I was having drinks with my friend Molly last night, and she mentioned that she once gave a speech stating “If your boyfriend keeps talking about how fake you are, break up with him immediately.”
I didn’t hug her, because we were in a public place, and I didn’t pay for her drinks, because I keep it real, but I am writing this article saying that I think that this is a great. fucking. point. Partly because I am continually pointing out that the only way you are truly being “fake” is if you are a replicant.
However, I feel like a lot of us – especially if you are someone who is a bit offbeat, and likes things done a certain way, and has a smattering of eccentricities – get labeled as “fake”. And it’s generally the wrong label, because it’s generally thrown out by people who don’t really know you.
There’s a great story about Andy Warhol, where a reporter asked him why he was such a phony (apparently this reporter went to the Holden Caulfield school of journalism) and why he couldn’t be more “real.” Andy replied “Oh, I’ve never been real a day in my life.” It sounds glib, but the thing is, when you read Andy Warhol’s diary, his private persona is exactly the same as his public one. Eerily so. He really did just spend all his time thinking everything was really glamorous and wondering about Mick Jagger’s cock and liking bad movies and money. Everything he said in public seemed to line up completely with what he thought to himself. He just had a quirky way of looking at things. He wasn’t fake. He was a weirdo.
But Andy’s response worked, because you can’t really explain that you are an authentic weirdo to someone who doesn’t know you. Besides, they wouldn’t believe you if you did.
Being told you’re fake is almost an impossible accusation to defend yourself against.
The reason this is a tough insult to respond to – and it is an insult, even though it’s couched in terms of helping you – is because you are being kind of fake right now. You are always being kind of fake, because you have adopted the tenets of society. You are not alone in a cave, drunk and masturbating and screaming for raw meat to eat, because no one gets to do that regularly except a certain kind of male author.
In general, though, the minute you started dressing to go out and asking people how they were without really caring about the response, the jig was up. You’re already fake. We’re all a little bit fake.
And not only do we accept the basic societal contract – which already rules out all the basic naked cave Hemingway fun you could be having – we accept different contracts with different people. You probably behave quite differently around your parents than you do around your friends. You behave differently with toddlers than you do with local professors. You behave differently with your boss than you do when confronted with a team of roving hobos carrying pick-axes. (Not me, though! That’s how I became the hobo Queen of the office. I have all the pick-axes, now.)
This is not a bad thing. This is actually kind of neat. At best it is proof that like America, we “contain multitudes”, and, at least, it might be a bit boring to behave the same way in every situation.
Of course, there are men and women like Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady who go about bellowing “I’d treat the Queen of England the same way I’d treat a flower girl!”
Right. When people proudly proclaim that, take into account that Henry Higgins probably had Asperger’s.