People think I need a girlfriend. Friends say it’s unhealthy to roll into my 37th year without a girl on board. Despite countless train wrecks, they’re probably right. I’ll soon be moving into an age where it’s oddly creepy for me not to have a girl around. Like my motherfucking neighbor across the courtyard from my apartment. He looks to be about 70, and he always stands at his window staring across at me. Sometimes the lights are on, but sometimes I just see the glint of binoculars or the burning end of a cigarette. Worst, sniper, ever.
I, of course, always stand naked at my window, drinking, mouthing threats. Last Halloween I went through all the prep to cover myself in fake blood and stand there with an axe, but then I think I got really drunk and watched Doctor Who DVD’s instead. I never carry through with the important stuff.
Anyway! Girls. I’ve decided to give up on actually meeting somebody in real life. Like at bars and stuff. I hate going out and, when I do, I’m the guy sitting at the back bar confessing to a nervous bartender about how my life plan is to be a night watchman at a morgue and let’s get another vodka tonic and PUT SOME FUCKING VODKA IN IT THIS TIME YOU FATHER-FUCKING DONKEY SHIT and how about them Ravens, eh? Gosh, I like cinnamon buns.
Probably something that doesn’t make for a great first impression.
On occasion, friends will try to hook me up with their single friends. I used to entertain this idea, but I now realize the fundamental flaw. All of my 30 and 40-something married friends only have single friends like me. i.e., the fucked up college buddy who has become a misanthrope and stands at windows naked, watching for the UPS man who’s overdue with brewing equipment and Doctor Who DVDs.
On the surface, that’s kind of cool in a girl. There’s the whole idea that, gosh, if she’s like me we’ll get along famously. So I fall for a trap and end up with self-abusive geeks who carry throwing knives around and are banned from every single chain bar in the Maryland suburbs.
The opposite is no better. That’s been tried, as well. The small group of friends who believe that order and stability are the name of the game. Counterbalance. But I don’t trust those women. The sober, functional ones who aren’t able to act out the Riparian Entertainment episode of Keeping up Appearances. Can’t trust them. They know something. I don’t know what they know, but I know they know it.
The crazy girls – my usual go-to when my ship is docked and I’m out carousing on the town with all of my fellow Russian freight workers who are international fugitives and serial killers – have started to get boring. I used to find great solace in crazy girls because (a) they made me feel better about my position in the world and (b) they’re usually sexual deviants. This was certainly true across the board in college and those fine post-college years where I hadn’t yet started taking real life seriously.
Now that I’m in my late 30s, and life has brutally danced on the grave of my 20s, I’m supremely disappointed in crazy girls. It’s not that I’ve matured, or become less tolerant of deviant sex acts and a struggling death spiral of emotional collapse. All that is fine. The problem is that crazy girls don’t survive past 30. And, if they do, they turn into Zoloft bunnies. What was once a refreshingly masochistic lack of clarity becomes a dull, shuddering lack of clarity. The most prominent side-effect being the ability to realize that you’re a rapidly aging ex-crazy girl who’ll forever be tethered to chemicals and past sins.
Humanity is a terrible thing. Our brief, sad decades on this stinking, dreadful planet with all these fucking horrible people jostling us on the train is a nightmare if you’re given even the slightest glimpse of the truth. There are those of us who know the truth and realize that the only way to survive is to carve our own place in the fray with an emotional machete and a certain level of defiant spiritual territorialism – and then there are those who know the truth (or are forced to see it) and are overwhelmed by the sad facts of their pathetic lives. Thus passes the crazy girl.
With all this in mind, my requirements have become finely tuned and impossible to match. I want a girl who’s fashionably crazy, functionally lost, blindly driven, drunkenly sober, and doesn’t stab me.
Friends and family alike suggest that I take the plunge and try online dating. I refuse to pay for the service, though. I look at eHarmony and I think, well, for $29 a month I can get four Netflix movies at a time instead of my current belt-tightening one-at-a-time plan. Frankly, I see a longer term payoff with Netflix. Paying for a dating service is like some queer form of gateway drug. Here I’m losing money to spar with women virtually and, if there’s a click, to go and blow a bunch of money at dinner or one of these goddamned million dollar 3D movies or whatever the fuck it is people do when they’re not standing at their window staring at their neighbors.
Then what if it doesn’t stick? Play the field with no rewards? Yes, maybe I’ll meet the love of my life – like many friends and friends of friends who went online. But they also lead perfect lives and have been personally blessed by Our Lord and Savior Rutherford B. Hayes (who also visits people in dreams and impregnates them).
Maybe I’ll change my mind once I’m done paying off the tremendous debt I accrued whilst publishing niche books. But for now, I just can’t justify yet another monthly bill, no matter how small.
The next tier down is the world of OKcupid and its ilk, which we’ve been mocking in the forums for years. While it’s a free service, it sort of helps outline the pointlessness of everything. At the second tier of dating sites, it’s more or less just a labor intensive version of taking that blind Craigslist stab in the dark. Except 95% of the “girls” on Craigslist are robots or 40 year old guys living in basements. The 5% that are actually women are all in a decaying orbit over Planet Lunatic. And not in the good crazy girl way – it’s more of a tedious, self-indulgent imbalance that makes them more socially awkward than my worst nightmare. When rejected, they’ll spend the next three years emailing the monthly “rant and rave” article they’ve written about the quality of men on Craigslist. These articles typically sound like they’ve been written by an Oompa Loompa with a brain injury who self-prescribes Mexican mail order Wellbutrin.
All in all, it almost looks like eHarmony is the only way to go. Perhaps overcoming the shame involved in paying a monthly fee to meet fellow lonely hearts leads to a stronger ego, and a more lasting relationship when you find one. Online may be the last functional way to meet someone, generally… We’re all busier than medieval peasants, and enjoy fewer substantial rewards. They knew their work was towards a goal, and they were given a hovel in which to raise their sad, doomed little families. They had direction and focus. Our work is never towards a goal, and we’re encouraged to supplement a vast, shattering emptiness with material acquisition that we’re not able to afford. Our lord and king is Chase Manhattan, the land we work is a skyscraper, and our hovels are still owned by overseers. Company land, rented to own. That is, if we’re consistently lucky for 30 or more years in a row.
There we go! The woman I want to meet is free. Alive. Because none of this stuff that we do at our sad little offices, pounding away at a means without an end, is real. We should only be at these thankless jobs to fund our desires and vices. When the elevator doors at the office close at the end of the day, all of the names, heartache, and passwords should simply wash off.
People say, oh, I do that. I’m living my life. I have a world outside work.
But that’s rarely the truth. The function of this world is to bind us in all aspects. We can’t afford to travel, or we don’t dare take the time off to do so. We can’t afford to fund our dreams – no matter how crazy. Like serfs, we’ve been made to question our place in the world, to doubt our own initiative, and to fear our goals.
And if we don’t succumb, then, in some sort of subconscious defiance, we swing uselessly the other way and demand entitlement. We deserve what we haven’t worked for because the system is wrong.
The act of being free and alive and washing off the workaday world is to also know that we aren’t special. What’s the phrase from Terminator 2? No fate but what you make.
So, girlie girl, fuck dinner and a movie. Let’s go assassinate Miles Dyson!