There’s an episode of the Simpsons where Lisa is really depressed. She’s assigned to write a report for her class about what Springfield will be like in 50 years, and after doing some internet research, is horrified by the dystopian possibilities, which she shares with her classmates, terrifying them. One jumps out of a window, screaming. Marge takes her to a psychiatrist who diagnoses Lisa with Environment-Related Despair, and puts her on Ignorital, causing her to see only smiley faces. After a potentially near-fatal mishap, Marge takes her off the drug, and Lisa realizes that she can’t run away from her problems, and decides to face them head on.
This has been the longest stretch of singleness in my half century. J’ai le cafard. “I have the cockroach,” as they say in France. Environment-Related Despair. My doctor put me on Ignorital. I’m not seeing smiley faces everywhere quite yet, but my anxiety has calmed to a point where my navigation of the Bachelor ‘Hood is becoming a bit less overwhelming. There are surprisingly more married guys my age out there looking for extramarital activity than single middle-aged guys looking to settle down, and those of us looking to settle down have pretty much all gone out with each other already, so the pickens are slim. I get frustrated, holding out for some idea of a perfect love that very well might not be possible, but at the same time not rushing into anything.
I had a very tender, but very brief affair with my punk rocker, steering us into friendship when I felt out of synch with what he was feeling. Plus I was really distracted by Jake, the filmmaker, who eventually gave me the boot when he felt out of synch with what I was feeling. Since then I’ve had some nice dates with a sweet Urgent Care man, sweet as the hopes on which starv’d lovers feed, and a dashing Intellectual Gascon. His story is worthy of a Dumas, or Harold Robbins, but it’s his to tell, so I’ll just say that he’s had a life rich with soap opera quality dramas, foreign lands, romance, adventure, and, I would imagine, some really good therapy.
Feeling blue while cleaning out my desk, a postcard from a local realtor fell on the floor. I don’t believe in cosmic interventions, but I’ve had a crush on this guy for years, and thought, what the heck, maybe the universe is actually getting off its ass and doing something for me. So I sent him an email, laying out my appeal as humorously and non-stalkerish as I could, while also taking great care to balance flattery with tact and the possibility of his already being hitched. He wrote back, so sweet and generous, and yes, he’s married, happily, but invited me to say hello and to give him a call if I ever decide to put my house on the market.
I have a few internet inamorati whom I’ve never met, some married, others just lonely. We have very lively discussions about art, our travels, our desires… We send each other titillating pictures and describe imaginary couplings and have even at times expressed love for each other. They’re just pixels, we’ve never smelled or touched each other, or heard each other speak. And yet they make me so happy. I imagine I’m fulfilling some desire that goes unexpressed in their marriages, a virtual courtesan. For me, I’m able to experience an authentically intimate exchange, uninhibited by the distractions of headaches, crabs…
Bob came to visit over the holidays and shed some new light on my Environment-Related Despair. I realized that our complete compatibility has been diverting me away from consideration of anyone deviating from our now blissfully idealized relationship. Despite our compatibility, I left Bob because my desire for something else was too much of an impediment to our continued success as a couple. Since then I’ve been driven by a desire to have it all. I want Bob Hoskins and Bob, complete physical and intellectual compatibility. Sure it’d be great to have it all, but if I can’t have both, passion is the one I can’t do without—I can always read a book. Jake and I have had many lively discussions about not being able to integrate these disparate needs and desires into our relationships. This was the particular problem in our brief exploration of possibilities with each other. He felt like he needed someone like me, but he wanted someone quite different physically. Maybe someday I’ll be Wilford Brimley, but for now I’m but a thin shadow of this particular ideal. I had to accept and respect this. We’re actually looking for the same thing. And, as it turns out, frequently the same guy. We now work as a team, sharing prospective leads.
I’ve committed to 6 months on the Ignorital, actually looking forward to the smiley faces, but also not quite ready to face the idea of 50-something spinsterhood head on.
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