Two weeks later, and I’ve had plenty of time to process the various thoughts and feelings associated with that day. And I’ve got to admit I’m still a little sore about it. And I’ve also got to admit that the fact that I would describe myself as “sore” about it probably shows that this was always much more about me than it was about her.
As crummy as it is to be so unhappy with fate, it’s still a lot more fun than simply being unhappy. If all you have is an absence of things that bring you happiness (and you aren’t dumb, ugly or disenfranchised) there’s no fortune to be cursed; just yourself. So zeroing in on something you nominally desire but simply can’t have provides a useful distraction from the situation that you maybe really need to do something about your own lack of satisfaction in life.
My poor neighbour, awesome and desirable though she is, is like a stand-in for all that which I am wanting. Were the whole situation to have played out differently, were she not to have suddenly revealed her interest in someone else, I very much doubt I could have so easily articulated my interest in her. This is probably the most obvious statement in the world, but it’s a lot easier to be in love with someone you can’t have. You risk nothing, and you get to stuff all your frustrations into a box marked “longing”, thereby excusing yourself from taking real responsibility for your own happiness.
I had quite a few people tell me I was brave two weeks ago, both for admitting my feelings privately and then later publicly. That made me feel like a slight fraud– after all, I waited until I’d already lost before showing my hand. When I take an actual risk, with actual consequences and payoff, then by all means applaud my bravery! Perhaps it seems a little bit brave to write about any of this when prospective dates will end up reading it, but another way of looking at it is as the perfect self-sabotage, and you know I am all about that…
So this time around, I leave comments open. Because THAT’S HOW BRAVE I AM! I do however reserve the right to mercilessly delete or mock anyone who rubs me the wrong way or bitches about software I should be working on.
Some 25 years ago I was in love with a girl, a close friend that I saw every day at school. She was super cute, with a fantastic body for her age and a husky voice, with maybe a slight lisp. I might be making that part up; it’s hard to remember clearly after all this time. Her name was Rachel W.
I was in love with her for quite some time, and then one day I finally decided that I had to tell her how I really felt. It would be My Moment. Unfortunately I blabbed my intentions to one of our mutual friends, and even in an era without mobile phones the news got to her with almost supernatural speed, so that when I approached her for the Big Conversation she actually hit me with a preemptive rejection before I could even open my mouth. She really liked me as a friend, she helpfully informed me.
And so a subconscious resolution (aka neurosis) was born within my delicate adolescent psyche, that in order to avoid such pain and humiliation in the future I would never again take such a stupid risk as to reveal my feelings for someone without some guarantee they would be returned.
Fifteen years ago, people who carried mobile phones were often seen as wankers. Today, that label is more likely to be applied to people who choose not to carry one. Not having a mobile phone in 2011 comes off somewhere about as obnoxious as bragging that you don’t own a television. No One Is Impressed By This.
I think attitudes toward online dating are trending much the same way, in that where once there was a stigma attached, now people who scoff that they can’t imagine meeting someone that way just seem out of touch– they might as well be quoting Seinfeld what’s-the-deal gags. I feel annoyed and slightly insulted now when I see women’s profiles still featuring headlines like “Let’s tell people we met in a bar!” – as though that would seriously be a more respectable option. In 2001, yeah sure whatever. In 2011, gimme a break. This article from the Daily Mail tries to keep the stupid burning and comes off as so out of touch and clueless about the state of the art that it might as well have been written in 1997.
This is not to say that I don’t have a few issues with online dating myself, but I think the positives so outweigh the negatives that any single person who doesn’t consider it an option really needs to be asking themselves some hard questions. Let’s break it down…
- Massive pool of potential people to meet, who are already confirmed as available and interested in being met. When you meet someone in real life you often don’t even know whether they’re available, local or orientation-appropriate until spending significant time with them. The odds that you will randomly meet someone great, hit it off, and both be well placed to start something are really annoyingly small.
- Opportunity to meet people outside your circle of friends, exposing you to an incredible variety of people from a vastly different backgrounds; people you would simply never meet otherwise, unless your lifestyle involves massive amounts of travel and social contact.
- Even where there may be no spark when you finally meet (common) there may still be the opportunity for new friendships– perhaps even one where you get introduced to that famous and elusive single friend-of-a-friend who really is as attractive and interesting as you’ve been told.
