Avoiding the Doolallies of Living Alone

(Ya, I know it’s long, but I won’t post for a couple of days to make up for it)

A lot of the people I know live alone. I lived alone for a long time and I look forward to living alone again in the not too distant future. I’m madly in love with my daughter and everything and I’m totally happy to have her with me as long as she wants to be, but I do like living alone. A lot.

I like coming home and finding everything exactly as I left it. I like not having to live around anyone else’s schedule. In this wacky old world, I like having my own tiny oasis surrounded by a few, personally chosen, beautiful things. However, like all perfectly good things, there is one tiny drawback to living alone – the very real potential of cracking up, going looney, losing your marbles. If you’re not careful, all that lovely solitude and freedom can make you a little bonkers after a while.

So, here are a few tips to help keep you functionally normal if you live on your own or expect to live on your own sometime soon:

1. Hoarding: Don’t start collecting things to make up for the lack of humans in your home. I don’t know why, but a lot of people who live on their own become pack-rats, accumulating bizarre collections of things. I think they think of this as a viable hobby. It’s not. It’s just one step away from rooms full of old TV guides.

2. Pets: Don’t get more than one pet. The number of animals in the house must always be less than or equal to the number of humans. If you have a fish, that’s it. No more pets for you. In fact, a fish is an excellent pet for a person living alone. You can’t get too gaga over a fish. There aren’t a lot of cute fish clothes or toys for fish. Fish don’t make good subject for more than one photograph and they’re not interesting enough to talk or blog incessantly about.

3. Food: Go grocery shopping every week and/or spend some time at the market accumulating fresh food. Not having any real food in your home is not healthy mentally or physically. If you don’t have food, you won’t cook for yourself. Then when you suddenly get hungry you’ll end up eating weird stuff like beets, (from the rusty can in your cupboard that you forgot to give to the Food Bank), mixed with toaster crumbs and take-out packets of soy sauce. Or you’ll sneak over to the corner store late at night and buy a large bag of Doritos and something from the bottom of their freezer for supper. You are what you eat and eating weird food on the sly eventually will make you both weird and sly.

4. Socializing: Go out sometimes with friends, but don’t fill up your evenings and weekends with back-to-back social activities to avoid being home by yourself. People living alone tend to swing either this way or completely the other way, where they just get too comfortable to ever leave the house unless they absolutely have to. Hermits are quirky and fun to read about, but if you’re paying attention you’ll notice they tend to end up as uni-bombers or something.

5. Entertaining: Invite people over to your place once in a while – once a month is good. People who live alone don’t entertain much. Usually because they have their place so compulsively organized they resent anyone being there who might possibly disarrange things. Or, they have their place in such a disgusting mess that they’re afraid to have company. Also, people living alone never have anything to feed guests. If someone drops by, they panic, stick their head out the door and wait for you to state your business and be on your way. If they can’t get rid of you, sometimes they let you sit on their porch and after a while they’ll bring you a glass of water.

6. Sex: Don’t bring people home for casual sex. This is really important to your mental health and the overall feng shui integrity of your oasis. You might think it will be nice to wake up to a warm body for a change. The reality is you won’t be able to sleep all night because once your immediate needs have been met your bed will suddenly become very crowded. Also, in the morning the other person will be less than half as attractive as he or she was the night before. Now you’re stuck with them and will be expected to feed them breakfast. They’ll use your shower and towels and leave god-knows-what behind. And who knows then they’ll decide to leave? No, if you’re going to engage in casual or not-so-casual sex do it at the other person’s house. Then you can go home right afterwards and enjoy a good night’s sleep in your own clean, fresh sheets.

7. Holidays: Don’t get mired down and depressed on weekends and holidays imagining all the wonderful things the coupled people are up to while you’re on your own. Chances are they’re at each others throats, scrapping about whose turn it is to pick the TV show and fighting over the last piece of pizza. If you find yourself alone at Christmas or your birthday or some other day that’s special to you, organize something special for yourself. Make a really nice meal, watch a distracting movie, get lost in a good book, buy yourself a gratifying surprise at your favourite adult toy store.

8. Crime: Don’t spend your time peering out the window checking for crimes in progress. I know it’s tempting since there is a potential for lots of excitement if something happens that will let you call and engage in conversation with the police or fire department, but chances are slim. If you really want to stumble on a crime scene you’ll need to get up really early and either jog or walk a dog. Only early morning joggers and dog walkers ever get to report crimes. You’d know that if you spent more time watching TV and less time at the window.

