Seek Companionship

Solving loneliness calls for a dog, a cat or a good bottle of wine.

Last week, my Christmas decorations changed from “still being up” to “being up early.” That's one of the pitfalls of being single. You tend to let things slide. Especially as you get older.

Things that used to be done on a daily basis start getting done weekly. Then monthly. Sure, you might still floss every day. But you won't clean the bathroom mirror until it looks like a snow globe. And expiration dates are never checked, until something pushes open the refrigerator door from the inside. Those things would never happen if you weren't alone.

It becomes a downward spiral. When you're by yourself too long, you tend to focus only on your screw-ups. Then you begin wishing you could go back to a time when you were happy. Maybe it was when you were toddler and things were simple. All you had to do was wave and tell everybody your age.

I read somewhere that apathy might be a sign of depression. Another sign is sluggishness.

My daughters think I nap too often, but I disagree. It's not a nap if you never got out of bed in the first place. They also thought it might help if I started exercising and maybe try meeting some new people. I don't know. I tried bike riding a few years ago. It's good exercise and I did learn one thing. About the only thing a bike helmet protects you from is getting a date.

But when I really get to feeling down, I call up this old friend of mine, and we meet for lunch. Bill's a little different, and only about half of what he says ever makes any sense. He's kind of like a box of wine that can talk.

He's also on a strict vegetarian diet, so we always meet at places that serve that type of fare. It's an experience. If you spell every state backwards, you'd have the names of all the food items on a typical vegan menu. So we met the other day, and while I toyed with my order of sasnak, Bill offered up some good advice on how to deal with depression. He suggested a pet.

That seemed like a good idea, but I have some reservations. I’ve noticed that people my age tend to obsess over their animals. For better or worse, human contact becomes secondary. And have you ever met an elderly pet owner who didn't know what his or her pet was thinking?

Well, unfortunately, they really don't. Despite what these people might think, a dog only has three thoughts. And they all revolve around food.

1.) My owner has left. I'm going to starve to death.
2.) My owner is here. I'm not going to starve to death.
3.) I hate wearing this dog sweater. I'd rather starve to death.

Plus, there's the extra-added expense of pet pharmaceuticals. They’ve even come out with an antidepressant for dogs. It’s supposed to eliminate hyperactivity and separation anxiety. We have a name for dogs that eliminate those conditions. They're called cats.

Now, there's a misconception that needs to be cleared up. Most elderly cat owners don't think their house smells like a cat. Yes it does. Always. Here's another observation. Whereas dogs generally have ordinary names, cat owners tend to bestow their felines with handles that denote superiority. Names like Queenie, Miss Priss and Chairman Meow. And those are just the upstairs cats. That's the danger of owning one. Before you know it, your place has become a timeshare for all its buddies.

Seriously, I'll probably wind up getting a small dog, or possibly even a cat. Might do me good. Or maybe I'll just go out and find me a good Pinot Grigio.

You know, someone needs to tell those researchers they don’t need to keep coming up with reasons for us to drink wine at night. Of course what I really need to do is stop whining and just be grateful for all the things I wish I still had.