The Dating Police: An Ongoing Procedural. Episode Two.

Please don’t panic, mister.  Or scream.  I’m here to help you.  Nod if you understand.

[shows badge; man nods frantically]

Look at my face.  Quiet now.  We met back in June, do you remember?  The lady out of the bad marriage?  With the briefs?  And the universe lady with the actor grind?

[man nods more slowly]

Okay.  I’m going to slowly remove my hand from your mouth, and release my grip.

And you will stay very quiet, and not run.  Understood?  Steady now.  No sudden movements.

[grip is gently released; badge is calmly put away; deep breaths on both sides]

Okay Sir.  I’ve been watching you for about a week.

No, no!  Stay calm.  Please.

[gets out notebook]

Between the dates of the 25th of August and last night, the 15th of September, you have consistently not been sleeping.

[man goes still]

For five out of the last eleven working days, women have been approaching you on the train home from work, and asking if you’re alright.  And you’ve responded, “it’s just hayfever”. Yes?

Sir?

SIR?

… son?

[man looks at floor, and nods]

You’re tired, aren’t you?

[silence]

I need to hear it.  You’re tired and upset, aren’t you?

[beat]

It’s okay son.

[beat]

[beat]

[man whispers, “yes.  yes I am”]

I know you are.  Look at you.  Sore throat.  Exhaustion.  Tears.  Feelings of disgrace and unattractiveness.  It’s textbook.  Straight from the Academy.

Look.  I’m off duty tonight.  But your case has got to me.  This is off the record, friend.

You really fell for her, didn’t you?  I know son.  It’s okay.  But I don’t like what I’m seeing.

I have a Police Station Producer here.  I want you in the station by the weekend with proof that you’ve bought some new clothes.  And shoes.  Especially shoes.  God, man, your shoe collection is fucking awful.  You’re going to need better.

And I want you reading on the train.  Not just weeping.  Richard Ford, perhaps.  Or Elena Ferrante.  Or even Hemingway if you need some guns in it.  Except for ‘A Moveable Feast’.  That’ll just about finish you off.  I need you thinking about your emotions.  So no more Sci-Fi.  Or Grimdark.

[man looks perturbed]

it'll work out, son.
it’ll work out, son.

You miss her, don’t you?

[man looks up, nods]

You feel so stupid.  And shamed.  And beyond fixing.

You’ve had some bad thoughts, haven’t you?

[man grimaces; returns gaze to floor]

WELL FUCKING STOP THAT SHIT, DO YOU HEAR?

[man jumps]

YOU’RE KIND!

YOU’RE PATIENT!

YOU’RE NOT UGLY!

… AND YOU’RE OKAY IN THE SACK!!

[man stares, open mouthed]

YOU SAY IT.  I’M KIND.

I’m ki …

YOU’RE PATIENT

I’m pati …

YOU’RE FUCKING GREAT

I’m …

LOUDER

I’m fucki …

LOUDER, MAN!

I’M FUCKING GREAT!  I’M KIND!  I’M PATIENT AND ATTENTIVE!  I CAN DO SEX!  I CAN DO KISSING!  I’LL GET NEW SHOES!  I’M FUNNY! … AND CLEVER!  YES! YES!! YES!!!

Yes, well alright.  Don’t get carried away.

Good.  Anyway.  I’ll be watching.

I’ll be watching all of you.

[turns to camera]

Especially you, sweetheart.

And I want to see those shoes.

x

The Knuckle. And the Shit.

A small bone.  Weighs half a gram.  Located at the base of your third finger.  Smaller than a one-pence piece.

But it can do extraordinary damage.  And when accurately placed it can hurt like fuck.  And it leaves a mark.  And can break something that has stayed unbroken until the evening that has your name on it.  Like a socket.  Or a nose.  Or a heart.

Look.  I dramatically failed my Physics ‘O’ Level (yes, I’m of a peculiar vintage), but I do know that the knuckle is just the point of delivery.  It’s not actually the cause of the pain.

knuckle

No.  What causes the damage is the turn of the hips, the weight of the shoulders, the full body weight that comes before it and behind it.  Inertia.  Momentum.  Intent.

