Sunday, July 7, 2013

One Face is Better Than Two

She comes in swankily, hips oscillating as she forms a smile and places her right hand on her hip. She gives us all a wink as she runs her left hand through her hair slowly, and her soft dark curls tumble over her shoulders. She's Melanie, from LA, and she's on a mission.

Melanie's friends don't know her very well, and she knows them even less. They have so much fun, and she's the least confrontational person they all know. This isn't to say she doesn't get angry, it's just not in public that it happens; she subs sexy for snappy, and saves the scream for rooms for two. 

I met Melanie at a party, and she met me   the time after, at our friend Jack's BBQ. (She doesn't remember meeting me the first time.) Melanie, to me, seemed so graceful, and restrained. She had a silky voice and seemed to know everyone, her mouth spilling flattery sweeter and priced higher than the most glorious treats from the delicatessen. I myself even took pleasure in how she flattered me. I never knew just how my stomach word hurt in just six short months, when I consumed too many of those sugary words; the effects of malnutrition at the hands of a glutton and its finest master. Because even a frog doesn't leap from a boiling pot when it doesn't see what's coming; that's when I first started to learn: people wear faces, and knowing which face is their real one is key. When I saw myself with my own flaws, I realized its a finer process of introspection and careful tuning, to get to that place of being real; it may be easier to be the right part of a person with different people, but its best to be yourself refined (at different exposures or intensities depending on the place).  Most of all, having one face is better than two.

Fast forward two months. Jack is really ticking me off. He's talking about how fake he thinks Melanie is, and how he's known me for so long, and he can't believe how much I eat up everything she says. He thinks I'm naive, and that Melanie probably isn't just singing sultry slurs against everyone else; she probably has songs written with me as the headliner too. I say I doubt it; it's different; we just have have a vibe. He's wrong, and frankly, he's jealous that his two friends are better friends now than they are with him! He's notlooking after me; he's built his ship and he can go sailing off by himself! Plus, how can he sit me down and tell me he how much he cares, and then say how he's disappointed in my behavior?! He's supposed to be my friend, and friends don't say their versions of truths that you won't like! Or do they? Might they? Wherever. The heck with Jack. Make me feel good or we'll make like you're gone.

Fast forward six months. Melanie is later than ever, and I wait. She's going to be ready in five, she says, and she'll be right down, so I drove over. Then I waited, by the gate, with that security guard that always seems to be snarling at me, with his vulgar stare that just irks me. That guard knows something, but I'm not sure what. Ugh. Psycho.
I don't remember when I started using that word, but it seems to fit. I've been chilling with Melanie and her friend Jessica more often than I used to since realizing my other friends are boring and have no taste for fun. Right now, I realize just how right they are, just how creepy that guy is, and I give him a snarl back. I have a tiny twinge of what might be guilt, from some inkling of what used to be conviction, and I dismiss it. A twinkle of charm, a bit of excitement, a flurry of satisfaction, and I'm spurred on and ready to roll. The temporary fullness of self-adoration and selfishness hits my gut, and yet somehow I'm hungry for more to keep me going. 

Melanie comes down, finally, after what seems like eternity, and she opens the door. First thing she says, "OMG, what are you wearing anyway?! You know we're going to Jessica's party right? You can't look like a troll!" 
Wow. 
Twenty minutes later, we're on our way. I've been transformed; she's covered my face with pretty paste, and my skirt is shorter than the length of my forearm. I wearing stilts of seduction, and I feel power in my knees.
Jessica really isn't that nice, and she's snarled ever since I met her. But she knows the best guys, and I feel like she doesn't truly like a single one of them any more than she does her daytime friends. 
We party hard, and it's soooooo good! That's before it happen, when I discover it takes a long time to know someone who wears more than one face. Yet, she knew me. She liked me, as much  as she likes or doesn't like anyone, because he knew who I was, and what she could do. She saw I was who I was, and even though I wasn't always the most polished, I was true, and dependable. What she could depend on, was my reaction to what would unfold very soon. 

We had come into the party ten minutes later than Melanie had preferred and as she hissed at me how stupid I was sometimes, she smiled and played cute for everyone she saw. Even as she condemned me, she was so gloriously golden, and as she hit the room she took it. We loved her, how you love your favorite jacket, and we wore her wherever we went. 
Charles came over as we entered, and he said how lovely we looked. Melanie turns as looks at me, and says, " yeah, she always does doesn't she? She's such a lovely girl..." She smiles, and she shoots me a nasty look, as he smiles at her. He's wanted Melanie for a long time. She can't stand him, but she loves the fact he knows a producer she adores. She lets him stick around. 

A few minutes later we've separated a bit, and Melanie puts on her cute face, when she snuggles next to Jim and Heather, who own the huge house next door. 

I'm talking to Jazzy, and I realize I've accidentally been to honest, and I backtrack. I say I'm sorry, that I didn't mean anything by it; that I just don't think before I speak. He says, not to worry about it, and relax, and we move on. I blushed a bit, but I know he's sincere, so it's all good. I found myself feeling like my old self again, having just said something honest that didn't impress, not that I said anything meanly, just not veiled with niceties. Yet, Jazzy didn't hate me, and moreover, he seemed impressed.

Then it happened.
Melanie's next to me, all of a sudden, but I don't see her. I only hear her voice, on the other side of the curtain, and she's hissing. Then all of a sudden I realize, and it hurts. "It's too bad she can't dress without my help, and she takes twenty minutes from my night. She just has always been slow, and she's not cute at all! She never knows her left from ugly or her right from wrong. I should really just stop letting her weigh me down. The only reason she's still allowed in my sight is because she's too boring to drink and I always need a ride."

I can't believe it; I've never heard her talk tawdry with the object of her annoyance being within earshot. She never looks bad. She's always careful. Yet, unbeknownst to her, I'm right there. I look at Jazzy, and he shrugs his shoulders in indifference or confusion. I wasn't sure which, but I didn't care.
I walk quickly around the curtain towards the door, feeling really low, and she sweetly whispers my name, and calls me over. "Lisset, where are you going? Do you feel Ill sweetie? We were just saying how wonderfully lovely you are tonight but you seem a bit under the weather. Maybe run down a bit? I feel like maybe we should leave early so you can get some beauty rest. Be back to the normal you, lovely and ready to party with the best!"
I don't answer her; I just walk out. Every other time Melanie has depended on me, I've given her what she counted on. Because I overheard her this time, it was the first time I've surprised her; the first time I've not been dependable. Who I am  has changed. Rather than changing my faces it's like my face grew into something different, and it was pretty outside but ugly within. 
Melanie had two faces, and I only saw the pretty, people-pleasing one for months. Then I saw her other one, but I didn't think she'd ever put it on in regards to me. I thought I made it different, that somehow the nice one was her real one and the stronger one was only there to keep the undeserving away. 
Now I've come to see, that even though I may not possess the most effective way to appeal to everyone in one particular way, I can learn to adapt without sacrificing who I am. I've learned that having my face, and letting others get to know me, probably more quickly, is preferable to how long it takes playing by rules of proper and wearing faces of many people. Had Melanie worn only one face, I could've seen much sooner who she really was, and maybe stayed myself. Yet, I chose to forsake my friends, and believe in something else that looked better, and become like those I hung out with. We validated each other and it seemed okay. Now I know, being real is best (always working on getting better), and having one face is even better.

* not a story that happened to me, but a story that most have seen.