One is not the lonliest number, an excerpt from "Party of one: The loners' Manifesto"
Alone does not necessarily mean in solitude: we are not just the lone figure on the far shore. This is a populous world and we are most often alone in a crowd. It is a state less of body than mind. The word alone should not, for us, ring cold and hollow but hot. Pulsing with potentiality. Alone as in distinct. Alone as in, Alone in his field. As in, Stand alone. As in, like it or not, Leave me alone. This word wants rescuing, this word wants pride. This word wants to be washed and shined.
The mob wants friends along when doing errands, working out at the gym, at the movies. The mob depends on advice. Eating alone in decent restaurants horrifies the mob, saddens the mob, embarrasses the mob. The mob wants friends.
The mob needs to be loved.
It lives to be loved.
Or hated, with that conjoined fervor with which mobs face their enemies. Both love and hate are all about engagement. About being linked with humanity generally, as a policy. Loners have nothing against love but are more careful about it. Sometimes just one fantastic someone is enough. As a minority, we puzzle over nonloners, their strange values. Why do they require constant affirmation, validation, company, support? Are they babies or what? What bothers them about being alone? What are they so afraid of? Why can't they be more like us?
Well, they cannot, nor can we be like them. Behavioral geneticists claim that human temperaments and talents — skills, preferences, modes — are inborn, like eye color. This science is comforting insofar as it frees our parents from feeling that having loners as children is their "fault," that they "did something" to "cause" this.
Was I born this way? Or am I a loner because I am an only child? My friend Elaine is one of seven children and she is the most lonerish loner I have ever met. Stephen Zanichkowsky is a loner. His memoir, "Fourteen," is about growing up with thirteen siblings.
Does it matter how I got this way? Not if I am happy. I am. Loners need no more to be cured, nor can be cured — the word is gross in this usage — than gays and lesbians. Or people who love golf.
This applies alot to me.