When a relationship ends, very nasty things can be said.  Or emailed.  Or texted.  Or tweeted.  Sometimes so vile that you actually wonder if their ex has somehow got hold of their phone, and has the wonderful person you fell in love with tied up in the shed.  Actually, I would love to tie up my recent ex in the shed, but only for her own pleasure.  Ahem.

Anyway.

What I’m saying is, is that when that genuinely offensive note has been vomited in your direction, it’s like the knuckle.  It’s pretty much the last thing you see before your eye swells shut.  And it’s easy to associate the knuckle with your pain.  Just the knuckle.  Just the message.

But actually what’s driving it home is often months of exasperation.  Or slow-boiling anxiety.  Or the collection of very small things that has patiently accreted into one fucking big toxic compound balls-up.

Don’t judge people by their one-off loss of decency and grace.  Try to think about how your long-term behaviour has put all that weight behind the knuckle.  The knuckle is, to be honest, not worth much examination.  It just happens to be the prism through which focuses all the shit into one hot fucking beam.

Practise this and change the world.  Always find the best in people, even if it results in your own black eye.  Empathise.  Find it impossible to hate.  They might hate you, but remember it’s costing them a fucking phenomenal amount of energy.  Energy that could actually be employed in something useful.  Or beneficial.  Or forgiving.

The personal revolution is the only viable one left.

I’m off to meet Buddha for a jar.

x

The Dating Police: An Ongoing Procedural. Episode One.

Hello.  Excuse me.  I’m here on official business.

I can’t help but notice that you, Madam, are biting your lower lip and nodding.  Rather excessively.  And laughing, too.  At the most god-awful shit.

And you, Sir.  You appear to be curling yourself around the table like some sort of fucking contortionist.  And you’ve just dropped your 90k Land Rover into the conversation.

In short, I believe that you are both colluding on an online date and, therefore, have come to my attention as an Officer of the Online Dating Police.

[shows badge]

I must caution you both now.  Everything you say here will be recorded and held against you by either aggrieved party.  You Sir; please don’t insinuate that you are actually interested in understanding this woman.  We both know that’s a pack of fibs.

And Miss, can we admit that you were only dumped last weekend by that aspiring actor?  And that this whole thing will ultimately be a point-scoring exercise against the universe?  I know you hurt.  But don’t take it out on this poor fella.  He hasn’t had sex since 2011, and he’ll be dazzled by the first pair of bare shoulders he sees.  And, actually, that actor was a bit of a nob, wasn’t he?  We both know that.  And he made you feel fat.

you're with the wrong girl, buddy
you’re with the wrong guy, lady

In fact, could I just …

[motions to uniformed partner in the adjacent bar]

… yes.  I’d like to bring in these earlier offenders we caught trying to get the bus back to her place.

Look.  This young man is quite an able lover, and he is self-absorbed to the point of not actually noticing when you dump him.

You.  Universe lady with the actor grind.  I want you to take him home.  He’ll make you feel better, and then he’ll go on his jolly way afterwards, so that you can keep thinking of yourself as a victim, and not a terribly casual shagger.

You my friend.  Yes you.  Lucky escape I’d say.  I’m going to put you with her.  She’s just come out of a bad marriage, and will fall for the first man to gently remove her briefs.  That needs to be you, sonny.  But not tonight.  Both of you are worth more than that.  You are equally fragile, and extremely loving.  You really shouldn’t be out on your own.  And certainly not in the company of these people.

Move along, please.

And walk the streets safely.  I’ll be watching.

[turns to camera]

I’ll especially be watching YOU.

x

Dumped

Good morning!

Well here I am!  Washed and brushed; shiny of coat, lustrous of pelt, and wearing a lovely smile that I tattooed onto my face last night with a rusty nail.

I had a blip.  A wobble.  Last night I chewed my pillow, howled at the universe and wrote some sixth-form cobblers that David Geffen could’ve put a Seattle grunge dirge behind and minted himself another million.  All this after just one and a bit dates.  Johnny Fucking Christ.

Yes.  I was dumped.  Like a teenage twat with his hands in his pockets standing outside his girlfriend’s house; his torn-up love letter falling like confetti around his scuffed shoes.

umm.  are we still on for tomorrow?
umm … are we still on for tomorrow?

It’s a horrible experience becoming a cliché for a few hours.  Ask Stella, she knows. This dumped guy was straight from central casting.  An utter trope.

