I Vant to Be Alone

I don’t understand why it is that people seem to have so much trouble understanding introverts like me, but perhaps it could have something to do with the fact that we are too busy trying to get in our daily recommended requirement of alone time to be bothered explaining ourselves.  I have all too rarely encountered any satisfactory elucidation of what introverts are all about, but I do think this guy nailed it, and that “One Man Guy” by Loudon Wainwright is about as close as I’ll ever come to a theme song.  In fact, I just may have the chorus carved on my tombstone:

People will know when they see this show
The kind of a guy I am
They’ll recognize just what I stand for and what I just can’t stand
They’ll perceive what I believe in
And what I know is true
And they’ll recognize I’m a one man guy
Always was through and through

People meditate
Hey that’s just great
Trying to find the inner you
People depend on family and friends
And other folks to pull them through

I don’t know why I’m a one man guy
Or why I’m a one man show
But these three cubic feet of bone and blood and meat are all I love and know

‘Cause I’m a one man guy in the morning
Same in the afternoon
One man guy when the sun goes down
I whistle me a one man tune

One man guy a one man guy
Only kind of guy to be
I’m a one man guy
I’m a one man guy
I’m a one man guy is me

Given the nature of the song, some people thought it odd that Rufus chose to cover it as he did, with both sister Martha and Teddy Thompson (son of Richard) harmonizing.  I would argue there are sufficient grounds to disagree based strictly on the delicious irony of the treatment, and this from a relatively superficial point of view that fails to take into account the complexity of the relationships between the players.  This comes across beautifully on the record, even more so in the live performances when Martha and Teddy each took a verse:

I don’t know that much about Richard Thompson’s life or personality, but I do know Teddy was six years old when his father moved to Los Angeles, leaving his wife and son in London.  Likewise, Loudon walked out on Kate McGarrigle when Rufus was just four, after which she packed up and took both her young children back to Montreal.  Rufus, of course, wrote quite movingly of this event in “Dinner at Eight.”

Why is it so
That I’ve always been the one who must go
That I’ve always been the one told to flee
When it fact you were the one, long ago
Actually in the drifting white snow
You left me

As a married person with a child, I know all too well what kind of emotional upheavals these separations would have brought about for all concerned, a hurt that is both referred to and transcended when these three very talented young performers harmonize on “One-Man Guy.”  All at once, the words manage to be true in themselves, ironic in context, and to constitute a moving tribute in their implied acceptance of a father who might not have been capable of sticking around but was nonetheless capable of creating something that would, namely this song, an impressive body of work, and three performing children.

I’m gonna bathe and shave
And dress myself and eat solo every night
Unplug the phone, sleep alone
Stay way out of sight
Sure it’s kind of lonely
Yeah it’s sort of sick
Being your own one and only
Is a dirty selfish trick

As much as I cannot hear Rufus Wainwright sing this song without being aware of the relationships involved, the above verse is all mine.  Since most people simply cannot understand why I despise phones and their interruptions and prefer to dine alone with a good book, it is wonderfully affirming to hear these preferences expressed so very eloquently.  It tells me I’m not alone, strangely enough.  We introverts may not be in the majority, but we have feelings too.

Far from despising humanity, I just need to retreat and recharge when I’m overloaded.  My internal voice is drowned out by other people’s talking, and I need to hear it just as much as other people need to hear the endless sound of their own yakking.  I’ve been accused of being antisocial, hating people, thinking I am better than others and all manner of nonsense.  Family life can be incredibly hard for me, but I persevere because the results are worth it.

Sometimes all I want is a shed in the backyard to escape to, because even when I close my door to write this blog, I hear voices and the creaking in the hallway, back and forth.  I may yet be forced to gather scrap lumber and construct a shed with my bare hands, but in the meantime I know at least one person understands where I’m coming from.  As a gesture of gratitude, both for my theme song and for contributing 50% of the DNA that made Rufus Wainwright, I’ll give Loudon Wainwright the last word here:

Well, not quite the last word.  For another perspective on the Poses version of this song, read Nick Hornby’s Songbook, which consists of essays about 31 songs that have special meaning for him.  I was unable to find a copy of the Rufus essay online and it was a few years ago when I read it, but for sure it is a must-read for all Rufus die-hards.

1 Comment so far
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Thanks for this. I was moved by this post because the sentiments expressed are so recognisable. I’m like that too, and hypersensitive to boot. It’s a tough life but it’s worth every second!

I do hope more people from the RWMB will visit here – you deserve their readership!

Hugs from Sibi (Hyperufusensitive on the RWMB)

Comment by Sybilla

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