This evening a friend of mine pried me away from my keyboard. She insisted that some new scenery might clear the cobwebs from my head. Our local McDonald’s had redecorated, replacing the “wall of smut” that I had held in affectionate disdain so she decided to show me the new theme they had chosen.
Something felt off about the place. I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I played with my straw as we made small talk while I pondered.
“Earth to Annie!” K waved a hand in front of my face. I was so puzzled at the discrepancy that I hadn’t even realized that she had asked me a question.
“Something’s just…wrong…with this place,” I confessed. “I can’t put my finger on it so it’s bugging me.”
“Eh,” K shrugged as she took a bite of her sandwich. “It’s the same old McDonalds but with a different face.”
The brick wallpaper, carefully designed with a splash of ‘spray paint’ caught my attention. I followed it upwards, spotting the fake wallpaper bars. Glanced around at the plastic paneling that had been carefully curated to resemble plywood. Even the chairs had a worn look that had been artfully integrated.
But the chairs were new.
The chairs were new. The wallpaper was new. The paneling, the floors, everything was new yet it had been deliberately designed to look….
“Oh my God, they went grunge.” It finally clicked what disturbed me about the place. It had been filled with brand-new, very expensive decorations that were designed to give it a careworn, “welcome to the ‘hood” appearance all the way down to the fake graffiti.
This newly redecorated restaurant had tried to be what it was not and it had failed abysmally. It was the silk purse trying to transform itself into a sow’s ear, and it was the perfect symbol of what our society has become.
We are taught to be all of the things that we are not. We are supposed to look a certain way, act a certain way, do certain things because it is “important” when in reality it is not.
We have fake food now. Tofu masquerading as cheese and meat and God knows what else. We have fake fur, fake leather, fake cotton, fake nails, and fake jewelry. We have fake wood, fake friends, fake news, even fake money these days. We swipe a card filled with fake money instead of using real cash based on real metals with more fake money added to the pool whenever the government runs low.
We rarely even see the truly old stuff anymore. When we want something old we go to the store and buy a cheap new replica. Old means ‘poor’ and ‘dirty’ and ‘wrong’ so we buy the fake stuff and call it fashion.
We live in an age where people buy their pants pre-ripped so they can have the grunge without the grime. We want the gritty without the grit. We want the bling without the bankroll and it’s fake, it’s all fake.
My wardrobe of choice has become a fashion statement. Rich people want to look poor so they pay a fortune for the appearance. Poor people want to look rich so they max their cards to buy the brand names.
Neither group is what they are pretending to be and I find myself horrified at the revelation. It’s no wonder that Trump won the election. He was the only one honest enough to own the fact that he’s an asshole.
And who will they pit against him in the next election? Chances are it will be the rich bastard who’s playing himself off as a middle class saint. Millions of dollars, multiple mansions, yet he pretends to attack the very thing that he is and he expects us to swallow his bullshit.
Seriously, if you don’t like the rich, if you detest the fact that the rich are getting richer then get rid of your fucking mansions and come live in the ‘hood with the rest of us. We’ll be happy to share our roaches.
I don’t care if you’re rich or you’re poor as long as you own what you are to the world. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not because in the end we’re all going to end up dead regardless.
It’s okay to have money. It’s okay to be broke. It’s okay. It’s all okay. Just own what you are and get on with your life.
What’s not okay is when we waste our time and our money pretending to be the things that we are not. What’s not okay is when we waste our time worrying about what others think when it doesn’t matter. That is my problem with the world today and that’s a problem that I just realized that I have with myself as well.
I come from the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. I am the daughter of an ex-con and a stripper. I grew up helping my daddy bootleg because we did what we had to do in order to survive. I learned how to talk my way out of trouble at an early age when dirty old men tried to drag me in their cars.
I hated school because it was boring and we skipped ahead every damn time we got to the interesting parts. It was more important to color inside the circles than it was to actually learn something. I can read and I can research and I can learn more in a month than most classes teach me in a year. I resented the waste of my time but I just tried to pretend that this wasn’t a problem. I told myself I needed a piece of fucking paper when in the end all I needed was the knowledge.
That piece of paper was just to prove to the world that I was a person.
I was molested as a toddler. I was raped as an adult. I had my first two kids out of wedlock and I thought that made me wrong so to fix it I got married. The worst part of that was that he was fake too. I just couldn’t see it through my own damn fakeness. I was too busy trying to be something that I was not.
And right now I am a toothless old crone who is aggravated as hell at the fact that the truth was all around me and I missed it for ages. I live in a run-down shack on a grungy street like so many others yet the world looks for us and all they find are the mansions shown on TV.
Hell, we all believe that we’re supposed to live in mansions now because that’s all we’re allowed to see. We glamorize the rich and vilify the poor because “fuck them, they’re trash.”
People jump here from across the world looking for streets paved in gold only to land in rat-infested tenements. They wonder what they did wrong when they thought they did everything right.
And they did do everything right. It’s the world that’s wrong.
It’s the image we give, the lies we tell when we say we’re all doing well while most of us are struggling. It’s the shit we buy that we can’t afford so we can brag to our friends that we’re special.
But Tyler Durden of Fight Club had it right:
We are not our job.
We are not how much money we have in the bank.
We are not the car we drive.
We are not the contents of our wallets.
We are not the clothes that we choose to wear.
We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.
We are. We really are. We are born, we live, and then we return to the earth from whence we came so the circle can continue.
There is no point in being fake. There is no point in pretending to be what we are not. All we do is make ourselves miserable in the end.
Life is too short not to be enjoyed. And we cannot enjoy it if we believe the lie that we are somehow wrong.
It is time we ended the fakeness. It is time to stop pretending to be something that we’re not. It is time to stop believing the lie that we are only worth something if we dress a certain way or act a certain way or buy the certain stuff or do the certain things.
It is time we realized that we are okay where we are with what we have right now.
So keep your stuff. Use the things you already have because something new won’t make you better – it will just make you broke.
And stop supporting the companies that feed you the lies that they’re ‘just like’ you and they ‘care about’ you and they ‘want what’s best’ for you because the truth is this:
All they want is your money.
They want to use you up and spit you out and laugh when you’re tossed in the gutter.
We are nothing to them, and it is time that we accepted that.
And it is time we treated them the exact same way that they treat us.
Just like that McDonald’s I visited tonight, they dress up their lies and call themselves authentic. They believe they have us brainwashed enough that we’ll believe it. I hope that they are wrong about that.
Don’t fall for their games. Stop feeding the monsters.
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I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:
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