First there was the premonition.  The pause in correspondence which YOU KNEW was being used to finely tune that final note.

Its arrival.  And funnily enough it didn’t seem to hurt.  Like people in traumatic incidents who look down and notice they’ve lost a leg.

“Oh”, they think.

So I dropped back an immediate, rather jolly reply.  Oh that’s fine, I say.  Yeah, it wasn’t quite right, was it?  Whatever.  Good luck.  See you around.  And I hit the send button.

And then there was the silence.  The feel of something very nice melting away, and pattering onto the floor.  The clock ticked, and my face morphed like a sad clown.  Don’t go.

That’s the thing about dating over social media.  You become conditioned to expect a reply.  You work out your correspondent’s rhythms.  Like two tennis players warming up.  Batting entertainment and attention to each other to keep out the cold.

Knocking the ball to no one and watching it sail off into the car park is not something you’ve become used to.

This is exactly when the trope walks in and asks you to leave.  He’ll take it from here, thank you.

THE STANDARD PROCEDURE

This can’t just stop.  I was enjoying it.

Step One: send another message.  This will read something like, “we should definitely stay in touch, though.  I mean our correspondence was great”.  Your digital voice is increasing in pitch.  Subtext: “Oh Shit”.

Score: 0:1

Step Two: send another message, naturally.  I mean the last two have been such a success; why stop?  This one will be the last wobbling stand of your dignity, and will usually start with the word ‘Look’.  Something like “Look.  I’m not letting this one get away … etc.”.  Subtext:  “This one’s getting away, isn’t it?”.

Score: 0:2

we should probably send her another message.
“we should probably send her another message.”

Step Three: gently place your self-respect in a bucket, leave it at her door.  Ring the bell, present yourself on a plate, and serve.  This final note will haunt you for days.  It is essentially a carte-blanche menu of yourself, no charge.  Please use me.  Muck me about if you want.  Squeeze me in between shags.  Keep me in the kitchen cupboard, and drag me out in needy emergencies.  Subtext: none.  There it is, in all it’s glory.

Score: Game, Set and Match.

This happens to all of us.  It’s the flipside of the laughs and the joy found in meeting new people.  You’ve got to put a bit of yourself in.  Take a risk.  Even if you know it might hurt.  This hassle is part of being ALIVE.  The alternatives to being alive are not promising.  Believe me, I’ve checked out the options.

And try to consider the positives.  I got so caught up with this that I didn’t eat for a week.  A few more romantic disappointments and I’ll have reached my target weight in no time.

I don’t mind losing the odd game.  Especially as I’ve only just walked onto the court after a long lay-off.

Not playing at all – now that’s a proper tragedy.

Who’s for a game?

x

Auto Fellatio and Melon-bothering

So the sun resumes.  No more nasty texts; just lovely correspondence from lovely people.

Sunlight filtering through beech trees.  The buzz of single-prop planes dragging gliders into their thermals, and lazy vapour trails being languidly drawn across an opaline sky.

Hair tied for a change, in red indian fashion, and a modest pile of empty blue beer cans tinkling in the breeze at my feet.  Life is good.  Would be better with some company, but I do have you, reader.  And you’ll do fine.

I have today been thinking of panache.  Elan.  Esprit.  Dash.  And how much I respect it.  Heroes I have known; windmill-tilters, and chasers of lost causes.

Take this school acquaintance, for example.

The house is empty.  Our swashbuckler steps into the shower.  During his ablutions his mother returns home, and installs herself silently downstairs.

He gets out of his shower, and with his towel wrapped round his waist he strolls into his bedroom.

Five minutes later, mother bursts into his bedroom to find our venturer upside down on his bed, towel abandoned, all red-faced and trying to fellate himself.

Our hero calmly rolls off the bed, stretches, and tells his mum he’s doing his ‘exercises’.

Bravo.  Now that’s the sort of vim I’m talking about.  You can’t learn it, or fake it.

Or take this chap.  Another school acquaintance (yes, the school I attended was run-down, boys-only and very posh.  And it oozes ridiculous material).

His sister stumbles across this little soldier trying to penetrate (with some urgency) a melon that he’s just warmed up in the microwave.  He brushes this off by sticking his nose in the air and declaring it his ‘homework’. [round of applause]

just heat and serve.
just heat and serve.

