“I am lonely. Truly, bone-chillingly, ceaselessly lonely.”

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Dear Sugar,

I am lonely. Truly, bone-chillingly, ceaselessly lonely. I just moved to a new city, and I’m worried no one would take time to identify the body if I got hit by a car. All my friends have boyfriends. No, I’m lying. I don’t have any friends. But from what I can tell is happening on the street, everyone is with everyone, and I only have my hand… to type this question for you: how do I have a fulfilling life outside the company of others? If such a life is impossible, then how do I make friends or get someone to love me or cultivate a more magnetic personality? Or maybe, if you’re not busy, we could hang out sometime? I mean, only if you want. I was pretty cool in college.

Most sincerely,
Smells of Teen Desperation

 

Dear STD,

One place to look, in terms of self-improvement, is the sentence “I was pretty cool in college.” It has at least two depressing aspects, and I’m not thinking that hard.

But there’s no reason to weep, sweetie! You’re new in town. Loneliness is part of the drill. Happily, human beings have adapted to this circumstance. There is now a full-proof cure for loneliness. It’s called “reading.” (And no, I don’t mean reading Eat, Pray, Love. That just makes you lonely for pizza.)

I’d suggest Persuasion by Jane “STD” Austen, and Howard’s End by E.M. “Cuddlybear” Forster. Also, Mrs. Bridge by Evan Connell. Also Mr. Bridge. Also My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up, which is by Mr. Stephen Elliott, the young man who employs me at this magazine, and who is constantly sending me photos of himself with a device that looks like a glittery yarmulke on his pee-pee. It takes all kinds, baby love.

One more thing: loneliness has its own divine purposes. It remains the most powerful symptom of the human need for love. And you will miss it when it’s gone–believe it or not–which is why the Gods invented sad songs.

 

Dear Sugar,

I’ve been having what I thought was a thread of funny ha-ha emails with an old friend from high school who I haven’t talked to in ages–who was never more than a friend, and who I’ve never wanted to be more. I’m very happily married, and even if I weren’t I wouldn’t feel romantically about him. But he dropped the dreaded bomb, saying that he always thought I might be The One for him, that sex with his wife is a nightmare, and that he’s getting a divorce. All I could think was: What would Sugar do? How do you suggest I navigate this weirdness?

Sincerely,
Hiding from Hyde

 

Dear Hydie-Ho,

]Unless this old friend is bona-fide nutbread–in which case, why correspond with him?–your notes have left him with some sense of assumed intimacy. Why might that be? That’s what Sugar would be asking.
As for how to respond, if you’re dealing straight with Sugar this is a no-brainer. Just send him a note saying, “Sorry, you’re asking the wrong doctor for a hernia exam. Period.” If this doesn’t work, send him my email address and we’ll proceed to Step Four: Being Honest with the People Who Matter.