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What Isn't "Faux" These Days?

Monday 21 May 2018 at 3:46 pm.

This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for May 17, 2018, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.

            “Faux” stuff has been around for a lot longer than most people realize, although calling it “faux’ (a word borrowed from the French language, meaning that which is an imitation) is a very recent kind of trendy usage. The manufacture of faux products can be traced all the way back to the 1920’s, but their use was not as widespread then as now. After all, what isn’t “faux” these days?!

            “Faux” fur appeared as early as 1929 but didn’t really become popular until the 1950’s, no doubt because it had become much cheaper than the real thing. In more recent years, the animal rights movements have triggered a surge in the popularity of artificial fur and a disdain for real animal pelt.

            I can remember how popular the use of asphalt building siding, with its fake brick design, was in the 1950’s, when its popularity had reached its peak. Asphalt siding attempting to look like brick was available as early as the 1930’s, but then, and even later, in the 40’s and 50’s, no one thought it really looked like brick. I knew many people back then who used it on their houses simply because that’s all they could afford.

            Today, in an attempt to avoid the “fake look,” some folks use a veneer of “faux stone” on their homes. It’s less expensive than real stone, and I suppose many think it looks like the real thing; however, it’s made out of cement, with some pigment added for coloration. I’ll admit it looks more like the real thing than asphalt siding with a brick pattern.

            It seems to me that the 21st Century has truly become the “Faux Century,” in that just about everything is “faux” – faux sugar, faux silk, faux butter (margarine has been around a long time now), faux chrome (plastic on your car, colored to look like chrome), faux wood (particle board), faux meat for vegetarians and vegans, faux milk (made out of soy or almonds), faux ground beef, faux spaghetti (made from squash), faux hardwood floors made out of vinyl (we have some on our floors), faux fireplaces, faux church candles, faux grass (Astro turf has been around so long it’s passé), faux quilts (designed to look like they’re pieced but aren’t), faux diamonds, faux leather, etc., etc.

            Now is this a bad thing? In some cases it is, and in some cases, not. For example, vinyl flooring which looks like hardwood is easier to clean and keep up, shines better, and costs much less than real hardwood planks. Besides, look how many trees you save! I truly like our new vinyl faux-hardwood floors.

            However, the faux wood paneling that was used in our home in the 1970’s is made of a type of fiberboard, and, if it gets wet, it warps. Also, when my wife and I were first married, we bought quite a few book shelves and even a headboard for our bed made of particle board, -- which was a good thing at that time, because we simply couldn’t afford anything else, and it was so much cheaper than real wood. If its outer veneer is broken, and it gets wet, it will swell out of shape. We still have the headboard for our bed, because we like it and it has held up very well, and nobody has ever asked us, “Is that a faux bed?” Over the years, I’ve bought some real wood furniture at garage sales that hasn’t held up nearly as well as the headboard.

            There is one faux product, however, about which I am greatly concerned, and it seems to be growing in popularity. That is faux human beings, and I don’t mean this as a metaphor either. Today, robots are being designed to run track, jump hurtles, throw baseballs, etc. There’s even talk about programming them to be more “intelligent” than real human beings. I think they already have them playing chess with humans and beating them. Kind of scary, huh? Who knows, if the trend continues, an unmarried person may be able to purchase a robot husband or a robot wife! No courtship. No proposing. Just go down to the hardware store and buy one!

            Not everything faux is good, but what isn’t faux these days?!


Ray Spitzenberger is a free-lance writer and artist who lives in East Bernard with his beautiful wife Peggy and spoiled cat Gatsby.

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