I have been without a TV for upwards of 4 years. Recently, with my new living accomodations, I was not only provided 'net access, but cable TV came knocking on my doorstep. I pulled my old WinTV card out of mothballs and installed it back into my computer system. The reimmersion back into TV-topia has been somewhat painful- news, schedules, sit-coms, edited movies, commercials... everything I once hated about TV is not only still there, it has gotten worse. It's an ugly thing to remind one's self exactly why they were so happy to be without a certain thing in life.

Luckily, there is still Comedy Central to bail me out when times get tough. Alas, not tonight. Tonight Comedy Central slapped me in the face with the first pilot episode of The Critic, the one I've never seen before. I dunno if anyone remembers that show, but I certainly do. Film critic Jay Sherman (voice acted by Jon Lovitz) stumbles through life, love and horrible movies while desperately trying to bring down his wall of cynicism, one brick at a time... and consistently fails. Within the heart of Jay Sherman is a romantic, trying to get out, but the romantic within just can't seem to get past the layers of fat.

Anyway... the pilot episode... Jay meets a new starlet, Valerie Fox. Ms. Fox, who has just wrapped on her first movie "The Kiss of Death", has taken a surprising interest in our Mr. Sherman and sets herself to the task of wooing him, quite successfully I might add. Meanwhile, Jay has not yet seen his new girlfriend's soon-to-be-released film. He does his best to avoid it, knowing that his integrity as a film critic may move him to give nothing less than an honest and absolutely brutal review. To no avail, though. He sees the movie and, true to form, shoots it full of holes- along with a pretty scathing review of his One True Love's (tm) performance. Needless to say, Ms. Fox flies the coop ASAP.

I don't know why this particular show struck such a chord within me. It just did. I mean, I've seen lots of episodes of The Critic in the past- I knew that Sherman would somehow end up alone by the end of the show. It's just that... something within me groaned right along with the character, when his Miss Wonderful left him. I felt cheated, alone, betrayed and forlorn. Cast aside and forgotten. I actually empathized with a frickin' cartoon character. How far have the mighty fallen?

I've been thinking a lot, lately, about the state of Things in my life. Getting older. Getting grayer. Falling apart slowly, as people tend to do over the years. Wanting to share the remaining years of my life with someone and finding empty air, mostly.

Of course, I am mostly to blame for my loneliness. I know this. I don't go out. I don't socialize. I don't make an effort. I'm not particularly charming. I don't like being in crowds of people. I sure as hell don't go to parties- never have. I don't push myself forward with ambition or vigor- never have done that, either. I smoke. I tell the truth. I look as lost as I feel. These things I know and I do nothing to change them.

But it still sucks, being lonely. Having the want for something, or someone, and not being able to satisfy that desire.

Last night she called me, asked me if I was going to the cafe. I told her that I hadn't been to the cafe for weeks and that I was probably going to stay home. Every other time she's called, I jumped and would be only too glad to go meet her somewhere. Last night I didn't. It was a conscious effort. I actually thought about going out, but decided, definitively, not to. Certainly, I wished her a good time with her friends, but I just wasn't up for it. I called her up tonight, left a message on her voicemail. Told her that I was going out to a movie, which would be starting at 9:30, 10:00 and 10:30. The Punisher. She called back shortly afterwards and begged off, she had a college paper to work on. She asked if she could call me back at 9:30, in case she could get done in time. Sure, I said, I can hold off 'till 10.

She never called back. So I went to the movie alone. The movie wasn't as good as I'd hoped. The experience of it was like a massive underpinning of my current love life: when I say that I saw the move alone, I mean that the entire theater was empty- I saw it alone. When I got home and saw The Critic, in the hopes of getting a few laughs, things just got worse... the show got to me, showed me what loneliness really is.

There are days, mi amigos, when I want to cry.