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 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

Chapter One: Oh Mercy

Good Lord.  It’s been a while.  Thirteen days by my reckoning.  But, reader, I have news!  I have beheld many wonderful things.  Pure as the morning.  Angry, boisterous, and keen, as Wordsworth says.  All since the weekend.  And I wasn’t even drunk.

Today, and I utterly kid you not, a large bird-of-prey deposited a nearly-dead pheasant upon my windscreen whilst I was navigating a country road.  It arrived out of the sun.  Just a shadow, and a hint of movement at the very edge of my vision.

And then a THUMP.  Blood and feathers, and the June sun strobing through wings as it circled away.

The windscreen held.  Which is a good thing.  I am unsure if my insurance covers acts of extreme portent.

“a harbinger, you say. and how would you be spelling that?”

Well that was a fucking turn-up.  For the pheasant too, I imagine.

Talking of turn-ups, I can’t actually work-out where she came from.  I can’t recall a first message, or suddenly being struck by her profile.  No polite online mutual appreciation.  In fact the first thing I remember is annoyance.  Silly posh cow.

Anyway, it seems she can draw a laugh out of me like she’s twisting pliers.  She’s fucking funny. And just out of reach.  In short, she’s deadly.

We meet for a chat.  Rain puts paid to our polite picnic plans.  Chain pub puts paid to our polite staying out.  We go home.  Home puts paid to polite.

She cooks.  Casual expertise.  A practised hand.  She has this place at the top of her spine, between her shoulders.  It’s like there’s an invisible wire holding it high, and poised.  I want to reach out for it, brush her hair from it, and get very close.  The yearning starts to burn.

“You’ve got lovely eyes,” she says.  It totters out of her, in the middle of a different sentence.  Oh fuck.

In the morning we’re in the garden.  We have a couple of hours, and we’re building something.  There are a few odd pieces of wood that can be put together.  And she has a tentative plan.

She looks for someone to help.  The only guy I’ve bought with me seems to be an official from the Department of Whimsy.  He blathers.  He shakes, and is very earnest.  He talks shit.

Idiot.

I should have brought the rude and robust guy.  He’s much better in these situations.

My anxiety floats.  It will not shift. We’ve nailed something together.  It holds for the moment.  Maybe I should a bring a hammer.  I used to have one.  I know I’ve still got it; I’m sure it’s around somewhere.  I’ll get the robust guy to bring it with him.

This thing we’re making is going to hold soil.  Things can be planted in it.  Things might grow, if the net holds and the fat pigeon leaves it alone.  It’s not very pretty at the moment, and could quickly fall apart under the wrong pressure.  Fragile, and easily pulled up.

It’s done.  She smiles at me.  Lovely, still.  Claws in for the moment.  Like the hawk first regarding the pheasant.

Oh dig them in.  Please.  Carry me back to your nest.  Feed me to your children.

But I’m listening for the screech of brakes.  And the thump.  And for her to circle away.

And I’m suddenly aware that I’ve not got my seatbelt on.

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

La Nausée. And Online Dating.

I am a sick man … I am an angry man. I am an ugly man. I believe my liver is diseased. Actually no I don’t. I’m just showing off. Yes. With that endearing mix of self-loathing and self-aggrandisement, plus a quote from Dostoyevsky, it must be another journal entry from your favourite periodical Online Dating is Shite.

But I am sick. Really quite sick. I have THE BOWL next to my bed.

Before you all send flowers, or congratulate yourself on having correctly cast the hexing spell, I am feeling a little bit better. Thank you.

There was a moment on Saturday morning, however, when I would have gladly exchanged a toe, no TWO toes, for another hour in bed, but my son got me out of my sorry pit to play Robin Hood. I tried all the old favourites; “Next week, I promise” through to “Go down and put the TV on and I’ll be down in a minute”, finally down to “Here’s the iPad. And my phone. And the iTunes password”. All failed miserably.

So we settled for playing the bit where Robin dies. He lies on his deathbed and fires his last arrow out of the window. Where ever it lands, that is where he is to be buried. I was Robin Hood.

There is a lot to be said for a bout of something nasty. It reduces the parameters. Your normal landscape draws down to an intimate knowledge of the bumps on the ceiling of your sickroom, and which parts of your pillow are the coolest. And not in a nightclub way, either.

Twenty-four hours ago, it was wonderful: I only had to close my eyes and straight away my head would start buzzing like a beehive: I could recapture the taste of couscous, the smell of olive oil which fills the streets of Burgos at mid-day; I was moved. This joy was worn out a long time ago, is it going to be reborn today?