- Ability to quickly and easily exclude people who are going to be obviously incompatible. In my case this might include people who are conservative Christians, Scientologists, or idiots who believe in The Secret. Conversely, when I go on a date with someone I meet online I don’t have to worry about whether they’ll have a problem with me being an atheist since they already know I am (and you may infer from this that I am indeed willing to date non-atheists– or theists as they are commonly known– as long as they aren’t averse to the occasional robust theological discussion- hat tip to Angelica if she’s reading).
- When meeting someone IRL I’m not sure how long you need to wait before it’s appropriate to get their views on having kids, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the sort of thing you want to bring up in the first few dates. In some cases you might wait long enough that it can actually derail an otherwise promising relationship when you realize you have a completely different outlook. Online, people are generally up front about their expectations regarding parenthood, so you can potentially avoid a lot of grief there.
- Meeting someone online first means you will tend to build a picture of them in your head before you get to meet them in the flesh, and sometimes it can be a bit of an anticlimax or even a shock to meet them IRL. This is not just about overly flattering photos either; it has more to do with voice, mannerisms, body-language and all the intangible stuff you don’t notice until you notice. While I’ve made a few good friends through dating sites I have also had the odd experience of getting very comfortable and familiar with someone and then having it fizzle away suddenly… and this is probably my least favourite part of the whole experience, often leaving me feeling rather cold and disheartened. Some people make a point of meeting quickly after initial online contact, and I can understand why.
- The sheer number of people you can meet may encourage you to be more picky, because it really isn’t that hard to just wait a bit and see what the next one is like. This may or may not be a good thing; it depends how you look at it. On the whole it makes the whole experience feel a bit judgy to me so I’m putting it in the Cons basket.
- Although it can be great to meet someone outside your circle of friends, it can also be a challenge, since you need to make space and time in your life for people with whom you share no common acquaintance. If you’re not open to meeting your prospective date’s friends (and at some point family) then you may need to adjust your expectations and go find a casual hookup site instead.
- Online discoverability is a real concern, since the second someone gets a few details they are free to google away until they dig up every unflattering image and overheated blog rant you’ve ever posted. Obviously if you don’t want anyone to see/read something you shouldn’t be posting it in the first place, but regardless I think it might generally be preferable to have the opportunity to make an impression on someone IRL before they start sifting through some potentially damaging internet flotsam. If I know your name I will Google you– I make no apologies for this fact, and can only expect that a potential match to do the same.
- You are unlikely to get a decent meet-cute out of the experience, unless you happen to luck-out with a spectacularly disastrous first date that you somehow pull together at the last minute. For this reason I sometimes think I should arrange for a first date in a completely inappropriate location just to see what happens (of course I’m yet to try this). Bear in mind “We were both kinda drunk and met at the bar” is not a particularly cute story either.
Cons – female supplemental
- If you are female you may have to put up with large numbers of douche-bags messaging you. Guys (I at least) don’t have this problem.
- If you are female, around 40 and you haven’t ruled out having kids, you are plutonium. Guys will be terrified of being expected to commit before they are ready so that baby-making can commence. This is not about men being shitheads and preferring younger women (although I know that is also an issue) – it’s just evil biology narrowing your options.
A final point I want to make is that what a lot of people dread about online dating is probably more to do with the dating part than the online part. Dating of any sort can be hard, stressful, often disappointing. You sometimes get deja vu as you wonder if you’ve already told a particular anecdote. You find out someone you like has unfortunately just met this other guy and wants to see how it goes. You do painful post-mortems of every conversation wondering if you’ve said the right or wrong thing, and whether you should call today or tomorrow, whether to use a goddamn smiley or a kiss etc etc etc. ….. or is that just me?
This is a tale from January 2008 when I was living and working in New Zealand, which I wrote down but did not post to the blog at that time for obvious reasons. Names have been changed for privacy.
9PM Friday night I was at work (as was becoming the custom) and I received a text from friend Jef, saying basically “OMG dude you have to come out with us we found a girl for you!”. My knee-jerk response was to decline, but then I recalled a similar occasion in 2006 where he said the exact same thing and I didn’t believe him, and didn’t go, and that turned out to be very bad call on my part (I was shown photos to prove it). Also I was registered with an online dating site, so it would have been pretty stupid to turn down the opportunity to meet someone in Real Life who had already been vetted by friends.
