When I went bed-shopping last month, the sales dude was careful to tell me that the full-sized set I'd selected could be had in queen size for exactly the same price. I pointed out that in my tiny postwar bedroom, there really wasn't enough space to accommodate a queen set. What I didn't tell him was that I didn't really want to spend big on queen-sized sheets, of which I had none. But there was a second reason: generally speaking, a queen set is about the smallest size one can get that can reasonably accommodate two people, and there is no circumstance I can imagine under which I will ever again share a bed with someone.

There are several reasons for this, some more obvious than others. Appearance is a subjective sort of thing, but I've always seen myself as below-average in physical attractiveness, maybe a 2.5 or 3 — never more than 4 — out of a possible 10. And it's not really a function of having been somewhat overweight most of my life, either; over the last decade or so I have lost somewhere upwards of 120 pounds, and it hasn't made me look the slightest bit more appealing. My features are marginally symmetrical, but that's about it. And while I've come to grips, sort of, with body-image issues — I am, after all, a card-carrying naturist — those grips are given their strength by the certainty that no one is looking.

This is not to say that I have never drawn any attention from the other side of the aisle. (Obviously, since I have two children, I don't qualify as The 62-Year-Old Virgin.) I am, however, persuaded that whatever attention I got, I did not deserve; were I the sort of person who doles out advice to the lonely, somewhere near the top of my list would be "Avoid people like me." Admittedly, this wasn't always my position; but during my thirties, while wedded bliss was dissolving into irritation and invective, it became distressingly clear that whatever points I earned for being marginally amusing were offset by penalties for being surly, uncommunicative and generally difficult. Long before I got through my forties, I was sidelined, and understandably so. On the upside, the absence of performance opportunities does tend to mask the embarrassment of performance anxiety.

At one level, of course, I feel like I should have grown beyond this by now: being old and decrepit should be more than enough to erase any lingering desires. Testosterone, unfortunately, doesn't behave sensibly; I am grateful that I no longer drool, or the visual equivalent thereof, but life would be so much simpler if whatever mechanism triggers this sort of thing could be toggled off, or at least turned down in the manner of a dimmer switch. Unlike some of your omega males who constantly bewail their uncombined state, I am not persuaded that this condition is entirely due to the perfidy of women; I am willing to entertain the possibility that some of my moroseness is inherited, but the rest of it, I have to believe, is something I brought on myself. Exactly how I pulled this off, I am not entirely sure. Still, I am loath to blame someone else for my troubles; the rest of the world has better things to do than to think up ways to torment me. It's much more efficient for me to do it for myself.

The Vent

  8 September 2016

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