A fancy party. A fancy evening. A posh evening. After attending a BBQ held at a rich person’s house I went with some of those rich folks to a bar for a party. And man oh man was this party filled with posh people. POSH. People that talked about Fiji, Ibiza and Montenegro and their favorite bars and restaurants in each respective place. They joked about flying economy. They were all well dressed, with pressed pants and crisp tops, despite the oven-like temperatures outside. A slew of facy-ass folks. And when I arrived, with people who were equally as posh and put together, my sense of flight immediately kicked into gear. Fraud! Fraud! They would all shout at me. But I was an asshole and judged them too quickly. They welcomed me warmly. And thought I was French. Which I don’t quite get. I don’t think my outfit was particularly Parisian. Sweaty faced with out of control hair from the humidity, I did not look remotely as lovely and sophisticated as everyone else there. Yet still, “You are French?” is what I got. Say whaaat?? And my response assuredly portrayed me as fellow sophisticated posh person. “Oh golly gee mister! Hahahaha! (snort) That’s mighty kind of ya. (kicks ground, stuffs hands in pockets and grins sheepishly) Ain’t nobody ever paid me such a gosh dern sweet compliment. I’m American. American as apple pie. American as a syndicated cable marathon of Two and a Half Men. American as Taco Bell.”
And the craziest part is that this is not the first time I’ve been mistaken for a Francophone. People have previously mistaken me for a frog. And then after that they thought I was French. Why? I do not know. Apparently I have a French air. The air, hair, care and stare of a person from France. Sure. I’ll take it.
Inevitably during the course of the night I was asked about Donald Trump. And I did what any citizen of los Estados Unidos would do when asked about Señor Trump. I jumped up, knocked over everyone’s drinks, began pumping my fist in the air and shouting, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!! USA! USA!”
The words escape me whenever I’m asked about Trump while abroad. I don’t fucking know. Good gawd. No idea. And I don’t want to waste my time thinking about him. Good gawd. Let us not give that jackass any more of our precious time and mental energy. Shut it down. In these instances I attempt to use my improv training to divert the conversation to other topics. Like ISIS. Or the FREQUENT power outages we’ve been experiencing here in Burma lately. Or Angela Merkel and her sensible haircut. Let us move on from Trump. And never think about him, his hair, his face, his racism, his misogyny, his xenophobia, his hate mongering, his sense of entitlement, his smugness or his grossness ever again. Shut it down.
After moving away from the topic of he who shall not be named my fake French ass had a good time at the posh party. Had some good chats. Had some vapid chats. Was asked if I was a vegetarian. Was given some free drinks. Pretended to laugh at things I couldn’t quite hear because the music was too loud. Talked about neoliberalism with someone for way too long. Hugged people I didn’t talk to but who were ‘sad’ to see me leaving so early (12am). Went out on the street to hail a taxi while others called their personal drivers to come and pick them up. I fit in with the posh people, more or less, and didn’t even have to affect a fake French accent to do so. (Though the thought did briefly cross my mind when I was asked if I was French. How fun would that have been??)
It’s a strange thing when your self perception doesn’t quite match up with how others see you. Once, many moons ago while I was studying abroad in Mexico I was chatting with a group of people in the university courtyard. People from all over the world. We were talking about literature. You know, a young intellectual’s favorite subject (fart noise). I said something, have no idea what it was, something terribly witty and insightful, I’m sure. (“Poetry is beautiful! The music of our souls! Let’s go poetry! Words are fun! Words are feelings! Writer’s write and that’s alright!”). But whatever it was prompted a girl to turn to me and say, “You’re so punk rock. I wish I could be more like that. More punk rock. Say what I want, like you.” I have never forgotten that moment because I was totally shocked by it. Da fuq she say!?, my brain screamed at me. Never in a million years would I have thought someone looked at me through that lens. Sure, I went through a phase an an adolescent where I wore a chain wallet and hung out with skateboarders. But c’mon, who didn’t? And even then I knew I was a poser. I dig some punk rock music, for sure, but internally I’m way more Lisa Loeb than Joan Jett.
We’re always way harsher on ourselves than anyone else, right? We critique ourselves and don’t give ourselves nearly enough compliments. We don’t believe the nice things others have to say to us. We brush them off and assume they’re bullshitting us. For the most part I see myself as a fat, funny looking, sarcastic, weird little Jew with bad hair. This is how I self identify most days. But this is not how others see me. Well, I’m sure there are about 337 people who see me in that light, for sure. But there are also folks who look at me and see a European lady. See a punk rock chick who speaks her mind. A vegetarian with morals. (again, something I’ve gotten more than once, “I assumed you were a vegetarian.” Nope, I say as I bite into a comically large turkey leg, meat juices running down my chubby cheeks.)
Being mistaken for a person who I am not was a nice reminder to think better of myself. To be kinder to myself. Not assume the worst. And some days I’ll do that. Or make an attempt. Other days I’ll beat myself up and wish to be more than I am. Surely. That’s the way it goes. But it’s nice to remember that I’m more badass than I think. You’re more badass than you think. And whenever we forget about our badassery we need to remember that although we can’t see it, the people around us can. They see the French punk rocking vegetarians that we really are.