Actually, no. I’m showing off again. That whole paragraph was Sartre. And I fucking hate couscous. But Jean-Paul knew a thing or two about Nausea. I mean, he went out with Simone de Beauvoir.

At weekends I like to draw all the consequences from a position of consistent atheism.  And going for long country walks.
At weekends I like to draw all the consequences from a position of consistent atheism. And going for long country walks.

The way it creeps up on you. How it installs itself cunningly. Little by little.

And suddenly you know if you see another LifeLiver77, or Cuddle_Bucket, you are going to puke your hot snaking guts all over the keyboard.

Time to reduce your parameters. Time to love the REAL people in your life for a bit.

Don’t worry. You’ll feel better soon.

You’ll be logging on again in a few days.

x

ps  You know, I think it’s only jumping the shark if you come back down again afterwards.

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

Some Unique Saving Tips, the Skinner Sisters, and the Word ‘fuck’

Now I like a bit of Anglo-Saxon.  I like words like dim, and glimmer, and ruin.  I like the part of our language that splashed out of a longboat on a misty morning, sword in hand, and with ruthless thoughts of animal husbandry heavy on its heathen mind.

And I like the word ‘fuck’.  A lot.  A fucking lot.  A fucking load.

Not so much as a verb, more as a standalone.  I like it used joyously by my correspondents, like the rather fantastic person who wrote to me yesterday, “I fucking love Vikings!”.  Yeah!  I fucking love ’em too!

I immediately know that we’re going to get on; it’s like they’ve secretly daubed a chalk mark outside their house, indicating to me that all brethren are welcome.  In fact, I think I’m going to institute a yearly award.  Call it the Penelope Skinner award for the most poetic use of the word ‘fuck’.

I love the Skinner Sisters.  No, I fucking love the Skinner Sisters*.  Have I mentioned that? Almost as much as I love Aragorn.  The fact that there are two of them makes the world a doubly happy place.

[gazes smiling somewhere over your left shoulder, until you feel inclined to clear your throat] …

Ummm … Sorry – yes, where was I?  Oh yes.  Sorry.  The word ‘fuck’.  Yes.

Now.  Because I talk in my own awkward way about ‘dating’, and enthusiastically use the word ‘fuck’, I get a lot of stuff sent to me from other sites that use those two words a lot.  Except, yep, not quite in the same context.

Jesus Creeping Christ, there’s some horrible stuff out there.  For instance, one guy is telling me to use my STATUS and DOMINANCE to get sexual acts performed upon my person.  I mean, my status currently reads, “Sunday! Another veggie pizza and four-pack of Carlsberg from the garage :)”.  I’m not sure how that will work.

Another advises that at a first date, I should always have my SEX LOCATION already worked out, and that whilst taking you there, I should play-fight, because my PLAYFUL AGGRESSION will TURN YOU ON [looks confused and appalled].

I get tips on how to get your kids out of the house, and then how to get me out of your house, presumably after you’ve performed the above mentioned act.  Which I happily coerced you into.

But also, and this is the point, that I should use f**k, instead of Fuck, because it WILL OFFEND WOMEN [outright belly laughs].

Christ up a tree.

I do.  I Really do.  I try to explain it to them, but apparently I’m a prude, not being honest as a post-liberal man, and obviously not getting laid (actually one of those is true).  I’m a broke-ass bitch.  A ninety-nine percenter.  I let women keep me down.  I mean, these guys wear shades, and quote Tyler Durden from Fight Club.  The implication is that I’m not very Rock n’ Roll.

nob, yesterday.
nob, yesterday.

Oh really?

OH FUCKING REALLY?

Because, my friend, in any stand-up rock n’ roll deathmatch, you and all of your mates are going to come a very poor fucking second.  Have you read nothing else here?  Look into these eyes.  I won’t even have to break a fucking sweat.  Amateur.

I mean, it’s not a healthy thing to serial date for a long time.  It’s like therapy.  I don’t want to hear that you’ve been proudly doing it for twenty years and counting; I would much rather hear that you did it for 18 months, and now you’re much better, thank you.  Online dating is that nasty, awkward thing you have to do before you get to the good stuff.  You need to get past it, quick.  Like the pilot episode of Fortitude.

And it doesn’t even sound as if you like women.  You define every encounter and relationship with them as combative, or something that you need to ‘win’.  You seem happy with manipulation.  And subterfuge.

