Let’s face facts: you’re unworthy of love. You’ve known it since the day you were born. You’re unattractive, unintelligent, socially awkward, and downright creepy, with a broken ugly soul no one would ever deign to embrace. You’re destined to die alone, unmourned, unremembered, no funeral, no obituary, a blank headstone, cause of death: who cares, an afterlife spent floating through the infinite void where only bacteria go after they die. All your life, you’ve felt this wall of apathy radiating from the universe. When you walk into the room, no heads turn in your direction, no one says, “Hello,” no one registers your presence. And this will never go away but only escalate as you get older and your body deteriorates into a grotesque caricature.
So that all sounds pretty bad, I guess, particularly if you whisper it into a bathroom mirror with the lights turned off. But fortunately, you can induce the approximate sensation of “love” through artificial means. Isn’t that great news? With these techniques, you can make the remaining years of your irrelevant life marginally tolerable. Aren’t you overjoyed? You have sovereignty over your reward center, hooray.
1. Take an extra-large, half piña colada, half coke Slurpee into the shower and guzzle it while the boiling hot water sprays your back. The water should be extremely hot, almost too hot to tolerate. There should be slight degree of pain. As the syrupy slush rushes into your veins, you’ll ascend into a brief and blissful high fructose wonderland, magnified further by the womb-like constriction of the shower. Soon, you’ll melt into a manic puddle on the floor of the bathtub, and then you’ll need another Slurpee.
2. Watch a romantic comedy — something suitably touching like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Silver Linings Playbook — and then right as the movie ends, fall asleep. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a romantic dream (wet dreams don’t count), triggering a rush of oxytocin, dopamine, and vasopressin. Subconsciously, you’ll sense the unreality of it, the transience of this experience, and this anxiety will bubble in the back of your psyche. On a conscious level, though, you’ll be unable to detect any incongruity between the dream romance and a real-life one. Just like Inception.
3. Adopt a dozen kittens from an animal shelter and hug them to your chest while they meow for food. Do not let the kittens go, even as their claws dig into your flesh and blood gushes down your belly. Feel their tiny wriggling bodies pulse with life. You will be filled with contentment, a sense of the world as warm and benevolent rather than the godless dystopian hellscape it truly is. As the kittens age, they’ll become more independent and resentful of your embrace, at which point, it’ll become necessary to exchange them for new kittens. That’s just how love works, as far as I understand it.
4. Receive a back massage from an attractive person with soft but powerful hands while a knife hangs over your throat, suspended by a thin strand of thread. Mmm, it feels so good to have your tissues stimulated, your parasympathetic nervous system triggered, your stress drained like a zit. But then there’s that knife. Fingers meticulously working out your joints, rubbing your neck, providing the human contact you secretly crave. But also, there’s that knife. All your aching muscles massaged and caressed into sweet relief. But at any moment, the knife could plummet onto your bare neck, and then no more good feelings, no more feelings of any kind. Only blood and horror.
5. Gorge yourself on huge quantities of premium chocolate — Godiva, Ghirardelli, or equivalent — until your chest cavity is filled to capacity. After a few minutes, you’ll puke. Don’t grieve the loss of precious chocolate though. Simply refill the void, gobbling as much chocolate as you possibly can, stuffing your gaping maw with more and more chocolate. After a few minutes, you’ll puke again. Keep up this cycle of binge/purge for an hour or so, and eventually, phenethylamine, a neurochemical associated with romance and sexual pleasure, will flood your system along with serotonin, a mood elevator, and caffeine, a stimulant. Between the chemically derived euphoria and the puking, you’ll experience a reasonable facsimile of love.
6. Become ravenously addicted to cocaine. Researchers found that brain scans of people in love almost exactly resemble a person high on cocaine, resulting in sleeplessness, loss of time, and total obsession with the loved one. After a coke binge, find yourself in a back alley, being beaten by an angry homeless woman who “doesn’t like your faces.” Go on another coke binge. Then find yourself in a jail cell, sentenced to one year in prison for possession of less than 500 mg. Repeat this cycle of bliss and despair until your soul dissolves into mush.
7. Go surfing on a public beach where there are lifeguards and witnesses. At the crest of a wave, experience the requisite excitement and adrenaline, then tumble into the water and bash your head on a submerged rock. Lose consciousness. Drown. Don’t worry; the lifeguard or someone will presumably resuscitate you. Once you’re breathing again, sprawled out in the sand, sun on your skin, you’ll feel a lust for life envelop you, a sense of contentment and adulation welling up in your chest. Of course, it’s also possible you’ll just die. But this is an acceptable risk because A) people die all the time and B) what do you have to lose?