There is a scene in Rob Reiner’s rock mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, starring Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer as David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel, and Derek Smalls respectively, in which Derek Smalls, the heavy metal band’s bass player, sets off an airport metal detector because he has stuffed his crotch with a tinfoil-wrapped zucchini. Obviously, this act of insecure egoism is meant to be funny. But I ask you, which of us has not, from time to time, attempted to present just such a false front to the world? Who amongst us has not made some attempt to seem more confident, interesting or attractive via the use of shallow materialistic trappings or assorted, strategically-placed winter squashes or root vegetables? Back in high school, how many of us desperately sought peer attention and approval through smoking, skipping classes, or for instance, getting blind drunk on Vermouth and driving a stolen front-end loader into Mr. Hammond’s ninth-graders’ portable?
Why, like my doltish fedora-wearing neighbour Cecil Idris Idris Jones, do we so frequently engage in pathetic acts of posturing and role-playing, instead of simply learning to be comfortable in our own skin? Why do we buy into some marketing wonk’s idea of the personal image that we should portray, instead of just learning to be ourselves? I think the answer is that, unfortunately, the selves we are born with tend to be rather blah and uninteresting. Let’s face it, we’re all boring jerks. For my part, just being myself tended to generate quite a lot of negative feedback and empty squares on the calendar. That is why I decided to create a new self — an ongoing identity that I could feel more confident about.
For once, I decided not to rush into things. I spent an extensive amount of time researching a new and improved personal identity that would mesh with what I claim to be my existing moral and spiritual values, helping me achieve my fully-integrated life potential, and practically guaranteeing a chance to meet a vast number of bodacious chicks. I test-drove a few of these possible new identities, to see which of them felt the most comfortable for me. Enrico, the pretender Latin American Formula One driver, and Prince Constantine II, pretender to the throne of Monaco, both received quite high approval ratings from my test audience at Smiley O’Ryan’s Coconut Lounge. Ultimately though, I settled on being Francois, a visiting Parisian neurosurgeon and former adult film star.
Finally, after so many years of searching and self-doubt, I have created for myself a self that I can truly be proud of. New persona, new and realistic-looking hairline and, if I may be so bold, a pretty impressive looking curriculum vitae. Now, if I can just get past those metal detectors…
Reiner, R. (Director) and Karen Murphy (Producer) (2000). This Is Spinal Tap. Embassy Pictures.