I called Jef back and asked so who is this girl? All he could tell me was she was a TV presenter and had nice bosoms (that last item was thrown in by a Jef’s friend in the background). So of course I was now very curious, and even wondered briefly if it might turn out to be Jane Yee (a very cute girl who hosted the music channel).
So off I went on my awkward blind set-up (after racing home first and changing into less smelly clothes; it had been rather sticky summer weather)
NB: Of course Ms X turned out not to be Jane Yee, but I was not particularly disappointed by this.
Part 1 – An Inauspicious Start
I turned up feeling a little under-dressed (big surprise) at a place called “Soul Bar”, found Jef et al (Nena, Joan, Barry) and quickly spotted Ms X, the only unfamiliar face in the group. Within 5 seconds of my arrival she darted away to have a dance before we could even be introduced, no doubt horribly embarrassed at the obviousness of the single-friend-setup scenario. Of course she may have been simply horrified at my appearance (damn this yellow hair) but I chose not to assume that, because the new me is all about confidence. From my brief glimpse of her I observed that she was fit, blonde, petite and very pretty… and yes she had very nice boobs.
I then proceeded to chat with the gang, while getting drunk on various overpriced vodka drinks, and never once getting a chance to talk to Ms X, who did an amazing job of avoiding me without making it seem deliberate. When we all finally left the bar to grab taxis I had not exchanged a single word with her (I am not exaggerating).
Part 2 – Everybody get more drunk!
Since I was far less sober than I had originally planned, there was no question of me driving myself home, so I went back to friends Joan and Barry’s flash pad with everyone else. We fetched more vodka and retired to the loft/bedroom to listen to very loud and various music, while everyone danced as drunken people often do– except for me of course, because I never dance. It was at this point that Joan (utterly smashed and rather tactile) started harassing me for not jumping her friend – seriously, she insisted that I should “just grab her” – and I gently explained that this wasn’t really my style and yes her friend was lovely and indeed sexy but we hadn’t said boo to each other the whole night.
Part 3 – Everybody is tired, present tense
An hour or two of Barry obsessively DJing later and the energy level has dropped substantially.Â Jef and Nena are out cold on the sofa, I am lolling on the bed, Joan is snoring next to me, and next to her is Ms X, still awake and the only one really responding to Barry’s music lectures. By this time we had still not talked directly, but were at least acknowledging each other in that indirect way where you ostensibly talk to another person. Barry, still hyper, finally tires of his unappreciative audience and disappears downstairs to play online games. Ms X and I are the only ones awake in the bedroom, and are finally having conversations about music and bands. We attempt to make Barry’s computer play more music, only to have the connection die and requiring a password to reconnect. Now it is soooo obviously very late and time for everyone to be tucked up in bed.
Part 4 – Where to sleep?
So we wake Jef, who decides he and Nena are going to sleep exactly where they are (on a sofa in Joan and Barry’s bedroom). Suddenly I am feeling rather self-conscious and do that “Hmmmm” thing where you pretend you’re thinking but actually your head is devoid of any useful thought process. Ms X offers that there is a spare foam mattress in her room (she has been staying with Joan and Barry) and I could take that if I want. Great, thanks I say, relieved to have a plan. I follow her downstairs to get it, and this is where I feel slightly guilty, because she drags this mattress across the room and I’m like “Hmmmmm” again… wonder where a good spot for it might be. She says you can put it in the lounge room, and I pause just long enough for her to add “or in here if you want, wherever is fine” and I’m like, oh great idea that totally hadn’t occurred to me. So we put the mattress down on the floor next to hers
Part 5 – Nighty night
So it’s very late, maybe 4AM, and we climb into our respective beds, still clothed, lie on our backs and stare at the ceiling, and hoooboy the silence is suddenly deafening. I am already feeling like a slight creep and that the proper thing would have been to sleep in another room. But then, thank God, the stillness is broken by an astonishingly loud flush from the upstairs toilet, which makes a sound in our room like a drainpipe exploding, and we both start laughing. Phew! Then we finally start chatting politely like people usually do when they first meet each other, where are you from, what do you do, all that. She is indeed a TV presenter… in Invercargill! (closer to Antarctica than Auckland). And she is flying back tomorrow. The conversation is pleasant but actually quite short because we are both extremely tired/smashed – although it is hard to drift off when you are so utterly conscious of this stranger with all the right bits laying two feet away… I lie on my back like someone has bolted me down in that position, and try not to nose-whistle. She’s very good at quiet breathing, not making a sound. I hope I don’t snore…
