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January 17, 2000   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

The superhero closest to my heart, I have a non-problem for you to tackle. There's very little going on in my love life, and there rarely is. I'm around your age, and I have had all of two girlfriends in my life. Neither relationship lasted long chronologically, but both were intense, deeply felt affairs where it felt like forever. Both of these were adult relationships; I didn't date in high school because my parents were too conservative.

I'm currently in a four-year drought. I'm very social, and I have some very close female friends. I go on date-like things occasionally, but nothing ever comes of them. During this drought there have been a few women whom I've been mildly attracted to, but they've all been at turning points and uninterested. One was leaving work to finish college, another hated her job and was leaving the country soon, and a third at 20 (!) was entering college and wasn't open to anything, etc. I don't think I am choosing unavailable women on purpose; I just don't find too many women interesting in that way. How was I supposed to know that one of the more intriguing women I've met recently only wanted a serious relationship and had a father whom she was nursing through cancer?!

Any help here? I've resolved never to appear on Jerry Springer, and I'm happy with the life I have built as a singleton -- I'm no Bridget Jones -- but it would be fun to be in a relationship once more. Lighting a candle to St. Jude...

-- Figure in Crowd

Dear Figure in Crowd,

St. Jude, you know, is the saint of lost causes. Am I the only one who sees the ironic oxymoronicity of praying to that particular patron? (For drought, try Sts. Herbert or Solange.)

In any case, Figure, all is not lost -- and not just because, as far as sinners go, you're not even close to the circle of Springer. Ruts happen, and four-year ruts suck. But you're social and generally happy, you have friends; I don't detect all that much Corwinesque prophecy-fulfilling fatalism here; doesn't sound too much to me like you're working today's patron saint -- Antony the Abbot, of gravediggers -- and stumbling into your own.

So I honestly think your rain will be made in the realm not of "be," but rather "do." As in: something -- anything -- different. Shake things up. It will make a difference in principle and in practice. Really.

Like what? Well, plenty of ideas here. Or pray to St. Isidore of Internet Users and meet people whom you already know are looking to get met. Hate to have to say the word "activity," but try a new activity, or find a new venue for an old one. If you're "not the bar type," hit a bar or two. Wait, what? Yes. Maybe you'll find the other "not the bar type" who read this letter.

Whatever new and different thing you choose will help you stop feeling as if you're spinning your wheels in a cloud of dust. Along the way, steel yourself against turning any not-available ones into the howevermany cowgirls of the apocalypse, against making unavailability "mean" something; don't stay in the drought just to prove your inner weatherman right. I know you'll be lighting a candle for ... a romantic dinner some saint's-day soon. And for the lonelier moments, try invoking, oh, St. Carbo of Pepperidge.

Breakup Girl



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