My whole life I’ve been a fraud. I’m not exaggerating. Pretty much all I’ve ever done all the time is try to create a certain impression of me in other people. Mostly to be liked or admired. It’s a little more complicated than that, maybe. But when you come right down to it it’s to be liked, loved. Admired, approved of, applauded, whatever. You get the idea.
No, that is not me, but I have just quoted David Foster Wallace in his short story Good Old Neon. It is a story that is a particular favourite of mine for its brutal honesty, on the assumption that the story could well be autobigraphical, as most of his stories lead one to believe.
Why am I suddenly writing about this and digging up this old quote which I have not used in years?
There lies a tale.
Since the past few days, I have been going to the park earlier than usual so that I get sufficient time to take my walks before friends come and wish to chat. I have also been staying there later than usual as one particular friend comes a bit late and he wants to chat till it gets too cold for me to sit around without my warm clothes.
During these long sojourns there, I have been introduced to a recent addition to our neighbourhood who has been trying his best to impress the older residents with his condescending attitudes about what a sacrifice he has made by staying in India while his two children in the USA want him to stay with them there. He is one of those irritating specimens who cannot find anything right about India and perhaps would be happy only in Mars. I doubt that he will be happy anywhere else in the world either.
Now, complaining about India in general and Pune in particular, is waving a red cape to an old bull like me. I had been politely keeping away from his soliloquies the past few days but I had had enough the evening before last and decided to wade into a discussion with him.
He had no chance. It was a no match. I was way above his weight.
All I had to do was to re-introduce to him people who he had already met but with additional information about what their children do and where they reside. All of them had children overseas, all of them travel regularly to visit their children and grand children and they simply did not want to talk about their reasons for not living abroad.
He was not in the park last evening.