I mean, why even date?  There are massage parlours for people like you.  And, actually [gets calculator out] yes; would probably be more economic, on a per-month basis, than Guardian Soulmates.  And at least they wouldn’t have to listen to your blistering crap.

If you’re going to be that shit-mouthed offensive about women, why are you worried about actually spelling out the word FUCK?  I would rather have one good honest ‘fuck’ than any of the wank you’re selling.  And you can take that in any way you want.

x

*all views on Penny & Ginny Skinner are entirely the author’s.

Advice on your first Guardian Soulmates date …

Right.  Let’s get one thing clear straight away.  Online dating is sick.  And dreadful.

It turns natural law on its head.  It turns you on your head.  And then it walks away, and it doesn’t say sorry.

In the old days, you rarely met a TOTAL stranger.  You knew something about them.  Even if you met on the bus, you knew that they got that bus, at the very least.  And that cocktail of chemicals at the bottom of your tummy knew you were interested in them before you did.  This is how it should work.  You notice.  You fancy.  You work out a few basic facts.  Then *maybe* you approach.

Online dating is fundamentally fucked.  All this happens backwards.  And it’s not healthy.  Usually because your brain will not let go of the old way.  You know nothing, so you speculate.  You daydream.  You invent.  That cocktail of chemicals at the bottom of your tummy is replaced by a drip of dopamine.  Some neurotransmitter rewards you each time you receive a ‘like’, or an affirmative message.  You have become that rat, who dies a slow death because she keeps battering the pleasure button, and forgets to eat.

Good times.

But, the fact is (and don’t I know it), you just REALLY want to meet someone, dammit.  It’s later than you thought.  You’ve got maybe twelve sexy years left.  Just think about that for a second.  Or actually, don’t; because you’ll need to keep the light on when you sleep tonight.

So what the hell.  Let’s pop a coin in the slot.

So, some rules for survival, learned in the trenches, on the front line, under heavy fire and incurring some horrible injuries …

DO NOT OVERSPECULATE.

It can go like this.  You message on Monday.  He replies.  You actually find him funny, which is a surprise (you thought the first few would be twats, natch).  It’s Tuesday, and you find you’re messaging each other at work.  Great stuff.  By Wednesday, there’s a part of you (which you won’t admit to) that is actually thinking of baby names.  And then on Thursday he doesn’t message, and you FUCKING HATE HIM.  You drive around in your car singing “Baby, you’re time is gonna come” really loudly, and wobbling your head from side-to-side in a sister-I’m-liberated manner.  He’s not gonna get one over on me!  HELL NO.

Actually it’s only been fourteen hours since his last message, and you haven’t even spoken to him yet.

See what I mean?

SO KEEP THE MESSAGING RELAXED.

Realise it’s not yet real-life.  You are like two hostage negotiators, and at stake is your self-worth, happiness and emotional security.  Reveal yourself slowly.  Share control.  You don’t want Special Forces bunging tear gas through the windows and shooting the innocents, and demanding statements of romantic intent.

UNDERSTAND THAT THE OTHER PARTY IS AS FUCKING USELESS AS YOU ARE.

Easy to forget.  I have usually assumed that my prospective date is the most laid-back woman on the planet.  Everything is water off her back.  She is ice-cool, and has a list of male reserves so long she needs two handbags.  She can take me or leave me.  She’s dated a load of guys, most of whom were more clever, taller, better-hung and hugely more successful in the arts than me.  This leads me to over-compensate, i.e. the real me (the guy she might have noticed on the bus in the old days) is still as far away as ever.  Sound familiar?

THE OTHER PARTY FEELS THE SAME AS YOU.

He is convinced that, although he would like to be Oscar Wilde, he will, in any phone call, end up mumbling balls to you in a high-pitched squeak.  He is absolutely convinced that when he arrives at the date, he will fall over the next table/leave his flies undone/cough his coffee into your face all in the one same horrible extended slapstick moment.

DON’T JUST TRY TO ENTERTAIN, ALSO TRY TO LISTEN.

Important one this.  You can get so anxious about seeming ‘fun’ that you suddenly realise you’ve just guffawed at his ex-wife’s cancer.  Not everything the other party says will be funny.  Similarly, one date spent some generous effort explaining to me that over-messaging freaked her out.  I sent her fourteen messages reassuring her that I wouldn’t.  And I rue the day.  Is that how you spell ‘rue’?  I’m not sure.  So listen, is what I’m trying to say.

Don’t rue.  It’s not pleasant for you.  And it takes a while to go away.

x