The Detestable Semblance: Faking a Persona You Can Live With

I was on a walk to the pharmacy to pick up some cold medicine and I saw two women breast feeding in the rain and one cat. The cat wasn’t breast feeding and really isn’t relevant to the story, but it helps to set the scene. The sky shifted from light to dark, smokers took shelter under awnings, a car cruised by playing The Gap Band, and all of our clothes were getting progressively more damp due to the sudden swell in precipitation.

In the nicer parts of Manhattan everyone keeps their baby in its trendy stroller and just covers them with the same clear plastic you see used for incubators. Initially, I thought that New York had a surplus of premature births but I guess it’s just to keep the rain off normal healthy infants. Where I live, it’s a different story though. A lot of babies are left to weather the storm while they suckle as exposed as the breast they are clinging on. Tired of stealing glances, I took a prolonged look at one of the women. Her curly dark hair had been flattened by the rain and she was casually holding the baby with one arm against her soaked clothing. While eligible, she definitely would have lost any wet t-shirt contest she entered. She, very obviously, was not concerned with her image and there is something legitimately cool about that.

Looking good is always beneficial but putting too much time and energy into creating an image is a fool’s errand. In high school I once wore an entirely red outfit. And, when I say red, I mean every article of clothing I was wearing was bright crimson. A plain red short sleeved shirt, a pair of red pants and red tennis shoes. The outfit was horrendous. I would have suggested that it looked like I joined a gang but most gang members break up their colors enough to not look like a contestant on Double Dare. I remember getting the whole way to school feeling pretty good about myself but then, the second I entered the door, feeling so embarrassed that I contemplated turning and running the five miles it took to get home. My stomach dropped when I realized that I was going to have to blend in with hundreds of other people when I looked like a heroin chic Kool-Aid Man. I was not the stylish trend setter I had envisioned myself as. I was a red menace.

The lesson I learned is that crafting an image for yourself, instead of having one happen naturally, is the worst idea a person can have. The best case scenario is that everyone else will buy it and only you’ll have to deal with the fact that you are the walking physical manifestation of a lie. This is probably most evident in the tough guy persona. It takes an impressive amount of work to create and then effectively maintain because it is rare that anyone is ever this genuinely terrible. Flashy tough guys can only exist in a world where they aren’t required to do any real work but still have enough money so they can have a gym membership, tan and go shopping for jewelry or designer shirts. They are terrible examples of humanity and most normal people consider them a clownish parody of themselves.

Humans are shallow and, like most animals, we take things at face value. In most cases, females are attracted to the biggest, flashiest, loudest, toughest males. That still sort of rings true in humans but our society has really complicated things. For example, if some drunk alpha male wants to strut around to assert his dominance, he can do that. However, if another person decides to challenge him and stab him to death outside, that isn’t allowed. So all they can do is try to be the flashiest most ludicrously dressed asshole in the room.

Even if you aren’t trying to take someone home, it’s nice to get a second look or be noticed. Why else would we spend so much money on the rags we use to cover our ugly bodies? Why else would women wear high heels or bother putting on makeup? Why else would anybody ever buy a Ferrari? We want to be good enough for a world filled with velvet ropes and weird standards set by the media. We want to be validated and have people take note of us, even if it’s just for a moment or two. That “look at me” mentality isn’t always bad but can sometimes play out in pretty tragic ways.

We all have to ride that line between the people we are and the people we want to be perceived as. Just remember that most people aren’t exactly summed up accurately by their public persona. The most snobby highbrow critic that you know will spend four hours going over the merits of high art, gourmet food and specific music at a party. But, once they get home, they’re going to microwave a hot pocket and eat it while watching VHS quality porn because that person is still human. Nobody can live every moment as an unblemished, self assured and actualized adult. Sometimes we’re all a little sad or a lot gross. We don’t need to primp and isolate ourselves to a point where we live in false reality. Be what you want but don’t deny what you, and the rest of the world, really are. Don’t pretend that your neighborhood is the one that’s normal, your religion is the one that’s right, or your culture is the one that’s best. These are all preferences, not universal truths.

We let falsified subjective realities and carefully fabricated personalities really get to us. As a species, we are ready and willing to take it all so personally when it has everything to do with the other person and nothing to do with us. We point the finger and cry like spoiled children and act like it’s justified. I can’t get on board with that, because we can do better. The next time you’re offended by something, take a moment to consider why before calling for action or speaking out against it. That extra two or three minutes of contemplation might make all the difference as to whether or not you’re an asshole.

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28 Responses to The Detestable Semblance: Faking a Persona You Can Live With

  1. The Waiting says:

    Heroin chic Kool-Aid man. Genius.

  2. prenin says:

    This above all. To thine own self be true!!! :)

    Shakespeare said it all!!! :)

    God Bless!

    Prenin.

