6.24.2012

Preacher’s Wife Unplugged: Can You Keep it Real Without Being a Jerk?

Fake is out. Authenticity is in. And to prove it, there’s a popular catchphrase floating around: “I’m just keepin’ it real.”

It usually comes on the heels of statements that are shocking, gross, offensive, or extremely personal. But if ycoffeeou tack “keepin’ it real” on the end, you get a free pass to say it anyway!

Here are some examples of its usage:
“Sorry, I can’t make it to your Tupperware party. I’d rather have a root canal. Just keepin’ it real!”

“Ooooo, hey buddy! 1989 called. It wants those shorts back. Just keepin’ it real!”

“Man, my hemorrhoids are really acting up! Just keepin’ it real!”

So now that we have such a useful phrase at our disposal, we can over-share, say what we really think, and eliminate all vestiges of tactfulness without remorse!

Because nobody likes fakers. And nobody wants to be one. So let’s make sure that everyone knows we are the real deal by employing “JKIR” at every opportunity!

But I’m a preacher’s wife in a small southern town. Can you imagine what would happen if I were to “keep it real” around here on that kind of level? Oh, the calamity that would befall us all! I won't go into the possibilities here. That would be a little too…real.

Is that to say I’m faking it?

I hope not. In all seriousness, I do want to be real here in this town. Not necessarily in a “JKIR” kind of way. A better word is transparent, although “just keepin’ it transparent” does not have the same ring to it. My new friends sometimes make good-natured apologies to me for their own “realness” around me, their preacher’s wife, and I chide them for it. I don’t want them to put on an act because I don’t want to put on one, either. 

But being yourself can be risky.

Downton Abbey_1 Over the past several weeks, I have been fascinated by the PBS series Downton Abbey. It’s the off-season right now, but I have caught up by watching all the previous episodes online. It’s the story of a family of World War I era aristocrats in England who live in a palatial home, wear fabulous clothes, and are served by innumerable valets and maids and chauffeurs. Most British dramas are suffocatingly boring and plodding, but this one is captivating. 

It was an era of such civility and respectfulness - something to be admired, considering that it is no more. But it is so evident that the Downton crowd is so stuffy, so polite, so right-acting all the time, they experience all kinds of conflicts because of their constraints. The Downtonians, for the most part, do not keep it real or transparent at ALL.

So here are the top 10 ways I’m keepin’ it real on my blog today:

10. Playing the piano on Sundays is kind of fun. When my palms aren’t sweating so badly from nerves that my fingers slip off the keys. Just keepin’ it real.

9. No, my husband does not practice his sermons on me. That would be super weird and awkward. You’ve all asked me that, so now I’m keepin’ it real.

8. Sitting on the front pew every week feels pretty exposed. Kids beside me, choir in front of me, everybody else behind me. Another good reason to play the piano. Just keepin’ it real.

7. I have no idea about a lot of the church goings-on. Some things I do, but not all things. Maybe I should, but I don’t always. Sometimes folks think I know stuff, so if a question comes up and all heads swivel to me, I frequently shrug, smile, and shake my head. “Now, when is that church picnic again?” Uhhhhh…dunno!  (Smile.)  Just keepin’ it real.

6. There’s a good chance I know your face, but I don’t know your name. I want to. I really do. But I’m not nearly as good with names as you-know-who. Help me. Please. Just keepin’ it real.

5. I was on Facebook, then I deleted Facebook, then I was on Pinterest, then I deleted Pinterest, then I deleted my old twitter, then I started a new twitter, then I got back on Facebook. It’s all very complicated. We can discuss over coffee. Just keepin’ it real.

4. Yes, I really would love to have coffee with you. Decaf. I've got that mitral valve thing. Just keepin’ it real.

3. Yes, the rumor that I went on a cruise with the New Kids on the Block is true. I would be glad to discuss that too, although you might not be. Just keepin’ it real.

2. I am really bad at making tablescapes. Just keepin’ it real.

1. I did not grow up here like everybody else. But I am grateful to those who have welcomed an outsider with open arms. Even one who’s an Auburn fan. Just keepin’ it real…until next time.

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