I’m feeling absolutely empty on this Saturday night. It’s an oppressive sensation. The table stinks of old beer. There are lines of cigarette ash smeared across it. Eyes Wide Shut is playing in German on the television on the far left-hand side of the bar. Nicole Kidman’s dub sounds huskier, like she should be a heavier person. The other six monitors feature what looks to be a Spanish football game and the man to my right is silently studying it with his arms folded in front of him. Underneath the furthest TV, the woman tending bar is reading the Daily Mail slowly, achingly slowly. I wait for her to turn the page, to unwrinkle her brow, or to be stirred to life by one of the other customers. Kidman keeps saying “Nein, nein, nein” in her underwear and Tom Cruise stares back dumbfounded.
All I can think about is my job interview this week. I feel as if someone has unfurled a long, thin tube down my esophagus and slowly sucked out everything I have to offer. After the interview I walked along Farringdon Rd., away from the Tube station, into a bookstore where I looked at the same page of the Penguin Book of Reportage for at least ten minutes before I was able to pull myself out of the reverie. The day outside was on the grey side of warm. I had worn a brown and blue used shortsleeve shirt from Sears to the interview and it was only then that I realized it made me look like nothing else in north London. I looked like a mannequin in a church rummage sale.
(Each time I lean my face in to take a sip of this sports bar beer I catch a whiff of some preservative or a chemical used to clean the glass that can only be described as ‘fresh urinal.’ This day is disgusting.)
The problem with job interviews is that after sharpening your entire self down into something resembling a greatest hits package you must perform the entire album with as much energy as possible to an audience that rarely claps. In job interviews, and in these talks I have to give to Rotary Clubs across London, I feel like I’ve been able to build up a performance version of myself who has a history not unlike my own but is just a little more certain about the issues of the day, his purpose in life, and why he does the things he does. A little sleeker and very portable.