faking it

by Andrea Elizabeth

While discussing Kierkegaard with my husband last evening, we decided that what he is guarding against is letting yourself go to extremes. It takes self discipline to keep yourself in check. It is very interesting how writing lets you go to those extremes without really doing it. Or does it?

This morning I was thinking about how soothing and wise Mrs. Doubtfire was, RIP, Mr. Williams, and watched some deleted scenes. There was a particularly contrasting moment during his daughter’s spelling bee  (14 min. 22 sec in) where, during his daughter’s turn, he is arguing with his wife after arriving late and someone else has taken his seat. I guess this happened after the reveal that he is Mrs. Doubtfire because in the next scene his daughter asks him why he can’t always act like Mrs. Doubtfire instead. He says that that was acting and not real life. She wants him to keep acting anyway. He says that will make them have a pretend family. And besides he can’t control himself 24 hours a day.

On one hand, maybe Mrs. Doubtfire is an aesthetic, idealistic fiction that we so desperately and wrongly want. But on the other, maybe it is more like we would be if we availed ourselves to more grace. Meanwhile we should fake it? Or take the leap of faith that that is reality and not our overly-negative evaluations? I think it’s more like letting your children beat you in a game, which my husband very cheerfully does. I feel like I compromise my identity if I do that.

I also saw a documentary on a woman with Alzheimers made by her son. At the beginning she is combative and uncooperative with accepting her new condition. But there’s one splice where she changes, where she seemed to realize that she was being unloving and would have to act more cheerful and sort of give up on having her own way. Even she, with her new difficulties, was capable of learning to control herself. I don’t get the feeling that it exhausted her though. It was more like she quit struggling, even though it made her sad, but she didn’t want to be so sad for her family’s sake, so she put a very brave face on it.