My secret identity (continued)
As Brian, Berley could do almost anything he wanted …
In the first part of this article, which was published in November, I was jealous of my best friend Kevin—every girl wanted to get with him. I decided to try being like him. When I went to the mall dressed up like him, at first nothing happened, but then some girl came over to talk to me. I thought she was just playing with me, so I told her my name was Brian, and I figured I’d never hear from her—but she called me that night!
After my article was published, I got the following e-mail from "Chimzi" Wami at L.A.C.E.S.: "Berley, I feel that you shouldn’t have changed your appearance for others. I know this is cliché but what’s on the inside does count … for me it does. I hope that when I open the next edition of L.A. Youth to read the conclusion of your article you tell that girl that your name isn’t Brian and that you are really Berley, and that she should take it or leave it."
Another reader wrote to me with her guess about how things would turn out: Rachel Cox of North High in Torrance said, "I have a feeling his relationship based on lies won’t succeed any more than his previous relationships based on insecurity."
I hooked up with the girl for a couple weeks and we talked a lot over the phone. Eventually we sort of got bored with each other and she stopped calling me. I never told her the truth about my real name. It was like that line from the movie The Talented Mr. Ripley, "I always thought it would better to be a fake somebody, than a real nobody."
All summer long, I went to the mall and other places as Brian. Since I figured girls like older guys I claimed that I was two years older than I really was. I was tall for my age so I got away with it. Brian gave me a certain confidence that I didn’t have as Berley. I went with one girl after another, meeting at the park, holding hands, making out in the bleachers. None of the relationships ever lasted for more than two weeks. But these relationships didn’t mean anything because I was lying in all of them. They were based on looks rather than love. It’s strange, sometimes even after I broke up with a girl, she’d still want to talk to Brian. I felt special and wanted.
Of course, not everything worked out as planned. I still had to deal with certain problems. There were times when girls would call and my parents would pick up and say, "No, there is no Brian here." My dad got suspicious and asked me if I knew anybody named Brian. I said it must a wrong number or a neighbor’s number or something.
As for the girls, I told them my parents were people renting the house with us and they didn’t really know me. The girls fell for it, which totally shocked me. I wouldn’t fall for something that lame in my life, but oh well. I told the girls to call me late when my parents had gone to bed.
I had to keep Brian secret
I was hell bent on keeping this whole charade secret, especially from my parents. In order to see the girls, I’d ask my dad if I could go to a friend’s house. I’d go over there, stay for an hour, then go meet the girl, or girls. After I hung out with her for a while, I’d come back to my friend’s house late, at six or seven, hang out for a while, play basketball, and my parents would come pick me up. It worked out perfectly.
As Brian, I could do and say almost anything I wanted and the girls would lap it up. Sometimes I’d hang out with a girl’s friends also. I could put my arm around them, lay my head in their laps, have them sit on my lap. Every joke I told, they’d laugh like it was the funniest thing they had ever heard in their lives. It felt great, but later on it was depressing.
Girls say they want a nice guy, but that’s bull. As Brian I was a jerk. Once on the bus I got in an argument with Brian’s girlfriend. Brian said, "Forget you," and called her friend over to where he was sitting. He started hugging the other girl and messing around right in front of his girlfriend. His girlfriend was upset but with her friends giggling, she forgave me.
Brian did everything I was against, but when I was a nice guy, no one really cared. But when I was a jerk, I’d get attention for it. It made me realize how shallow people can be sometimes. Because they thought Brian was cool, those girls let him do whatever he wanted. Of course, Brian got rejected sometimes too, but since it wasn’t me I didn’t really care.As the Brian thing went along, I had to spend a lot more time on my appearance. It took me forever to figure out what to wear, when to wear it and how to wear it. As Berley, I’d used to fall out of bed, put on whatever and go out. Brian was different. It took him hours to get ready. Everything he wore had to be trendy, clean and nothing less than perfect. He studied clothing in magazines, music videos and other forms of teen mass media. I asked my parents for more clothes, and even did odd jobs for them to get the money for it. I had to spend time shopping for the perfect pants, the right shirts and of course my athletic shoes had to be spotless.
Brian was getting on my nerves
In order to have a really good conversation with some of the girls, I used to force myself to watch those pointless teen soap operas like "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Melrose Place" and predictable teen movies. I barely had time to do the "immature" things I really wanted to do, like read comic books and watch cartoons. My friends used to get mad because I was never around as much as I used to be.
I had to spend all my money on Brian’s stuff—clothes, food, transportation and of course the girls—which left me penniless practically every day.
One day, when Brian and a group of girls were taking the bus home, they saw a guy on the street, a stereotypical geek. The girls pointed.
