How to be Me, an Instructional Video narrated by Frank Hinton

Frank Hinton

Here’s 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.