The following are approximately the first 1000 words from Chapter 2 of Jonar Nader’s book,
How to Lose Friends and Infuriate Lovers.
Something I’ve been meaning to tell you:
Persona non grata
I can’t smile after sunset. For ages I didn’t understand why. I dread the night sky and the evening dusk. Yet, I’m not afraid of the dark. While most of my friends look forward to the end of the day, I am saddened by the isolation. Oh, I don’t feel lonelier at night. No, not lonelier. Goodness me, the feeling of loneliness does not come in degrees — not for me. I’m always lonely; so lonely, that the night cannot be any lonelier than the day.
There’s a point in the late afternoon when everything around me turns to grey. The dullness punishes me. The near and the far merge as one, and then the lights come on. Oh, that light-switch drives me mad. That flick. That click. That artificial luminescence. It drains me. It reminds me that the day is through, and that, yet again, I’ve failed to attract you.
The streets turn a new colour for the revellers. But I don’t fit in. People can detect that I am one of the uninvited on-lookers. Losers don’t belong to the vibrant night.
Restaurants don’t have tables for one. The waiter comes and whisks the spare cutlery away. The napkins and the glasses go too. The ritual is not only an embarrassment, but also a poke in the eye — a reminder that sad, lonely people do not belong where carefree, happy people dine.
Loners can slip into bars; but who’s kidding who? Bars don’t know the meaning of hospitality. The happy ones are too distracted to notice you; and so who do you think is going to spot you? Another poor sod who goes solo like you? Or someone from out of town, who ventured to the bar for some unwholesome reason? Bars are unfriendly. They play music loudly on purpose — they don’t want people to chat too much. No-one has anything decent to say. It’s best that we don’t open-up, for fear of dragging down the tone. Let’s just smile. And here’s to your health.
The dull night is the closing bell that signals to me that I’ve had a failed day. Sure, I’ve met people, spent money, signed contracts, and attended meetings. I was the epitome of excellence and the shining example of professionalism, but so what? I failed to win the heart of the person whose face flashes in front of me approximately ten times per second. Actually, it’s more than ten times per second. A second is a long long time when you are in pain. And within its spaces, there are long long moments — much longer than ten beats. And endlessly, unceasingly, within its rhythm, I see a face in my head — that big head of mine that makes me smart and intelligent and knowledgeable and quick, but it is altogether a useless head because it cannot figure out a way to win the heart of the one whose face taunts me; whose lips drown me; whose hands strangle me; whose body crushes me; and somehow, the world deems me to be clever and resourceful. My colleagues think that I am enterprising and productive. I’ve been called efficient and creative, but if only they knew… I’m hopeless, and I’m reminded of my shortcomings every single day at sunset.
I have people to see and I have things to do. I never sit still. I jam-pack the night with important functions and social events, but as I fix my hair and adjust my clothes in the mirror, I don’t look at myself in the eyes — for I know that I would melt away the mask and see the impostor within — the sad lonely failure who just can’t understand why others seem to manage to attract the love of their life. How do they do it? Maybe I’m doing it all wrong. Maybe they are open-minded, and they just let it happen, and they make the most of whatever happens. Whereas I go with only one goal in mind, and only one target in sight. In a world filled with crying souls, and plenty of fish in the sea, I go on a near impossible (and mathematically improbable) mission — to win only one heart. What are the chances of that? But hey, I don’t go of my own volition. Don’t make out that it’s all my fault. It’s not my fault at all. I was lured by a drop-dead gorgeous yummy individual who flaunted blinding beauty, and captivated me, trapped me, and now I’ve been stung. I’m hooked. Is it my fault? Did I decide to become besotted by another person’s beauty? No. I had no choice in the matter.
Now here’s a ghastly thing — maybe nature has goofed. Why does an attractive person attract people indiscriminately? Maybe the Designer ought to have been more discerning and ought to have exercised better control of the magnet. And why turn on the alluring charm when no
invitation is being extended?
And so, the insult of the evening tells me that it’s over for another day; and I’ve failed again. The weight of that abysmal failure reminds me that I had failed yesterday. And I know, we all know, that last week was just as bad. The cumulative effect of my sad and sorry history stands as proof of the likelihood of my future failure.
I’m not sure if I ought to pat myself on the back for showing such tenacity. Would it be wise for me to keep on trying? You see, what am I trying to do? It’s not in my hands. It’s not like trying to learn a new skill. It’s not like studying for an exam. It feels like I have no control over the outcome. What can I do to make someone love me, or want me, or notice me? Perhaps the more I try, the more I make the other person uncomfortable. The less I try, the more certain that nothing will ever happen. How can I make it happen?
Why, dear heaven, can you put two humans on planet Earth and spark emotional fires in one heart, yet not in the other? It took no effort at all for me to know, without any hesitation, that I am enamoured by the beautiful sweet soul whose lack of warmth for me was evident. A dry dark cold desert separates us.
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