A friend of mine describes those critical inner voices as a committee that tells how we ought to behave. Mostly, these committee members have tenure for life and all too much power to make us believe in our chronic ineptitude. As writers we get outvoted on new ideas and the committee slashes the delicate ego and strips our confidence till we might as well stand naked at the bus stop as we try to get the hell out of town.
Actually, I called a meeting of my committee this week. At first I cowered in the face of their scowling faces. My mother sits on this committee and my father would but he’s always too dead to attend the meetings. There’s a nameless rotund man in a tight suit. He has a black mustache and a booming voice. He thinks I’m a fraud. Mom thinks I just don’t quite measure up. Then there’s the one I’ve named Mr. Mumbles. He’s tall and skinny. He smirks and sneers and makes remarks about my wrinkles and my cellulite. But they forget that I’ve been writing my way in and out of trouble for years. After they had their say, I left that chilly board room and wrote this in honor of this sarcastic guy.
The critic who lives inside my head thinks
he’s my real father. He scowls and waves
a languid hand, cites a thousand sartorial rules
when I pull on jeans to walk the dog. He even
hates my dog. Mr. Mumbles beetles off
in his striped pants and cutaway coat,
afraid to be seen with the likes of me.
Okay, but by the time he bumbles
around our block. I will be miles away
dancing with a bear named Tolstoy.