The loneliness of the single, middle-aged Rhode Island male is palpable.
It beats through the bruised and battered membrane of my computer screen. It seers through desperate emails and forced smiles.
It makes me sad.
I am dragging my heels.
I don’t want to go date Rhode Island.
“I signed up for this site because I saw you,” writes a 52 year-old musician from Harmony, Rhode Island. “I think we should meet.”
He has never been married because he’s never been in love. He’s still looking for the one.
“You are very kind,” I write back. “I’m currently traveling between here and there, but would love to meet for coffee when I’m in town.”
“When will that be?”
“I’m not sure right now. I’ll let you know.”
Three weeks later, he writes me again.
“Are you back yet?”
“No,” I write. “Maybe in a couple of weeks. Things are crazy right now.”
A month goes by.
“I am still interested.”
“I am still interested…”
“How are you?”
He tells me we’re meant for one another. I know he’s wrong.
“I’m busy through the holidays,” I write. “I don’t know when I’ll be back.”
A month later, a final email.
“Should I give up on hearing from you?”
“I guess,” I say. “I’m having a hard time finding my way home.
“Hello. How are you?” writes suburbandad.
He has no picture. His profile tells me nothing, except that he’s a father and an endurance athlete who is looking for his soulmate. In Rhode Island.
Assuming that everyone has at least one soulmate, here are some soulmate stats.
Rhode Island soulmate population: 1,051,302 possibilities, depending on one’s definition of a soulmate. This number diminishes greatly if you put age and gender limitations on your search.
The United States possible soulmate population: 311,591,917.
World possible soulmate population: 7,092,157,429.
In short, sometimes you have to look for love beyond your backyard, especially if you live in small state.
I don’t answer his email.
He sends another.
“Not even a hint of curiosity?”
There’s not. So I don’t answer.
He sends another
“Are you always this chatty,” he asks.
And of course, I answer with silence.
He writes “Dear Silly Lady, Sock puppets are my specialty. Please pay royalties.”
To which, I reply, “Dear strange, bear-resembling man, there’s room for more than one sock puppet master in this town.”
“I checked your pics and need to inform you that discarded limes and cigarette butts aren’t good for canines,” he writes referring to a picture of my dog investigating a slug.
“Dear smelly boy,” I write back, “it just so happens that my canine likes rum drinks with a squeeze of lime and smoking cigarettes. Shows what you know about how to treat a dog.”
He writes back one last time, but I don’t respond. I can’t lead on a guy who likes sock puppets. It’s just not… right.
A miracle occurs.
Match.com is hosting a singles drinking event at a bar in Providence. Fast strike, fast retreat. No casualties. No post traumatic dating disorder. No follow-ups or awkward goodbyes.
And there might even be a martini waiting for me.
She never mentions it again
I pull up the invitation to buy a ticket, but decide to hold off. I have an idea.
I text Obidiah. “You want to be my wingman at a Providence dating event. All expense paid bus trip to glorious Rhode Island?”
He texts back that he’d love to, but he’s looking for a job.
So it’s good that I didn’t buy him a ticket.
I email Alexis. She’s a filmmaker I recently met who lives in the neighborhood. A friend of a friend who moved back from a two-year stint in Romania. She’s married, but could pass for single, if she agrees to take her ring off for the evening.
“Do you feel like being a wingman on a 50 dates trip to Providence, RI? I’m going to hit a singles mixer since the guys seem way too lonely for me to deal with them one on one.”
“Would love to do it,” she types back.
It’s all happening.
I pull up the invitation. I hit “purchase tickets.”
“Event sold out,” it says.
I hit “purchase tickets.”
It says, “event sold out.”
I hit… fuck. I’m never going to make it to Rhode Island.
I look at my US map. I study it. Hard.
I type in “bus to Delaware.” Wilmington is two hours and twenty minutes away.
“Forget Rhode Island,” I write to Alexis. “We’re going to Delaware.”
Back to loneliness.
Last week, I dropped a five gallon glass jug of water on my kitchen floor. As I surveyed the damage, I felt lonely for a few minutes.
I wished there was someone stronger than me here who could’ve lifted the jug effortlessly into the dispenser. That there was someone smarter than me to help clean up the mess. That there was someone gentler than me who would’ve scooped up my dog and kept her from harm so that I didn’t have to snap at her to get away from the broken glass until she was scared of me.
Standing on my soaked bath towels, broken glass trapped beneath my feet, I thought, “I dropped a five gallon glass jug of water on the kitchen floor and now I’m going to be cleaning up black sesame seeds for the next ten years.”
And then I thought, “I am probably the only person on earth who can say that today.”
World population: 7,092,157,429
Number of humans on the earth who dropped five gallons of spring water on a half-gallon jar of black sesame seed on the morning of January 2nd, 2013: 1
I laughed. And then I wasn’t lonely anymore.