Part 6 – Day Breaks on a New Dawn
I wake up, it’s light, and I stare at the ceiling trying not to perv at sleeping girl. I realize it’s been a long time since I was in such a situation. Oh yes, physically I feel bloody awful; somehow I can taste rusty nails behind my eyeballs. If she’s feeling half as bad as I am then I doubt she’s about to go “mmmmmmm” and roll over to my side of the bed, so it’s time for me to get the hell up, because I can’t get back to sleep. It’s early, 8:30, so I wander around in the kitchen for a bit, make myself some tea, and go and lie down in the sun in the backyard. After a while I start to feel better, but still pretty unpleasant. Then I hear her closing the bathroom door, so I know she’s awake. But then she goes back to her room. I am feeling rather bored and wondering about the etiquette of leaving before anyone is up. I browse some books, and then figure maybe I can coax her out for morning chit-chat with a cup of tea, so go and knock on the door. She says come in, and I poke my head in to see her sitting up in bed reading, the sheet pulled up and no sign of clothing around her shoulders (she had showered while I was in the backyard). I blush, probably. Yes she would love a cup of tea, no sugar. I make the tea and bring it back, entering the room more cautiously this time, and she is still in bed. I hand her the tea, and say “um so are you coming out” she says she might just stay in bed for a while, but I should come back in and sit with her for chats.
Part 7 – One of those Magic Sheets
So I come back to the room with my revolting instant coffee, and some toast which I can’t yet stomach, and I sit down where my mattress-half had been and we chat a little, and in truth I now have trouble remembering exactly what we chatted about because most of my attention is focused on her innate ability to balance the bedsheet over her excellent boobs as she shifts position, drinks tea, reaches for toast etc. Not a single mishap– it’s just like in the movies! There is a mirror on the opposite side of the bed which means that with the power of my peripheral vision I can see her naked back while maintaining eye contact, and I suspect she is aware of this fact. After a while noises start emanating from the rest of the house as everyone starts to wake up, but she seems happy to stay in bed and chat, saying she doesn’t feel very social just yet. I feel special!
Part 8 – What Now?
Jef yells out good morning, and I feel like I should emerge and say the good mornings to all. Everyone is planning to piss off home because they are feeling awful, and I need to work out whether I’m going to go. “Have you no balls at all?” says the little voice in my head, so I summon the courage to go back into the bedroom and say “oh say, Ms X, these guys are heading off home, I was wondering if you… err… had any… um…Â [edited for brevity]… plans?” After much shrugging and nodding we decide it might be nice to get out for a walk (Herne Bay, a bit posh), and when she emerges from the room 15 minutes later she’s done this magic makeup thing so she looks immaculate, and I am suddenly aware that I am as festy as ever having not even showered.
Part 9 – Rambling
So off we go for our walk, her in short shorts and a singlet munching a couple of pieces of Burgen bread since she is feeling shaky/hypo, me wearing the same clothes from the night before (damn this heat) having managed to eat half a banana. Conversation is safer and it turns out we actually have quite a lot in common, in general outlook, attitudes etc. She seems mature and smart, and very down-to-earth. We wander around some little private beaches and wade about in the water, then after about an hour of random conversation we wander on back to the house, where I pick up my jacket and we part ways. She says she looks forward to seeing me again soon and I say me too, what a nice day, etc, and stroll away to try to find my way back into the city (where my car is parked). I do not yet feel like a total failure.
It was only a short time later that I was kicking myself for not getting her contact info, and later wrangled her email from Nena, but by then it was already too late. Any impression I was going to make had been well and truly made, and I was informed that she had euphemistically described me as a “gentleman”… which I have to say made me die a little inside.
I choose to post this now because I was very recently reminded of this incident without incident when Ms X emailed me to ask who the hell I was and how I knew her– she had received an invite from LinkedIn on my behalf, since I stupidly let the service scan my address book early this year. So now I get to feel that creeping sense of embarrassment and inadequacy all over again… thanks Internet!
