How I learned to love and obey the rules of the world
You have to keep the white button pressed down, not the red one, the red one is the mains switch for all the electricity. We decided to put it up here out of the way when grandma started to touch everything. Come on, I’ll show you how to get up there. First, put your foot on the edge of the chest freezer, good […] that’s right, then lever yourself there on the barbell, and there you are. Now trust me, let yourself fall against the wall. Why are you shaking? Trust me, I’ll hold you from behind. No, the other one. Don’t shake, you’ll lose your balance. Have conﬁdence in your legs. You’re nearly there. One last push. Not the red one, that’s the mains switch […] now press it again. What d’you mean it doesn’t work. Of course it works. Do it again. Fuck. Wait, come down, I’m going to try to get up there. You have to be more relaxed, one foot here, your arm here to lever yourself up, a little thrust with with your hips. See? What does daddy always tell you? Control over your movements is the ﬁrst step towards knowing ourselves. See? There is no room for out of place objects in the world. Did you see how daddy did it? Victor, you must have noticed that it works like this at school too, try again. Up with the left then rest your right arm there, good boy, now press the white button. Remember, the ﬁrst step towards success lies in the preparation of your movements. You must have an awareness of all of your surroundings […] fuck. What do you mean you felt yourself sliding backwards? Don’t worry, daddy will do it today. Click. You see the garage door opening? Listen to how quiet it is. Can you feel the harmony? No, don’t cry. Crying will make you lose your balance. You mustn’t cry, don’t listen to those people who say it is only human, or “cry and let it all out”. Crying is for the weak. The weak are like they are because they aren’t in harmony. No, not that one, that’s the hammer drill, leave that one alone […] they can’t ﬁnd their place in the world and so they are angry with the world. It’s stupid, Victor. Do you remember what grandpa used to say when he started to not remember where he was? He used to say I want to die before I start wetting myself. Tears are the weewee of the eyes. So you mustn’t cry. You have to face the world with your brightest smile my little man, straight back, stiff upper lip old boy. Why’re
you making that face? Don’t you like my upper crust accent? Do you want to try to turn the switch on? Ok. Think about the movements you have to make, about your body moving through its surroundings harmoniously. It has to be the projection of yourself through the world. Ok, perfect […] fuck. Let daddy do it. Click. You see, now the garage door is closing. Click. Like this it opens again. Victor, do you remember, here hold daddy’s phone for a moment, do you remember when daddy explained to you what a curriculum is? It’s when you introduce yourself to the world and say, “yes, I am a body who knows how to move harmoniously.” Life is a collection of curricula, because you don’t want to spend your whole life with the same people do you? No, Victor, once you get to know someone it is already time to get to know someone else. That’s why you always have to have an up-to-date curriculum, my little man. Do you remember the three little rules? Hold on to my vest for a moment, please. No, not like that, don’t drop it, it’s dirty in here. First of all […] let’s say it together:
One: use one, or two sheets of paper at the most, because nobody has time to waste.
And you have to be like a bolt of lightning out of the blue.
Two: Use white or very light paper, good quality, plain.
You have to keep your tears for yourself. No smudging. You are a harmonious individual.
Three: Use the active voice. Why are you looking at me like that? It means nothing has been started and nothing has been ﬁnished, and you are a constantly updating curriculum.
Remember this word, constantly. And seeing as you have a good curriculum, you know what happens afterwards? […] Victor leave the football alone for now. Do you know what happens when you have a good curriculum vitae? Well, it means the best companies want you. You know what a company is, don’t you? It is a collection of people who move together in the same direction to reach a common goal. Like birds migrating in search of food. All together, straight to the point, old man. What’s the matter? Don’t you like what I’m saying? The little birdies commanding the migratory groups all talk like that. In the companies there are also little rules to learn.
Your look, Victor, look at me when I’m talking to you, […] your look is very important. Give me a hand with the barbell will you, please. Like that, bend your arm, but naturally […] you see, I was saying, you have to dress according to the context, casual, or elegant, but no ﬂashy accessories. Flashy accessories scare the other little birdies. As soon as you arrive, smile, open doors with nonchalance. Manage your spaces, be ready. When you meet the group’s toughest little birdies, shake their hands with a ﬁrm grip, but not too hard. You have to be careful about your body language, sit nicely on your chair, don’t touch your hair, don’t let your hands ﬁddle, don’t look closed off. Closed off is when you cross your arms, or lower your eyes. You are strong, you know it and you have to show it, but there is no reason to be mean to the other little birdies. Now do you understand what “harmony” means? You don’t have to do anything other than lean your little head on her soft tummy until she opens up, like ﬂowers do in the spring, and you will be able to taste the ﬂavour of her nectar. No, don’t cry. C’mon, remember what I told you […] dry your eyes, mummy is waiting to take us to karate. I like talking to you like a person, Victor, man to man. You are a beautiful thing.
Translation by Sally McCorry
Revision by Paul Gilgunn
Walter Comoglio is an italian writer based in Dublin. This short story appears in his ﬁrst book named “La sera che ho deciso di bloccare la strada”, published by Gorilla Sapiens Edizioni, winner of 2017 POP prize Italy as best debut.