Tuesday, January 29, 2013


So We're Not Going to Live Happily Ever After

I don’t read whole articles, just headlines. And then I write the rest of the article in my head as I see fit, to agree with what I already believe. And this article that I read the headline of last night tells me that love isn’t forever, and that I should stop waiting for the one perfect person to fill every part of my life. Also that I should shoot for “micro-moments of positivity resonance.” Talk about lowering the love bar. I get “micro-moments of positivity resonance” when I’m at the urinal by myself. Some of those urinal standing-up-whizzing moments are the most satisfying of my life. I am going to marry a urinal. I’ll be right back.

Now I maybe agree with Dr. Love 2.0 that we’re capable of all kinds of relationships that sustain us, and we should let them sustain us instead of always training the old harpoon at the big white whale of True Love Forever. In a recent New York Times article I was anonymously nouted. Nout is a verb I invented that's like being outed except there is no out to out. The truth of my relationship with “The Oracle,” as I now call him, is complex. I mean, we are seriously so sophisticated for having practically invented a way of living that could encompass such a weird and uncategorizable relationship. When the nice New York Times guy asked me what I was to him, I paused.

“He calls me his boyfriend.”

“Is that okay to put in the article?’


Big deal. I mean, who reads the New York Times? I forgot that my parents read the New York Times, especially when it's forwarded to them specifically by my brother. Being gay is probably better in 2013 than being 40 and single and never married and never close to ever having been married. Being gay might be an explanation for all that. So fine. There you go. It's a better explanation than being a poet used to yearning for those who will never, ever love him, being hung up for years on women who won’t even date me. And I tend to run, run, run from anything even remotely resembling a stable and loving relationship. Because I mostly fall in love with crazy women. And I can no longer date poets, said my former therapist. So I haven’t really been on a date in a while. And I’ve lived with Ben for years. I learned how to make wild duck for him. That was a moment of positive blah blah blah.

Everybody at this point probably knows that no one person can and will mean everything to them. And that when you think you're in love with someone for the rest of your life, you'll most likely get tired of them and secretly plot their death for years and years, slowly poisoning their Frosted Flakes every morning. If humans were meant to mate for life, our genitals wouldn’t ever separate from each other once the vagina was breached. Isn’t that how it works with monkeys? I didn’t read that whole article either.

Soon we'll all have to pretend we're so in love with each other / someone / anyone. Valentine’s Day is like Ash Wednesday, when Catholics wear ash on their forehead even when in fact some of them never go to church or anything, it’s just fun and weird to have a bunch of ash on your face at work, because everyone's obviously staring at it, but they’re not supposed to say anything, so they just stare at it and ask if you saw that memo. Yeah, I did. Stare into the ash on my forehead that looks like the state of Oregon! Except the ash on your forehead on Valentine’s Day is like the balloons and chocolates that the person who loves you sent over. Yes, they are so loved. Save yourself a lot of time and energy. Send these things to yourself.

And I’m all for love. It is our national pastime, like shooting guns at one another. There’s something uniquely American about trying to out-love other couples’ love. Trying to be more obnoxiously crazy about one another to the point of completely alienating ourselves from the people we do love. Trying to out-parent, out-person, out-live everyone else we ever meet. That’s a healthy impulse. Well, if the science is to be believed — and why should it be? — they'll come up with another study that says you can’t be happy unless you have a life partner forever, you’d better hold onto them. You need someone else in your life just to afford an apartment. So you better find someone. Or kidnap someone until they fall in love with you. Which will happen, it works every time. I just saw a documentary called “Double Jeopardy” in which Ashley Judd’s husband starts off really nice but then frames her for his fake death and steals their son while she rots in prison. That sucks, Ashley Judd! She gets so tough in jail, though.

Apparently, according to science, to paraphrase the great philosopher Richard Hell, “Love comes in spurts.” Intimacy, hand-holding, drinking hot chocolate (according to the picture on the article, I also always check those out — pictures on the internet are great). We should try to enjoy the little things. The moments of connection between human beings. It would be nice to get laid once in a while, too, between hot chocolates. But all that sex just basically turns into nothing down the road. Or, possibly even worse, ends up turning into children. Which is like graduation day from sex.

