“Pretend Depressed” Preface - Chuck Klosterman
Klosterman, Chuck. X: a Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century. Blue Rider Press, 2017.
[Here’s something I wrote in 2008, in Europe, when I was pretend depressed.]

Last weekend I was in a hashish bar in Amsterdam. It was post-dusk, pre-night. The music was terrible (fake reggae, late-period Eric Clapton, Sublime deep cuts.) I was sitting next to a British stranger with a shaved head and a speech impediment. Our conversation required subtitles, so I imagined them in my mind. He told me he had lost three family members within the past year: his mother, who was sixty-six; his uncle, who was fifty-six; and his sister, who was forty-six. He said he’d just turned thirty-six. He asked if I saw a pattern developing. “Yes,” I said. “But only numerically.”

I asked what he did for a living. He said he was a housepainter. He asked me the same question about myself. “I manufacture opinions,” I said.

“Really?” he asked. “How do you know if you’re any good at that?”

“By the number of people who agree or disagree,” I said in response. “If a large number of strangers seem to think one of my opinions is especially true or wildly wrong, there is somehow a perception that I am succeeding at this vocation.”

“That’s interesting,” said the bald British man who could barely speak. “I guess house painting is a totally different thing.”