He sat in his well-appointed dressing room and stared through himself in the mirror, not seeing his imperfect facial features and flabby body under his clothes, but instead the idealized version of himself concocted out of thin air, made into mythology, and sold to the masses as a genuine article of American entrepeneurship and social intuition. It took work sometimes to get past the facade, bury the thoughts of self-doubt, see himself plainly.
The breathing exercises helped. He always started with ten deep breaths, sometimes more if circumstances required it, and cleared his head of any thought or emotion that didn’t aide in the development of a shell of self-confidence. This was practiced, perfected even. There are people who do the Super Man/Woman pose before speaking in public, a big presentation, or even a mundane business meeting. It builds them up, makes them feel invincible. For JP it was matter of survival. A way of existing in the world, burying a boyish weakness ever deeper into his subconscious until it was almost gone, finally. It was an evolution and abdication of basic biographical history he considered the road to a more perfect self.
That was his product: himself. The perfection part was the story he told to sell it. And everyone wanted a piece. There is an abstraction of unlimited power many know as god. An entity invested with a set of beliefs and rules that govern how people behave, yet believers and non-believers typically find the embodiment of that need in an otherwise normal person. Someone made of flesh and bone who has figured out (devised may be a better way of putting it) a way of living mired in false prosperity and happiness. A con to cope with the realities of life. Whenever JP spent any time considering this side of himself he’d stand and pace, slapping himself in the face to wipe away doubts, and focus his thoughts on the next speech, presentation, self-help book, and most importantly sale.
That was exactly what he was doing when his assistant knocked lightly on the door. “You’re on in five minutes” she said. It was just the distraction he needed. He stopped and now looked through himself in the full length mirror behind the door. His mind started to go blank. He was ready to face his adoring fans.
He walked behind his assistant as she led him to the stage, rattling off social media statistics he was only half paying attention to – “The live feed has over a five hundred thousand people logged on and growing by ten thousand a minute as we get closer to your appearance on stage…We’re number one on twitter and will be number one everywhere else by the time you go on.” It was the kind of stuff he’d heard all the time, and only interrupted if anything seemed out of the ordinary – a low online turnout, slow book sales, low onsite merchandise totals. He didn’t hear any of those anomalies today as he took his mark on the stage. He took ten deep breaths and motioned to his staff to lift the curtain.
It opened slowly by design, showing his feet first, then exposing more of his body, while the crowd grew in intensity – apoplectic when the curtain was all the way up and JP lifted a fist in the air, showing his solidarity with the crowd of rubes and marks he secretly disdained. He walked to the edge of the stage, clapping to his theme music, shrouded in a cloud of smoke and colored spotlight, oozing of the confidence of the man who knows and loves his place in the aerie, and is about to swoop down to get dinner.