Above is a photograph of one of the local the homeless guys taken from our window with a zoom lens. I won’t get that close. Ever. The little man in the blue hat who wanders about, drinks, hoots, screeches, mumbles and drools in Piazza Santo Spirito. The other drunks don’t hang out with him any longer because they all know, with their inebriate precognition and probably their sense of smell, that he’s going to be the next one to die.
The only cool thing about being a street drunk and a hopeless drug addict is that you never have to spend time looking for a toilet. He’s polite though, always says “Buongiorno” when I shoo him away from our doorstep. I think he’s a sad, lonely man though.
Lonely? Oh damn. Wait. It’s almost Valentine’s Day again. It comes around about every six months because we can’t get enough of that hopeless, bullying, codependent, expensive, unnecessary, cynical holiday. Who doesn’t love “Love”? It’s a concept that is hard to understand or define, but even if you don’t feel “love” or make “love” or have “love” in your life, or you can’t clearly explain what it is and why you should be in it, you should acknowledge it or else you feel like an unpatriotic, atheistic, animal-hating lonely loser.
It’s OK to be alone. Better than some relationships. There is nothing wrong with being sane and comfortable in your own head and content in solitude. Who hasn’t been in a relationship, in love, but couldn’t wait for the other person to go away for a couple of days? Don’t lie.
This morning I read that a lot of people who are alone buy presents for their pets on Valentine’s Day. Think about that. It’s not enough that they completely control the trapped dog or fish or lizard and squeeze it for every last drop of delusional impossible human emotion, but they also transfer the abstraction of “love” onto the creature and buy it a gift to show it how much they care. I don’t think it’s sexual; it’s just another form of codependence and it might even be pure and sweet and generous. Dog doesn’t know, cat can’t give a crap, fish has a brain the size of a BB and isn’t smiling when you drop that extra flake of treat in its bowl. It’s lost its little mind, swimming in tight circles. The rictus of near death disguised as a grateful smile.
The good news for all solitary celebrants is that it is easy to see how other people’s relationships are progressing. If you participate in social media, check out the posts of your friends who are married, coupled up, partnered. If you see the phrases Love of My Life, Soulmate, or Heart’s Desire, that relationship is on the rocks. If there are lots of old pix of the happy couple on their wedding day (Happiest Day of Her/His Life), or if she is sitting down and he is standing behind her, manly and protective, with his arm draped possessively around her neck, it’s over and she may be in jeopardy.
The key to breaking the code for proclamations of love is:
The more sentimental and gushy, the more desperate and forcefully the commitment is declared, then the more deeply troubled is the partnership. You don’t have to believe me, but in a few years go back through your messages and check to see how many of those Soulmates are still gazing dumbstruck and adoring into each other’s eyes.
The drunken guy is hollering again. Is he shouting out his love for the crazy woman across the piazza who walks in circles cursing at the top of her lungs for an hour every afternoon? I wonder if they have plans for V-day? Buy a bottle and bellow incoherently, together? Soulmates.