I WAS AT EINSTEIN Bros. on Main Street, having just ordered a cinnamon sugar bagel, when I noticed the two DEA agents sizing me up.

"How's it going?" they said, innocent like, as if we were good friends.I had never seen them before in my life.

"Who are you guys with?" I asked, buying time.

"Drug Enforcement," they answered, like I should know, and I began searching my past for possible felonies.

So I have this problem.

Sometimes I am not me. Sometimes I am my brother.

My brother is a federal judge. Before that he was a U.S. attorney. Before that he worked for the Justice Department. He knows DEA agents, and FBI agents, and CIA agents, and federal marshals, and federal prosecutors. He once shook hands with George Bush when George Bush appointed him to the federal bench. He is on a first-name basis with Ron Yengich.

It's a good crowd to know. But it's a crowd he knows. I don't.

The problem is, we look alike. We are identical twins. If O.J. had been us, he could have cut those DNA odds in half.

We don't look that much alike, if you ask us. But to the world we are Hayley Mills in the Parent Trap. Especially if you don't see us together, which you usually don't, on account of our contrasting professions.

You'd have thought we might wind up in twin professions, and we might have if not for the fact that we went to college and picked majors using a method later made popular by Forrest Gump.

I wound up a writer because "journalism" came alphabetically after "economics." My brother wound up in law because after graduating from college with a teaching certificate he made the mistake of actually showing up for his student teaching assignment at Hillcrest High School.

He didn't know much, but he knew he didn't want to teach high school. After Hillcrest, taking the LSAT looked fun. He sold his MG roadster and went to law school.

Now he has a staff of clerks, a secretary named Charity (apt, I think), a courtroom on the second floor of the Frank E. Moss Courthouse - and associations with many people around town who think because they know him, they know me.

The duplicity has, on occasion, come in handy. One time, during college, my brother had a conflict with an intramural pingpong tournament and a ballroom dance class. Being a twin, he was able to do both. I went to the first half of the dance class and he played his pingpong match. At intermission of the class we met in the bathroom and changed shirts.

Back on the floor, his dance partner wondered why he was no longer mangling her feet.

It works both ways. These days, I sometimes go down to the courthouse and roam the halls just to hear the deference.

"Good morning, Your Honor," people will say, and "How are you, Your Honor,"and, "How about a cold beverage, Your Honor," and, my personal favorite, "You're looking extra sharp today, Your Honor."

Still, for the most part, looking alike can be an aggravation.

I remember the time, several years ago, when my brother's first two daughters, Angie and Natalie, were very young, and I was accompanying them to Salt Lake City on a flight from New York. During the flight I got to know the flight attendant working our part of the cabin. I made a point of telling her that I was not married and the little girls were my nieces.

At which point Natalie, the 2-year-old, looked up at me and said, "When are we going to get there, Daddy?"

I looked up at the flight attendant.

"Uh," I said, "Their father is my identical twin brother."

She didn't buy it any more than those DEA agents.