They should just put this cuddle drug, this oxycuddleton, into an actual pill form and save us all the eventual Taylor Swift songs. We’ll all have robot lovers in the future anyway. We'll be tying up robots with bungee cords and sticking our genitals inside holograms of President Lincoln. Or Slutty President Lincoln, if it’s Halloween. When we can clone one another, what’s to stop us all from marrying our clones, having giant sex robot orgies and taking a cuddle pill an hour beneath our dying sun, staring out into the hideous nothingness and smoking our magical soul cigars? I’d cast Ethan Hawke in that movie. Meanwhile we’re stuck here having to manage what no other humans have ever managed before. How to put up with other humans for longer than a few days at a time. As much as I want to meet someone who I would at first really like and want to kiss and cuddle with but eventually feel like I’ve disappointed, fooled, or betrayed, and maybe have kids with who would also probably grow to despise me, where was I going with this sentence? Nowhere good. I would have my vagus nerve removed if I could. Because most emotions are really just the same emotion: fear. And I don’t want to be ruled by fear, I’d rather just drift along on my unrealistic impossible feelings of light-headed sugar rush at the very sight of you. The rest of it is for the birds. Huge, garbage-eating robot scavenger birds of the scientific future. That we could also program to eventually cuddle with us, so we would never have to feel alone and unloved for longer than 10 minutes. The book with the bad title tells us that Love is basically Buddhism. Happy Valentine’s Day! Call in Sick to Work!


Previously: Can We Still Be Friends?

Jim Behrle tweets @behrle.

50 Comments / Post A Comment

Reginal T. Squirge

Damn you, Jim Behrle.


True talent. @y


wait, what???


@nonvolleyball Hahahaha, yeah.

I was nodding in sage agreement with him all the way through the Valentine's Day paragraph.

...And then I felt the airy breeze of comprehension as it sailed incredibly high over my head. I kind of felt like I was taking crazy pills in those last few paragraphs? But whatever, it still felt good.


@nonvolleyball I do not know either. :) but :( at the same time?


@wee_ramekin it was the "nouting" thing that threw me--because the linked article didn't seem to have anything to do with our friend Mr. Behrle? & then my confusion about that bled into the rest of the piece.


@nonvolleyball OH! Speaking OF! I really want more backstory/frontstory on that "nouting".


@nonvolleyball "Mr. McFall, who lives with his boyfriend in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, regards Mr. Bass as a father figure and calls the Strand his family."

They're roommates.


@meetapossum ohhhhhhhh thank you. I admit to skimming the article, & I was looking for an actual name so I missed that aside.

...I'm still not sure that resolves my confusion, however.


@nonvolleyball That took me a minute to comprehend, also.

@meetapossum But why wouldn't they ever ask Ben directly who he lives with? Unless the NY Times was all, "this guy Jim says you refer to him as your boyfriend, is that correct?" and Ben responded by chuckling as he tugged at his beard, conceding that it is in fact true. AND VOILA! A beautiful relationship has unfolded before our eyes.


@klaus Seems like they maybe did? Fact-checking? I don't know.

Anyway, it seems to me that being "nouted" (Jim is not gay, but it seems easier to him to explain being gay than being single at 40) is what led him to this soliloquy about love and relationships. Because the closest thing he has (has ever had) to a long-term loving relationship is with his roommate (Jim learned to cook duck for him!)

Faintly Macabre

@wee_ramekin I'd like to isolate this sentence: "We'll be tying up robots with bungee cords and sticking our genitals inside holograms of President Lincoln."

I don't know if it is actually wonderfully bizarre or if it's just exhaustion-drunkeness fooling me. I also don't know if what I just wrote was actually a sentence, so maybe I should go to bed.


@Faintly Macabre That is a great sentence, but I do have to mourn that he missed the opportunity to write "Babe-raham Lincoln."


eeeeeee! Fantastic. Yes, this. Exactly this. But I still like VD, mostly because of the color palate. I'll send you a Valentine, Mr. Behrle.


@Yarnybarny I'm sorry, but there's no way I can read VD and not think "venereal disease."


@Ophelia Yes! My aunt used to work at a doughnut shop, and on Valentine's Day, lacking space to spell out the whole words, wrote "Happy VD" on the doughnuts. Sales were sluggish.

Faintly Macabre

@faintly_macabre Oh lord, I saw your comment and thought, "I already commented? Where's my photo? What aunt????"

(Hi again!)


@Faintly Macabre I bet we actually are related, so my crazy aunt really is your crazy aunt, too! So remember this story, as it is part of your heritage! (I'm sorry, your entire inheritance from this side of the Macabre family is stories about crazy aunts. What they lack in quality they make up for in quantity!)

Faintly Macabre

@faintly_macabre But we're the best crazy aunt!


I actually loved this. RELATIONSHAPES LIVES!


You're such an odd bird, Jim Behrle, but very pretty, too.


Oh wow, good thing I am already miserable cuz of work and have planned to be drinking $5 beer & shot specials tonight.

But thanks Jim, for saying a thing that I didn't know I wanted to say lately, better than I could have anyhow.


@leon s I assume you're referring to the "It would be nice to get laid once in a while, too, between hot chocolates." line.


