Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Natural Born Loner

Loner. Sounds like a tall-in-the-saddle badass, who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. The Man with No Name, clenching a cigarillo between his teeth, and gazing upon the world with disdain. It doesn’t sound like a shy guy, who avoided every school dance, and preferred to spend his free time, wandering through the woods behind his boyhood home.

I enjoy companionship and friendship like most human beings, but I have always found it difficult to connect with others. I’ve never enjoyed getting drunk with the boys. (Besides, boys shouldn’t be getting drunk. They should be helping old ladies cross the street, and mowing their invalid neighbor’s lawn.) I’m not a sports fan or player. I’m not a hobbyist, meeting up with other stamp collectors at the local community center on weekends. I enjoy solitary activities. Yes, including that one.

I grew up in the countryside. The closest neighbors my age were down the road a piece. I was not part of a close knit family. We were (and are) embattled. Children are better seen than heard. Don’t speak until you’re spoken to. If you say that again, you’re going to get your mouth washed out with soap. According to the University of Liverpool, the idea that children shouldn't have a voice in their lives lingered well into the 20th century. I can vouch for that.

Over the years, I’ve maintained one or two good friends at a time, although I haven’t hung out with a friend since my son was in diapers. My flip-phone is not filled with numbers to call on a Friday night; Friends to watch movies with, or discuss politics. Even my own son says to me, “You don’t like crowds, right daddy?” “It depends on the crowd,” I reply. “Yeah, but you don’t like crowds, do you daddy?” It’s true. I have a hard time liking people in general and yet I spend five days a week, being nice to my customers at the bookstore. It’s my natural instinct to treat people, as I would want them to treat me if our roles were reversed. I may be a misanthrope, but I’m a friendly one.

If loners prefer their own company, then why would they get married? Well, loners need love too. When the world quiets down, it’s nice to have someone to open up to at the end of the day. I’m the strong and silent type, but once you get to know me I reveal my fragile self. Fifty-five and emotionally fragile is not a good tagline. I'm sure that the Man with No Name visited the bordello once in a while, but there must have been a tragedy in his past that kept romantic love at bay. Maybe the Man with No Name needed a dog; or a good therapist.

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