The Lonely Calculus

436297416_640

On Thanksgiving Day, I fantasized about calling the suicide prevention hotline. I didn’t really want to kill myself; I just wanted someone to talk to. I thought about that: someone you can just call. I imagined their voice on the other side of the line, a friendly woman’s. Someone robust, grounded, like the mother of a clan of rowdy kids, overweight and earthy. “Hello?” I would say kind of cautiously.

“What’s your name?” the voice would ask, opening up with indestructible, caring warmth.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Like A Boss

nicubunu_Woman_Silhouette_5_Clipart_Free

It took me a minute to find him because of all the loud music and the angry hostility with which both men and women glared at me as I pushed through the dance floor to reach the table.

“Casper here is a flight instructor,” Dom introduced me, standing up as I walked over. He looked awkward getting up from the stool, his belly hanging over his dark pants, protruding against the buttons of his suit. It looked like there was sweat gathering at the spindly junctures of his mustache and goatee from the effort. I shook his hand concernedly.

“Ah, another protege?” asked the man sitting with him. “Looking to consistently pull more beautiful women? A new master for our method?” Continue reading

An Unworn Pair

grooms

Franklin was intent on dating someone who offered him no conveniences. He looked down on his friends who dated women that cut their hair very stylishly for free, or cooked gourmet meals. Likewise, he looked down on his friends who dated men that did their oil changes or helped pay their student loans. He wanted no pragmatic advantages. He saw them as sellout compromises, reminiscent of the comforts that keep older unhappy couples from divorcing – once they thought of all the hassle, the little bits of laziness they would surrender. He wanted no ignoble and petty considerations like that in his calculations of freedom or commitment. Continue reading

Keeps No Record of Wrongs: A Valentine’s Day Story

polo

When Callista started dating Colin Raffaeli, I had to break them up.

You have to understand how terrible Colin Raffaeli is. Imagine Colin Raffaeli pulling up with his friends in his gigantic off-roading pickup with those monster truck tires I’ve never even seen at a dealership (where do you get monster truck tires?), Lil Wayne blaring at that bass level that’s so distorted you hear the car vibrating more than any music.

I didn’t have to imagine because I was watching the driveway from behind the French blinds in the front sitting room by the foyer, under our track lighting. Colin Raffaeli was wearing a big white Abercrombie polo and big khaki cargo shorts and big brown flapping flip-flops. You could almost smell the body-spray on him.

Continue reading

The People You Meet

facebookdating

“That’s so true,” she said.

I looked up from my Maki roll. “What is?”

She showed to me her phone, on which was a picture of fuzzy stock-art of two hands clasping over a candle with a quotation in intricate white Gothic-font text on top: “Life Truth #754: When The People Most Important In Your Life Are The Ones You Didn’t Expect.”

I said, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”

She looked surprised. “No, it’s not,” she said.

“You’re implying there’s something unusual or special about people you care about – I assume you’re thinking a best friend or a boyfriend – that it’s somehow a unique magical thing that you didn’t expect to meet them or expect them to become important to you?”

“It’s true for me.”

“No, it’s categorically true. That’s why it’s stupid to say. Like if you say, ‘Isn’t it crazy that when I lose something it’s always in the last place I look?’ Because then you didn’t look anymore.”

She had this wide-eyed expression. “Ohhhh-kayyyy,” she said, drawing it out like you would for an accosting hobo. Continue reading

Snow Day

chicago-2011

I pulled up to Des Plaines Oasis while Sadie was still babbling on in the passenger seat about her night-class professor, some mustached old Timothy-Dalton-now-lookalike with cheap blue blazers that were too big even for his strange gorilla frame, Phillip something. “There’s a whole way,” Sadie was saying, “like, the whole system, of how everything has been designed to keep women from power.”

“Jeez,” I said, trying to look through the thick ice and snow built into a haze across the windshield. “It’s murder out here.”

The parking lot was covered in white and terrain hazards in snow drifts and mounds so that it looked like a construction zone where parking spots had hastily been carved out of a hilltop. The wind outside continued to blow the falling snow around in a faint fog that could blind you for more than a few feet.

Continue reading

How to Win at Online Mating

snapchat“Did you hear about Cheryl, Charles?”

“I did hear about Cheryl, Bill. The poor girl.”

“We should do something for her.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“I think the best thing for a trampled heart is to get right back on that horse, mixed metaphors be damned.”

“I agree, Bill. Life is too short to sit around and mope. But you and I certainly make no fitting mates for a lady like Cheryl, ha ha.”

“Banish the thought, Charles, banish the thought – and idiomatic malapropism be damned.”

“You have something else in mind.”

“I do, Charles. Online dating. There’s no quicker way to order up a relationship, as easy as a new DVD on Amazon. It’s as easy as apple pie, and reputable, these websites: they guarantee love!”

Continue reading