Thursday, March 13, 2008

I'm Mr. Lonely

I feel lonely.

Rachelle and the girls have been two hours away in Carlsbad this week, hanging out at Legoland with her dear friend and family while I worked. Hearing of these plans, I looked forward to a week of peace and projects completed. Unfettered by family obligations, I would catch up on business, watch that Pedro Almodóvar DVD I’ve been saving for weeks, fix the electric quirk plaguing our kitchen chandelier, change the oil, rotate the tires, clean the house, write, get past Ash Wednesday in my book of Lenten readings, catch up on sleep, drink tea and just enjoy having the house to myself.


I did do some of these things. But it was with none of the relish I anticipated, and with more loneliness than I thought possible for a guy who claims to love solitude.

My brother and I have always loved to make fun of “loneliness.” There was a guy named Captain Dynamite on TV whose gig was to sort of blow himself up for the merriment of spectators. He would crawl into a box sporting an Elvis-meets-Flash-Gordon suit, close the lid and wait as the announcer counted down, “Three, two, one…” BLAM! He emerged, stunned from the blast, walking drunkenly back across the field to the delirious laughter and cheers of the crowd. Captain Dynamite was our archetypal “lonely guy,” someone who desperately needs others to notice him, who will do anything for attention, who has nothing better to do with himself other than something, well, something extremely lonely.

This theme was so prevalent in Matt’s and my joking that a couple years back I gave him a compilation of the loneliest songs of the last five decades, entitled “50 x 1: A Half-Century of Loneliness.” It featured 23 songs--everything from America’s This is For All the Lonely People to Elvis’s Heartbreak Hotel to Sound of Music’s The Lonely Goatherd to Bobby Vinton’s Mr. Lonely to Eddie Holman’s Hey There Lonely Girl to the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby to Yes’s Owner of a Lonely Heart all the way down to the Backstreet Boys’ Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely. Much to my brother’s amazement, I was lonely enough to follow it up with a sequel for his next birthday, called “Lonely Again: A Refill of Emptiness.”

Later I preached a sermon on the topic of loneliness featuring clips of all these songs. Matt showed up just to confirm how lonely I was.

But sitting here in a house devoid of screaming children, no one to fight me putting on her pajamas, no spitting of toothpaste onto the new carpet, no infinity of requests for milk, songs, stories, favorite blankets, etc. to calculatedly delay bedtime, I feel consumed by the silence. Going by the girls’ rooms, their beds are cold and empty. Bedtime prayers will be all in my head.

Suddenly the lonely jokes and my arsenal of lonely music seem less funny. When you get used to the overwhelming abundance of little loves that usually grace my life, even a couple nights to myself feel wrong. Loneliness is for real.

No comments: