Day 1: I am alone. Abandoned. Mateless. The Partner, a successful consultant to large corporations in need of role models for their unsuccessful consultants, left a few hours ago for a "short term out-of-town assignment." Translation: For the next four months, she'll be working and living in a city over 2,500 miles away.
Her demanding schedule, she informs me, will not permit weekend returns home; likewise, my profound fear of flight attendants will preclude me from traveling to visit her. "This will be a long separation, but I shall endure it," she told me on her way out the door. I had to laugh, though, because in her distracted state she said "enjoy" instead of "endure."
Day 8: What a week! Normally, when The Partner's around (and she's been around since my emergence from a protracted cannabis haze back in 1986, perhaps before; I really should ask), the words "You're," "such," "a" and "pig" often come up, usually, but not always, in that order. I suspect this is because she still blames me for our last struggle with hookworms. (A war we eventually won but which cost us dearly in reparations.) Now, though, with no fussy female oversight, I'm allowing myself to devolve into man's primal state: unshaven; unchanged underwear; unplated, hand-held meals; unapologetic in my fine and fluent flatulence. I'm feeling natural, undomesticated, liberated. Call me Sasquatch with HBO.
Day 19: It never occurred to me how difficult, how exhausting it would be to take care of our dog by myself. The greedy beast needs two daily walks, two daily feedings, two daily teeth brushings, grooming, countless trips outside to "feel the crapture" and frequent applications of Just for Men on his graying muzzle (his aging has us both rattled). He sorely misses The Partner, or as he sees her, the Alpha female.
Day 29: Irresponsibility, excess and indulgence are transforming my body from temple to crack house. Consider: I haven't had a salad or lean meat for four weeks. Fruit is not even a household rumor. Yet I deny myself no fat or sweet. Dishes such as deep-fried salami and half-gallon bricks of ice cream hollowed into bowls then filled with cherry vodka are practically staples. All in all, this casting off of the shackles of nutrition and moderation feels redemptive, empowering; and should I ever muster the will to stand up again, I'll quite possibly conquer the world.
Day 35: My father, knowing I'm alone and at loose ends, phones almost daily, urging me to visit. The fact that he's been dead for 15 years tells me two things: 1) Extended isolation is causing me to lose touch with reality. 2) The dead know how to wangle a person's unlisted number.
Day 48: With The Partner, my muse, gone, I'm unfocused and can no longer write my normal 2,000 words a day. This is less serious than it sounds since my home office gets very little walk-in traffic and I rarely sell more than a couple dozen overripe, deeply discounted adverbs in any given week. Still, in preparation for the time I'm able to resume my word output, I'm plugging away, typing in advance all the punctuation marks I'll eventually need.
Day 57: To maintain some intellectual engagement, I've begun visiting a Spanish language chat room. But it's difficult to make myself understood due to my poor written accent.
Day 66: Talked to The Partner on the phone today. She said I sounded good. "Good as compared to better or best?" I asked. "Or good as opposed to evil?" "Good as in 2,500 miles away," she responded.
Day 82: I've been on an inexplicable crying jag for three days. Inexplicable because the tears are streaming, somehow, from a location below my waist.
Day 90: I've decided this might be a good time to get together with my old army buddies for a poker game. To my dismay, regular GI Joe accuses GI Joe with Kung Fu Grip of cheating and, in a rage, melts him in the microwave.
Day 101: A few weeks ago, in a weak, desperate, sex-starved moment, I sent away for a Philippine mail order bride. Today, she finally arrived on my doorstep, dead, suffocated by the bubble wrap she'd been packed in.
Day 111: In anticipation of The Partner's return, I engage a cleaning crew to tackle the squalor. They accept the job only after I take out a rider on my health insurance to cover them in case of cholera. As for my personal condition, the mirror reveals several gained pounds; I rate my grooming somewhere between chaotic and tragic. That showers and laundry have been infrequent undertakings would be obvious to all but the wholly noseless. The cumulative effect is that I appear to have had an extreme makeover in reverse. I drive to the dry cleaners and have myself Martinized.
Day 112: The Partner has returned. She says she's glad to be back. Says she missed her home, her routine. Says it's good to see me, to hold me, to kiss me. Says she wants a cracker. Only then do I realize the parrot is practicing his act again.
BOB WOODIWISS: His column appears here the last issue of each month. His book, Keys to Uncomfortable Living, a collection of humorous and satirical essays, is in bookstores now.