So – upon reflection, and after reading through that last Ramble I posted, I’ve come to a very crystal clear conclusion about myself:
I sure as shit hate me some motherfucking Cornelius Fakers.
Allow me to break down the etymology/Seanism for you – a Cornelius Faker is someone who is not who they present themselves to be. Taken from Fight Club, when Ed Norton’s character in the movie scribbles “Cornelius” on his name-tag at the Men Together Support Group meeting, and Meatloaf’s character – Bob – says to him upon looking down at his name-tag – “It’s okay, Cornelius – you can cry.” We all know what a Faker is – so, me being me, I slammed those two words together and came up with Cornelius Faker, which can be used to describe someone who is basically masquerading as something they are not.
There are plenty Cornelius Fakers running around out there in the world, free as a bird, not being held accountable for their fakery and their petty deceptions. I mean – let’s get on Front Street here – I was a Cornelius Faker for years. Full of so much shit that I couldn’t stand to be in the same room as my fakery, the stink of my lies oozing out of me like the sweat of ten thousand Phish fans at a festival in the middle of the desert in July. I lived that life for quite some time, actually – running game on people, making up who I was with each new smiling face I encountered. I think it was mostly out of insecurity, with a smidge of boredom thrown in for good stoner logic measure. Seriously – what was more fun when stoned out of your mind than creating a new persona to wow yourself with?
I had no shame. Truly.
I used to fake people out with all sorts of ridiculous shit. I remember once being at a house party, and telling someone that I had just met that I was writing a book from the point of view of a midget porn star. I explained, in very stoned but glorious detail, how I had come to the realization that these little studs were the norm in skin flicks from the mid-to-late 70s. Every fuck film from that era always had some weird scene where there was a little dude getting blown in the background by some blonde starlet – I used Behind The Green Door as an example of what I was riffing on, although the couple I was talking to had never seen the movie – which was perfect for my ruse.
See? Mission Accomplished! I was able to get attention through my Cornelius Fakery.
And that’s really what this type of humanimal is all about – attention. They are usually pretty bright people to begin with, but they lack the social skills and the ability to articulate their lot in life without the crutch of being full of shit. I don’t want to go whole hog and say that all Cornelius Fakers are sociopaths, but that wouldn’t be too far off. Most of them live in this really dark and focused tunnel, where all they see is their con or game playing out – they miss all the nuances and details of the things happening around them. Daily life shit, like what their friends actually think of them. Hell – two of my closest friends when I was in my mid twenties tried to talk to me about this shit one night, and it took years for it to register – I was that deep in it.
But – the lights did come on in my head. Around the time I hit thirty or so, I started to live on Front Street. I stopped bullshitting people. I stopped creating elaborate tales to try and make myself seem like a much more interesting person. I was already interesting. I was already “cool.” I didn’t need to come up with all that fake shit to be Sean – the real shit that I had gone through was totally and ultimately way more entertaining than any ruse or tale I could conjure up. I could hold up my end of a conversation without commandeering it with some fake-ass shit to make motherfuckers pay attention to me.
I learned to breathe and listen.
In this super-infused-with-every-miniscule-detail-that-ever-happened Interweb Generation we currently live in, it is very easy for a Cornelius Faker to sneak up on unsuspecting people and steal their attention. I know – it has happened to me, more than once.
I got conned pretty fucking hardcore back in 2005. And, unlike other motherfuckers – I ain’t too proud to lie – it was a woman who burned my ass. Well, I am pretty sure it was. I met her in an online community of sorts, where everyone has profiles, like MySpace or Facebook – but this one was geared toward people of a different lifestyle. I had been on the site for a few years, and had amassed a decent number of friends/people that I knew – some of them even in Real Life. I had just found myself on the ass-end of a shitacular relationship that had ended in a really terrible and torturous manner. I was fragile. I was lonely. I was easy pickings.
It started off pretty innocently – messaging back and forth. You know – regular random shit that people do when they are trying to connect with another person. Likes, dislikes, all that junk. We’ve all been there, right? She touched on all of the emotional pressure points that I needed to have touched at that time – telling me she liked my writing, that I was “hot,” that she agreed with the way I saw the world. It was like virtually meeting someone who got “it.” That’s what so many of us use The Interweb for – to make some kind of connection with people that lets us know we’re not alone, that tells us we’re not so freakish and scary – hence, all those sites for Furries and all of those sites for Neo-Cons.
After a while, it became pretty apparent that this woman and I needed to meet. She supposedly lived here in NYC, and the cell number she gave me was for this area. We talked on the phone a few times late at night – her tiny little voice so cute and weird at the same time. She was supposedly a photographer, and taught classes at Parsons Design School – and even had a gig for me as an assistant, since I was having a hard time finding work at this point.
When I went to Parsons one afternoon to surprise her – they had no idea who the fuck I was talking about.
Riding the train back to Bensonhurst, I came to the realization that I had probably just been burned. This person never had any intentions of meeting up with me – all of the shit she said was probably bogus. I asked a friend of mine if he had ever talked to her, and he was hysterical – she had been sort of playing the both of us. We decided that night to fuck with her head a little bit, to get a little bit of Brooklyn Justice going for us.
With all of the hurricane of the death swirling around me – I kind of ignored her calls/texts/messages. I wasn’t in any kind of space to listen to anyone at that point. I was in the midst of one of my biggest and most disturbing freak-outs of all time. I was still reeling from the death of my grandmother, the death of my failed relationship, and then the death of my friend – and I came to the brilliant decision to move my ass down to Fayetteville, Arkansas – to get away and collect my head, my soul. Plenty of my friends were aghast at my decision, but they were all smart enough to know I was freaking out, and needed the space to freak out.
So I moved.
