Tomorrow ain’t Shit

Slipper-like supermarket sneakers are popular here.  Thick socks; overlarge hoodies and sweatshirts.  On the whole, the Relapse Prevention Group on a Tuesday afternoon is not the place for couture.  Comfort is in fashion on this catwalk.  I’m sure if Primark sported a full-body cotton-wool onesie, recovering addicts would queue round the corner.

Everyone takes their seat, and sort of hugs themselves up.  For the boys, hands disappear into overlong sleeves.  For the girls, knees disappear up the front of big baggy jumpers.  Lips are chewed.  Fringes are deployed.

You could probably measure recovery here by number of layers.  Two duvets down to one.  Giant cardigan, to large cardigan; and eventually to one that fits.

An addict develops an armour-like coating.  He lies to the people he loves.  He lies to himself.  He does it consistently, and professionally.  A full-blown functioning addict could become guest lecturer at the Mossad school of deception.  He could walk George Smiley up and down the garden path until he needed a sit-down.

He needs plate mail to survive this.  Enough to let him think he can sort it out tomorrow, or next week.  To take control.  I mean it’s not really a crisis yet, is it?  Enough to let him avoid the self-loathing for long enough to get to the end of the day.  Just today.  He’ll feel strong tomorrow.  Tomorrow everything happens.

In the Relapse Prevention Group, Jane is anxious.  She’s a former events organiser for the music industry.  She started independently, organising her own events.  Negotiating her way onto the scene with the balls of a seven-foot Viking.

Now living at home, her parents have trusted her with fifty quid.  She’s 39.  She quakes.

Jon is from the City.  An ex-hedge fund manager.  He is literally shaking at the idea he may have gotten angry with his new girlfriend.  No, he didn’t shout at her.  Just got terse; but he’s convinced he upset her, and it’s burning him up.

David is a classical musician.  He once self-medicated to deal with his anxiety prior to performance.  Now his problem comes after the concert.  How it makes him FEEL.

Once that armour comes off, it leaves a bare and untouched surface.  Everything is so HOT or so COLD.  Every touch from somebody else is either velvet, or sandpaper.  Every emotion shunts back online like a Japanese maglev train.

And love is like the bolt of lightning that rockets through the Frankenstein set at RKO.  The monster heaves, and opens his eyes.  He’s come from a very, very cold place.  Touch is transcendent.  Holding hands is the graze of God.  There is infinity in a kiss.

let me carry that for you.
do you want a boyfriend?

The battle these people have fought has been epic.  In the true literary sense of the word.  They are a hard and resourceful group.  They are good in a tight spot.  They will attach themselves to you and stand at your side for the merest of affirmation.  They will love you, and always remind you of what is most important.  They will see your flaws and find you beautiful.  And they are wise.  You just need to give them the chance.  They need you to think about what ‘virtue’ is, in a compromised world.

They have been addicts.  Then they were recovering addicts.  Now they’ve been recovered addicts for a while, and are tired of telling their story.

They are now potential.  Glorious, glorious potential.  Bless them all.

You’ll find one, if you’re lucky.

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

Pppffffffffftttt

Things I have learned this week.

  • The British electorate is fickle and capricious.  And lacks empathy.

I saw some of them today, in the park.  With their sunglasses, and Jack Wills sweatshirts.  Their expensive pushchairs, and their stupid tight trousers, and their beards they’ll shave off as soon as someone asks them to.

  • Erotic emails can be intensely sweet*.

Which one would you like me to talk about?

Ha ha!  No chance.  Sorry.

Although I’ll say this.  Check your spelling.

And they do need to happen spontaneously and unexpectedly; out of the blue, and with a ‘how did this happen?’ moment.  Like a Conservative majority.  OH NO now I’ve spoiled it.  Cameron and his shiny face.  Bah.

Anyway, I thought I should say something about the election.  I was thinking of buoying myself up with thoughts of the appalling five years ahead for the Tories.  Within three years they could be facing an internal backbench collapse over Europe, a constitutional crisis in Scotland, and a worsening global economic downturn.  All this with some young rising Labour star tearing the guts out of a tiny, tiny majority in the house.  Yes.  That sounds good.

So here it is.  My informed comment.

Pppffffffffttttt.

I’m glad that’s dealt with.  Back to the rebalancing of my internal chemicals.  I’m going to lie down and chew my pillow.

Drastic action needed.  Wordsworth, possibly.

Normal service resumed shortly.

x

*Send all erotic messages on a ten-pound note.  Care of me.