Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Inner Used Car Salesman

To the extent that we have useful knowledge of our component self, our behavior becomes more informed and emphatic. Over the past several years, you've spent time identifying many of those component selves in residence within you, on occasion finding the occasional squatter, whom you invite to the table to share such meals as you make along with the woes and rewards parceled out to you by the Cosmos.

Sometimes, these component parts are suspicious of the invitation to join and be recognized, wary of making any commitments that might seem to be binding, in spite of your argument that, comfortable and trusting of the entity that is you, or not being comfortable and trusting, they are pretty much stuck with you. 

Not only have these components been with you for some considerable time, they will have nowhere else to go. Your argument to them being that other individuals have their own component parts to cope with and don't need any of yours.

If this argument doesn't seem to convince them, you play your Existential Card, which is the information they probably knew all along; when your time is over and done with, so is theirs. You urge them to speak up, make their tastes in all things be known, allow their opinions to be heard. The bonus you offer them is the potential for their emergence as a character in a story.

Among the many of the dramatis personae combining forces to produce the you who goes forth to various institutions to teach, drink coffee, review books, socialize, and linger about the studio writing longform narratives is one with whom you have a complex-but-mostly cordial relationship. 

He calls you Pal, or Bud, sometimes even Pilgrim, Sir, and Prof, which is the short form for professor. "Wazzup, Prof?" he'll say, of "Hey, Bud, will you look at this." He speaks in a low, intimate tone, seeming to personalize his approach to you.

When he does address you, your first reaction is to secrete a bit of suspicion or skepticism because your name for him is and always has been The Used Car Salesman. He has sought your empathy by telling you he knows exactly how you feel about some current issue or problem, and he has more than once chimed in with strategy for a particular problem, using gambits that you like to think you would never use.  

You like to think this because you have in fact used such gambits. On occasion, you suspect him of having lifted these gambits from his observation of you. He does, after all, live within the spare rooms of your psyche. He is, you suspect, quick to learn, and why wouldn't he have learned from watching you all these years.

Your greatest concern about The Used Car Salesman is the sense you sometimes get of him viewing your current operating system as the corner office, the one on which he has set his eyes. At times when you await the approach of sleep when the working day has ended, you  try not to think about what your life would be if he in effect got his way and sat in the director's chair. 

To add to the sense of unease his presence brings to the table, he reminds you in voice and some attitude of your father, who was by no means a used car salesman, film-flam, or confidence man, rather a good natured man who was bored at having no real profession he could love or care for.

There are times when you see the strong physical resemblance between you and your father as you consider a recent photograph of yourself. There are frequent times when you hear his voice in your dreams, so clearly him that you awaken from the dream, thinking That was Jake.

You are always pleased to see traces of him in you, even the traces of boredom you know he felt.  Often when addressing you during his lifetime, he'd ask, What are you, some kind of wise guy? This would invariably give you cause to run over the matter at hand before replying, No, simply following my original plan.

This brought one of his invariable responses to you, What ever you are, be a good one. Over the years, you've made it your policy to attempt just that. Since his departure in 1993, you've had to ask of yourself, and on his behalf, What are you, some kind of wise guy? 

Because you are in a sense an illusionist, using inventions to demonstrate the dramatic moments of story, you recognize how similar in so many ways the elements of storytelling resemble the techniques of selling used cars, outright lies, improper agendas, and systems you know will not work any more than the used car salesman knows there are indeed not another eighty or ninety thousand more miles in this baby.

In those occasional moments before sleep when you concern yourself with him, you try to arrive at some tangible percentage to assess the degree to which you fear yourself a Used Car Salesman.He in effect leaves you, measuring yourself against the other occupants. 

Not to forget the squatters, The Used Car Salesman tells you, those other guys you know are sleeping on your time, eating your bad cooking, and helping themselves to your coffee.

I'm only offering you options, he tells you.

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