I sure as hell hope that love is lovelier the third time around. I’ve been going through a rough patch these last few years. My search for true love has been disastrous. I suppose this is not unusual, but for it to be concentrated in just a few years has made me quite desperate. I am thinking about embarking on my third serious relationship in three years, including one marriage and a divorce. But I am hopeful now since … well, let me first give you the sad background of how I got to this point, and then maybe you can give me your advice, which I imagine is based on deep experience and good luck.
I’ve never written to Miss Lonelyhearts, but I am really desperate and don’t want to enter into another dreadful relationship, one that could compromise me in more ways than one. I’d never recover.
And I know the world is full of serious issues that make my story seem so trivial, and I guess it is, but I’m feeling so down, I just have to tell somebody.
A few years ago, when I woke up one morning and looked in the mirror, I said to my image, “Man, you are a pathetic sad sack.” Hearing that, one of us thought there must be a way to get okay with his self, all things being equal and everything being relative. I remembered seeing a book in a used book store with the title, I’m OK – You’re OK, and thinking I wasn’t really OK, I was depressed and had a hard time concentrating on anything except my face in the mirror and the sorry state of my life. All the men I knew seemed so down too, so waddya call it, so fucked up or so fucked down. I never could understand which is the right way to say it. Is there a right way or can you say it any way you want? Up down – just fucked, or maybe not. These other guys were dragging too, but I needed to focus on little old me. I was definitely not OK.
So I got in my truck and cruised around, listening to some stupid news show on the radio when I heard a report that startled me and gave me a great idea. I drove to the Dollar Store to get a wedding card to send to myself. This report I heard said the latest cool thing was to marry yourself – they called it sologamy, I think the guy said. It made you feel good about yourself. OK, I think the guy said. They interviewed this woman who had just married herself and boy was she flying high and enthusing about the great feeling it gave her. She said she had realized she had fallen out of love with herself and marrying herself was like the second time around. It really stirred my blood and got me thinking what I could do for myself. I started humming that old song, you know, “Love is lovelier, the second time around.…”
Like I said, so many of the guys I saw around seemed so down, in the bar they sat over their beers with their shoulders slumped and in the supermarkets I saw the old guys looking so hangdog as they pushed those shopping carts after the women who had notes in hand and little calculators as they took charge of the food buying. Those women seemed OK at least. The men always seemed to be one or two steps back and the women talking and smiling all the time. I even noticed that when I passed an exercise studio the women came out in those yoga outfits looking so OK and up for things but the guys I knew who went to the gym looked all tied in knots after heaving the weights like they were performing some grim duty that would keep them above water for a while. The women seemed like they had gotten religion and were saved.
Then I stopped in the local coffee shop to get a pick up and think about this marrying myself thing. That’s when I lucked out for sure. Or is it lucked in? Like I said, these sayings confuse me, I never know what’s correct or not, out or in, up or down. Are there some rules to all this or can you just wing it? I get really confused. Anyway, there was a bunch of newspapers lying around and I glanced at a New York Times on the table. There was this weird article that jumped out at me about transracialism and transgenderism and this big debate about these big words and a philosopher who claims if you can self-identify as a different sex, or is it gender, I can never get them straight, you should also be able to self-identify as a different race. It was a long article with a lot of people arguing back and forth and I couldn’t concentrate on it all but I got the gist of the professor’s point and thought this might be for me, it might help me get OK, which was my goal. As I said, I saw all those women up and smiling all the time and the guys down and hang dogged and I always noticed that Magic Johnson the hoops star of old is always smiling on the tube and I’ve always wondered why that was.
So to get to my point, I made a decision then and there. I gave it a shot and married myself on June 9th since they say June is the best marrying month, and I decided to follow the philosopher’s suggestion and self-identify as a black woman as well. I figured it couldn’t hurt and might help. The guy was a philosopher after all, and aren’t philosophers supposed to know a lot? That woman part was just for the day of course, and I planned on going back to being me a man the next day, me married to I. I was just hoping the woman switch would be a happy trick, and the day after, when I looked in the mirror, I’d hear that smiling face say, “Man, You’re OK, I’m OK.”
Of course, I invited no one to the wedding, for I knew they’d understand how intimate the ceremony was.
That was two years ago.
The relationship didn’t work out, actually it was a disaster, and so I eventually filed for a divorce. It was no one’s fault really, but we were emotionally devastated nevertheless. At least we had no children. Sologamy didn’t seem to suit us. We had acted impetuously. As I said, I had gotten the idea after hearing an NPR radio report about a woman who fell in love with herself and said that after she tied the knot, she had never been happier. I was an American and felt happiness was my right, too.
The world was getting me down at the time with all the political news about the Russians coming and insinuating themselves between me and you and all good Americans who had just wanted to elect Hillary Clinton and be happy. And as I was thinking about this happy married couple – the woman and herself, not Bill and Hillary – I chanced upon that New York Times article in the coffee shop that convinced me to take the plunge. So I self-identified as I and me, a couple, and we said I do and I do too, in a private ceremony. I had really wanted to be happy like that woman and to forget all the stuff about Trump being in bed with the Russians, and the Russians trying to get into our heads and voting booths, maybe even our beds where they would whisper lies about capitalism being immoral and other sweet nothings meant to confuse us about our identities and what was right and wrong. I had figured going to bed with myself might help me forget.
But it didn’t work out as we expected. Six months into the marriage, on New Year’s Eve, we had a little party and had a few anime hologram friends over. As usual, we had talked about the past year and old times and old friends and sang a few lines of Auld Lang Syne as we toasted left hand to right with some nice Prosecco with pomegranate juice since we heard that was the drink all the smart set used to celebrate their clever happiness. But then we got to arguing, and between you and me, it wasn’t pretty. Our hologram friends were mortified. It was a scene straight out of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The Prosecco had gone to our head, so we didn’t remember all the scathing interchanges, but I do know our anime friends said not a word and that I said to me at one-point words that seemed to echo Martha and George’s from the play.