Hi Jim, the movie you're describing is Neuromancer and I just read they're thinking about casting Mark Wahlberg. I too have a place in my heart for Double Jeopardy, and as a result imagine prison as a pretty pleasant place where one can get buff on the government dime.


@MarlaRae For all of my fears of prison, the one upside I always tell myself is "If you ever go to prison, you will work out all the time and get so buff. You will also read all of the prison library books and organize for new ones."

All the same, I'd like to stay on the outside.


This whole thing makes 100% sense to me.


"And I'm all for love. It is our national pastime, like shooting guns at one another."


Jim Behrle knows how disguise sense as nonsense, and I like it.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I understand what you're saying here Jim, but I respectfully disagree. I think a lifetime of love is entirely possible. It just won't be a Disney movie. (Though a future of emotion robots sounds enticing, Oxytocin pills. Those would be great and sort of scary.)


Well this is pretty much perfect.


Who says a lifetime of love has to be with one person? I'm only 33 and I've been in love three times. I'm sure I'll be in love many more.


@Slutface Ahhh, but the falling-out and breaking-up is the scary scary part (at least to me?)


@whateverlolawants Yeah, it's hard and it sucks, but then it's over and you move on. Easy to say, I know, but I look back and remember when I broke up with a guy I was with for five years when I was 25, then a year later met another man I fell in love with and was with for another five years. The world spins on.


@Slutface True words. I've had several relationships as well, and it's mostly a blessing. I just really hate breaking up with someone, even when it's time. I suppose almost everyone probably does.


@Slutface late to the party, but just cheers-ing your words. and whose to say you can't be in love for a night or two? i've felt it.


On the bright side, he would probably have a very fulfilling relationship with Elizabeth Wurtzel...


I fell a little bit in love with you after reading this.

I am told that it doesn't last, but fuck science. I will always be a little bit in love with you because of this.


So...having reached age 29 without ever, as far as I can tell, having fallen in love1, I decided to settle2 for "like a lot". This isn't a hypothetical situation, there is a real person involved, and she pretty much feels the same way. I regret never having loved, but in the same remote, wistful way that I regret never having met Alan Turing.

1. My understanding is that when you're in love with someone they're always in your mind, and the closer you are to them the better you feel. Never had that.

2. Maybe settling doesn't really apply here, since this is in fact the best thing I have.

Stacy Worst

@thiscallsforsoap trade ya.


@thiscallsforsoap It's good to hear some people feel that way.


@thiscallsforsoap Actually, I think the "you think about them all the time" part of the definition is fundamentally broken. In my case, it's more true of the awkward, initial "oh, does this guy I've been hanging out with like me? Do I like him? Will he text today? Maybe I should?" obsessive phase. And I really, really dislike that phase; it's small pockets of cheer in the middle of a sea of over-thought anxiety. By the time I figured out that I really do love my boyfriend a lot, he was sleeping at my place more often than not and we were discussing the cat he was going to help me adopt.

If, by that stage, I was *still* unable to think thoughts that didn't include him, well, that doesn't sound particularly happy...


I love valentines day a lot! For the rediculous novelty of it, and as long as you don't try to go out to dinner because holy Jesus people can be super uptight about trying to be some valentines picture of what they think it ought to look like and therefore send everything all awry.
Anyhoo I'm having a great big valentines day party the Saturday after, complete with a "hearts and crafts" area to make dirty valentines for each other, a Polaroid camera to make a photoboothesque kinda thing and "love " and "lust" rooms (cheesy Cupid and dark/seductress, respectively)


@sox And I spelled your name wrong. I hope you'll come anyway!


@sox I concur! For some reason Valentine treats with their silly shapes and garish colors are my favorite. Reese's hearts > Reese's pumpkins.

Jim Behrle@twitter

@sox I will probably be in my love-proof bunker tho

lucy snowe

Delightful. If I had somewhere to call in sick, I would.


This whole article reeks of oxy-chocolate deliciousness. I reveled.


The right person is the one who, when you are exhausted/stressed/run-down beyond belief will, without being asked, without a word in fact, take out the trash/do the dishes/let you watch that show you love that you know they think is a kind of boring/pretentious/stupid. Because when you're too tired for sex, too broke for 'romance', and just feel too drained to even speak, it is the smallest, unbelievably small, small things - and only those things - that turn out to be the actual oxygen of love. When I was single, I used to worry about the 'spark' versus 'settling' and all that stuff. Now I am married with two kids, my eyes tear up with gratitude because I married the kind of man who tells me I look hot in my old, crummy bathrobe and who, after two hours' sleep and a terrible day at work, still remembers to smile and say 'thank you' when I pass him the mustard.

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