It can be great fun to dress up or disguise ourselves as someone else. Putting ourselves in their shoes and catching others off guard, for a moment or perhaps much longer. Being Jackie O for a night was a high time for me; standing on a busy subway platform with ivory-gloved hands and a pearl-draped neck is a fine way to reap some double takes. This morning I won one from myself, which was both a little disconcerting and amusing all at once.
I went for a haircut yesterday afternoon, and in a fit of zealous instruction asked that the woman cut those unwieldy locks down to well-humbled lengths. Twice I asked her to snip more off the back. I was determined to win the silent battle waged daily between my vanity and my wayward hair, but I slid down from the old barber shop chair feeling only halfway triumphant. She had blown dry the new cut into a meringue of fluff on top, so I couldn't be sure if I liked what she'd done or not. It felt good to be shorn, but Patricio's sideways glance let me know that I wasn't radiating "glamorous" from the head. I tried taming the poof as soon as we climbed into the car, smoothing my hands over hair while squinting into the sun visor's tiny mirror. There wasn't much to be done, though. That hair dryer had frozen the pastry topping look into an stubborn, unyielding position.
And then this morning, the bathroom mirror revealed that I had become someone else. My bed hair can achieve astounding results, and this morning, staring back at me was none other than Morrissey, come back from his fame-rocket days with The Smiths. While living in England for a semester, I would fantasize about running into him on a London street, back for a visit from his home in L.A. It never happened, but today my dream was oh, so belatedly fulfilled. I had become the Pope of Mope myself. I took advantage of the opportunity to croon a beautiful rendition of "Girlfriend in a Coma" for the bookshelf. I think it might go down as a great moment in indie rock history.
I've since worked the hair into a more Audry Hepburny look, but I confess that the Morrissey me was a good bit of fun. And fun seems to be the keyword, too, in another big disguise. I've spent considerable blocks of time over the last two days watching Borat videos on YouTube, laughing out loud and doing a successful job of convincing myself that spending three hours clicking on "Borat Dating Service," "Borat About Britain," and "Borat Hunting" was not at all a waste of time. Satire can be like candy, as luscious as Morrissey's lyrics, and I'm often a sucker for its taste. People like Sacha Baron Cohen--who can make us look in the metaphorical mirror to our own disconcertion and amusement--are good to have around. We're fallible, and it's refreshingly nice to laugh about it and then turn around and think twice.
There's a show that airs on Thursday nights here on Televisa's channel 5, and I think of it as Borat's Mexican spirit. Facundo is the host of Incógnito, a variety show that highlights satire in spots like "Que lo hagan ellas" (Let the Girls Do It), "Mi papá es un duende" (My Dad is an Elf), and "Untranseunte" (A Passer-by).
He shares much with Borat in the "Untranseunte" sketches, when he disguises himself and lets his antics loose to gauge the public's reaction; as an Italian, he trashes Mexico to the folks he runs into; as an abusive father, he smacks his kid around the street; as a human trafficker, he tries to sell a woman as household help. Most who react are noble, but for some of the more weaselly, the jig is hilariously up.
In the "Mi papá es un duende" spots, Facundo becomes Jaime Duende, an alcoholic malacopa elf with a prostate problem, letting loose the full range of machista absurdity on whomever he comes into contact. And then he pees on himself. It's over the top, supremely offensive, and often terribly funny. I can assure you that not a single person in Mexico doesn't know at least a few people who harbor some of Duende's characteristics within themselves. Sometimes it might even be us.
Fun is poked at machismo in "Que lo hagan ellas," too. Facundo transforms into a pompous, skeevy rich guy in a robe, holding a brandy snifter within inches of his face, and taking self-important, contemplative sips as he stoops to solve the problems of the common world. He assures us all that he can take care of the issue, but "wouldn't it be better," he contends huskily, "if we let the girls do it." Whether it's to help a woman go shopping with her husband or repairing a poor schmo's car, the two hotties in question work their woman-as-object magic to the tune of Gorillaz's "Feel Good Inc." After the whipped cream has flown and the girls are down to utter bikini-ness, Facundo accepts the thanks with a reminder that the schmo is still a schmo. And then we realize that, in the end, we're all kind of schmoes. We laugh at it, but deep down, we know we still buy into it. That Facundo is one sharp piece of work.
He may have a slowly receding hairline, making it less and less likely (oh, my, I really do hope) that I'll wake up one morning and have my reflection staring back at me as a dead ringer for Facundo, but his candid extroversion and unfailing aplomb make his work a Thursday evening treat. Sacha Baron Cohen and he would become fast friends, I'm sure, and the human foibles they cleverly fish out are raw ingredients for Morrissey's next hit.