Let it never be said that Johnny Scott does not know heartache.
I began my painful life of pining for the gentler sex when I was still in diapers. And through the years the longing in my heart, like the diapers on my bottom, has only grown deeper and wider. I’ve had many loves in my life, many lost and many never-to-be. And the one common thread running through the whole absorbent, leak-proof tapestry is that each one was so cavalierly tossed aside at the slightest hint of a mess, like so many soiled Attends.
So, maybe being a great lover isn’t my strong suit. Maybe every love I’ve had has ended with me prone, halfway on some item of furniture, too debilitatingly heartbroken to move to reach the near-empty two-litre bottle of wine that has so carelessly rolled just out of my reach. Rolled just out of my reach like so many women before it, who also did so once their delicate bodies were no longer full of two litres of wine.
And this is what’s led me to the dawning comprehension that whatever my failings may be in maintaining a successful romantic relationship, the inverse is true of my skill as a passionate practitioner of the art of longing. Yes, however badly I cock up my pursuit of the love of a lady, I make up for it tenfold with my subsequent life-consuming yearning for her.
It’s a tremendous skill to have. Because what’s better to be able to do, woo someone with promise and successful delivery of an eternal love and devotion, or remind them constantly of an inextinguishable misunderstood preoccupation with what could have been if only they’d succumbed to your anguished advances? Clearly the latter shows a much greater degree of effort and commitment. Troubled desire is the intense, misshapen cousin of healthy love; and much like my intense, misshapen cousin at a family gathering, it’s hard to look at but impossible to ignore.
Now all of this, societally acceptable pursuit or degenerative brooding, is geared toward one thing: finding a partner. So if, like me, the former isn’t your bag, you might as well try your damnedest to be the best degenerate brooder you can be. Do everything you can to make yourself miserable in the name of longing, and do it right. Get adequately prepared, because wallowing in a puddle of your own despair is harder work than it sounds. And you want to make sure the object of your torch-bearing knows you’re not being lazy about it.
If you’ve got a job, you should probably consider quitting it, or at least taking some time off. You’re not going to be leaving your home for any reason whatsoever for a while, with the possible exception of occasionally putting on a long coat and staring pensively out over a body of water, internally comparing its depth and coldness to that of your own ravaged heart. Oh yeah, so make sure to buy an appropriately large amount of toilet paper before you start, because your whole image of stone-masked turmoil is undermined if you’re clutching a pack of Cottonelle puppies.
You’re not going to be eating very much, or wearing any clothes most of the time, so spend most of your grocery and laundry money on good, full-bodied red wine or mid-quality brandy. If you don’t yet dabble in heroin, now would be a great time to start. Ether is another good choice, if you can get it. The goal here isn’t to get right messed up on any of these, but to maintain a constant, days-at-a-stretch languor which dulls the pain smouldering inside you enough that you can focus on all the things you’d be doing at any given moment with your erstwhile soul-mate if only they’d finally see that they’re meant to be with you.
The soundtrack to your furious craving should be stark. I suggest the ceaseless drip of a kitchen faucet between songs on the same side of a beat-up Hank Williams record that keeps replaying itself again and again. Whatever you choose, it should be played indefinitely, to serve as a constant reminder that your suffering will never end.
Most importantly, keep a record of your pain. Great writing and music and art throughout the centuries has been created because of profound heartache, and what’s been the point of all this if your torment isn’t known to those around you? To that person whom all of this has been an effort to impress upon how lost you are without?
So fill your Facebook feed with vague status updates of lovelorn agony. Tweet relentlessly of your desperate search for meaning without the only person who can steady your shambling life. Instagram snapshots of the squalor imposed upon you by your burdened soul. And, always, blog blog blog.
Photo by Johnny Scott