"Oh look at him. Look at his glasses. His high-water pants. The way he slouches. His teeth." They all started laughing. Every single thing about him they laughed at. I felt bad for him. I don’t like to judge people, because I know what it’s like to be judged. I wish I could take every good-looking girl and make her look ugly and have her walk down the street and get laughed at and see how she feels.
Brian already had two girlfriends, when one day he saw yet another girl at the mall. She had long hair. In her lavender midriff top and short skirt, she was—whoa! Very attractive. She came over and asked what time it was.
I told her the time.
"Oh, OK." She looked away.
I wondered why she was still standing next to me. Did she want to talk? I already gave her the time. What more did she want? So I decided to talk to her.
"Hey, what’s your name?" We started talking about school, life, where we lived. I figured that was it, I started to walk away, and she said, "Hey, where you going?"
Brian said, "I’m gonna get something to eat and see a movie. Want to come along?"
We ate together, laughing. I had $23. I treated her to the movie. Then I started to act goofy—"C’mon Madam." I put my arm around her, acting like a pretend couple. We laughed at everything in that movie.
Before we left Brian said, "Can I call you sometime?" She wrote down her number. I gave her mine, and told her to call me around 9:30 or 9:45 (that’s when my parents are in bed). I kissed her on the cheek and I left.
We started to get serious
She officially became my girlfriend three days later.
"You are so weird and goofy."
"Look who’s talking."
Then I kissed her, just to see what she would say. Then we had this big long kiss.
"Wow, what does this mean?"
"What do you think it means?"
"OK, come on, wife, let’s go find something to do." And we hung out for the rest of the day. We started talking every day. I used to tease her about everything, like her habit of painting her toes all different colors.
I figured she was just messing around with me, but the following week, on the bus on the way home from a movie, she was laying her head on my shoulder and holding hands. She said, "I love you, Brian." What bothered me was not the words but she acted like she meant it. Other girls told Brian they loved him but they sounded like they were joking.
I was acting cool and suave and making jokes. I said, "I love you too." I felt sick, a terrible pain from my head to my toes. A great feeling of guilt.
I sucked it up and made another joke. "Ah, your hair, you have cool hair." Stroking her head, I killed the mood. She just started laughing and we talked about something else.
When I got home it started to get to me—she liked Brian, not Berley!
What should I do?
After that I had a bad feeling. The angel on one shoulder said, "Tell this girl the truth, she seems very nice. End this charade."
But the devil on the other shoulder said, "What are you, stupid? Have you ever acted like yourself around her? It’s so hard to work with people like you. How many girls you had as Berley? That’s right! Zero! Zip! How many girls you had as Brian? You can’t even count them all."
The angel said, "C’mon, this girl is really nice!"
And the devil said, "She’s just acting. You know the minute you tell her you’re really a dork, she’s gonna dump you as fast as she can. Berley, face it—there’s no room in this world for a nice guy."
I told the devil, "I should just be myself."
The devil said, "Did being yourself work?"
"Then there’s your answer right there!"
I thought about all those pretty girls, calling me and hanging out with me. "Do I really want to give all this up?"
Yet being Brian was starting to get to me. One day I stayed home sick. As I sipped soup, I thought, someday these girls are going to find out about me. Would they like the real me? Or would they rather see Brian, the carbon copy of every other jerk around? I decided lying to girls to get with them was pathetic. I had to be who I am no matter what.
It took me about a week to get rid of the charade. I told the girls who knew me as Brian that I was moving to San Francisco with my mom. As always, they bought it. They never called again. In my most psycho moments, I wish I could tell all those girls, "Too bad! He doesn’t exist! Hey girls—you were really with a nerd! Ha ha! All you girls out there, now you know I’m really a dog. You can take me on Jerry Springer."
Now I’m moving on
Now that Brian is gone, I have time to do the things I want to do—watch cartoons, play video games and read comics. I can walk out of the house without worrying if I match. Yet I sometimes wonder if I made the right decision. I know the next girl I have a crush on will give me the old speech, "Berley, you’re a nice guy, and you’re very sweet and you’re a very good friend, but you’re more like a brother to me. I’m sure you’re going to find the perfect girl sometime, a girl who deserves you."
I remember some of those kisses I got and I think about the fact that everyone in L.A. now knows about this and I can never be Brian again. And life really sucks and I hate the world.
Then I remember how much I hate that guy Brian. I think I’ll beat him up if I ever meet him. I don’t even want a girlfriend right now. I don’t want to have to change for anybody. I want to be accepted for who I am. I argue a lot, I’m shy, I’m uncoordinated, I suck at sports. I know the answers in class. I spend hours at my computer or at museums. I can’t be like Brian, and just go to a mall and wander around for hours. I can’t pretend to be a jerk anymore.
It’s been painful to write about all this. It’s like tearing open my chest and ripping out my guts. But I wanted to see if there was anyone else like me. I can’t be the only one. Or am I?