Monday, October 20, 2008
The World Is a Lonely Place
I love that part in the movie Fargo where Mike Yanagita and Margie are having that totally awkward lunch at the Radisson and Mike goes, "You were such a super lady, and I'm...I'm so lonely." Because he's such a sad little man, and I secretly want to poke him with a stick and make him cry.
And yet, there's something really heartbreaking about someone admitting that he or she is lonely. It's almost more upsetting than someone saying, "I have cancer." Because admitting that you have cancer shows an enormous strength and almost implies, "I intend to fight this thing." It makes a person admire you even more. Admitting you're lonely is 1) far less newsworthy and 2) easily equated to saying, "Well, I have no friends."
I always think of Mike Yanagita when I realize I've just spent a weekend holed up in my apartment writing, taking naps, and forcing my cat to spoon with me. And I think to myself, "Is this normal behavior? Should I be enjoying solitude to the point where I don't notice that I haven't had a conversation with another human being for almost 48 hours? Am I weird?"
I've always been this way. When I was a baby, apparently I hated it when my mom tried to snuggle me up in the rocking chair. I wanted my crib, I wanted my pacifier, and I wanted the big-headed hairy people to fuck off.
Luckily, this means I hardly ever feel lonely. Which would come in handy were I ever the lone survivor of a global holocaust. I would probably amuse myself by quoting that part in Strange Brew where Bob says, "I was the last one left on the planet after the holocaust, eh. The earth had been like desvastated by nucular war. Like Russia blew up the U.S., and U.S. blew up Russia, eh. Lucky for me, I had been off planet on vacation at the time of the war, eh. There wasn't much to do. All the bowling alleys had been wrecked. So's I spent most of my time looking for beer." Then, I would giggle for fifteen minutes before setting off to find a library where I could reenact that scene from that episode of The Twilight Zone where Burgess Meredith breaks his glasses.
Unluckily, when I do feel lonely, it drags me down and makes me feel sorry for myself. It starts with a dull bitterness and grows into a general dislike of everyone. Inevitably, that is when I see couples on the subway making out or holding hands and I secretly fantasize about throwing rocks at them. Because, mentally, I'm five years old when the lonelies hit. The feeling always subsides, sometimes the next day, sometimes a week later. And I realize that if people saw this wicked, hateful side of me, they might not want to be my friends at all. And so I draw further into my unhappiness and away from the one thing that could make the lonelies go away: other people.
So, after one of these weekends of loneliness and cat spooning, sometimes one of my other favorite movies comes to mind. It's called The Lonely Guy, and it stars Steve Martin in one of his lesser-known roles. Steve Martin's character, Larry, gets dumped by his girlfriend and suddenly discovers that, for the first time in his life, he's becoming a "lonely guy." Lonely guys buy dogs and take up jogging in an attempt to meet women. They rent cardboard celebrity cutouts and throw parties with them as the guests. When the loneliness becomes too much, lonely guys throw themselves off the Manhattan Bridge in despair. And while this movie is, in fact, terrible, it is also a very brilliant depiction of loneliness at its most pathetic. At one point in the movie, Larry's friend Warren, played by Charles Grodin, convinces Larry to go with him to buy a fern. They dub the ferns their "guys" and depart when Warren says, "Does your guy want to say goodbye to my guy?"
I don't have ferns but I do have philadendrons that I named after Harry Potter characters.
So, how about it? Does your guy want to say goodbye to my guy?