Lizzie Buehler for the nassau weekly
Lizzie Buehler for the nassau weekly

He often liked to think that he was an island, oceans away from the troglodytes of the continent; that his intelligence exposed him to truths that others were ignorant of (or else could ignore), imposing upon him a tragic and terrible isolation; that this was why he was lonely; that it was possible that there might exist others even more intelligent than he who, in spite of such phenomenological barriers, had figured out how to not be alone; that this doomed him to interminable loneliness. (Though the very possibility of a remote archipelago of souls was incompatible with his solipsism this offered little consolation; he remained very much a solipsist.)

His thesis proposal had been due weeks ago.

The etiology of his condition lay in the murky prehistory of his psyche. He had his theories, of course, but testing them proved rather difficult. A childhood without siblings, his parents’ divorce, the day he found out Santa wasn’t real. What a day that had been; a literal and metaphorical trail of reindeer sugar cookie crumbs was all it took to suck all of the magic and hope out of the world. His parents, in turn, each dealt with the revelation in the only way they knew how: money. In the long run, this bourgeois anesthesia was not wholly unsuccessful in addressing symptoms, but the aching numbness was always latent. Years of brooding, critical theory, and expensive therapy sessions spent spelunking in the caverns of his soul made him intimately familiar with the depths of his pain, in a process not dissimilar to the way his middle school self would excavate his scabs in class (much to the horror of his peers).

His thesis was perfect, insofar as his mind perceived its form. It was, however, in no real sense perfect, i.e., brought to completion.

Perhaps because he was spoiled, or perhaps because he had been conditioned by Hollywood romcoms, he had expected a beautiful girl would fall in love with him. (This was in the days when he still believed in love, before his parents’ experienceand later his owntaught him otherwise.) Despite his man hips, “moobs,” and endowment that could be compared only to the most impoverished of institutions, she would see through to the essence of him. She, of course, would be perfect (primarily with regard to physical attributes, although also possessing whatever stock adjectives could be ascribed to a person from whom one ought to crave affection). She was no protagonist in her own right, just a supporting character. A castaway thankful for shelter. He deserved her. Needed her. And she him. She doesn’t exist.

He loaded porn on his iPhone and left his carrel to jerk off in the bathroom. That done, he returned to his newsfeed.

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