Coming back to school after a break is always a strange thing. Suddenly you come back into an environment where you have to commiserate with someone whose life is over because he or she didn’t get the new iPhone for Christmas. Obviously it is evidence that the poor sod is deeply hated by his or her parents, and that it would be much better if that person had never existed in the first place.
So, in that situation, being the good friend, I have to pretend that I suddenly care about that. I think of the pile of bills at home, and the worn old ledger that eek out our joint existence of incomes and expenses. I don’t ever make the argument that I’m not a filthily spoilt upper-middle-class brat who gets a lot of what I point at. I got a new laptop for Christmas. All I had to do was to ask and listen to a lecture about securing my properties. But not even I fall into depression about not getting an iPhone.
Also, I suddenly have to quickly develop sympathy for the couples that before the break were going to live in rosy romance forever, but who now sneer and snarl and spit on each other in the hallways. I have to pat the back of the crying girls who thinks all men are arse-wipes because they broke up because of some detail they disagreed about. I have to nod and say nothing to guys that put up a brave façade to complain that their ex-girl was trying to control their lives when I know that before the break their eyes light up whenever the girl entered the room.
School life is such a distilled essence of life, in many ways. The lack of experience distils the experience that is there into its raw, unnuanced forms, and you can use it to map out what it means to be human by taking these prototype things, and examine more confusing and fuzzy adult things with those blueprints in mind. I think school life is probably the pressure cooker that could explain man.
Pretending to care about something that leaves you entirely neutral is a strange thing too, and I think it has to do with the way white and not so white lies are the glue that holds society together. By that I mean that when you meet that smelly person that annoys you, you don’t say what is on your mind, but rather you pretend that there is no smell and that there is no annoyance.
It seems like much of life is a theatre where you play the silent fool that sees nothing, hears nothing, smells nothing, and when asked you smile and lie and tell a fib in order to not ruffle feathers. Some people, like Stephen, are so good at this while others, such as me, mostly go silent.
I’m am quite poor at the social games of lies and deceits in order to smooth edges and calm controversies, but I suppose that I play that game as well. Sometimes I wonder if this makes me a fake personality, a liar and a cheat. If nobody sees my thoughts, but rather the smile and the pat on the back to cheer up the person that I really think ought to grow up and face the real world, then am I not just a façade? A front?
Sometimes I wonder how I come across in different contexts. I mean, people that meet me in real life obviously think of me one way; the silent one that speaks little except in a small group of friends. Not even in that small group am I the centre of the party. Usually someone else is the group anchor. I react to what others do; I am not proactive to illicit responses from others. Mostly. Sometimes I drama queen with the best of them, so there is of course also an element of hypocrisy there where I wail about the immaturity of my peers, and then go on to act just as immaturely.
Then in text, I can pretend to be this amazing analytical mind with big words and complex themes and intellectual ambitions, and like now I can watch all the verbiage and think to myself ‘what a fool – who does he think he is?’ And the answer is, I’m not sure. All this fronting and all these façades that everyone seems to do and have makes me wonder if there are any genuine people at all. And am I not just as guilty, and am I not then a big hypocrite?
I felt genuinely good about myself when I came home after school, and there was this cabal of dogs and Mark that came to greet me at the door. Watson’s claws scratched the floors from one end of the house to the other as he ran down, and Lady came and wanted her little pat on the head before deciding (as usual) that she had had quite enough of such unladylike displays of emotion.
Mark was cooking when I came home, because he was let out earlier, and I could stand there and watch the dogs and him and think that there is at least something that is entirely genuine in my life; something both pure and awesome and fantastic.
I love him so much, that is true. He loves me too, and that is true too. Do I need anything else? Really? And the truth is, tomorrow, or next week, or next month I’ll be back in the rat race toward the finish line, and I’ll behave and act the same as everyone else, and be the little chameleon that I can be sometimes. And I’ll not even think about this first day, and the thoughts the abrupt change of contexts brought. I’ll be just as busy playing the social games.