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When ‘faking it’ wears out its welcome

Have you learned to “fake it?” (And no, I’m not referring to the scene from “When Harry Met Sally.”) Most adults have.

It just seems to be part of life. We show up to meetings we don’t want to be at and act attentive.

We chat animatedly with the person we’ve just been introduced to at a party even though he or she is so boring we’d rather be listening to radio golf commentary.

We double our efforts in sporting matches because we’re not about to let our younger/faster/leaner competitors know how close we are to collapse.

“Faking it” is not necessarily a bad thing. When I am the one who is the boring party guest, I hope someone will be kind enough to “fake it” to me.

“Just being polite,” “Thinking before you speak,” and “Little white lies” all, at times, fall into the “faking it” category. Without the ability to “fake it,” I’m pretty sure I would have been fired from several jobs, have no friends, be divorced and have insecure children.

In fact, it’s around children that my ability to “fake it” has been perfected. After all, I’m the grownup. So instead of saying “I am so sick of the putrefyingly sweet Raggedy Ann!” I smile and say, “Of course, we can read another chapter.” And instead of snapping, “So shoot me, I forgot!” I soothingly say, “I’m sure the Tooth Ferry will come tonight, Honey. She was probably just running behind. I heard that a lot of kids in China lost teeth last night.”

Most kids, on the other hand, have not yet learned to “fake it.” But what fun this can be.

Last weekend, I watched the Missoula Children’s Theatre production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” It was entertaining, as children’s theater always is. And although I am impressed with kids who aren’t shy about getting into character and whose acting (aka “faking it”) talent shines through, I always get a kick out of the kids — usually the younger ones — who are still new to “faking it.”

You know the ones:

n The kids who scan the audience looking for friends and relatives, waving once they are found.

n The kids who are great at staying in character until their fellow actor forgets a line, at which time they drop all semblance of “faking it” and whisper “It’s your line!”

n The kid whose character is supposed to be perpetually grumpy, but who is having so much fun on stage he can’t help grinning ear to ear.

My favorite from this particular production was a kid who was one of 14 bats. These were the youngest children in the show. At their cue, they all flapped happily onto the stage … all except one kid, whose face showed that he was not the least bit pleased to be on stage in a silly bat costume.

Other than intermittent half-hearted flaps of his flaccid wings, this kid was not about to “fake it.” He looked like he had a word or two to say to the parent who’d encouraged him to audition. And after the adorable bat song — which this kid didn’t bother to sing — he glared at the audience who had the audacity to clap.

I loved it. For, necessary as it may be to polite society, “faking it” can be exhausting. It was refreshing to live vicariously for a few minutes through this child who refused to “fake it.”

— Jill’s seminar, “Faking It: Getting Along in a Small Town,” will be held at the library next month.

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