If you should ever find yourself in a Mongolian restaurant, take a bowl and make your way to the table where the uncooked meats and vegetables are laid out. Its there somewhere, look around. Fill the bowl with whatever you want, and then pass it to the mean looking man with the long sticks. He’ll throw it on top of a clay oven and shuffle it around until it’s cooked. Then, with the deftest of touches, he’ll deposit the resulting stew into your bowl.
Now all you have to do is find yourself somewhere to sit down and you can stuff your face. Chances are, though, that if you haven’t been to a Mongolian restaurant before, you won’t necessarily figure all of this out on your own. You won’t want to look like an idiot, so you’ll have no alternative but to just stare at what everyone else is doing and pretty much copy that. Which is fine. Copying what everyone else is doing in a Mongolian restaurant is fine.
But life is not a Mongolian restaurant. That’s what I’m here to tell you. Okay, it is to a certain extent. There is, I will concede, a “correct” way of doing things. If you’re an adult this will mean a lot of fake smiling, making polite conversation, talking about getting on the property ladder and fake smiling while making polite conversation with someone who is talking about getting on the property ladder.
Which is fine if that’s what you want to do. But if you don’t, I have some alternative which I would strongly recommend. They are messing, pricking, acting the bollocks, acting the eejit, acting the cunt, jig-acting, play-acting, playing fuck, acting up, skipping, lepping and/or jumping.
My point is that, in life, you only get to play one hand of cards. So is there really any point in caring too much about what people think about you? I don’t think there is. There are worse things that could happen to you than being pointed at and stared at by a bunch of outraged Mongolians.
[Published as part of ‘Mongrel Magazine Guide to Life’, circa 2005. I don’t remember when exactly this was written. Certainly, the trip to the Mongolian restaurant which inspired it happened the same day in 2005 that this story was on the cover of Village magazine. I remember it because that was the day my parents took me out to celebrate my birthday.]