Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Discourses in Deception

I always have mocked the term "recessionista," but when you find yourself substituting 4 o'clock and 5 o'clock "Duff Hour" at 3 Needs as your new more cost-effective, less prime-time alternative to late-night drinks, those $1 pints seem to be more practical, if not glamorous. And when you're not really working (although I've got an internship, a paid short-term copy-editing gig, and a new column being optioned-- I like wearing as many caps as possible; maybe it's because I don't look good in hats--), like me, $1 pints are not something to be picky about when what you really want is a $7 Cosmo with the girls. I'll take
my cheap alcohol where I can get it.

If there's anything I've learned while living on the lean, it's the the art of deception is probably
one of your most paramount tools in life that you will ever learn to master, along with being flexible, crafty, and mastering some sleight-of-hand while working the bills out. I know some of you (including one ex in particular who hated lies while at the same time going out of every way to have to explain the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him god,) aren't the biggest fans of deception. Some of you think it's best to "keep it real" and "tell it like it is." And while "telling it like it is" may not be a particularly strong point of mine (and here I hear a few "Amens" from the same chorus), what I'm advocating here is the sort of deception that hurts no one.

College and shortly thereafter is a time in which you trade, barter, and prostitute with what you have. Like my renaissance love-affair with Duff Hour, you work with what you have. And what I have right now is lots of time. In this time, there are two things I like to devote spending vast amounts daydreaming about: Writing, and cons.

Ok, so maybe it's more like three things: Writing, sex, and cons. And while my writing is getting me free business lunches and opening doors of career opportunities, it's not exactly paying the bills NOW.

A "con" or a "confidence trick" or "confidence game," (also known as a bunko, con, flim-flam, gaffle, grift, hustle, scam, scheme, swindle, or bamboozle) for those of you who never saw the brilliant "Catch Me If You Can," is "an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. The victim is known as the mark, the trickster is called a confidence man, con man, confidence trickster, or con artist, and any accomplices are known as shills. Confidence tricks exploit typical human qualities such as greed, dishonesty, vanity, honesty, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility and naïveté. The common factor is that the mark relies on the good faith of the con artist." Cons aren't always so devious as sometimes they're just a fact of life. Sometimes, it's necessary to convince someone that you're solvent enough to be a good investment. So when I showed up today for my business lunch in an avant-garde skirt and leather heels, no one would have been any the wiser that I owe the bank $200, haven't paid my utilities bills yet for the month, and only have $4.27 in my wallet, and literally, to my name. With the right wardrobe, you can be anyone. I like my money where I can see it: On me. People say invest in gold and bonds and the tangible, so I do my best, and keep it in my closet.

But like every good con, I have my tell-- the more jewelry I'm wearing, the more insecure I am. I can't help it-- being a jeweler's daughter, I've watched all sorts of people walk in, and I've checked out their bedazzledness. A large gold watch or large watch with gold accents screams "I can afford to have the time." I got mine for 10 Euro in an Asian appliance hole-in-the-wall in Florence. In a time when people accessorize by
dripping with jewels, I got my fighting leopard cocktail ring, long sunburst necklace, and vintage cat pendant at a flea market in Florence, not paying more than 10 Euro for each of those
pieces. My gigantic Chinese knot necklace I got from a booth in New York City's Chinatown, and
the only jewelry of any value that I ever wear are two rings from my father-- one, the first thing he ever made for my mother; the other, my 18th birthday present.

I can play a fun game with you in which I point out what things in
my room I've bought at T.J Maxx-- hint: it's about half. That's where I've picked up discount Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren bags, and the white studded Steve Madden purse in photos above. I bought my 1970s vintage Louis Vuitton messenger bag--my first piece of big-name designer anything-- at the same flea market in Florence where I bought all my jewelry, and I haggled the price down 15 Euro for it, too. That pink silk shirt, and a gray tee, were both originally from Urban Outfitters, where I have never bought anything full-price-- the pink silk was thrifted from Plato's Closet, and I bought the gray shirt on heavy sale, like everything else I've ever come home with from that store. Honestly, I was just in there again today, and while I adore a large majority of their clothing, I could just as easily walk into a good consignment shop and find the same styles for half the price. At least. But for now, I'm perfectly content with re-inventing things from my own closet to look like new. And if all I'm covering up is a sub-par bank account with a few extra bangles, I don't see what the harm is in convincing other people I'm either flush, or something that I'm not. It's like playing dress-up, but for semi-grown-ups. All we're doing is running around and trying to
appease people and convince them that we're what they want us to be, anyway.When was the last time you were truly you, just because you had a chance to be?

Yeah. Next time, don't worry what they think-- worry about what the people who know you for you and love you for you think. As Emily has said, it's all about "faking it 'til you make it." Hey, I never said my moral compass was straight.

{An extremely insecure and nervous day--
The UO tee of my 3 major food groups
(Alcohol, Caffiene, Nicotine,)
that I've worn to death and stretched out into an off-the-shoulder,
3 necklaces,
4 rings,
my bangles,
wristband from Brewfest that still hasn't fallen off,
my beaded rasta bracelet from Solarfest,
and my studded riding belt.
Jewelry is my armor.
Mistah J is my dude.
And my other tell-- I can't keep my hands away from my mouth.}


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