The Grand Idea

By Patty Mullins (CC BY 2.0)

Lonely Guy lives alone, in a small apartment crammed with outdated furniture, unwashed rugs, and stacks of old newspapers. One window overlooks a narrow street with a smoking garbage dumpster at one end and a gloomy apartment building at the other. Another window looks at a tall pine tree, and a French balcony offers a view of a large pile of sand, leftover from a construction project abandoned years ago.

Lonely Guy drives a car nearly his own age and works a job that’s almost impossible to describe but boils down to sitting behind a tiny office desk and keeping a close eye on quitting time.

The car originally belonged to Lonely Guy’s father. Lonely Guy’s apartment also belonged to his father. Come to think of it, practically everything Lonely Guy currently owns originally belonged to his father.

It bothers Lonely Guy that so few things in his life didn’t come from his father. It’s a thought that haunts him often, because Lonely Guy is disappointed in his life. His failings, his many failings, are his own, though. Not a comforting thought.

Lonely Guy does own a floppy-eared dog that never belonged to his father. So there, that’s a comforting thought.

There is one other, even more important thing that never belonged to Lonely Guy’s father–Lonely Guy’s grand idea.

The grand idea, despite its name, is actually very simple–Lonely Guy wants to leave the country. His dream destination is Canada. Toronto, to be precise. In Toronto, Lonely Guy thinks, his life would be grand. Everything, including his personality, would be better. And he would have love. Somehow, although he isn’t sure how, he knows he would have love in Toronto. After all, Canadians are such friendly people.

The grand idea, for all its grandness, is a big secret. Lonely Guy has never told it to anyone. Mostly because he’s never had anyone to say it to. He is a lonely guy, after all.

At night, Lonely Guy wishes, dreams, imagines someone he could share the grand idea with, and he comes up with the perfect image of the perfect person. She’s very tall and very slim, with full lips and rich, voluminous hair, like the models in magazines. She wears tight jeans and a tiny black T-shirt. She has long arms, but not too long. Lonely Guy doesn’t like women with overly long arms–the girl across the street, the one that walks in the rain to the neighborhood newsstand, has overly long arms. He doesn’t like her, even though he doesn’t know her. It was enough to see those long pale arms once to know that he could never like her.

Lonely Guy doesn’t drink, but he buys expensive bottles of wine. He enjoys looking at bottles of wine because they have neat labels and seem to open a window into another world, letting him glimpse places he’ll surely never get to see. Peru, Australia, Burgundy, Napa Valley, and the Okanagan Valley, which is in wonderful, dream Canada. The only thing wrong with the Okanagan Valley is that it’s in British Columbia, not Ontario.

In his tiny kitchen, Lonely Guy has hundreds of unopened bottles of exotic wines from every corner of the world. He looks at them every day. Every bottle tells a story of faraway lands where Lonely Guy could be happy. Or, at least, happier.

If Lonely Guy’s grand idea ever becomes reality, he will have a very big apartment in downtown Toronto, and inside a very light, large dining room with enough room for two dozen guests, he will have shelves of wine bottles. In Toronto, he will also have friends, and the bottles will be opened and emptied during dinners punctuated by laughter and all that other good stuff friends do together. He will have to keep restocking the shelves, which could be expensive in Toronto. But it will be a small price to pay for friendship, love, satisfaction, contentment, and all that other good stuff Lonely Guy knows he’d have in Toronto.

An idea, once formed inside a man’s brain, is nearly impossible to eradicate. An idea is like mint growing in a neglected garden. Like mint, an unchecked idea becomes weed that’s impossible to control. To kill it, you have to kill the entire garden.

The only thing that can stop an idea, good or bad, is fear.

And Lonely Guys has plenty of that.


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