  3. “These are all preferences, not universal truths” – great paragraph and lots of wonderful ideas to digest in there. Wonderful post :)

  4. I have been contemplating looking for women online through a dating service. Thanks to you, I now know what to put in my profile: “I spend most evenings lying on the couch eating junk food and watching VHS quality porn. Join me?”

    • …you would get more responses than you can imagine. Trust me. I tried online dating — and seeing how many men enjoy “walking in the rain” made me a disbeliever in almost every profile I scanned!

      Seriously.

      That said, I’m now engaged to a man I met — wait for it — online. The irony is not lost on me… ;)

      • Posky says:

        My advice still applies.

        …although I may just be trying to finagle my way into a long weekend of fun and passion. I assure you that I don’t especially like walking in the rain.

      • Nobody does. Not one person. At first it’s all wild and wet and whatnot, but then it’s just annoying. And cold. Even if it’s hot and humid.

        Good advice nonetheless, Posky — though I’m not sure my fiance would approve (unless the fun and flirting and sexy is with him, that is…). ;)

      • Posky says:

        The way you describe it, walking in the rain sounds a lot like sex.

        You’re probably better off with a loving fiance than a creepy stranger.

  5. Intelligently critical without sounding pretentious, no mean feat. Well done, I enjoyed this :)

  6. drawandshoot says:

    You have a cold in August?! That sucks…

    Always stopping to see what’s around you; I like your observations, Posky.

  7. oakritchie says:

    Great post, fam!

    You brought me waaaay back to some truly awful experiments with my apparel and hairstyles during High School…

    Some of it, though, was just trying stuff out to figure what really was obnoxious or ridiculous…nice one!

  8. I love the image of a KoolAid-crimson you in the halls of your high school…awesome.

    And yeah, most people are just assholes. Yet they do get laid. Probably often. I don’t get it.

    ;)

  9. You’re right, Matt, image IS everything, and sometimes we work very hard at not having an image, which is an image in and of itself. My “red” fiasco was a pair of Beatle boots a friend of mine talked me into getting when we were, say, 13. The store was Thom McAn, and they handled only uncomfortable, high styled, high-heeled shoes for young fashion-oriented men. Not me. I was a cross between Obey on the “Andy Griffth Show” and “Dennis the Menace.” Wore them once (felt self-conscious as hell), stayed in my closet for years, and were then donated to The Salvation Army. I’m sure you can find them today on eBay under Beatle Memorabilia.

  10. angela says:

    I’m terribly quick about calling peeps out about doing this or that… then, I have to swallow my damn ego and all the words that compose of it for I know that those things detested in the other person is just a reflection of moi. I need to be better about taking that pause before I cast off an unkind thought or word…especially this election season. Nice couple of posts, peace ~

  11. dougsan says:

    I really enjoyed this. Totally agree with every single word of it. I wrote something on a similar train of thought a while ago – about the Bermuda triangle of coolness – my particular bugbears are tracy emin artwork and the unspeakable evil that is harem pants. But I’m glad other people think this stuff is as ridiculous as I do.

    • Posky says:

      I have mixed opinions on Tracy Emin. I saw a photo of her cramming money into her crotch and though it was pretty good (or funny anyway) but her pillowcase drawings aren’t my favorite thing in the world.

  12. nevernicole says:

    I stray from blogging and the internet with a regularity that annoys me, but I always come back to this blog. This post? Is why.

    Also, (going off topic here) the part about you wearing all red and then being embarrassed by it later totally reminded me of this one time my mom stuck me in this GODAWFUL dress frills and lace and some sort of 80’s theme on the front and it was pink (like, really pink)and I was so humiliated all day whenever anyone said anything about the dress I’d start bawling. A boy I liked saw me in that dress and LAUGHED. The asshole. 10 year olds are just not emotionally equipped to deal with that kind of trauma. ;)

    • nevernicole says:

      Also, please edit that comment…’with’ and ‘year’ are easy words. I can only blame my lapse on my manpanion beating me with a chord. (No, really.) He hits like a girl.

      • Posky says:

        That’s flattering to hear. It’s nice to feel like I make an impact on people. If only I could expand the message and work towards helping others start their own dialogues.

        I hope you kicked that boy in the throat a couple of times.

        I think I fixed the post to your satisfaction. It really didn’t need it though. A typo here or there isn’t the end of the world as long as we can still communicate intelligently and considerately– which you always do.

  13. Ana says:

    Humans are shallow and, like most animals, we take things at face value
    You are so right! I This was a great post, very inteligent and you have a lot of talent for this! I’m so reading everything you wrote now!

  14. paolo says:

    Sono stato molto contento di aver trovato questo sito. Voglio dire grazie per il vostro tempo per questa lettura meravigliosa! Io sicuramente mi sto godendo ogni post e ho gi salvato il sito tra i segnalibri per non perdermi nulla!

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