9. Paranoia: Don’t spend your time obsessing over ways you imagine people have wronged you. People alone seem to do this a lot. They get hyper-sensitive to what may really only be a bit of thoughtlessness on the part of friends, family or co-workers. They start making lists of “toxic people” in their lives after watching too much Oprah. Then they start shunning these people or, later on, when they’ve really lost the plot, start planning elaborate revenge schemes.

10. Nakedness: Whenever you read or hear anything about the joys of living alone, they always, but always mention how great it is that you can walk around naked all the time. Why is this such a great thing and does anyone ever really do this? Okay, if you’re alone, you don’t have to wrap up to leave the bathroom after your shower and maybe on a really hot day you just let it all hang out, but do people cook and eat naked? (dangerous) Sit around watching TV with nothing on? (yucky) Sit at home alone at night reading blogs naked? (creepy).


24 responses to “Avoiding the Doolallies of Living Alone

  1. Re: cooking naked. One of the few rules at my childhood best friend’s house was “no deep frying naked,” and, yes, there was a reason that rule had to be specifically spelled out.

  2. Having lived alone for 21 years, I do see myself in parts of your list. Never mind which parts.

    Just today, some co-workers were teasing me about being the weird old guy who lives alone with his cat. I reminded them that in the six months that I’ve had the cat, I have NEVER dressed her up… yet.

  3. I live alone. I have one cat. I do walk around the house naked. I also read blogs naked. And sometimes (gasp!) I WRITE blog posts while naked. Living alone is a non-stop party!

  4. I thought you were talking about me, specifically, for awhile there. Until I got to the part about socializing. Phew.

    Just for the record,I almost never read blogs naked.

    I have a question, though, for those who spend a lot of time naked at home. Do you get dressed, then walk around your house closing all the blinds, and then get naked again?

  5. OMG
    Do you have a webcam aimed at my living room.

    1. yes, i do
    2. yes, i do
    3. no, i don’t
    4. the other way
    5. true, for many reasons
    6. i love my clean, fresh sheets
    7. i feel better already
    8. unless they are stealing my car
    9. they’re not that elaborate
    10. oh, good, no webcam

  6. I used to walk around naked and keep the blinds closed. Now I cover all the mirrors but leave the blinds open. Any peepers in the area are struck blind screaming in horror, and that is what they deserve.

  7. I see you eventually breaking rule 2, and ending up with a lot of cats. I don’t know why.

    I spent many years alone.
    I personally find not alone to be better.

  8. Socializing

    I’d go totally hermit if I were alone. I suck at socializing and Mr. Jazz is our social secretary. Once I’m out there I’m usually ok, but if it weren’t for him, I would never ever get out there.


    I’d also not cook.


    I live with someone and still wander around naked. However I don’t blog naked since I do it at work. That would be just nasty.


    If I were alone I’d become some sort of psycho crazy cat lady, the tendancies are there, but Mr. Jazz keeps me in check.

    This being said, I’m not sure I’d be unhappy as a psycho crazy cat lady.

    Which is really quite disturbing to me.

  9. hehehe funny post today!

    I’ve lived alone since 1990, not by choice at the beginning but now would find it difficult to share my personal space.

    In the first 5 or 6 years of living alone, I went through a huge learning curve. I did all the things, like hoarding, hanging on to people and all that. Anything to avoid being on my own. Now I know better.

    So based on your list:

    1. Hoarding: Nope, don’t do it. Ask my friends, if anything, I’m into the minimalist even more now.

    2. Pets: Actually I wouldn’t mind having another cat but the lady of the house is categorically against it.

    3. Food: LOL that one is funny. I love to cook for myself. In fact, last night I had filet mignon with tons of veggies and of course, a nice glass of red.

    4. Socializing: I’ve learned it the hard way. And I learned to love my own company.

    5. Entertaining: hehehehe ditto.

    6. Sex: So true! Yep!

    7. Holidays: Ah yes, but sometimes it’s nice to go through these things with family. There are times when I really feel an orphan.

    8. Crime: hehehe good thing my unit faces a courtyard.

    9. Paranoia: What paranoia? Are you talking about me? lol

    10. Nakedness: I walk around naked as much as I can and yes, there has been times when, gasp!, I read a blog naked 🙂 but cooking naked? naw, not for moi.

  10. Meloukhia – Maybe you could tell us? Is suspect by the time they made the rule, those concerned had already gotten the message by trial & error?

    Bob – I’m glad you could relate. Goes to show that I’m not just pullin’ this stuff out of my ass. Also, I’ve found cats pretty resistant to being dressed up. Dogs are much more compliant.

    Heather – Thanks for sharing. I shall make a note that if I ever visit you, or any of the other people who spend their time at home naked, I will bring a little towel to sit on to avoid direct contact with your furniture.

