He's 45, no wife, no kids, some friends who marry and then disappear into the ethereal far suburbs for lawn talks and soccer practices and swim meets for their kids.
People look at him and consider him successful. His health is good, he's not fat yet, still has some hair, and he has a job he loves. He lives in a good house in a great neighborhood. He has two cats, one of which he likes. He says witty things that make people think he's smart and funny.
But it isn’t enough at all, is it? He tells himself that there are only two things in life, and the rest is just details. Thing one is to have a good reason to get up in the morning, in his and most cases, a good job. Thing two is to have a good reason to come home at night, in most cases a spouse, and in his case the cats just aren’t cutting it. Even the good one that likes to sleep under the covers.
Women pass through his life, sometimes without even leaving a wake. He befriends some of them, dates some of them, but they eventually, maybe even predictably, part. Sometimes it's something basic, big, like life choices and not being an accountant. Sometimes it's something small, but still undeniably festering, like voting for a faux Texas cowboy, or not voting at all. In many cases, it never seemed to be the right time for that pairing, like people passing by each other through the glass of a revolving door, heads turning a moment too late. Maybe she was ready to settle down, but too fast, or she wasn't ready as he, wanting to go live a life he'd already lived. Like two people speaking a different dialect of the same language.
He wonders that maybe it just won't happen for him, as he receives another wedding invitation, this time thankfully not from an old girlfriend. But he doesn't give up, he keeps trying, aided with the sometimes over-aggressive support of his Mom, his sisters, and even his students.
So he maintains an open mind, stays positive, while also chatting and flirting with those who bump into him on the Canal towpath or stumble across his tennis court. Sometimes they respond with interest and cheer. Sometimes it leads to something.
And sometimes it’s only an illusory connection, as he belatedly notices a faraway focus that matches the active Bluetooth in their ear or that they are nodding instead to whatever is on their Ipod.