I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, I wish that cute guy, the one standing by the snacks, would come over here and talk to me. Was that a smile? I think he smiled at me! You’re wondering if you can, by concentrating really really hard, will him to walk across the room and introduce himself. You’re wondering if this could be the start of something. Something real, something meaningful. Something that will last.

His name is Bob. Be careful, okay?

Bob won’t ease your sense of isolation, your sense that everybody has someone except you. Bob will make you feel more isolated. Bob is really great looking, but there’s a price to pay. Bob is boring.

People say, “Do me a favor, will you? Please don’t sit me next to Bob.” They say, “I’d rather have rectal cancer than have to talk to Bob.”

Would you like to hear, in excruciating detail, about Bob’s latest dream and his step-by-step analysis of what it all means? Interested in comparing brands of all-season tires? Hungering for a good long conversation about polyester? Have you always been curious about the difference between yams and sweet potatoes and the history of their cultivation in North America?

Bob will get you up to speed.

Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, don’t ask Bob how he feels about tramp stamps, global warming, or basmati rice. Don’t get him started on ice hockey, Fiona Apple, inkjet printers, or wolves. Don’t ask Bob about anything.

If you run into Bob on the street or at the grocery store, never ask, “How’s it going?” or, “Hey, what’s up?” or, “What’s new, Bob?” And, for God’s sake, don’t mention the weather. Ever.

If Bob calls up and invites you to a movie, think fast. Tell him you don’t like crowds. Tell him you have rectal cancer and it’s hard to sit down for that long. Tell him you have decided to become a lesbian. Actually, you won’t be the first woman to become a lesbian because of Bob.

If Bob drops by your place unexpectedly, don’t open the door. Be quiet. Crouch down behind the sofa and don’t move until he leaves. Then, stand up and exclaim, “Whew, that was a close one!”

If you do become a lesbian, and you hook up with someone great, someone who, finally, completes you, make sure you never introduce your partner to Bob. Once she meets him and listens to him for a few minutes, she’ll begin to stop loving you. You think I’m kidding?

Bob has even inspired an urban legend, the one about a girl named Jodie who is dating a guy named Bob who is so boring that, after spending a particularly tedious evening with him, she goes completely deaf. Then Jodie walks home along the railroad tracks and, because she can’t hear, she gets struck and killed by a freight train. Overcome by grief, Bob pulls out his own tongue with a pair of pliers.

Don’t take any chances with Bob. Don’t be Jodie.

Even pets find Bob boring. Dogs and cats won’t stay in the same room with him. They’ll bark and howl and claw at the door in a frenzied effort to escape. Hamsters and gerbils, parakeets, and even snakes have been found dead in their cages after listening to Bob.

We could all learn so much from animals.

Please don’t introduce Bob to any of your friends. You think it might shift some of the burden off you, and it will, temporarily, but your friends will start to resent you and pretty soon you won’t have any friends at all. Except Bob.

Don’t give Bob your email address, not your real one. Believe me, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of Bob’s daily emails. You don’t want your mailbox stuffed with photos of kittens in vampire costumes, jokes that might be funny to sixth grade boys, and YouTube videos of drum circles, do you?

Oh, sweet Jesus, Bob is coming over to talk to you! Quick, get in the closet. Make yourself invisible. Jump out the window. Run away and become a nun. Jam freshly sharpened pencils deep inside your ears.

Bob is cute, though, isn’t he? Look at those big green eyes. And that grin! Is that adorable, or what? You’re thinking about just saying, “Hi,” and seeing where it goes, aren’t you?
Please be careful.

Bob likes you.