I love this stuff.  Bravado in the face of absurd ignominy.  Throwing your gauntlet into the face of shame and ridicule.  I mean look at this blog.  Quixotic.  And not very sensible.

And then I came across some of it on Guardian Soulmates.  She describes herself as a “Gloomy misery guts. No friends. Little joy. Hates cosy nights in.”

She’s looking for a “Miserable old devil. Disillusioned with life, but prepared for further disappointment. Preferably without a huge circle of friends who think you’re great”.

Someone “Fond of uncomfortable nights out, competitive hoovering and wheelie bin admiring. Hands like loaves of bread… No sense of humour, does not enjoy laughing and prefers misery to any abstract notion of “fun” … “

Obviously you’re wondering if I got in touch.

Sadly, no.  Despite your suspicions, I am not a miserable old devil, nor am I disillusioned with life.  And I have LOVELY hands.

But wait.  I haven’t even mentioned her photos.

She attaches three.

#1  her bin

#2 her hoover

#3 a brick

Regarding her style and verve levels, my boat is being floated to somewhere near Mars.

This woman needs to join the circle.  Should we contact her?  What do you think?  At least register our respect.  Or nominate her for an award.

I’m off down the greengrocer’s.

x

ps – Online Dating is Shite is now accepting contributions.  All you need is a nom-de-theatre, lyricism, profanity and a liberal use of the word ‘fuck’.  Perhaps there’s something you can say here anonymously that you can’t say anywhere else.  Contact me at maturin@onlinedatingisshite.com

Hoobree, Miss Ives, and Jamming with the Devil

Wind down the windows in your Micra, bung some Led Zeppelin on the stereo, and remember to stick your hands in your pockets quickly before the nice lady notices that you’re shaking. Yes!  It’s another lonely evening here at Online Dating is Shite.

Busy as I have been writing random nonsense and sending pictures of my plastic sword to ladies who like Vikings, I thought I should get back to you.  My favourite people.

Hubris.  Hubris is on my mind.

I once mispronounced that word in a school debate semi-final.  I pulled it out in my summing-up, thinking I was Hitchens; postulating that the opposition was guilty of it.  But I’d only ever seen it on the printed page (it was not the type of word we used in the Maturin household), and I thought it was possibly French, so I pronounced it ‘hoobree’.

You can imagine how the debate went.  It was one of those unique moments.  In which you learn exactly how a word is pronounced; and, in a very personal sense, precisely what it means.  All in the same revelatory instant.

So.  Hubris.  Hubris and Guardian Soulmates.

Take this, for instance:

“Don’t worry.  All my emotional baggage is sorted and neatly put away …”

Aha ha ha ha!  Really?  Brilliant!  Cue the half empty bottle of Vodka, smeared eyeliner, and two community police officers at the door.

I say jolly good to baggage.  I’m all for a bit of baggage.  I’m a gentleman, and will gladly carry it for a while.  I’ll even rummage through it, and see if there’s anything I can take out to make it lighter.  In fact I want a bit of baggage.  With baggage comes wisdom.  Actually that’s quite good.  Could somebody please quote me?

Or what about this:

“I am looking for someone who has attained financial security through entrepreneurship, but is not driven by money or status.”

I’m not even going to bother with that one.  It would be like going to a coconut shy with a laser-sighted rifle.  The same goes for this:

“Someone well-established in her career, but willing to try anything.”

or

“I am looking for a normal, kind and sincere woman who is happy taking risks.”

Oh okay, I realise they don’t all technically qualify as hubristic, but I can’t resist sharing.

I mean, I still believe that my very special person exists.  And I have high hopes for my next date.  But I do keep it kind of real.  Otherwise I’d be tailoring my profile to Miss Ives out of Penny Dreadful.  It would read:

“You are poised, mysterious, and utterly composed.  You are a seductive and formidable beauty, full of secrets and danger.  You have supernatural gifts that will threaten my safety and even my sanity.  And you go like the clappers.”

It’s not going to happen is it?

Qualities I absolutely need in a partner: Understanding. Open mindedness. Lycanthropy.
Qualities I absolutely need in a partner: Understanding. Open mindedness. Lycanthropy.

