PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

A dear friend of mine is currently experiencing an acquaintance (by proxy, really, it would be far too generous to even call this person any name under the friend umbrella) who is copying most of the aspects of her life. She gets a new job, the other girl switches jobs. She gets engaged, the other girl gets engaged. She takes up spinning, the other girl takes up spinning. She thinks about selling her homespun yarn, the other girl muses about creating her own business, selling - shocker - homespun yarn. Interestingly, this happened to another dear friend of mine - anything she did, the co-worker had to do, too. It practically drove her "underground" - she didn't want to share things because she knew they'd be replicated within a week!

Now, I am not saying I am 100% completely constructed of original thought. Quite frankly, I believe I have an excellent balance between self-driven concepts and those that are copycat. We all are copycats, to some extent - after all, in a free society, an exchange of ideas is expected. So much so, we have patent laws and copyright laws, just to punish those who try to be accomplished without doing the work! But haven't we all had that one person, made even worse when it's a friend, who insists on doing, being, living EVERYTHING you are doing? It's like someone's trying to steal your skin and live in it, and then where does that leave you, just slopping around like a background dancer in a Robbie Williams video, tearing out chunks of yourself & flinging them at the camera out of frustration? It sucks, and it's been my experience, that the friendship ends.

The person who liberally helped themself to my ideas, style, and life eventually got kicked to the curb. She loved my apartment, so she rented one in the same building. We were friends, so it seemed fun, at that point. But then the pattern got established - I got a cat? She got a cat. I shopped for (fill in the blank), she got one the next weekend. I bought a new car? She bought a new car. It never ended. Gratefully, she moved away, and one of her truer personality traits shone brightly through the facade she had patchworked over herself: cheapness. If there is one thing I can really get behind hating, it's being cheap. Not broke. Broke is forgivable. Cheap. Cheap means you have money, but you just won't part with it, no matter the circumstance. Cheap means not paying people well even if your own net worth from their work is in the gajillions. Cheap is when you break something, and you don't buy a new one. Cheap is telling someone you'll pay them X amount to do something, and later go back on it and try to nickel & dime the situation. ("I'll pay you $15 for gas." Fifteen minutes later: "No, actually, I'll pay you $5 for gas.") She was infamous for this, and she pulled a fast one on me, at the last minute, and at that point? I was done. She was toxic, besides being cheap. I am all for frugal, and finding the deals and being a power shopper - but don't be cheap. It reeks of bad breeding and you soon discover you have no one to go to dinner with, like, ever.

I joked with my friend (the one who's being copied) about how I'm also copying her - we're both knitting a particular shawl/wrap, both knitting it out of Noro, bought from the same online retailer. But she also knows I do plenty of other things off in my own direction, and it's part of the froth & fun of our knitting gal-pals: you see someone working on something that's so ass-slappingly gorgeous, you just have to make one for yourself! And we're not doing the same color, for pete's sake. My friend Kim finished the most gorgeous cabled scarf, and I might have to be making one of those, too. It's affirmation and adulation - and part of the "knit klatch" mentality.

Every one of my friends (knitting & otherwise) is an individual first, and a follower second, and perhaps that is the difference to me. For me, imitation CAN be a form of flattery, but in small doses. If you spend more time imitating, than being yourself, then you are not real. You are a shadow, always a few beats behind, striving like mad to ignore who you really are.
posted by PlazaJen, 6:31 AM