Issue #201 – “Solo” – March 26th, 2012

-A raft of recent studies and books has revealed a startling statistic: more people live alone today than at any point in American history. In fact, there are now more people rolling solo than there are people with roommates, or families with children. Alone is the new status quo, and I have particular insight into this trend. I never lived with anyone in college (I paid my one prospective roommate in the frat house to switch rooms), and I’ve spent the majority of my post-college years, including the past seven, sans cohabitant. It’s been a great run. There is just something liberating about living alone, coming and going as I please, and not having to leave a proverbial sock on the bedroom door. I mean, hell, my bedroom doesn’t even have a fucking door. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

-Many people equate living alone with being lonely. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Those of us who live alone enjoy being able to control when we have to be social or not. Personally, I enjoy being antisocial from Monday through Friday. But that doesn’t make me lonely. It just means there is no conceivable contribution to my rent that would be worth a roommate engaging me in meaningless conversation on a daily basis.

-I’ve never lived with a girlfriend, and I imagine that could be a stumbling block to one day getting married. A lot of couples get engaged before or right as they move in together. That will not work for me. I figure I need at least a solid year of living together before I can be sure a woman is the one. Moving in is an irrevocable step in my book. Either we’ll get along and I’ll propose, or she’ll leave dishes in the sink and I’ll kill her and go to jail. In both instances I end up with a roommate for the rest of my life.

-Another important aspect of my preference to live alone is the fact that I work from home. If someone moves in, they are essentially sleeping in my office. And I can’t have that because my office is where I conduct business, earn a living, and masturbate.

-I have to admit, though, the relationship you have with your roommate is unlike any other friendship. I lived with my buddy Brian in New York right after we graduated, and I wrote about him in Ruminations so much that I dedicated my second book to him. And so it’s hard to believe that he’ll celebrate his sixth fucking wedding anniversary this year. Because, for about three years, we were essentially married to each other. I’ll just say this: you never truly know someone until you’ve shaved his back.

-Despite my efforts to downplay it, having someone defray your costs is an enormous advantage to living with a roommate. Cable bills just don’t make any sense unless they’re divided by at least two. I literally look at the totals and cannot understand them. One person can’t watch this much money’s worth of television. Getting married might almost be worth the savings.

-One hypothesis put forth about the rise of going solo is that social media has made the notion of living with or near someone in order to be close with them a relic of the past. After all, are you really living alone when you spend most of your time in your apartment liking and tweeting your friends? It’s an interesting theory, but one I have not been able to test with Brian, who is perhaps the last remaining Facebook holdout among my friends. Instead, he calls me once a week on his way home from work to chat on the phone and catch up. In essence, I enjoy all the camaraderie of being roommates – with twice the cable bill but half the back hair.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-It seems to me that jostling into position and shouting at just the right moment are skills that are equally valuable for getting your order taken at a bar and getting your question taken at a press conference. I think I would make an excellent reporter.

-If the opening credits of a movie feature long, gratuitous shots of your city’s skyline and I still have no clue where the fuck it’s taking place, your city sucks.

-I went to a bar in Vegas last year where, if you chug a beer in seven seconds or less, it’s free. So, basically, if you can chug a beer, it’s free. Because it’s not really chugging if it takes more than seven seconds. That’s just, like, sipping.

-When something is wrong with my car, a little exclamation point glows on the dashboard. But it doesn’t tell you – or at least I haven’t figured how to find out – what exactly the problem is. All I know is that something is wrong and I have to guess what it is. In other words, my car is a woman.

-One of my friends has been trying to get me to switch to almond milk. I just don’t see that ever becoming a priority in my life. How short does your To Do list have to be for “try milk made from nuts” to make it to the top? I’m still trying to wrap my head around goat cheese.

-Sometimes babies are so fucking cute that I can only express myself through extremely violent imagery. My friends post pictures of their babies on Facebook and I start to write, “Holy shit I want to rip her head off and eat it,” but there is just no way to properly clarify that I mean that as a compliment.

-The light on my router changes from green to blinking orange even though I’m still connected and everything is working properly. I couldn’t stand seeing that blinking out of the corner of my eye, so I kept resetting the thing. Then that seemed like a waste of time, so I covered the light with a piece of black tape. Now I can just sense that it’s blinking underneath the tape and it’s driving me crazy. It’s like “The Tell-Tale Heart” of wireless Internet.

-And, finally, the fact that there are now more people living alone than ever before dovetails nicely with the trend I discussed in Ruminations #177 – that for the first time in more than a century, single people outnumber married people in the 25-34 demographic. Taken together, one can conclude that being young, unattached, and independent is now the most popular lifestyle in America. As I wrote in that column: “We won.” And to the victor go the spoils. Never again shall we survey a married couple’s house in the suburbs and feign envy. Never again shall we place a gluttonous order of takeout and pretend it’s for two people. Never again shall a status update announcing the end of a relationship be greeted with commiseration instead of a chorus of thumbs up. Yes, my friends, the single and sexually active now rule the world. We saw, we came, we conquered. Fuck me!