How to be Me, an Instructional Video narrated by Frank Hinton
how to wake up and not think about the bad thoughts from the day
before. Be sure to get to the bathroom within the first minute of
consciousness. WASH YOUR FACE and look right at yourself in the mirror
and say something inspirational to yourself like, All the grains of sand on Earth
don’t equal up to all of the stars in the Universe,
or something. Hold your own gaze.
Here’s how to bathe awkwardly. Don’t sing and make
as little noise as possible. Be sure to wash the pubic regions
thoroughly, abstain from a facecloth and keep struggling to find the
perfect water temperature. You will never find the perfect water
temperature, it doesn’t exist, not for you.
Hold your head under the water and keep your fingers away from your
scalp. Use this time to think. Think about the day. Think about the
weather. Think about your frumpy little body. Do not think about the
day before. Keep the memories right out of your head. If you see them
coming, if you get a taste of them then you can start singing. Sing the
shittiest song you can think of.
Here’s how to get dressed in darkness.
Here’s how to sit on the bus and hate everyone around you.
Look at this woman’s feet. They are two sizes too large for
her body. She’s got ankle-bones the size of tennis balls.
Hate her. Look at this man rubbing all over his nose with the pinkie.
He rubs so slowly you can hear the scratching sound his finger makes on
the dry nose skin. You can see dead flakes falling. It is
completely inhumane to have to watch this. Look at the pink of his
skin, the bails of white hair on his forearms, his bargain bin tie.
Hate him. Look at this beautiful man. His beard is trimmed so neatly,
his skin is russet. He works out for sure and his suit fits right over
his muscles. His muscles are at times (no doubt) oiled. Look at how his
hand rests in his pocket: perfectly in and out. Those knuckles could
knock a man out. Imagine him in bed. Imagine his russet skin on yours.
Imagine him kissing you in places you’d never dream to be
kissed. Imagine him biting your ribs. Know it will never happen. Hate
him. Listen to this baby crying behind you.
Here’s how to chew off a modicum of fingernail in public
without anyone noticing. Put the finger in your mouth and chew rapidly.
Bite straight along the edge of the nail to avoid having to pull it off
at the end. You have less than three seconds. Once the nail is off
remove your finger from your mouth but keep the bit of fingernail
between your teeth. Take some small pleasure in the taste of the
hardened keratin. These are your dead cells. Hold the bit of nail in
your mouth. Count backwards from thirty. Be conscious of the other
people around you. Anyone who saw you biting your nails will note that
you did not flick any bit of fingernail onto the ground. Be conscious
but avoid eye contact. Wave your fingers a bit to confirm to onlookers
that your hands are empty and no bit of nail was removed from your
finger. They were imagining that you bite your nails in public. Do not
suck on the morsel of fingernail in your mouth, the small taste was
enough. Actually eating the nail is sick. You aren’t sick.
You’re a good person. Once you reach zero swiftly reach up
with the opposite hand you just chewed on and pull the fingernail from
between your teeth and place it in your back pocket. If you
don’t have a back pocket you will need to tuck it into your
waistband and make like you’re adjusting your belt or
something. Drop it on the ground when you are alone. Nobody can trace a
fingernail. Leave it right on the seat of a toilet even.
Here’s how to check yourself out in reflective windows and
mirrors without other people noticing.
You are not fully beautiful, but you are beautiful. You are not fully
ugly, but there is some ugliness to you. You need to accept this. It is
crucial to being alone.
Here’s the expression to make when you don’t hold
the door for somebody. You also make the same face when butting in line
or if you see an elder struggling with some cumbersome object and you
refuse to assist. The face is cool, the eyes look ahead. You think
about what a terrible person you are. You think about how you could do
more but you don’t show it. You’re cool,
you’re moving forward. The mind is sanguine.
Here’s how to talk to your mother over the phone. Offer one
good statement to her. Tell her something really nice and positive and
let that comment be a billboard: large, colorful, poignant. Make it
satisfy a need. After your comment let her talk. If your
mother asks you questions answer them using as few words as possible
or, if at all possible, make simple plosive sounds to indicate
affirmation, negation or conscious acceptance that the conversation is
still rolling. Mmmmhmm. In conversations with your mother it is not
necessary to listen. You did your part. You gave her the flashy
statement. She can give that tidbit to your father. Let her go on about
her news. Let her chide you about your shortcomings. This will sting a
bit and you will be tempted to say something. DON’T. Just sit
there. Say mmmmhmm. Eventually she will have her fill of the
conversation. She will wish you some bit of luck and say goodbye. Tell
her you love her and try to say it before she does because this will
give her the impression that despite the conversation being less than
substantive it was at the very least pleasant. She will tell you she
loves you. Wait for the click of the phone. Listen to the dead air.
Take in the silence. Someday your mother will be gone.
Here’s how to look for costless pornography online while
eating supper. Here’s how to hold your submarine sandwich and
keep the lettuce strips from falling onto the keyboard. Keep hunger and
fulfillment in one part of your mind. Keep sensuality and the goal of
finding that perfect video clip in another part of your mind.
Here’s how to comment on a comment thread so as to preserve
anonymity. Here’s how to sound more poignant.
Here’s how to flame.
Here’s how to go to bed and not think about the day. Listen
to the sounds of the city. Listen to the engines of the cars and the
wheels of cars rolling over the pervious concrete below. Listen to the
groups of young people as they pass by your open window. Hear them talk
about their adventures. Hear them laugh and hear them fight. Know that
you were young once and you were a creature of the city. You hid from
nothing. You were like, out there. You poured drinks into your face.
You picked up at the bar and you soaked bed sheets in sweat.
You were a child once and you had it all.
Frank Hinton lives in Halifax and edits metazen.