    Zoom – Glad to hear it. It’s an eerie feeling knowing you’re writing for naked people. I’m not sure why. I see your question and raise you a few more. Do they sit naked on all the furniture in their house? Because that’s kind of yucky if you ever expect other people to sit on it. Maybe that’s why people living alone never want to have company – they don’t want to park their naked privates on sofas that have been sat upon by people wearing clothes they sat on a bus or a park bench with.

    Ma – There are so many rumours about Bobby, it’s almost like he’s a Kennedy or something. This one sounds plausible though. He seems like that type of guy. On the other hand, he has that cat with him when he’s blogging and that seems like pretty risky behaviour for Bob.

    Violet – I would love for you to elaborate on that list. I can’t figure out if it means you’re at risk for going doolally or not?

    Bandobras – Golly. I hope there are no young children in your neighbourhood. You could be arrested and then you’ll go to jail. You won’t get to live alone in jail. You’ll have a roommate. In a very small room. You might not like him. And you won’t ever get to walk around naked ever again. Think on!

    JB – What? Now YOU”RE psychic? Trust me when I tell you there is no danger whatsoever of me accumulating animals. None. And, I think probably most people like living with other people better than living alone. I wonder how many of the people living alone would rather have someone with them and how many people not living alone, wish they were? I should do a survey some time.

    Jazz – That’s sweet. Good old Mr. Jazz. I always maintain that if I hadn’t had my daughter when I did, I’d probably be a bag lady today. Now, I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay once she moves out. I might get a bit hermity, that’s all.

    HD – Phew! Looks like you’re safe from the doolallies. I do suspect, however, that you only cook yourself great meals so you’ll have an excuse to drink red wine.

  11. Elaboration of the doolally list:
    I am a hoarder. I love my things. They are my children As is my old cat. And my old turtle. I do not dress them up or parade them or even photograph them. They are just there. I don’t buy enough food often enough, therefore the overdosing on peanut butter, yoghourt, crackers. Sometime I have to share with the cat. We are very comfortable here not socializing. Having company is the only excuse for a good clean of one room, then to wander out to a bar. (that counts as entertaining, yes?). My cat and I like our own space in the bed, besides you need those voyeuristic tendencies satiated by peeking in anothers medicine and linen cupboard. I once watched my car being stolen from my driveway and ever since have been obsessed with keeping an eye on it and especially watching the rain and suddenly realizing that I’ve left the sunroof open. I still make simple revenge plans on the car thief. But never when I wander around not so bare naked reading blogs.

  12. Kimberly said…
    I used to live alone and did a good job (for the most part) following your rules. Though I do have a tendency to hoard things (cats), so I guess that violates 2 rules. ooops. Scrap what I said.

    June 6, 2008 6:50 PM

    Stella Devine said…
    One of my all time favourite books is Live Alone and Like It, by Marjorie Hillis. It’s a self help book from the 1930s which was a runaway bestseller at the time. Some of it’s very dated; some of it is surprisingly relevant even now. All of it is very funny.

    June 6, 2008 9:44 PM

    zoom said…
    I have a small collection of mannequins (three full ones, one top half, various heads). I personally find the illusion of people sufficient most of the time.

    June 7, 2008 4:10 AM

  13. Sorry, I had to cut and paste those last three comments because they came in after the transfer.

    Kimberly – They’re not really rules, just suggestions, but you seem to have come out of the experience intact. So it’s all good!

    Stella – I’d love to read that book. I’m going to try and hunt it down. Thanks.

    Zoom – Mannequins, you say? And, is that your ONLY collection? Huh? Eh?

  14. Andrea – Thanks, I was waiting for Morty’s snort of approval before actually posting something new here.

  15. I have four cats, but I like to think I’m not mentally ill due to the fact that I inherited the last three due to the pregnancy of the first. But then again, I could be wrong.

  16. New site looks good!

    Good advice for those living alone.

    I do not live alone but have…. and understand the logic in most of them.

    Love this read!

  17. You forgot one!!!!

    Tinfoil is not a really cool alternative to blinds or curtains. Neither are your old star wars sheets, or stolen Canada flags.

  18. Brad – It’s not entirely the cats that make you seem mentally ill. One need only read your blog. (Really, go read his blog — he’s totally ill!)

    Hunter – Thanks, dude. The best answer to avoiding those living-alone blues is to get yourself a partner, I guess.

    Mudmamma – Ah yes – window coverings…although the Star Wars sheets and flags also cover the windows of boys who live in groups. Boys who live in pairs tend to have pretty good taste in interior design.

  19. Pingback: knitnut.net » Pet of the Month

  20. Pingback: Be There or Be Square, Daddy-O « XUP