SparkNotes Blog

Auntie SparkNotes: I’m a Beard

Dear Auntie,
I have two friends (both guys) who are secretly dating. In order to deflect suspicion because of snooping, bigoted parents, I agreed to be Guy A’s fake girlfriend. At first I thought this would just be a theoretical gig, but now he’s telling me what to say if his parents call me and apparently they might invite me over sometime. I guess I just wanted to hear your take on this, since I can’t find any other articles that cover this kind of lying. Am I doing the right thing by lying to his parents to protect him? Should I draw a line between what I will and won’t do to make this believable? How can I be convincing without overdoing it? And what should I say to the guy I’m currently interested in if he asks about us without blowing Guy A’s secret?

Well, let’s just get this out of the way: “this” kind of lying, a.k.a. the lying you do to snoopy meanie bigots in order to protect the people they would otherwise persecute, is widely considered to be a good and decent thing (except by the meanie bigots themselves, of course, but they can go suck an egg). I mean, just think about all those lying liars who hid fugitive Jews from the Nazis during the Holocaust. An extreme example, yes—and obviously the stakes are a whole lot lower for you and your ersatz boyfriend—but the principle remains the same.

So while you’re by no means obligated to serve as your friend’s beard, please don’t think that you’re doing something wrong by helping him make his way through high school happily, healthily, and in one piece.

That said, it sounds like you thought this deception would begin and end with your pal dropping your name in conjunction with the word “girlfriend”—whereas he needs more active participation from you to keep his parents from finding out the truth. And since you apparently didn’t iron out any ground rules before you agreed to beard duty, and since you’re clearly feeling uncomfy about it now, it’s important that you talk about it… although truthfully, I’m also not sure what weird or crazy things you imagine you’d have to do in order to make it believable. You can really just be yourself, okay? Playing the part of the casual high school girlfriend just means showing up and being polite. It’s not like his parents are going to make you prove the veracity of your relationship by making out in front of them.

Hopefully, a conversation will be all it takes to get you guys on the same page—and it’ll also be a prime opportunity for you to get permission from your Fake Boyfriend to discreetly explain to your Actual Crush that all is not as it seems. (Assuming that your Actual Crush can be trusted to keep that secret and not out your Fake Boyfriend. But you’d never be interested in a guy who’d do something that vile, right?) Basically, all it takes is a few good people acting with basic human decency, and you guys can carry off this charade for as long as necessary… or until your friend finds a nice closeted lesbian with whom to enjoy a new symbiotic faux romance.

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