I have an inside voice and outside voice. I also have an inside face and a mask that I wear outside. I believe most people with any self control show the world only the mask they want to project. Masks can take years to perfect, and I’ve found its easier to have several different masks. I have a professional mask that I wear at work, displaying no sign of weakness. I have a friend mask, compassionate and serine. I have the room mom mask, but it’s cracked and a little worn. What I need is a femme fatale mask…perhaps someday. 

We all know that our children watch and mirror our behaviors. I knew my children were mirroring my behavior by wearing masks outside the house the first time I went to a parent teacher conference. I love my children, and I’m proud of them, but the people these teachers were describing, people who answered to my children’s names, were not the children who lived in my house. “Shy, polite, selfless, quiet, sensitive, such a cool kid, always helpful”—these are not the faces I see, but if they are selling it, I am happy. It is after all preferable behavior to what they exhibit at home. 

I’ve mentioned several times that two of my children are preparing to attend out of state schools this fall. The price tag attached to this experience makes me physically ill, and if we can pull it off, the debt they take on will be considerable. We’ve attended tours and financial counselling, open houses, and I have been paying deposits, looking at deadlines and re-checking information to try to catch any cataclysmic mistakes, because I want them to have the best possible experiences. 

That is when I saw it…the roommate match form. At first I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. Was this a sample form, an example provided to show how to answer the questions? No, this was real. My child was the author of this form. Fiction. I called her into the room and asked her if she had submitted it yet, and she had. In so doing, she answered the age old question: How do college kids end up with roommates with whom they are completely incompatible? 

This form was obviously filled out by her while she was wearing her outside mask. She answered the questions as if she were creating a perfect mythical roommate that anyone, including myself, would love to have. In the category of cleanliness for example, she described herself on as scale of 1-10 as a 10. 10—the most anal retentive, OCD, scrubbed and ready for surgery clean! I haven’t seen this child’s bedroom floor in seven years. Her response to my questioning her on this matter was denial…denying that her room is, and has for years been a mess, denying that she is not a morning person, essentially denying herself a compatible roommate. 

I went in search of my other child’s questionnaire and found that she had also embellished her cleanliness quotient exponentially. I truly believe there are human bodies in the final stages of decomposition in her bedroom, but she gave herself a 6. I threw up my arms in disgust, because their messy bedrooms have been our foremost bone of contention since the first spike of estrogen when puberty set in. 

I attempted to reason with my little imposters. It is after all one thing to wear a mask outside, but you will have to take it off to breathe once in a while. They stood firm in their resolve. I can only hope they are paired with similarly delusional masked people.  

April 27, 2016, Daily One Word Prompt: Mask~ <a href=””>Mask</a&gt;


4 thoughts on “Imposters

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