On an anniversary trip in 2007 to the beautiful island of St. Maarten, I discovered the counterfeit Coach handbag. Actually it was the counterfeit Coach, Gucci, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, you name it and it was there. Available and affordable in every design and color.
I was first aghast, and then on board. Why get the real thing when the fake was so affordable? Who would ever know? I’d been accused of worse – what was there to lose? I picked Coach, settled on a style and proceeded to indulge in one of my favorite activities – bargaining. I was at my third store and was doing well, completing the first steps of cutting the price in half and inching my way up while the shopkeeper, a savvy owner from India, inched his way down. I put down my final card “The bag back at the other store, it had papers. This one doesn’t have papers!” He looked at me incredulous! “Madame” he paused for emphasis “They are fake! The papers aren’t real!”
In an instant I realized how foolish I sounded. I was buying a fake bag and I wanted papers? For what? To prove that what was fake was real?
But anything counterfeit is like that. Once you settle for the counterfeit, you want to prove to everyone around you that you have the real thing, so you add on fake papers. It’s never-ending.
The end of the story is that I got the purse at my price and walked off happily. But the story stuck with me. It is easy to accept counterfeits in our world. Counterfeit handbags and counterfeit identities. But living, communicating, and interacting as a counterfeit is exhausting. You have to find more and more to prove that the counterfeit is real, whether it is fake papers or false theology.
I’ve been told that the best way to recognize a counterfeit is by knowing the real thing so well that there is an immediate recognition when you are dealing with something fake. This then is the challenge, learning what is true and real and finding those things in my life that are counterfeits, recognizing them as such, and being willing to exchange those for the real deal.
My counterfeit Coach fell apart after a year. I’ve been told that doesn’t happen with the real deal.
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