I have a long, lengthy laundry list of irks and pet peeves, and anybody who stands even on the outskirts of my circle of close friends and associates knows they pop up out of nowhere like a pimple on prom night. I hate when folks double park in front of empty spaces on the street. I hate when somebody knows they’re dead wrong about a fact, detail or date but just won’t admit it so we can move on with the conversation. Geez, we can’t all be geniuses all of the doggone time. I hate when I tell someone that their baby is cute and they don’t say thank you (because honey, can I be honest? Sometimes I’m just saying that out of pure courtesy because I know they labored long and hard to bring that life into the world. Maybe I should just say “good work” and keep it moving.) But at the top of this ever-growing list is—and remains—my vehement despise for fake, phony, frontin’ a** people. Perpetrators. Mannequins. Suckas.

Nowhere, I mean nowhere, does this alter ego-developing behavior display more often than on a college campus. I don’t know if it’s the mix of hair trigger hormones and being away from any adult who might smack you upside the back of the head and scold you with “stop that lyin’,” but every school is crawling with ‘em. Dudes who couldn’t manage to pull chicks with all of their natural teeth or limbs back home suddenly reinvented themselves into ladies’ men on campus. Chicks who previously couldn’t spell Louis Vuitton wrangled all of the available funds on their fresh-out-of-the-envelope credit cards to Cinderella themselves into designer divas. In between them were the benchwarmers with no stats but plans for college ball glory, the neophytes who were cornballs before they got letters and truth be told, were still cornballs well after that cross was complete and the late-blooming geeks (like this self-proclaimed word nerd) who weren’t necessarily frontin’, but fakin’ it until they started makin’ it.

In my little clique alone, I had about three perps: one who claimed his mother was a high-ranking government official in the city he lived in back home and one, Lord, who swore he was from the hardcore streets of north Jersey when in fact he hailed from a cushy suburb fit to be plastered across someone’s souvenir postcard. But my girl, who shall remain nameless just in case I feel like posting this on Facebook, which is the only place we remain friends, was the kind who insisted she came from an affluent, Jack-and-Jill-born-and-bred, Huxtable-esque background. As it turned out in an unplanned and very unceremonious trip home, she was just as blue collar as Florida, James, Jay-Jay and me.

Now I never understood why this particular young lady felt the need to front about who she was to me of all people. Child, I am the first and only person in my family to go to college. Ain’t no airs to be put on up in here. My mama and my aunties all work in factories and my grandfather spent 40 years as a steel mill worker. If her family had money, good for her. Mine didn’t. (Incidentally, if we did, Sallie Mae and I wouldn’t be in such close communication as we are right now.) My friend’s stories of cotillions and fancy vacations and finishing schools and exclusive clubs were like fairy tales to me. Low and behold they were fairy tales to her, too. She was embarrassed when her entire squad learned that she lived in a three-bedroom rancher instead of a sprawling estate. I was relieved that I didn’t have to curtsy or worry about which fork to use in the table setting when I walked in to meet her mother. They were regular folk but for some reason, that embarrassed her. It hurt her to see the fantasy image she had built for her college self collide with her real-world, back-at-home self. What she didn’t realize was a whole rack of people had already called her bluff long before she even came clean.

Somewhere along the line I had a point, and I guess this is as good a time to make it before I drum up more crazy memories of the hoops that girl had to jump through to keep her real life from slipping out from the cover of her fake life. The point is don’t feel forced to fake for nobody. Now that some of us have graduated and have important-sounding jobs with disappointing paychecks, ascending and moving laterally across the corporate ladder, we still have an obligation to be ourselves. That means not chuckling along with the jokes that Brad and Becky make that you know darn well you don’t get or hiding that bottle of hot sauce you know you keep tucked in the corner of your purse or telling people you live close to downtown when you live a hard 30 minute commute into the ‘hood. And that’s OK! Because the unique flavor that you bring to the table is a culmination of all of the background, experiences, beliefs and qualities you’ve picked up over the years of living in your household with your crazy relatives immersed in your own habits. And that’s just as cool as the next chick’s story.

Shoot, in a way I’m a recovering fronter myself. My family is headquartered in Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania and I never wanted to admit that thing out loud, let alone include it in an article for people to Google furiously, wonder where the hell it was and thank God it wasn’t them. I’m sure none of my fellow Clutchettes needed a pep talk about being unfake and unphony but from time to time, we all need a reminder (and a funny little story at someone else’s expense) that can’t nobody be bad like us, individually or collectively.

Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter
  • Royal K.

    Sounds like alot of folk I have associated with professionally and otherwise.
    BE AUTHENTIC, be your true self, even if you only give some folks a glimpse. Afterall being authentic does not mean being an open book, it just means be true to you.

  • @nneoma…I see where you’re going…my college years helped me to “become”–not reinvent and certainly not fake my way to–the me I was gonna probably be anyway.

    For a girl whose family is headquartered, like the author’s, in Norman Rockwell’s small town America, getting away via college was a chance to explore ideas and interests in ways that were frowned upon at worst, constricted at best in my small town.

    • thanks for understanding. personally, I think college was a transformative experience for me and if i had not gone to college or had attended a community college or state school along with my high school peers, i don’t think I would have changed as much as i did. the mere act of going to college, according to a number of studies, bumps you up the socioeconomic ladder, translates to a number of improved health outcomes, changes your posterity and a number of other things. there is no way, i would have been the same “me” had i not gone to college. The same for those who travel outside the US -either for work or study abroad – they come back as totally different people and to some, this may be perceived as frontin’

      and many of us are going to college in our teens – a time of major change, adopting new attitudes, lifestyles etc. so i am totally sympathetic to the young people who find themselves frontin’ – even if this means wearing Louis Vuitton bags (which i am personally not a big fan of), when at home, they would have gone for the Payless knock-off – there is nothing wrong with looking the part of a what you perceive to be college-educated American. people change and i know that when i went back home after college, some people perceived it as frontin – people who either never went to college or simply were hatin’ (in my personaly view). i came into college with a fresh perm, names of designers (FUBU, Baby Phat) plastered prominently all over my clothing and then came back sporting either handmade, vintage or classic (more expensive) pieces and a closely cropped ‘fro. Was I frontin’ – maybe…but I came to a point where relaxers and advertising the maker of my clothes on my oversized bubble jacket no longer sat right with me. I think you eventually move from awkward frontin to adopting some elements of your new environment into your personal style. …i dunno, i just try not to judge people who are still seeing their way through new environments and a rediscovery of self.

      But again, I sympathise with the commenters and the writer of this piece – it is annoying when you find that the person you used to kick it with back home comes back from college and has completely changed – for better or for worse…but sometimes, we just have to be patient with others and how they navigate through the various stages of their life

      and yes, i do realize that I am taking this topic WAAAY too seriously, when the originally point was more light-hearted in tone.

  • Aleisha

    Really good article!!! We just gotta keep it real with ourselves and others . .;)

  • March

    this was really petty. you seem to be a competent writer, and i’m kinda bummed that you wasted your beautiful mind with this tripe. think harder, write better. repeat.