The Kookysolo Manifesto

Sasha Cagen’s book, Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, is now ranked 436 at Amazon. But I must take umbrage with Ms. Cagen’s success. I fear that Ms. Cagen has plagiarized me. Back in April 1997, I wrote a piece for Motherfuckin’ Angry Motherfucker, a zine assembled by a staff of one at Kinko’s with a modest circulation of 42. I’ve contacted my attorney about this and he’s informed me that a little bit of public exposure may help my case. I’ve also obtained permission from the editors of Motherfuckin’ Angry Motherfucker to reprint my piece, “The Kookysolo Manifesto,” in full on this website. There are, of course, certain similarities between the two catchphrases “quirkyalone” and “kookysolo.” However, I wish to assure my readers that this was simply an essay whipped up in the course of a drunken evening. If I had known that “kookysolo” had appeal, I would have cashed in the same way that Ms. Cagen has. Of course, there are also subtle differences between our respective philosophies. But I leave the readers to judge the results (and Ms. Cagen’s possible theft) for themselves.

People Like Us: The Kookysolos
by Edward Champion

I am, perhaps, what you may call a man who masturbates frequently. Relationships are like nectar from the gods. They happen, but perhaps only once in a blue moon. For years, I’ve wondered if I should check into a clinic or get a liposuction. But, of course, that would be a betrayal. Why would I desire to be one of those ironies that grace the magazine covers? The Meg Ryan type cast in repeated roles that involve a concept as believable as a government that never lies: the absolutely gorgeous young woman who can’t seem to find Mr. Right or so much as a date with a fine young stallion.

The morning after New Year’s Eve (another hangover in bed alone, another year minus a good afterglow) I was standing in the San Francisco air when I realized that I needed one of two things: a good lay or a cup of coffee. I settled for the coffee, since getting the good lay involved an endeavor more intricate and demanding than getting a Ph.D. At least if I wanted something immediate. I drank three double lattes, just to be sure that I was awake, and began rambling incohrently to the guy behind the counter, who was also suffering from a hangover. “I’ve got it!” I exclaimed. “Kookysolo.” Needless to say, I was 86ed from the cafe. My picture hangs on the wall.

But I knew that I had something with this kookysolo thing. It was clear to me that not only was this a term that could stick with the socially inert, but that it could be used as an excuse for those people who are afraid to introduce themselves or to give their fellow humans the benefit of the doubt. Gravitating towards the kookysolo label would allow people a justification for their own self-pity, those people who watch Love Connection or Blind Date in the dark.

We are the puzzle pieces who never actually throw themselves into the box. We inhabit singledom as our natural capitulating state. In a world where most people have no problem living up to John Donne’s idea that no man is an island, we are, by force of our convictions, our abrasive personalities, and our failure to remember first names, hopelessly antisocial.

Yet make no mistake: We are no less concerned with making an effort to ask someone out on a date, whether we be male or female. We do not have the courage to voice our interests in someone. Secretly, we are romantics, but romantics who are terrified of putting ourselves out there or giving a stranger a chance. We want a miracle. We want someone to somehow perceive our terrifying inability to interact and do the work for us. And in this quest, which is no different from plopping onto the couch with the remote control rather than getting out into the world, we are our own worst enemies.

For the kookysolo, the world is a terrifying place of axe-murderers and rapists behind every corner. We cannot conceive of the possibility of failure and when it does happen, as it does all too frequently, we remain convinced that the world is out to get us. Thus, we go home and watch television and drown ourselves in a bottle of wine rather than pick ourselves up and accept that, yes, one day, a nifty soulmate will be there, so long as we keep plugging away. We kookysolos have become so hopelessly placated by our 57 channels of cable and the number of beverages in a convenience store that we’re surprised that the same principles cannot be applied to relationships.