Truth or Illusion, George; you don’t know the difference
No, but we must carry on as if we did.
So then, on the day after, we carried on “as if.” Amen, indeed! And though our head hurt a bit, we talked over coffee and decided to split up, amicably of course. It was a new year, and like most people, we wanted to make a fresh start. I wished me the best and knew me reciprocated. We went separate ways but it was very lonely. Facebook friends helped somewhat, but they were no substitute for the intimacy of our time together. I didn’t know who would then help me make it through the night? And what about poor I? Forgive me, but I was so confused and had a hell of a headache.
Although I wanted 2019 to be a happy year, I knew 2019 would be a long night from hell politically and culturally, with fake news everywhere and our Russian enemies infiltrating our minds at every turn with backstopping and sheep dipping their spies throughout the media and academia. I was so lonely trying to make sense of it all. Without my me-spouse, I knew it could only get worse. Even CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s New Year’s Eve words of comfort to the lonely from Times Square didn’t help much. Like Fox News’s “Fox and Friends,” Anderson is always there with a helping hand, and when I and me were arguing, I could always go to my true friends in the media for a dose of truth and sustenance. They knew all about the Russian threat.
But while I was grateful for their comfort in those confusing times, I needed more. With apologies to Kris Kristofferson, I thought loving me would be easier that anything I’d ever do again. I needed easy, real easy, easier even than when I would say something and me would disagree but we would let it slide for the sake of our relationship. It was easier that way. But our relationship was probably doomed from the start.
But thank God for technology and CNN that had alerted me to a new technological possibility with a report about a Japanese man, Akihito Kondo, a school administrator, who fell in love years ago with Miku, a cyber-celebrity hologram. He had finally taken the plunge and married Miku in a lovely ceremony in front of thirty-nine people. Kondo seemed radiantly happy and not at all confused.
Such a possibility was right in front of my nose all along: my anime hologram friends who watched me and I get drunk that New Year’s Eve. One of them – Meto – was cute as a button and was always looking to snuggle and comfort others. So, after divorcing myself, I proposed to her and after a dignified waiting period, maybe an hour or so, she said yes. But we didn’t get officially married, just lived together, since I was scarred from the ordeal of being married to me.
For this past year, I carried on as if loving her was easier than anything I’d ever done before. Boy, was I wrong. It wasn’t that she got headaches or said she was very stressed and overworked whenever I was in a loving mood. She was always willing but never really there, if you know what I mean. I’m a Bud Light guy, but Meto’s lightness just didn’t cut it. At least when I and me were married we had a body.
So here we are in late February 2020 and I am thinking of risking all for love once more. If I do, and this doesn’t work out, I’m going to fold my cards and walk away, but a friend who is big into technology and who has tried this method assures me it is foolproof. I trust her, even though she is a little way-out-there with her electronic obsessions, always buying the latest cell phone and other gadgets that she says make her life so much better, even though she is tattooed everywhere and thinks of herself as a free spirit. I don’t get it.
I’m more old-school, although I did fall for Meto in one of my weaker moments. I use little technology: don’t use a smart phone, don’t text, listen to music on CDs, never listened to a book on tape, etc. – I essentially live in an alternative reality from so many people in this digital age. But I have become a desperado for love. I drive an old Toyota pickup truck and sometimes think I am that guy from The Bridges of Madison County who had luck with the farmer’s wife, except I’ve had no luck.
Truth or illusion? Let us carry on as if we knew. I have no idea. I know there are very few farms around here anymore, and those that exist are run by rich people for rich people and for expensive restaurants that advertise farm-to-table food and locally raised organic meat and everything that makes the wealthy diners feel OK and think they will live forever. I don’t feel OK. I feel forlorn, fucked-up, even though I’m not sure if that is the right way to put it. Forlorn? What’s that? I understand fucked-up, don’t you? But forlorn?
Anyway, here’s what I’m thinking. My friend told me I should look into a sexbot. That’s a robot that you can have sex with and people are marrying these days. She says they are increasingly life-like, far realer than a hologram. She said she felt one and it felt just like a human body. And now that they are powered by very sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI), you can get one that is far more than a sex doll but has real feelings and emotions and you can have a genuine relationship with. I told her I’ve seen them, but she misunderstood. I meant the entertainment/media/Hollywood industry that is full of them, Barbies and Kens, lookalikes parading across screens everywhere. She laughed and said, “But the sexbots are intelligent, and if you want to feel OK, don’t you want an intelligent woman?”
I saw her point, and said I did, but not too intelligent since I’m not very smart myself and most of my relationships, including with myself and Meto, didn’t work out because I didn’t understand a lot of what they said to me. As I told you, I’m just a regular Joe, driving my pickup truck, drinking Bud Light, and looking to feel OK. I just feel like crap and have to do something. She got this article on her phone to show me where a professor of robotics at a college in Iowa said that “Because they would be programmable, sexbots would meet each individual user’s needs.” He’s a professor, she said, he must know. What could I say? I had a lot of unmet needs, and I’m in no position to question this professor who is an expert on robots.
What do you think? Should I take the plunge? I just want to feel OK for once.
To make matter worse, just this morning I saw headlines that Russia is at it again, meddling to fix the 2020 election for Trump. Or is it Sanders? I guess those Russians are really good at the cyber-warfare stuff and have many experts in artificial intelligence, but what about human intelligence – make up your mind, Russians, is it Trump or Sanders?
What if I get a sex robot and she is named Svetlana, made in Moscow?
I’ll really be screwed then.
I need somebody, not just anybody. Help me if you can, I’m feeling down.