Thursday, November 5, 2009

You are what you .... Eat? Wear? Drive?

He who walks through life as a chameleon sometimes goes to great lengths to present both an appearance and a persona to fit the occasion. Here is a photograph of Fram, taken while on the road (slightly off it at that precise moment) during a recent excursion. Judging solely from his appearance, it probably is safe to assume he was recognized by few and adored by many while on this trip, and that this "boy racer's" style of driving was somewhat more "accelerated" in an Audi than it would have been in a Chevrolet Suburban.
The chameleon returns .... well, sort of ....
It was not too long ago that I was writing an email and I made this comment: "I am melancholy, but happy, if that makes sense. A paradox. It comes whenever I listen to the music of Boston, which I am doing." Another day, I said I needed to play some heavy-duty rock and roll to prepare myself to be "warlike," so as to be in the proper frame of mind for cheering on the New York Yankees in the World Series. These are not the first times I have said such words in respect to the emotional effects of music, and it hardly is an original thought. After all, once upon a time someone noted, "Music soothes the savage ...."

More recently, again while writing an email after having sold my Chevrolet Suburban, I made this comment: "I should have sold the Ford Mustang and the Audi, and kept the Suburban, I think. The Suburban was more me, and I do not drive crazy in it like I often do in the Mustang and the Audi. Style and mannerisms in dress, in vehicles, in music -- in many things -- affect one's attitudes and behavior more than commonly realized, I believe. I drive like a teenage nut case in my Audi, and like a mature, well-mannered adult in my Suburban."

Image is one of the magic words here. Attitudes and behavior patterns are other key terms in the sense they are influenced by the image we desire, and vise versa. Some examples:

I have a well-worn, black, leather jacket. Some might describe it as a biker's jacket, and it shows the wear on its front that only miles riding against the wind can make upon leather. At times when I wear my hair "a bit longer than the norm," I am more inclined to wear this jacket while out and about than I otherwise am when my hair is cut rather short. Visualize the image, if you would: Biker jacket, jeans, cowboy boots, hair over my shoulders and probably sunglasses. Then imagine my attitude and my behavior, even my speech and my gestures. A chameleon passes among you.

In other moods, I will wear a Marine Corps T-shirt or battle jacket when I stroll the shopping markets. The Marine Corps elements affect my attitude and my behavior differently than does my biker jacket or, going the opposite direction, than does wearing a pin-striped, navy blue suit. Similarly, I might not only appear to be, but actually take on, the persona of entirely different people when I wear cowboy boots in contrast to when I am wearing running shoes. We all do, do we not? Or not? As I wander through the sea of blogs, I wonder how accurate a portrait many internet authors present of themselves.

The interesting part about this, of course, is not only how a piece of clothing will alter attitude and behavior, but how the image presented will influence the reaction of people encountered.

Lightning strikes! After all these months, I am drifting back into thinking and writing about the chameleon mode again -- the reporter as a chameleon. Do you remember him? I dress and act and talk like the image I wish to portray, like the person I wish you to think I am, to accomplish the results I wish to achieve. One day, the reporter wears a leather jacket, jeans and boots to interview a drug dealer; the next day, the reporter dresses in a three-piece suit to interview a bank president. In its most elemental form, the idea is to look, act and talk like the person being interviewed in order to win his confidence and trust.

So, then, there is one consistent element in my life, it seems: The chameleon, or, to take it even one step further, the masked chameleon. By all means, lift the mask and reveal tomorrow. Where have I heard that before?

In this instance, though, my thoughts today originate from questioning how the chameleon persona might affect the individual who is one -- his attitudes and his behaviors -- rather than how it influences the people he encounters and interacts with along the path he travels. Absolutely "fascinating," to revive an oft-used word from the chameleon's past. It might be worth writing a post about someday .... somewhere .... over the rainbow ....


Natalie said...

Herr Fram, thank you, as always.

You wrote here “wonder how accurate a portrait many internet authors present of themselves” – people portray the image they like, unless one is Vincent van Gogh… we all are the same chameleon species with only one difference: some are proud of it (!), some may never admit or never realize that.

An Interpreter???? – Where?

P.S. Did you know that plants like/don’t mind blues and jazz but cannot stand heavy-duty rock (it actually kill them)??!!

Fram Actual said...

I think the problem rests not in whether one is or is not a chameleon (or acknowledges it to self and/or others), but, rather, in the ability of an individual to recognize those chameleons who attempt to befriend (or to seduce), and whose motivation is malevolent. Unfortunately, the "average" person, it seems to me, is unable (or unwilling) to make such a determination, and cannot recognize a benefactor from a charlatan.

As for music, Natalie, you have just pointed out why plants will never inherit the earth.

Seriously, there are forms of rock and roll I cannot stand, and "heavy duty" was different in the 1970s than in the 1990s, so it is difficult to generalize. But, some rock and roll is magic, for instance. Some is prophetic, some is poetic, some is just plain fun. Under the latter category, I offer, "I'm in Love with My Car:"

I'm in love with my car
Gotta feel for my automobile
Get a grip on my boy racer rollbar
Such a thrill when your radials squeal

Told my girl I'll have to forget her
Rather buy me a new carburetor
So she made tracks sayin
This is the end now
Cars don't talk back
They're just four wheeled friends now

Something special ....