My sister told me recently about a friend she has who took her first trip to Utah recently. Her response? That people were so fake. Maybe that was true, but it doesn’t really mean much coming from a New Yorker. I think what she probably meant was that people were so nice. Like, they didn’t tell you to put a hat on your child, or offer their opinions of your babywearing or whatever. They were smiley and helpful and not so . . . in-your-face.
This reminded me of another conversation I had with my sister (or maybe it was the same conversation) in which we discussed . . . being “fake.” My sister has another friend who claimed that his family was so “fake” when he was growing up. Like, the cleaned the house when people were coming over. See? Totally fake. Oh, wait. No. No it’s not fake at all.
Fake is pretending to like someone you actually hate. Fake is pretending to like grunge-style when you’d much rather sport Dockers and loafers. I think that kind is the word for not making someone uncomfortable in your presence (even if that person is a stranger!). Hospitable is the word for making your house a comfortable place to be (even if it causes you a bit of discomfort to make it that way).
I am from Utah, and therefore somewhat defensive of my fellow Utahns, despite not having lived there for nearly 7 years and never planning to live there again. But I think they deserve some credit. People talk about Southern hospitality, but I think there is such a thing as Utah hospitality, too. Or maybe it is “Western” hospitality. I don’t think the south has a monopoly on making people feel welcome, no matter how foreign it actually feels to those who are being welcomed by it.
So, my question is, when did it become “fake” to try to make other people feel good in your presence? When did it become “fake” to try to put your best foot forward?
(Stephanie Joy — this didn’t turn out exactly the way I thought it would, but that’s okay, right?)