Ask Vox, Episode One: The Grand Narrative

In which I attempt to mend a broken heart with maths.

It all started in high school. Through a combination of antipathy and personal angst, I somehow escaped the dread wastes of emo brooding and emerged into the paradise of… well, productive brooding. Long story short, I was a consolation to many who had trouble making sense of their lives and relationships, who  found comfort and guidance in my advice. Who the hell knows what they saw in me? Anyway I figured I would start to share with the world, because I’m finding a use for that dubious skill even today. If you have a question for this series, please, feel free to Ask Vox in the comments below.

Not to reveal the person speaking with me, but recently I spoke with a friend who is still dealing with a separation months after the fact. It was a clean break, and they are better off for it, but the question they had was this:

Is that all there is for women? Either in PAIN or HATING GUYS?

In short? Hell no.

Ladies. The problem is not with your gender. Everybody goes through angst. We all want to be loved, and like penguins, we cling to each other like furry little heaters in a vast glacial waste of loneliness. But take two steps over and you’ll find another pair of fuzzy penguins doing exactly the same thing. There’s a lone penguin out there somewhere, doing exactly the same thing you are, so don’t jump into the killer whale’s belly looking for that lost love. Even if they are bloody endangered.

To be fair, let’s examine the numbers:

Currently, there are about 7 billion people in the world, with the global ratio of men to women hovering at 1.01 to 1. Weirdly, in Russia the ratio goes to .44:1, reverting to 1.06 near death. So, um, don’t go to Russia looking for a date. In North America, most states are actually skewed in advantage of women, with the highest ratio of 148:100 in North Dakota. Lots of choices, ladies. Some places where women outnumber men are small cities like Pembroke Pines, Florida, or Jackson, MS. Here’s a list of cities to avoid if you want to pare that down even further.

Okay, so not all of them are dating age, that’s fair, but the US Census states the percentage of men to women 18 and over in the population is 35.9% and  38.4% respectively. Even with’s assessment that 1% of men are douchebags, that’s 99% who are still sort of okay, with one GI Joe Penguin for every Penguin Barbie. I’m sorry, Paleolithic Anthropologist Barbie. Encouraging feminism this week.

All things being equal, that means a society of 7 billion that managed to produce you must be able to produce another person JUST LIKE YOU. Sorry, beautiful and unique snowflakes we are not. As Chuck P so brilliantly put it, any lone weirdo comes from a nest of weirdos. Also, LESBIANS! There’s an average 3.8% of people who are not competing with you at all, with the gay men actually being your allies against the tyranny of the patriarchy. Woooo!

If you’re not mired in the deep shadowy valley of pining for your lost other, it’s easy to see the world is full of meaningful relationships. We’re all lost in a grand narrative of our own making, lonely pilgrims on the road of life, with nary a safe haven to be had. But really, that’s not true. Just pull down that cloak of sadness and your other pilgrims are there. If they’re any kind of decent they’ll offer you a drink.

Fine men are here to be had for sport or mounting upon the wall. Do you know what happens to penguins that lose their mates? They go find another one. Sometimes they find a gay penguin, when there aren’t enough of the other gender. Sometimes they hold Hedwig and the Angry Inch parties with all their gay penguin friends, I don’t know. And hey, if your lost love is worth staying alone forever for, you ought to own it. Make yourself a paragon of devotion and celibacy, at least until you find he’s dating someone else. Then by all means, to the date-mobile.

From a purely male perspective (or my perspective) a woman who is hung up on her old love presents a challenge. Not all men are up for it, and who knows what we have to live up to? Chances are we can never live up to the idealized version of an ex. But, we also don’t like someone who is desperately looking for attention. Men are basically dogs, we can smell instability, and it brings out the worst in us. But, we’re hopelessly attracted to confidence, to someone who, frankly, does not give a shit.

The best way to nab one of us? Just be yourself. Get out there, do the things you love, make the art you make, and your penguin will naturally sidle up to you. Be open. Let your penguin in. Slide… penguin2


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