Through my first fourteen years on this planet, I suffered through what is probably close to the usual number of schoolboy crushes, vague longings, and other emotional effluvia, and at some point towards the end of that period I came to the not-exactly-surprising conclusion that it had all been a waste of time, that my existence would be far happier if I could just somehow come up with a means to toggle off these all-too-hormonal reactions and concentrate on things that actually needed to be done.

An event in the spring of 1969 caught me offguard, as it were, and forced me to reevaluate: maybe I'd been wrong, maybe I'd judged myself too harshly, maybe there actually was someone for me after all. I coasted for the better part of a year on hybrid emotion, half delight, half delusion. Eventually the warm fuzziness was dislodged by the cold hard facts of life, which, if nothing else, gave me an excuse for not being scared spitless when they started drawing draft-lottery numbers: it wasn't quite as exotic-sounding as running off to join the French Foreign Legion, but it would occupy my mind and my spare time, and what's more, I lacked both the urge to improve my French beyond nous avons, vous avez, ils ont and the desire to find myself up the Chari River without an air freshener.

By the middle Seventies, I had learned two things:

  • That empty place was just getting emptier;
  • Some women look damn fine in khaki. Camo, even.

There is, of course, nothing at all unique about the feeling that no one wants you, and it was perhaps inevitable that I'd eventually run into a woman with the same perspective. We hit it off at once, despite the fact that we had nothing in common other than that attitude. It lasted longer than it should have, I suppose. And eventually she discovered that she was wrong, while I made no such discovery for myself.

Came the divorce, the Nineties, the millennium. Being fifty-four instead of fourteen has conferred upon me no additional insight into the matter: I still suffer the occasional crush, the vague longing, and I still wish there was some method to turn it off altogether — some method that doesn't involve Dr. Kevorkian, anyway. I rationalize things better today, of course: there's no shame, after all, in being single, and just think how much money I'm saving by not actually dating. And then, of course, along comes February to knock all that feigned sensibleness back into the background, and it peaks today, the fourteenth, when all the Grand Conspirators, Hallmark and Ghirardelli, Teleflora and De Beers, deliver just short of a death blow to all that I am (not so much) and all that I feel (less than that).

I just hope nobody dresses up today at work.

The Vent

  14 February 2008

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 Copyright © 2008 by Charles G. Hill