It’d be great if it did.  She could bring Lucifer round, because I think he and I would get on quite well.  I mean we’re both generally misunderstood.  And probably both like Led Zeppelin.  Maybe he plays bass, and we could try ‘Black Country Woman‘.  Anyway.  I digress.

Hoobree.  Let hoobree be your watchword.

I’m off round Miss Ives’.

x

ps – I’m disproportionately excited about the new season of Penny Dreadful.  I think I’m going to put on my black velvet coat and ponce about in old London pubs.  Like I did after reading Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

The Reassurance Boogie vs. The Denial Twist

Goodness!  The sun!  Isn’t it glorious?

Yes, it’s another day in that cosmic circle of disappointment that is online dating.  I’m waiting for your message, you’re waiting for his, and he copped off last night with someone so unsuitable that he is now creating an inbox rule that will send all of her emails tumbling into his junk folder. Marvellous isn’t it?

It’s like being back in the school playground.  Rob fancies Jenny, but Jenny fancies Mark.  Mark fancies George, but George’s parents are involved in a messy divorce, so he’s busy pulling the legs off flies.  Yes.  Happy days.

Actually it’s not like the playground at all.  My son is six, and he’s got a girlfriend.  They hug and kiss and discuss their mutual interests with passion.  Which is mostly dragons, but don’t knock it.  On the evenings before their playdates, they each get so excited that they can’t sleep.  Which makes them infinitely more clued-up than any of us.  Fact.

Although there maybe something worrying lurking in the gene pool.

He bounced out of the classroom door on Friday with a grin that would make the Cheshire Cat slink off and consider its options.

“What?”

“She said it!”

“Said what?”

“She said it, she said it, she said it, she said it …”

Turns out that, during tidying-up time, my son had found it necessary to throw a few advanced wrestling techniques on the boy who was competing for his girlfriend’s attention.  Which I think mostly involved sitting on his head.

After he had sat there for a while, releasing the obligatory fart into his opponent’s face and flexing his muscles (think Achilles dragging the body of Hector around the walls of Troy), his girlfriend had said, “I love you”.

Man, he was giddy as, well, a schoolboy.  And I know the feeling.  That kind of affirmative message you get after displaying like a demented silverback (whether it’s wrestling all-comers , or discussing a mutual love of Neil Gaiman over email) is pure intoxication.

Four hours later, and he’s as glum as anything.  Quiet, and avoiding eye contact.

“What’s the matter?  We’ve had an awesome day!  Remember what she said.”

[beat]

“I want to hear her say it again.”

Oh.

Oh dear.

OH YOU ARE JUST LIKE YOUR FATHER!

Yes. The old reassurance boogie.  Bad at the best of times.  But infinitely fucking worse in the digital age.

For each loving positive message that arrives by text/email/twitter, there seems to be a rapid countdown after which its meaning and validity decays at the rate of minutes passed.

You get a lovely message.  Funny, and thoughtful.  And although not spelled out explicitly, indicates that the small amount that the person knows about you is floating their boat.

You reply immediately, because you’re shit at being aloof.

A minute passes.  Maybe ten.  Suddenly you’re hitting the ‘check mail’ button like John Bonham kicked his squeaky pedal.

OH MY GOD.  She’s met somebody else.  That guy she gave up on has got back in touch.  That bastard.  Actually she was never into you.  ACTUALLY SHE’S BEEN MESSAGING YOUR MATE.  BLAAARRRRGGHHH …

I'm sorry.  It's been 45 minutes. Indications are that she's shagging your mate.
I’m sorry. It’s been 45 minutes. Indications are that she’s shagging your mate.

I blame twenty four-hour news.  Has the headline changed?  No?  You mean the last report filed was an hour ago?  THEY COULD ALL BE DEAD BY NOW!

But your correspondence is not like world news.  Wolf Blitzer is not sitting at his desk bullet-pointing all the humiliating things that might have happened, or are likely to.  It’s not life or death.

Let’s institute a law.  We’ll call it Maturin’s law.

Your budding relationship or friendship is as good as your last message, and remains that way, inviolate, until you specifically hear otherwise.

Unless it’s been ten days, and you can tell that they’ve been on the dating site EVERY DAY SINCE, and that they HAVEN’T LOOKED AT YOUR FUCKING PROFILE ONCE.

AARRRGGHHH!!

[pants]

Fuck the reassurance boogie, this just might be the denial twist.

x