When complimented upon a counterfeit watch, should one confess its nefarious origins or simply say “thank you”?
Philip Galanes’ “Social Q’s” column in the Sunday New York Times approaches this question as all good etiquette lessons do, by confronting the perplexed party with a point of view he hadn’t considered. In this case, that of the company that manufactured the original and holds related intellectual property rights. And, for good measure, society at large.The answer deftly assumes that the questioner, who actually revealed his full name, feels guilty about wearing a $30 imitation of a “$15,000 beauty,” suggesting that this guilt might best be assuaged by writing a letter of apology to Franck Muller.
Well, bravo to Galanes!
The fact is that if you’re in our line of work, or if you’re as Galanes is and you think about the things like this, you notice an amazing level of cognitive dissonance about counterfeiting. Galanes gets this, too, starting his response to the letter writer with, “I don’t get you, Jimbo.”
In fact, when you confront people who buy counterfeits, they have no idea whatsoever what the words that are coming out of your mouth are. All of a sudden you’re like the grownups in those 1970’s Peanuts cartoons: “Bwah bwah bwah bwah bwah bwah bwah.” Utter cognitive dissonance.
Franck Muller bills himself as “The Master of Complications.” Well, riddle me this:
The great teachers of the school of personal character development called mussar ask, How can a person, being aware of how insignificant he is before God, allows himself pleasure from the regard of others, especially for such mundane achievements as being wealthy or rich or pretty? No blogger can contemplate such a level of modesty, of course. But ant that I am, I have never understood how anyone could enjoy impressing others with something he not only didn’t earn, but that he actually misappropriated — which is what you do when you walk around with a counterfeit fashion item on your wrist or slung over your shoulder. I don’t get it.
Bwah bwah bwah bwah bwah-bwah-bwah, I guess.
2 Replies to “Manners and morals for counterfeit hearts”
Well, I think that depends on the compliment. If the compliment is “nice watch,” then just say thank you. The appearance of the watch (which is all that the other person could be complimenting them on) doesn’t change when they’re informed that the product is cheaper than they thought. A nice watch is a nice watch, regardless of price.
Now, if they say “nice Rolex,” you could argue differently. After all, at that point you’re, if not lying, at least failing to correct a mistaken fact.
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