1. Your Face
Should I be smiling? Frowning? Who frowns anymore? How do I just make a face that says “I’m paying attention to you and hold a perfect balance of interest in what you are saying”? Should I be paying attention? Is this person worth my time? What do my lips look like right now? Is it obvious I’m not focusing with my eyes? My tongue is suddenly so heavy. What do I do with it? Can she hear my teeth clicking? Is it obvious I drank coffee after brushing my teeth? Does my breath stink? Am I touching my face too much? Is it pretentious to rub your chin?
2. Your Clothing
Am I too old for a polo shirt? What did my sister mean when she said I never wear pants that “fit”? They don’t fall down, they’re comfortable, and my genitals are neatly hidden. Should I be wearing tighter pants? Do I have the body for tighter pants? Do I have the income for tighter pants? How do I buy a jacket that doesn’t make me look inflatable? Should I start wearing a hat? How does one “start” wearing a hat? Aren’t you just wearing a hat? It’s not like starting to smoke or starting to listen to Daft Punk. Are these shoes appropriate? Is it okay to wear boots with a suit because I didn’t polish my actual dress shoes? Should I have slippers? Should I be one of those people who force others to take off their shoes before they enter my place? Do I own any clean socks?
3. The Size Or Condition Of Your Home
Where are people going to sit? Are we too old to sit on milk crates? What about the floor? Will everyone just think about how my cat walks where he shits and then walks on the floor? I should vacuum. Is that stain too obvious? Should I hit up a thrift store and buy a rug? Maybe they have chairs. Am I young enough to justify a studio? Are people comfortable sitting on my bed? I should change the sheets. I should buy more toilet paper. Should I get tampons? I bet if a girl came here and was on her period she would love that I have tampons under the sink. Is my place creepy? Am I creepy? Do I have enough lights? Why aren’t there more windows? Is my TV too small? Is it cooler to point the chairs away from the TV? Should I get a coffee table? Should I fan out magazines on it so people will think I’m well read? Should I organize the book shelf? Should I move?
4. Sounding Dumb
How did I not know that? Is it important that I know we’re in the Western Hemisphere? We’re east of somebody, aren’t we? Maybe I should make a Ptolemy reference. How do you pronounce Ptolemy? Parliament? Chivas? Have I sounded this dysfunctional my entire life? How many people have ignored me because I sound like a blabbering idiot? Should I be reading more? Does reading even help you pronounce things correctly? Do I read more words than I say? Is that bad?
5. Your Job
Should I be ashamed of working retail? I just got my degree this year. Am I not sending out enough resumes? Is this even the right path for me? Do I even care about public policy? Am I going to be rewriting zoning laws for the rest of my life? Am I going to die in an office with nothing but the plaques on the wall knowing I left the bonds of Earth? Am I even good at my current job? Do I pay enough attention to the customers? Am I one of those lazy workers people complain about? Am I too pushy on the sales floor? Should I kick out loiterers? My manager just saw me checking my phone; Am I getting fired? Am I even too listless for a job at Best Buy? Should I learn a trade? People respect HVAC repairmen, right?
Do I punish myself enough? Do I admit when I’m wrong? Do I work had enough every day to make myself a better person, a better friend, a better worker? Do I devolve into escapism too much to stop the force inside of me that wants to be better? What is better? Do I even hold myself to the right standards? Who do I know that has done everything right? Can I be that person? Did that person beat their laziness into a submission like I tr to? Is all this mental work worth it? Wil it represent itself in physical work? Tangible improvements to my daiy life? Why am I so concerned with my appearance? Is everyone else? Am I too shady? Too spazzy? Too paranoid?