So I went up to the counter and asked for a Big Tasty ‘can I have a Big Tasty please’ I said. I’ll have a Big Tasty, says I, sounding as confident as you please. Sounding confident. Sounding confident about the Big Tasty – like I know what it is and all. Like I know what it means to walk right up to the counter and order a Big Tasty for myself. Like I know what anything means really. Walking right up there, as confident as you please. I’ll have a Big Tasty says I. Straight out, just like that, without any delay, without fumbling over my words. Without looking weird, without looking as if I didn’t know who I was or what I was supposed to be doing. Looking confident…
So there’s me at the counter, ordering a Big Tasty, looking as if it’s the most normal thing in the world, looking as if that was the sort of thing I did every day. Looking nonchalent, looking dead casual about it. At ease, you might say. Outside, it’s raining as if it’ll never stop. It’s pelting down – you never saw such darkly forbidding skies. Raining, raining, raining – always bloody raining. I’m just concentrating on ordering my meal at the Athlone service station though, trying to keep it together. ‘Keep it together buddy,’ I tell myself helpfully, ‘do your best to keep it together now.’
There are two parts to my personality, you see. There’s the part that has difficulty keeping it together and there’s the other part – the part that that has the job of keeping the first part from falling to pieces. ‘Keep it together buddy,’ says Personality Number Two, ‘go up to the counter and order a Big Tasty for yourself and make it look like you know what you’re doing. Order a Big Tasty and do your best to keep it normal.’ In my imagination I was driving an Opel Corsair; in real life I drive a Toyota Auris. They’re both the same colour though – kind of silvery grey.
My mind had disguised itself as a random stranger for the sake of keeping me on track. He really did look at a random stranger too – a tall, big-boned sort of fellow with lank, straw-coloured hair, piercing blue eyes and a great hook of a nose. He was dressed in flowing silk robes which were embroidered with Chinese characters, He beckoned me over to where he stood and hissed theatrically in my ear – ‘Keep it together good buddy,’ says he, ‘whatever you do just make sure you keep on track.’ ‘I’ll have a Big Tasty,’ I say to myself, rehearsing the lines for when my turn came. ‘Make mine a Big Tasty.’
It’s all a game of bluff though, isn’t it? It’s all a game of bluff and don’t I just know it. You just have to sound like you know what you’re doing, as if you’ve done it before and not just once but many times. You’re doing the thing and you’re doing it as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. What could be more normal than doing the thing, after all? ‘What do you mean what am I doing? What’s wrong with you?’ I reply crossly, ‘can’t you see I’m doing the thing? Quit bothering me with your bullshit…’
So anyway I go up to the counter and I ask for the Meat Supreme. ‘Make mine a Meat Supreme!’ says I, all cocksure and nonchalant. ‘Yes that’s what I’m having. I’ll go for the Meat Supreme with all the extras.’ I pause to get my story straight. ‘I’ll have the Captain’s choice,’ says I with a manic grin on my face, ‘with extra anchovies.’ People are starting to look at me as if I’ve come from outer space or something. I’m trying to carry it off of course I can’t quite remember what it is that I’m supposed to be doing or why. I’m starting to realise that none of it makes any sense at all. I’m starting to realise that I don’t know what ‘the thing’ is.
It’s all a game of bluff though isn’t it? People are such great little bluffers. I often think that. I’d be looking at them doing this and doing that and I’d be marvelling at how they do it. ‘How do they do it?’ I’d ask myself, ‘how do they manage it, how do they pull it off?’ Just watch them yourself if you don’t believe me. Find yourself a nice unobtrusive sort of spot and spend a while observing. You’d swear they know what they’re doing, wouldn’t you?