The Writer’s Guide to Staying Single

By Mike Spry

1. Develop a subtle dependence on alcohol

Drink just enough to make you an asshole, but not enough to kill you. A lot of younger folks wishing to remain single will turn to drugs, be it prescription or illicit. This is a common mistake. A drug addiction suggests there is a possibility for recovery, and will attract those who want to “save” you. This has been known to lead to relationships, and even worse, occasionally to marriage. Alcoholics are in it for the long haul, and booze is an unattractive addiction that says to all interested parties, “Stay away! Imma gonna be sick!”

2. Live in either a bachelor apartment or a half-basement

And get a roommate. On the off-chance that you end up taking someone home, this means it won’t happen a second time—with the same person. Some make the mistake of living with parents, and this is a move that shows you are both humble and have a strong appreciation of family.

3. Do you write poetry? No? Better get on that

Writing poetry says you have an artistic side, but absolutely no earning power. Writing poetry implies that you have feelings, but they’re kind of childish and poorly thought out. Never rhyme. Rhyming suggests an inherent desire for children. This is the perfect combo to make you interesting enough to hang out with, but not partner material.

Note: Avoid songwriting and guitar-playing at all costs. These could lead to your poetry finding an audience, which could lead to a girlfriend. Many an open mike night at local pubs has ended in premature nuptials. Plus long-form narratives, like novels or screenplays, could lead to a life of promise and prosperity. So nip that in the bud.

4. Listen to sad music

When it comes to music, make sure your collection is heavy on the sad side: Elliott Smith, Jason Molina, Nirvana, most beardfolk, Nick Drake. Avoid angry tunes, since they suggest depth and/or emotion.

5. Stay underemployed

You’ll need enough money to buy food, music, booze, and pay rent, but not enough to suggest promise. If possible, work for a difficult Russian. Their greed and inherent angry sadness will keep you poor, working hard, and down on life. They also have access to endless amounts of vodka and heartbreaking analogies and anecdotes.

6. Date up

From time to time you’ll wake up in a relationship. This is a natural result of alcohol, poetry, and law of averages. Don’t worry, it won’t last. But it’s very important that when you do find yourself coupled off that your partner is better than you. This ensures a short time of happiness (which is good for your long-term health), as well as an inevitable end.

Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 Quebec Writers’ Federation A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work is Distillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011). He lives in Toronto.

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