The Three (or More) Faces of Insta-Princess, Part I

OK. I do not intend for this blog to be all about unemployment. For one thing, it’s boring; I mean, aside from what I said about it in my last entry, there’s really not enough material here to entertain anyone. And for another, I’m certainly hoping that it won’t last, so eventually I’d have to come up with a new topic anyway.

One more thing I’ll say about it, however, is that it allows me to be privy to much more gossip than I was when I was still employed. Strictly a time issue, I’m sure; now that I’ve got the time to listen, folks have got the dirt to share. However, as much as I like a little scuttlebutt, I have to say that it’s just a reminder about the rampant deception that people create about their lives on the internet. Oh, hell, I do it, too, either by omission of certain details in a story (like how my unemployed endeavor to cook dinner every day for my family resulted last week in the explosion of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish that sent bits of glass tinkle-plinking all over the first level of my home, requiring a full hour of cleanup, despite which my husband found chunks of blue glass in his shoe the next day), or by slight manipulation of facts in order to create a better story (the truth is, that Scotch Egg I got at the Ren Fest is probably completely innocent of causing the horrible illness I suffered later that night, but come on—near death from a Scotch Egg is such a better story than a mere virus).

So I know that the internet is no court-o-law as far as the truth is concerned, but that doesn’t stop me from being surprised when I learn from other people about a person’s crappy marriage or pot-head kid or career failures or near-psychosis, when his or her blog or Facebook page is full of nothin’ but glowing reviews of his or her spouse, offspring, work, or life in general. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t expect everyone to air a bunch of dirty laundry all over the web every day, but I still forget how convenient the internet is for creating an entirely different picture of your life. Which is perhaps a little ironic, since for most of my life I have been the champion of trying to concoct the public image of a life or personality that I haven’t actually had.

And this is where the examples start.

The Childhood Deception: I am a child of divorced parents.

Yep. I seriously pretended that my parents were divorced when they weren’t. I was a weird kid. And I had so many classmates whose parents were divorced that, even though most of those kids hated the fact that the parents with whom they’d begun their lives were no longer together, I still wanted to be one of those kids. Every year, as soon as the school directory was published, I’d scuttle it home and pore through it to see which kids had divorced parents, which was made obvious in the directory, because the kids of divorced parents usually had “last name issues” that were revealed in the booklet. So if your parents were still married, your entry would look something like this:

Student: John Dough
Address/Phone: 1234 Main Street / 555-4321
Parents: Robert and Mary

BO-O-O-O-ORING, right? But if your parents were divorced, you got something like this:

Student: Jimmy Dough
Address/Phone: 1234 Main Street / 555-4321
Parents: Patricia Biscuit / Stanley Dough (555-6789)

. . . or this, if your custodial parent (who was usually the mom at that time, it being the ‘70s and all) had remarried:

Student: Jane Dough
Address/Phone: 1234 Main Street / 555-4321
Parents: Steven and Sandra Muffin

Oh, yeah. All of your business was out in the street like that, for everyone to see and—if everyone = Little Insta-Princess—for everyone to envy. Really, the kids I envied most were the ones whose parent(s) had remarried, because those were the kids who got to call adults in their lives by FIRST NAMES (which I was NOT allowed to do in any circumstance). How cool was THAT?

Me: Hey, Jane, what did you get for your birthday?

Uber-cool, disaffected Jane: Oh, my mom and Steve got me a bike, and then my dad and Diane took me to the circus.

(See? SO cool. Plus, DOUBLE PRESENTS for every occasion! Who wouldn’t love THAT? Having parents who’d been married for over 20 years, on the other hand, was SO gauche! So old-fashioned! So . . . so . . . woefully un-hip!)

So in my pathetic attempt to join the leagues of the rebellious, embittered step-kids, I totally disowned my poor, sweet father.

It wasn’t some sort of pre-meditated plan; like my songwriting skills, my cunning is kinda lacking. But when I stumbled upon the opportunity to make everyone think that my dad was actually my stepdad, I jumped on it.

See, my father and I were awfully good pals, and used to play a charming game in which he was my butler/chauffeur/servant. (Ahem. In case you were wondering why I’m known as Insta-Princess … ) And it was, as I mentioned, the ‘70s—the height of the Love Boat era. I never missed an episode. So in one episode, a rich woman took a Love Boat cruise with her butler, whose name was Bertram.


I thought Bertram was a simply divine name for a butler (/chauffeur/servant), and so started calling my dad Bertram. Of course, the Love Boat lady and HER Bertram wound up in a romantic relationship, which was either too gross for me to contemplate (so I didn’t), or went straight over my head because I was too focused on the sheer perfection of Bertram as a butler name. But I digress.

The point is, I started calling my father Bertram, and he thought the whole Bertram thing was sorta cute, so he went along with it, not knowing that one day I would use it against him. But somewhere around my 5th grade year, the moment came. Bertram had given me a really groovy pen of some sort, that squirted water, or changed colors, or morphed into a hippo in a tutu or something—who remembers? At any rate, one day I brought the pen to school, at which point one of the girls in my class eyed it covetously and asked where I’d gotten it. Without thinking, I replied, “Bertram gave it to me.”

“Who’s Bertram?” she asked, and that was when the pathetic wannabe light bulb went on over my head.

“My dad,” I sighed, which was certainly not a lie per se, but I did my damnedest to say it with that special tone of step-kid ennui, hoping that my simple two-syllable truth would also manage to convey a “my-mom-insists-that-I-acknowledge-him-as-my-father-but-I-am-in-no-way-related-to-that-annoying-bastard” message.

It worked.

Why, I’m not sure, because you’d think that other kids would, as I did, check the directory, which would have kicked my jig straight up. Turns out, however, that OTHER KIDS WERE APPARENTLY NOT TOTAL NUTBALLS LIKE ME, so nobody ever knew or, at any rate, never called me on it. And so I was part of “the club,” at least for awhile and among the kids who never actually came to my house or interacted in any way with my family. And that was when I discovered that the club really wasn’t that much fun. Who wanted to walk around every day resenting someone with whom you actually had to live?

My charade pretty much ended a couple of years later, anyway, when I graduated from Elementary School and headed to Middle School, where I had bigger issues than the tragic fact that my parents were still married. The Middle School period is, I think, a tragedy in itself. Don’t you? But I digress again.

I did continue to call my father Bertram for the rest of his life (he passed away when I was in my mid-20s), but more out of habit and affection than anything else. I also succeeded in pulling an unintentional fast one on the friends I made in High School and beyond, because although those people (who called him Bertram as well) knew that he was my actual father, they thought that his name really was Bertram. Only upon reading his obituary did they discover the truth.

As to the truth about my intentional “Divorce” deception of years past, I did confess it to my mother a few years ago. She thought it was pretty funny.

Anyway, here’s where Part I of my Multiple Personality Confession comes to an end; I’m spending today with my baby boy (who is home from day care with a little bug), in hopes that he will not one day try to disown ME. Stay tuned . . . .

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