This was a few years ago.
So we were sitting at a gathering at a girl's house just lounging waiting for dinner. I wasn't sure we were actually invited or just crashing, I felt a somewhat hostile vibe but it was always that way with me. I always think people don't like me when it's fine.
This girl had a bowl in her lap and was munching on something. "What are you eating?" someone asked. "Pho", she said. I looked into her bowl. It was just noodles, no broth. Maybe a sauce. "What's pho?"
The girl smiled. "It's noodles, with raw onions, carrots. And mustard! Can't forget the mustard!"
I had spent enough time on tumblr to know that Pho was supposed to be like a Vietnamese ramen of some sort. I mean, Pho was sort of trending at the time. I wanted to ask her about the Pho, in that bitchy girl type of question that is more like an expose. I caught the girl's eyes, but I didn't say anything.
I don't know why, I never say anything. It's perhaps the faux confidence people are trying to convey, I don't know, there's something so vulnerable about someone who is faking. They seem so fragile, albeit phony, but I just can't kill it for them. I can honestly never tell someone that I know they're lying. Even if these kids were never particularly kind to me. Even so, I just couldn't say anything.
For some reason that one moment stayed with me. Spontaneously, from time to time, I hear her voice in my head. "Can't forget the mustard!"
It kills me.
Why do people do this? Why pretend to know something we don't know, why follow trends, why try to cover up insecurities? Why are we so fake, so controlled, yet so vulnerable and nervous and scared? Like honestly she was pretty cute and cool and it seemed like everyone was into her at the place but still. She felt she had to lie about her noodles, to glamorize them, make them trendy. Like she had to be some trendy Pho connoisseur instead of just a girl eating her noodles.
Maybe because I used to be, and I'm pretty sure at sometimes still am, that girl. Her voice has become both a reminder and a warning. To not try so hard, to accept myself, to feel comfortable that I'm not always trendy, and glamorous, and exotic, that people will like me the same, that it's not necessary to hype up every little aspect of life to feel deserving of it.
And perhaps it's because I am also the girl getting caught trying. Getting caught faking, hyping. Because I constantly feel caught, the fear of not being able to fool someone, the anxious feeling of being exposed, open, that people can see through my walls and through the distractions. That I am being seen, being known.
After all, every story is a hideout.