What possessed the vast preponderance of the humans throughout history to endure the misery of everyday existence? Yeah, I would still be wasting time pondering that sort of thing, which is why I read the weekend's Modern Love, the work of a soldier recently home from Iraq, where he went in pursuit of that abject wretchedness of which so much of my generation has been deprived. He lived in an abandoned building without running water among rotting corpses and constant mortar fire. The temperature hovered around 120 and he got a shower every 6 to 12 days. "It was everything I had ever hoped to experience in the military. It really was," he says. And the thing that got him through: fantasizing about Natalie Portman. Or more to the point: fantasizing about dumping Natalie Portman.
Sometimes the dream would be of losing her, or of desperate searches unfulfilled. The breakup argument in the spotless white penthouse apartment. Recriminations, tears. Running down rain-slicked city streets, locked doors, impassive doormen, and always that perfect angelic face; leaving with someone else, or seen in a blank stare through a limousine window .Even the specter of losing Natalie Portman was better than that; even the memory of imaginary heartache is preferable to the slow feeling of turning into a vampire. Perhaps it is the curse of all men; the sad final truth that the male half of the human race might only confide in one another over a few too many beers: you only truly love a woman when she walks out the door.
He is back now. He has a wife and dog. But the extremeness of the putridness of his actual reality empowers ever-grander and more glamorous wishful delusions? Sounds about right. At home with his Xbox, he's either happy or miserable in the realization that he will "never dance the lambada with Natalie Portman" although maybe she'll read his column in the Times and forgive him the whole "lambada" thing because at least he's being honest that he'd probably fuck it up with them anyway, even if he can't yet admit exactly why.