Only the lonely (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)
Know the way I feel tonight (ooh-yay-yay-yay-yeah)
Only the lonely (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)
Know this feelin aint right (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)
I like parties, but I need my time alone. But not TOO alone.
After 9.5 years of Asian expatriatism and bachelorhood, working for a week back in what was for a short time my 'home' town of Sydney, I came to some sort of an epiphany. There is virtual swathe of virtual epiphanies going around at the virtual moment, mostly more profound and interesting than mine, but bethatmay, mine was this:
I am lonely.
When I walked the streets of Sydney yesterday, eyeing the talent (predominantly cute PLA Asians, because I am in Chinatown) noting that the staple food intake of urban Australians seems to be toasted panini and cappuccino (made so that it tastes like coffee, not milk - it's meant to be milk flavoured coffee, not coffee flavoured milk, Mr Starbucks - but I digress) my feet were hurting. As per. An all too familiar lump of something caught in my chest as I returned to my hotel foyer. A hernia? A heart attack? A fur-ball?
I recognise it slowly. It is sadness.
I had walked around, done window shopping at the Big Man's Store (no condoms in my size), picked up some books and DVDs, admired the architecture of the GVB, had a panino and a cappuccino, and I had talked to no-one except the book-clerk who informed me that no, had no copy of Betty Blue. Maybe I should try Borders (yes!). Two sentences in English. When I am working in Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea, China, India, etc... that is about the average for a typical day. But I am in Sydney. Ignore the fact that the couple behind are piercing my ears with a whining Mandarin, or the guy lounging on the corner is talking Korean into his Samsung phone, but recall I am in Australia. This is not a racist post, complaining about immigration, no way. I am just saying, I expect to be talking to people here, talking in English. This feeling of congestion is due to the fact I haven't spoken to anyone, and this is the same feeling I get day after day in my work in Asia. I am not gregarious enough to start conversations as a rule, I'm not an ice-breaker, particularly if the people around me don't speak very good English, so often I spend entire days without uttering or hearing a single word of English. I am getting that claustrophobic sense of language isolation in Chinatown. (If I had bothered to learn Mandarin, Thai, Japanese, yep - as I certainly shoulda done 9 years ago... might even start properly next year.)
But I am not depressed, as I sometimes fear, I am merely sad. The reason is patently obvious. I don't talk to enough people often enough.
I am only lonely.
The phone buzzes. It is S. We are meeting K and L at the Menzies at 6:30. Taxi, traffic jam. L is late. Gin(s) and tonics. We chew the rag, joke. I tell some stories. We head off for Peking duck in Dixon St. L arrives as the hot and sour soup is cooling. We convive. He rolls a pancake forgetting to put in the duck-skin, so caught up in his train of speech. He suggests beers afterwards. He talks about work. K talks about other friends in Brisbane. S and I reminisce about Hong Kong. I listen to the others, I contribute occasionally, take over sometimes. We are having a conversation. I am totally free of that swelling sensation. I am breathing easy, swallowing without choking, laughing, hugging my friends, even though I have seen them maybe six times since 1998.
In Scruffy Murphys at 11pm, when the Black and Tans are mellowing our voices, sharpening our opinions, the conversation ends abruptly as a band is starting. The crowd swells, gets younger. We try an outside table. Nope, they are closing them down. We try the upstairs bar. Nope, it is closing. We try the V-bar at my hotel. Nope, they shut 20 minutes ago. We try the Three Monkeys over the road. The mezzanine is not QUITE as noisy, we can continue to talk, to laugh and to whinge.
Sydney is fucked, says L. There is nowhere any more to go if you want have a quiet drink. The pubs are shooting themselves in the foot, alienating the more mature clientele. Everyone in the pub other than us is about 20, the music is pumping and they are all buying drinks. The pubs are happy enough, I reckon.
We stand on the corner, all wishing we were 22 again as tough young men (L's preference, not mine) swagger past, as fat-arsed Aussie tarts try to make themselves appealing with coarse tattoos and foul mouths (my preference is for PLAs of any race or colour but only female gender). L and K hop taxis, I stride/stumble into the foyer of my hotel and smiling and satisfied after a terrific evening catching up.
I am not totally an introvert I realise.
While I have many individual or solitary habits, like reading, writing,
Every now and then would be good. More often than currently would be better.
But until I call off this (well-paying) job and settle down somewhere - or, shudder, I get a girlfriend! - nothing's going to change suddenly.
That's OK, I am only lonely.
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
"...sometimes I just want someone I can TALK to, listen to, sit quietly next to and watch the world go by."
Don't you have Indy for that sort of thing?
I see a huge market for inflatable listeners.
VPS: sorry , I meant to type "someone beautiful"...
Dick: anatomically correct auricles?
Was watching Lonely Guy earlier today too, laughing out SO FREAKING loud!
Lonely Cop: Listen, I really don't have to use the can I just want to ask you, where do you get these things?
[cardboard cutout people for use as silhouettes to cast shadows on the window at a lonely guy party]
Lonely Cop: They're fantastic!
Larry Hubbard: You mean you're a...
Lonely Cop: Yeah, a lonely cop.
Larry Hubbard: A lonely cop? Aww. You get them at The Lonely Guy's store at 81st and Lex.
Lonely Cop: Do they have Gene Hackman?
Larry Hubbard: Uh,
[to Warren who's in the kitchen]
Larry Hubbard: Hey Warren! Does The Lonely Guy's store have Gene Hackman?
Warren Evans: Yeah but you have to order him one week before shipping!
*hugs* just because, sugar! actually, i understand completely, but that's another story...
Phil, you idiot. I was in Sydney wandering the streets looking for entertainment. Accompanying me was a person who thinks 2 light beers a week is heavy drinking.
Just a phone call away.