It wasn’t necessarily the smartest thing I have ever done – but it served it’s purpose. I was able to get my head together. So much so, that when she made another attempt at conning me – I was ready this time.
You see, she created another bogus profile. And she came after me again. I even started to fall for it, until I started noticing subtle nuances in her messages – nuances that led me to believe it was her all over again. This time, she was pretending to be a girl who had brain cancer – she even went so far as to steal some girl’s brain scans that had been posted on the internet somewhere, and tried to pass them off as hers. Me, being the late-night paranoid motherfucker I am, well – I was able to blow those fuckers up and pull the right name off of them. I contacted the girl the scans belonged to. I told her what was up, and she e-mailed me back, saying that this person had been stealing all of her information over the last few weeks, trying to take her entire identity.
I decided to go along with the plan that my late friend and I had agreed upon – pretending like everything was all hunky-dory, and that she had conned me. So she would get lazy. I sent her my number late one night, and she called. Sure enough, on the other end of the phone was the same tiny and odd little voice. She confessed to creating that fake profile to talk to me. She confessed to stealing some poor girl’s identity. She confessed to only wanting to know why I had stopped talking to her in the first place. I played it all off like it was no big deal at all – letting her get good and comfortable with all of it. I told her that my father was sick, and that I was coming back up to NYC for a few days before heading to Santa Fe to take care of him, and that we should get lunch so we could talk about all of this in person. She agreed.
OF COURSE, the plans she and I tried to make when I was in NYC fell through on her end – she had something that always seemed to come up. I told her not to worry, that we would work it all out when I got back up after taking care of him. I went to Santa Fe, dealt with the hardest shit I have ever dealt with in my entire life, and then scooted back up to The City.
We would talk a lot. She would text me at all hours of the day or night. She was constantly e-mailing me pictures of her in NYC, trying to quell the questions I had in me about her real whereabouts – since I had become quite crafty, and was tracking her IP Address, which resolved to just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. I asked her what she was doing in Wisconsin one night on the phone, and the connection suddenly went dead. I tried calling her back, but she let it go straight to voicemail. This pattern continued for a few days, until I had the miraculous epiphany of all epiphanies.
Most people, and I’m sorry to say this, are not very smart when it comes to passwords and things of that nature. A mobile carrier will always set a phone’s password to *1234 for every phone – it’s just how they do it. And a lot of people never think to change it. They figure nobody can get into that shit, right?
The next time I called her and it went to her voicemail, I punched the numbers in and waited. The automated voice told me she had 13 unheard messages. 13? This was excellent news. I sat there on my bed, smoking and chuckling as I heard dude after dude asking her where she was – each one of them using a different name for her. Her voicemail was set up in a way that it read the number the message came from before hearing the actual message. I started writing the numbers down, corresponding them with the names these poor bastards were using for her. I did this for a few days, compiling a list that would eventually have seven dudes on it – five from NYC, one from Florida, and one from over in Scotland.
I knew I was about to flip the script on her. I was just waiting for the right time, the perfect moment when an opponent leaves themselves too open, where one magical and well-placed blow will end the whole dance. I had all the cards now. I could, at any moment, do the simplest thing like placing a call to one of the dudes, and blowing her entire little game up. But I was being patient. I was waiting for her to really slip up.
I know it sounds like I was obsessed and maybe even a little mentally unstable – which is probably true. My father had just died, and here I was, drowning my sorrows in whiskey, Xanax, reefer, and a wild goose chase with a Cornelius Faker of a girl who really didn’t deserve a nanosecond of my time. Hell – I was even taking calls from her while loaded at the bar, and begging her to come and meet me, knowing all the while that she would never do such a thing – she was not real.
Every now and then on the phone with her, I would let a name slide on out of my mouth – one of the names of the other dudes she was running her game on – like, “Yeah, my boy XXXXX down in Florida was telling me about some chick named XXXXX that he’s been talking to. She sounds like a real piece of work. I hope he doesn’t get burned again – he can’t take much more of that kind of shit,” and then she would react all freaked-out and hang up, only to call back ten or fifteen minutes later saying she had “lost her signal” or some other shit. It was seriously the best cat and mouse game I had ever been involved in, yet I knew all along I had won.
I finally blew her up one night when I was really good and hammered, laying into her about the ways in which people like her hurt people, about how she abused and destroyed someone’s trust. I told her that I had contacted the girl that she had stolen the brain scans from, and about how my late friend and I knew what she was doing months and months earlier, and about how I was just carrying out the string of what he and I had discussed that night. I told her that I had the names and numbers of the other dudes she was playing, and read them off to her one by one, listening to the sound of her whimpering and crying on the other end of the phone.
“Why? Why are you doing this to me? Please don’t call them! Please!!!”
Those were the last words I ever heard her say. I hung up the phone in between her sobs and gasps, feeling like I had done what I had set out to do. There was no need for me to call any of those dudes – they needed to figure the shit out on their own. Not my problem. I was able to free myself of this Cornelius Faker, this terribly wired emotional terrorist – freeing myself also from the feelings I had somehow developed for someone so twisted and full of lies. Yes – I had feelings for her. Those types of people always prey on our feelings. Sad, but a terrible truth.
After all of that – I am always a little leery of anyone who enters into my little world. Can you blame me? This world is overflowing with Cornelius Fakers, people trying to suck the energy and goodness right out of you through your little flat-screen monitors. Yes, I know that we’re all Nigerian Millionaires in waiting – we just need to send that initial wire transfer over there to unlock all that loot we’ve been promised. But at least in those cases – we know what we’re dealing with. Right? A Cornelius Faker is a little harder to spot at first – but I know how. I really do. If you ever find yourself wondering if someone you’re dealing with is one – shoot me an e-mail. I’ll gladly help you suss it out.
Cornelius Fakers. Sociopaths. See?
Be careful out there.