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Sat, Jun. 19th, 2004, 02:42 am
Playing 'pretend'

We've all done it, right? Played 'pretend' with our friends on the playground. Or, for those unfortunates who shunned interaction at those tender ages, with your imaginary friends. I know now why most adults will encourage children to play this silly game. It's not because it 'develops creativity' as they would claim. No. It is, in fact, a direct life lesson. Once you've learned how to pretend, it becomes a matter of daily upkeep.

When I was in elementary school, my friends and I would pretend to be the heros of whatever popular cartoon of the moment was. He-Man, She-Ra, Thundercats. Those were the main three, though there were others. We'd fight the Evil Horde®, save the Town/Princess/Friend threatened, and then throw a little party celebrating our great victory. Those were wonderful days.

Now, even though I'm much, much older, I'm still pretending. Most of it is inconsequencial. I pretend that I'm a different person in a different world a few times a month, also known as role-playing. I pretend to have an interest in things my customers say to me about their lives and why they are bothering me. But it doesn't stop there.

Pretending becomes a habit not unlike smoking in that once you start, it's quite dificult to stop. Not to mention painful in those early days. I pretend to have an interest in many things, including golf, sex, life, and my work. I pretend to enjoy doing little things to make other people happy, more often than not, depending on the person. I also pretend to believe that stopping my medications, not ending my existence, and not caring what others think about me are good things I have accomplished.

Or maybe it's not so much a habit but a reflex of biology. Or maybe a sociological conditioning that keeps us all from killing one another, most of the time. So why doesn't either of those explanations of why I pretend to things make me feel better about doing it?

Maybe I'd just better pretend that pretending is just fine.