Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Many Faces of Amanda

I can smell a fake personality from miles away.  I've wrinkled my nose at Facebook statuses, coworkers, bosses, friends, family, even toddlers and their "I'm so sweet, but only because I want.  This.  Cookie.  Now" voices more often than I can count. 

Let's face it -- I have Fake Radar.  It's very well-honed. 

Why, you ask?  Well.  Let's be honest.  I'm so skilled at spotting the Fakes because a lot of the time...frequently, even...I am one.

I'll even go so far as to say I have several fake personalities.  Oh, yes.  I could possibly be labeled a Personality Chameleon.

Now, I'm not saying that I have crazy multiple personality disorder a la "Sybil," but I know that I can tailor who I really am to fit who I'm with.

This has always driven me nuts about other people.  We've all had that one friend who is exactly like you when you're with him/her, but if you're all in a big group, he/she tends to copy the mannerisms of the most popular person in the huddle.  I try my best to not be that person, and most of the time, I feel like I succeed.

But I know that I can be guilty of the ol' switcheroo from time to time. 

Let me introduce you to a couple of my alter-egos:

Church Amanda, or, as I like to think of it, "Sure, hon'" Amanda

Church Amanda is most likely my default setting, especially if I'm nervous.  I cultivated this girl a looooong time ago, back when I was a kid living in a motor home with my evangelist parents.  Smile, smile, smile.  Don't argue.  Everything is fine.  It's fine. Be accommodating.  Make everybody happy and by all means, be nice.

Now, there are good and bad points to this one.  People who are always grumpy are totally annoying.  But on the other hand, people who are constantly cheerful make you want to actually make them cry.  As in, "if I pinched her really hard on the elbow, would she possibly stop nodding and smiling?" 

Do you guys remember that TV show back in the 80s, "Small Wonder"? The one about Vicky, the little girl who is a robot?  I loved that show.  They had a neighbor, and I'm not totally sure of her name, but it seems like it was something like Mrs. Poole.  Mrs. Poole was always happy, always cheerful.  And she was always annoying her neighbors because she was so nosy.  Her catch phrase was "Sure, hon'." 

I don't think I'm that unbelievably irritating, but I sure can turn on the cheesy charm when I feel cornered or if I'm trying to project the "I'm always a good girl" persona.  Blech. 

Hipster Amanda

Oh, I wish this one was really me sometimes.  You know.  The "I only listen to The National, and wear big black framed eyeglasses and yes, I really own twelve pairs of Oxfords and I couldn't care less about what you think about anything I've ever done/said/thought/written because, man, I'm being real" girl.

I've tried to be this girl several times, especially when I'm around my hipster friends (and don't we all have at least one?). 

But about halfway through any interaction with a hipster, I begin to feel my coolness crumble and drop off of me like The Oracles from "The Neverending Story."  (See?  Right there.  A hipster would never genuinely refer to "The Neverending Story" in a non-ironic way.) 

I still like yoga pants and t-shirts.  And contacts.  And I still occasionally listen to Wilson Phillips.  And as much as I hate to admit it, I really care what people think about me.  Honestly, too much sometimes, but I think about what reaction I'm going to get before I say or do something.

I really don't think that people in their thirties can be really successful hipsters, anyway.  We're too old to be ironic.  We're always inwardly rolling our eyes when people without gluten allergies swear by a cardboard-tasting gluten-free organic blueberry muffin when there's a perfectly good Cracker Barrel next door. 

And let's be honest, those Oxfords provide absolutely no arch support.

Big Bad Wolf Amanda

Holly Jo, my sister, had an unintentionally hilarious experience at WalMart last week.  When she walked into the entrance, she found that there were no shopping carts pulled out and ready to be used.  So she reached behind the plastic curtain and took one out herself.  While she was rubbing the handle down with a sanitizing wipe, a little old lady walked right up and took it from her without a word.  So, ever friendly, Holly Jo proceeded to pull out another cart.  And it happened two more times.  That's right.  Two more people came and took a cart out of her hands.

Of course, my first question was "What were you wearing?" because I was sure they had to have mistaken her for a WalMart employee.  But no, she was wearing grey sweatpants and an Alabama sweatshirt. 

So my first comment was "Holly Jo, you're just way too nice.  I would have said, 'Excuse me! That's my cart!' or I would have just slapped them away."

Then when Holly Jo posted about it on Facebook, about a jillion people said the same thing. 

Only a few of them laughed and said, "That stinks!" or something to that effect.

The more people that prodded Holly Jo to stand up for herself, the more irritated I got.  Sure, it's ok for me to say that to my sister, but geez.  Lay off the violence advice.  Holly Jo is nice. 

But the truth is, we all do that.  We all like to think that if faced with extreme rudeness we would immediately turn into some superhero version of Tyler Perry's Madea and we're great about telling people exactly what we would do, but really?  Would we? 

Holly Jo was just shocked at the rudeness of the situation, and she probably reacted like most of us would.  With speechlessness. 

Granted, there are times when I can be a roaring warrior when it comes to self defense, but most of the time - nah.  I'll think about it later, when the immediate threat is over, and realize what I should have done, but at the moment, I can be pretty meek.  And there's nothing more annoying than a know-it-all friend telling you exactly how you should have handled a situation after it's all over.

I have to say, I think most of us are a combination of all of our fake personalities.  There's probably an element of truth in each of them, or we wouldn't be able to act them out as well as we do. 

I just wish I could manage to combine all the best of them and be the real, imperfect, sometimes overly critical, overly negative, overly cheerful, overly geeky, but - I'd like to think - lovable me.