Where are you?!
I always assumed that I would find you without really looking, but I also assumed that when I did find you I would be younger, wealthier, and more muscular than I am today.
It is uncharacteristically optimistic for me to believe that you exist at all, let alone that you could be found in Iowa. I don't know how I've convinced myself that you aren't a Quechua-speaking Peruvian Indian, or else a sub-Saharan African who is at this very minute dying of AIDS.
My faith, advice from friends, desperation, and desire to meet people without actually meeting people bring my search for you to the Internet. In this technological wonderland, I can simultaneously search for my soulmate, keep a bitter record of my search, and view pornography.
Day One: Saturday
Create an online profile on a personals site. Fill out a personality survey that categorizes me as a "Gentle Artist". I think this is complimentary, if not slightly effeminate, until I look at the list of possible outcomes. Every personality type has a complimentary, if not slightly effeminate, name like "Careful Teacher" or "Creative Leader".
If there is no possible way for this test to label someone "Serial Killer" or "Date Rapist", it is asking the wrong questions.
Day Two: Sunday
One of the profiles on my list of matches is a woman who refuses to post a picture of her face and loves performing oral sex on men. In the crudest terms possible, it is all she talks about in her profile.
This should be fascinating in at least four ways:
1. It is obviously a joke. I want to meet the person or people responsible, maybe convince them to come to No Shame.
2. It is obviously a joke. Maybe you are the person responsible.
3. It is obviously a joke. I wonder how many completely earnest replies it has received.
4. Maybe it's not a joke. If it isn't, I bet I could contact this girl tonight.
Go to bed feeling bad about myself
Day Three: Monday
Send a message to one of my matches. There was a reply in my inbox the same day. Feel good about myself until I think about the the length of the messages. I remarked on a sketch comedy television show mentioned in her profile and the disappointing work of the actors involved since its cancellation. She expressed hope that episodes could be rerun.
The most concrete link between us is a television program that hasn't aired in ten years.
Go to bed feeling bad about myself.
Day Four: St. Valentine's Day
Meet with friends, submit my online profile to peer review. They tell me my answers are boring and my photos are ugly mugshots. They are impressed with the photo that displays my gaping mouth. It is cavernous.
Go to a play. One row behind us are Eli Wilkinson and his girlfriend. I don't know her well, but she seems like a nice girl. She tolerates Eli grabbing her breasts in public.
Eli has a girlfriend.
I have not been on a date in nearly a year, I haven't had anyone I could refer to as my girlfriend since the middle of the last presidential term, my impending twenty-fifth birthday is a much greater warning of my mortality than it should be, and Eli Wilkinson has a girlfriend.
Go to bed hating Eli, then remember that Eric Landuyt has a girlfriend and go back to hating myself.
Day Five: Wednesday
Send another message to a stranger. Compliment her taste in music, which is awful, and her photograph, to which I am indifferent. She responds favorably. I suggest a meeting. Her profile mentions hiking, and I suggest a picnic and casual walk on a secluded trail I know.
I suddenly remember that I am not a serial killer or a date rapist and have to cancel.
Gentle Artist goes to bed feeling bad about himself.
Day Six: Thursday has been cut, because that is absolutely the only way to keep this monologue under five minutes. I joined a second personals site, and it didn't end well.
Day Seven: Friday
No time to search for you on the Internet today.
Wake up, read and respond to an e-mail from an adorable female friend in Australia, try not to think about how few people in North America I can talk to.
Go to work. Surround myself with girls morally and legally too young for me, sweet women who are too old, smart women who are married, beautiful women who are engaged and already have children's names picked out.
Try not to think about you.
Try and fail to send a FedEx package to my adorable ex-girlfriend in Guatemala, try not to think about how few people in the English-speaking world I can talk to.
Go to work. Wonder if you'll come in tonight, order a sandwich, leave without making eye contact. Try not to look for you.
Make copies of a handwritten monologue, worry about breaking Rule Two.
Look for you in the audience. See girls who are too young, smart women who are taken, sexy women who are dating Bobby Evers.
I feel bad about myself and look for you in the dark.
This monologue went through an unusually short process of composition and revision. I'd conceived most of it earlier in the week, but I didn't put anything on paper until the day of the show. What I read on stage was the first handwritten draft that I had completed while substitute teaching high school Spanish, covered in corrections.
When I got to the Theatre Building, I knew that the script was too long and that the Thursday section was not ready for performance. The "Day Six: Thursday . . . " paragraph I performed kept the monologue moving and got me off the stage in under five minutes.
Following is a slightly improved draft of the clunky excised matter, included for the curious.
Day Six: Thursday
Create a profile on a second personals site. This one matches using answers to a seemingly endless series of questions. Literally thousands of questions. No sane person could answer all of them.
"How tight are your pants? How tight are your ideal mate's pants? How important to you is the tightness of your mate's pants? Would you kill a stranger to save your own life? Do you vote? Would you steal bread to feed your pets? Is long hair on men acceptable? How long do you wait before making love with a new mate? Would you steal pets to feed your ideal mate? How long do you wait before stealing your new mate's hair?"
Spend an hour answering questions. Look at my list of matches, read profiles. Pick a woman, answer more of the questions she's answered, and she will move up or down in my match list depending on my answers. This process continues into the small hours of the morning, and every iteration ends badly. Every time I seem to match someone interesting, answering questions she considers important reveals we never really had that much in common.
By the time I go to bed feeling bad about myself, my top ten matches are married women with no photos and little information in their profiles. They also have not logged into the site in months and are lesbians.
Performed by Adam Hahn.