First Person

First Person: Sibling Revelries

Funny things happen when you experience BYU with your closest relative.

A young woman, hair in curlers and wearing a robe, greets a young man in a powder blue suit holding flowers.
”Surprised that he was already there, my twin sister assured him that she had a reputation for getting ready quickly.“ Illustration by Travis Foster

Quick-Change Artistry

By Kelly Moon Bonham (BS ’81), Highland, UT

My twin sister, Jackie Moon Brimhall (BA ’82), and I lived in different Heritage Halls apartments our freshman year. My dorm dad lined me up for a campus dance date with his out-of-town friend who had seen me only from across the room at church. The night of the dance the young man was met in my dorm kitchen by a crowd of girls, our roommates there to see the show.

A moment after one of the girls called my name to tell me my date was here, in walked my identical twin sister with no makeup, her hair in curlers, and wearing the ugliest clothing ever. Not a pretty sight! She acted surprised that he was already there and assured him that she had a reputation for getting ready quickly. She disappeared muttering apologies. It was the performance of a lifetime.

I entered the room 30 seconds later in elegant splendor. He looked at me, and I saw my first literal jaw drop.

Death vs. Love

By Rebecca Thomas Golden (BS ’03), North Salt Lake, UT

My brother, Jacob G. Thomas (BS ’02, MBA ’07), and I sat nervously, waiting to turn over the graded research papers our history of literature professor had just placed face down on our adjacent desks.

Jacob is two years older than me, and no matter how hard I worked or studied, he had always done better in school. I’d grown to accept that I would forever walk in his academic shadow.

Jacob looked at his paper first and shook his head in mild disappointment: B-. My heart sank as I was surely doomed to do worse.

To make matters more hopeless, Jacob had written his paper on love while I had morbidly chosen death as my topic. What I thought would be an enlightening comparison of death across ancient civilizations quickly turned into a paper that stated the obvious so ridiculously that I was almost embarrassed to turn it in.

With Jacob’s B- fresh in my mind, I hesitantly turned over my paper. Jacob and I both audibly gasped in surprise when we saw my grade: A.

I have never let Jacob forget that while love usually conquers all, sometimes a research paper on death earns both the winning grade and a rewarding victory for the underdog in our academic rivalry.

Grand Theft Sibling

By Christina Broadbent Erickson (BA ’01), Midland, TX

My older brother and I had a somewhat contentious car-sharing arrangement at BYU. I was on campus, and he lived within a few minutes of my dorm. One day a then-crush asked for a ride to his doctor’s appointment, and I happily obliged, dropping him off and promising to be back at a certain time. I finished my morning studying and went to the parking lot to go pick up my friend. To my horror, the car was gone. My brother had taken it.

With no way to contact him in an age before cell phones, my mind worked overtime imagining my crush being stranded and my resulting mortification. Luckily, I had an understanding resident assistant, who loaned me her car when I explained my plight. The boy? He never noticed the switch to a completely different car.

The Choir Couple

By Elizabeth Dallon Giles (BS ’17), Provo

My brother and I were always close friends growing up. He is 6-foot-2 with dark hair and a friendly attitude. His little sister, I’ve got red hair and glasses and stand barely 5-foot-3. At BYU we often spent time each week studying for our classes, getting together with friends, and singing in the Men’s and Women’s Choruses. During the short transition between choirs in the Madsen Recital Hall, I was always excited to see my brother in passing and often ran to give him a big hug. He usually said something like, “See you tonight!” or “Love you!” It was common for us to show affection as siblings, and we never thought of it as strange.

Then one day, a friend asked him, “How did you meet your red-headed girlfriend?” My brother was startled to discover that many members of the choirs were talking about us as the “choir couple.” Moving forward, we knew we needed to be less affectionate if we wanted to have a chance of getting dates.

Smacked by a Pineapple

By Whitney Hirst Hansen (BA ’15), Keller, TX

One day I was studying in the library and glanced down to five missed phone calls from my sister. I headed out of the basement to get reception and called her back. My sister’s panicked voice came through the phone right away: “My throat is itchy, and I feel like I can’t breathe. I think I’m having an allergic reaction, but I can’t call Mom to figure out which medication to take! What should I do?”

I knew she was allergic to pineapple, so to slow her down, I asked, “Why can’t you call Mom?” The story then came out that she had just kissed a boy who had a smoothie with pineapple earlier that day, and she didn’t want to tell Mom how she’d been exposed. Laughing, I picked up some Benadryl at the Wilk and headed over to her dorm.

Long story short, she survived her reaction and married the boy. Now Mom knows the whole story, but sometimes it’s nice having older siblings on campus.

One of three young women is holding a candle and her long brown hair has caught fire.
Illustration by Travis Foster

Family Fire Alarm

By Giselle Orantes Nelson (BS ’16), Pleasant Grove, UT

My two sisters and I are great friends and close in age. As a result, we were all able to attend BYU together for a year—as a freshman, a sophomore, and a senior. Our mom had recently heard how a distant cousin’s friend’s wife had an accident involving fire. Coming from a superstitious heritage, she freaked out, called us, and gave us a long lecture about the dangers of fire, somehow convinced that the “devil is after our family through fire.”

One night as we got ready for a dance, the power went out. My sister lit a candle, laughing and mocking our mom’s concerns. A few minutes later, while bending down to take a picture, that same sister got her hair into the candle, and it caught fire! After putting out the flames, she bawled her eyes out as countless hairs fell to the floor.

My big sister and I tried to be supportive of our other sister through this traumatic experience, but we couldn’t help but laugh our heads off. We still crack up about it today. Moral of the story: listen to your mom! [Editor’s note: Giselle’s sister Melissa also sent in a version of this story.]

Share a Story: Post-Mission Transition

With the mission-age change, going forth to serve in the mission field often precedes entering to learn on the BYU campus. Moving from the spiritual high of being a missionary to the rigorous routine of a “normal” college student can be a peculiar challenge. Share your humorous, thoughtful, or stressful story of returning to school, dating, and social life (or your observations of a friend or loved one who served). Deadline: Sept. 5.

BYU Magazine pays $50 for stories published in First Person. Send anecdotes of up to 300 words to firstperson@byu.edu. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar, appropriateness, and clarity.

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