How we live now: A one act monologue

A darkened stage with a single chair. Enter ANSELMA, stage left, wearing a headset. ANSELMA sits facing the audience and the lights are brought up.

ANSELMA: Good afternoon, we’re having a great day here at Gurdjieff Ford, this is Anselma speaking, would you like to speak to our customer delight associates about 0% interest and 100% freedom on the all-new for 2007 Ford Extrusion, the truck for your active family today with exclusive cash-back offers in partnership with Mountain Dew Code Blue and River Deep Holiday Slough Resort and Vacation Homes, where floating is swimming and swimming is life?

I will transfer you to Service immediately, ma’am, and can I sign you up for our Preferred Gold Protection Discount Service Plan Extension Guarantee Peace of Mind Club Plus, put protection in your wallet today, it will be 30 seconds of your time?

Thank you for choosing Gurdjieff Ford, a Klimt and Gysin dealer, for your automotive needs and more today we understand you have a choice and appreciate your business! My associate number is 37-228-19-27B/6 and as part of our customer outreach enhancement drive for total satisfaction I will now transfer you to an optional survey so if you have 15 seconds to spare to help us help you live life like it was ice cream you will be automatically entered in a drawing to win dinner for two at the Lipid’s A Lunchery!

The stage is plunged into darkness.

[a single shot is heard]

dare to look me in the eye

This LJ name was my third or fourth pick. My favorite nicknames were taken. I’d always liked this song. It’s catchy and fun to sing, and I loved Townshend’s self-deprecating irony. I also had good memories of covers by some of my musical heroes. The Minutemen played it at the last gig of theirs I saw, in July ’85, and I remember another great 80s performance by Richard Thompson, where he did “Pinball Wizard” for a laugh mostly and then this one for serious.

I didn’t realize how perfectly I’d chosen. I’m this guy, all right. From earliest childhood I was expected to be someone else. In fact, I was told I was someone else, and not given the option of living otherwise. And like the guy in the song I was always angry as hell about it. That impostor consciousness and anger about it have haunted my relations with other people my whole life.

Eerily, the song came out in 1966, when I was not yet two years old. It was a radio hit just as I was being introduced to the insane double bind of my childhood: be someone else, or be a failure. The way it all lines up is almost too good.

There was only one way for me to keep my pride and my sense of self growing up, and that was to sabotage my parents’ master plan for my life. As soon as I moved out and went to college, I was on a suicide mission to destroy every possibility of real adult success for myself. Mission: accomplished. I am now entirely authentic, and no one can say I am my family’s creature.

I’ve been trying to undo that victory for a long, long time now without much success. Anything but failure still feels fake. Pete, you had it down from day one. It’s like you were there.

cuts are for lyrics