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

Love Bomb

So I don’t usually go in for this type of balls, but due to emotional exhaustion, a sore throat, new job fatigue and six cans of Coors Light, this image from the Burning Man Festival stopped me dead.  It’s by Ukrainian artist Alexandr Milov, and is called (you guessed it) “Love”.

no. i'm sorry. there's, err, something in my eye.
no. i’m sorry. there’s, err, something in my eye.

Having recently been saucepanned around the head with the stuff, I thought I’d do some research into it.  This has been a wide-ranging study, from biologist Jeremy Griffith (love is ‘unconditional selflessness’) to Virgil (‘love conquers all’), all the way to Def Leppard (‘love bites, love bleeds, love begs, love pleads’).

Now Helen Fisher (a ‘love expert’, which is what I want to be when I grow up) sounds like she knows what she’s talking about.  I like this.  She divides the experience of love into three partly overlapping stages: lust, attraction and attachment. We all know what lust is.  And it’s not that famous organic cosmetics chain.  That’s Lush.  The romantic attraction bit is the chat and the decision phase.  You share insights and laughs, music and words.  And you pursue.  And are pursued.

Attachment involves sharing a home, parental duties, mutual defence, laundry, phoning the gas people, childcare, lifts to the station, an abundance of pampering, and in proper human beings involves feelings of safety and security.

This bit sounds tricky, though.  A distinct neural circuit, including a neurotransmitter, and a particular behavioural pattern, is fired up for each individual phase.  That’s a lot that can go wrong.  And it often does.

It does explain why online dating is fundamentally fucked, though.  Online dating switches around the first two phases, and we’re not built for that.  Speed dating.  That’s the thing.  Or chance meetings on the 7:52 to Marylebone.  Not that I’ve tried either.

“i’m into massage. nice hat.”

Evolutionary psychology suggests some frankly absurd things, including the proposal that love has evolved to stop the spread of gene and foetus damaging STDs, by making genetically and psychologically healthy people (i.e. good parental material) into monogamous individuals who will have relatively few sexual partners.  Hmmm.  The sexual antics of all the psychologists I’ve ever met gives this view a deep irony.

This sounds better, though. There are speculations that the evolution of the human interest in music and creative art is a potential signalling system for attracting and judging the fitness of potential mates.  Yes, cavemen and women drew lovely things on cave walls to get shagged.  I sort of knew that already.

Actually there’s still an unquestioned assumption in archaeology that all those beautiful renderings of bison were done by a bloke.  Why is that?  It’s patently balls.  Due to the paternal history of Western art.  Or something.  Anyway.  Digressing.

So yes.  Okay.  There’s a reason I learned to play the guitar and sing, and it wasn’t to spend late nights in a dingy rehearsal room with a bunch of sweaty male bandmates.

The same for language.  There’s a theory that it was generated to attract love.  When we talk, we’re trying to signal to others who we are, and our potential value as a tribe member or mate.  Your use of language will signal your handiness as a provider, or lover.   And you listen, too.  And sometimes you really like what you hear.  Yes.  It seems there is a reason why I started blogging, why I left it for three months, and why I’m back.

Taking these things into account, it helps me explain why relationships with articulate, creative people can be so bloody intense.  Everything’s working overtime.  Almost too fast.  But, fuck, I’d do it again.

So what am I trying to say?  Maybe I’m picking at my own heartbreak.  After my breakup, everything in my brain is still wet-wired into the attachment phase.  You might have stopped the car, but the engine’s still running.  My brain is telling me to do selfless things.  To give of myself freely and joyously.  To phone the gas people.  To rub backs and do the laundry.  To take her on holiday.  To pamper around the clock.  To fundamentally change my behaviour forever.  It’s a mammalian thirst.  A hunger.  It’s deeply atavistic and primal, and would last a lifetime.  But she won’t let me sate it.  And it hurts like fuck actually.  I’m with Def Leppard.

But whatever.  Love works.  And it seems I’m in love with being in love (work that out, Bertrand Russell).  And I’m just going to throw love at every problem I have.  Parenting, potential partners, ex-partners, heartbreak, friends, enemies, the lot.

I love you.  In case you hadn’t realised.

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