By the same token, being alone is understood as a way to reinforce these terrible impulses, to be considerably more hindered by our fears. Our weekends are full of intricate rituals. Lots of potato chips and television and vodka. Even if we do find the fortitude to go on a date, we’re terrified by the prospect of wrapping our arms around our date just to see how it feels. Because we go into the thing assuming the worst.

And so, a community of kookysolos is essential.

Since people like us eventually hit a point where we’re willing to throw in the towel, it becomes essential to get together with other kookysolos and have pity parties. Support groups are just the tip of the iceberg. We need manifestos. We need self-help books that are modeled exclusively on half-baked theories rather than science. We are a demographic that will always buy these books. Because, dammit, it’s something we can reach for in the hermetically sealed comfort of our own home. It’s something that confirms what’s destructive to us.

But if this is what it means to live, then you can count me out. Because probably the worst thing that can happen is when one kookysolo hooks up with another kookysolo, and the two of them kvetch endlessly about their own fears and limitations. Bonding based on crippling negativity is a recipe for chaos. If the relationship survives, it will be quilted in emotionally clingy fabric, which is healthy for neither party. But chances are more likely that it will end badly, and it will further terrify both kookysolos into avoiding relationships.

The earth will quake if anyone, en masse, actually believes that being kookysolo is a good idea.

I Love You Too, Irvine (Sort Of)

To his supreme credit, Alexander McCall Smith claims that his remarks about Irvine Welsh have been “misinterpreted.” Welsh’s status has been downgraded to “a partially indecent hooligan whom I’ll never buy a drink for.”

A new Michigan law requires publications that depict “explicit content” to be covered up. Booksellers and reading groups are furious. And they’ve filed a lawsuit. In the meantime, they may want to consider covering up Ann Coulter’s books. Pretty explicit stuff, given that she’s advocated blowing up the New York Times building, as well as suggesting, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” (via Sarah)

Catherine Kennan has a very juicy piece on highbrow personals. It doesn’t get any closer to understanding the phenomenon (who can?), but it does feature a very amusing exchange between Kennan and one of the guys behind a personal ad. And it’s impossible to resist this ad: “Find the 10th coefficient in the expansion of the binomial (1+x) to the 20th power. Then love me some more. Mathematical Ms, Cambridge.” (via Chica)

The latest culprit behind declining book sales? USA Today suggests it’s the DVD.

Sarah Waters has turned down a Who’s Who entry because she’s not sure how relevant the directory is to today’s world.

Columbia Journalism Review has a piece on former New Republic editor Gregg Easterbrook. It’s another guy fired because of blog story, but the cause here is far more nefarious (and strangely immediate).

And more on Norr from the Daily Planet. Efforts to track down settlement terms are nice from an outside source, but there are few conditional questions revealed.

Prisoner’s Dilemma

4,000 men were questioned in Britain. The results: Married men are more likely to suffer mental health problems than those who live with their partners. But the reverse holds true for married women. And women, in general, are actually better off without men. Meanwhile, single men are more likely to suffer from depresison.

So if you’re a man, you can remain single and depressed. Or you can get married and get depressed. But if you live with your partner sans commitment, you’ll be dandy.

And if you’re a woman, you can remain single and remain the happiest. Or you can get married and remain reasonably happy. But if you live with your partner sans commitment, you’ll be miserable.

Or to look at it another way:

Living Together Without Commitment: Man (Happiest) + Woman (Miserable)
Married: Man (Miserable) + Woman (Reasonably Happy)
Single: Man (Depressed) or Woman (Happiest)

In other words, what we have here is a startling development, should a woman need to be in a relationship. Relationships and marriages, it seems, are essentially exemplars for game theory. But the difference here is that the man alone is miserable and the woman, without any effort whatsoever, is happiest. A woman need not do anything to remain happy. Is this misery because men make most of the efforts in initiating a date or a meetup or is this misery extant within the Y chromosome? If the psychological hypothesis in these findings holds true, then what we have here is a clear biological indicator that women are the superior gender.