana Jones?
I would see my older sister, combing her golden hair, staring into the evasive glass. It was so peculiar. My eyes, below the counter line, couldn’t comprehend the silvery window. The top of the mirror was all I could see, and it merely reflected the wall across and the ceiling; so to me, it was just another painted wall.
One morning, my younger brother and I pretended to be Indiana Jones and ran around the house. I ran by the empty bathroom, the lights off, the glass hardly visible. I was Indiana Jones. I was brave. I had a scar on my face (I really did), and I had a whip (a fake plastic one), and I had a rugged, handsome smile (but I was missing teeth). I knew that’s what I looked like. I knew it so deeply, that I really thought I could one day *be* Indiana Jones. There’s no way that I would look any different than what I saw on our small television. It just wouldn’t make sense.
I got brave, and I decided to grab the stool that my parents had bought for me so I could reach the toilet. I moved it in front of the sink, and took one small step for man, but it was going to be a giant leap for Benkind. Or rather, a very giant awakening.
*Who is that little boy looking at me?* I thought to myself, utterly perplexed and a little spooked. *And how does he know what I’m going to do? And how did he get inside our house?*
“STOP COPYING ME!!!!” I screamed. My parents neither told me to be quiet, nor ran to see what was the matter. My brother and I would often get into “copy fights,” until one of us would cleverly say, “I’m an idiot,” to which the other one would childishly and cleverly repeat “Yeah, you’re an idiot.”
Finally, after the exclamation, something hit me. This was *me* looking back. This is what I looked like. This is what everyone else saw. A little blonde, bowl-cut headed boy. There was nothing dreamy, or scruffy, or rugged about me. I wore a red striped shirt from Gymboree, not a Khaki vest with a white button up.
I turned my head and stared some more.
Floods of realizations came over me. It felt like the moment when you realize you’re not as good-looking as you once thought you were. Or when you realize you really do have a good side and a bad side in pictures. Or when you hear your voice on a home video and can’t believe that’s what you really sound like–nasally, throaty, raspy. The way you hear your voice inside of your head is not the way that others hear it outside of your head.
The way you look inside your head is not the way you look outside your head.
It was this moment that I understood the benefit of a twin. You could be totally aware of the back of your head, your butt, your legs as you walked. You can see what you look like when you make that weird face while telling a story. You can don’t need a mirror. You can be utterly aware of your body, because you can watch it in realtime.
That’s when it hit me. A 5-year old identity crisis. This I believe: I do not look like Indiana Jones.