This was a lot funnier in my head…
This is my attempt to exorcize a sexy demon who has lingered in the back of my mind for more than ten years, creating an impossible benchmark against which all others would be measured. I can’t guarantee that my recollections are accurate, but this is how I remember things…
It was a bright and sunny day in late ’96, and there, framed in the doorway of my home and wearing a loose fitting cotton dress, was the most gorgeous girl I have ever met. The morning sunlight silhouetted her figure perfectly through the thin fabric, practically burning the image into my soul, and all at once I knew that I totally desired this person while never standing a chance in hell with her. Not least because I was living with my partner at the time, as well as a friend of hers from university.
The girl in question is the sister of said friend, so she would drop in from time to time. Once or twice I even saw her in pyjamas when she stayed over and slept on the couch. She would of course look even more attractive when she got up in the morning, just like sexy girls in movies with expensively rumpled hair pretending like people can look that good as they roll out of bed after a big night out. Now at this point my memory may be just filling in the gaps… but I’m pretty sure she even did that thing where she would sit at the breakfast table munching toast with her feet pulled up on the chair and her knees tucked under her chin.
Not only was she blessed with stunning good looks, she also had a voice and accent that could turn me to jelly. So on top of occupying the spot in my mind reserved for girl most hottest, she also holds the honour for sexiest phone conversation I ever had.
She called late one night to talk to her sister, who was out, and so we made idle chit-chat for a while, as was the custom in the olden days when people often had to answer phone calls that weren’t for them. I have absolutely zero recollection of the actual content of that conversation, but I recall that there was at least an element of playfulness about it, since after hanging up I felt incredibly good, with my neck tingling like I’d just had a great massage. I was and still am jealous of her ability to do that magic (she has since done professional voice-over work, not surprisingly).
Oh, and she was smart. Very smart I believe, although it’s not like I ever sat down to evaluate her IQ, but it’s pretty easy to tell these things (well okay maybe the fact that she was utterly desirable in every way made it slightly easier to notice her towering intellect). At the very least she had a quick, razor wit. In conversation she would frequently break into a evil manic grin, and her amazing electric smiley eyes would just nail me to the wall. She could ask ANY favour of me and I would bend over backwards to accomodate. To merely serve would have suited me just fine, as long as I could sleep at her feet (well ok I probably would have pushed for a slightly better deal over time).
The thing is, as I stated previously, I didn’t stand a chance with her. I had nothing with which to impress her, because I was just a nerd with a computer who never did anything even slightly reckless or exciting, and she was interested in something else, though exactly what I cannot say. I supposed that she was drawn to dark, brooding, self-destructive types, but I really don’t know, because to seek out such information would of course reveal my interest– which now that I think of it would probably not have been such a big deal, because anyone in their right mind when pressed would have had to acknowledge that they wanted to shag her; I wouldn’t have trusted anyone who said they didn’t, be they male or female. Maybe my feelings were obvious anyway from my conspicuous lack of interest in conversations about her. I really don’t know, and would be embarrassed to ask.
So anyway, I did what any normal person would do in that situation. I sought out tiny opportunities to be near her while completely ignoring the very real needs of my own relationship at the time. I listened intently to any conversation in which her name was mentioned. I either tarried or hurried if I thought it might increase my chances of bumping into her. And to what end? Did I think something was going to happen? No. What if something had happened? Well it wouldn’t have, but even if somehow hypothetically it had… the guilt would have destroyed me.
Seriously, I run on guilt, it drives me, but I need to keep it within safe levels otherwise I will explode in a babbling fury of apology and self-recrimination. Ultimately this crush did contribute in part to the break up of my own relationship some months later, although of course I could not admit it at the time (just admitting this now has my guilt levels elevated to unpleasant heights).
And so, for my sake and the sake of those who would be unfairly compared to you… blow out your candles, sexy demon, blow out your candles– and so, goodbye…
Or call me. Either is fine.
Currently single, I find myself more and more aware of this dilemma of when to tell a potential “someone” about this blog. On the one hand I think it would be great if we could get to know each other the regular way, before I reveal that there exists this vast online repository of information about myself– which may be a huge turn off for someone I’ve only just met. On the other hand it’s nice to think that someone wouldn’t be scared off, and that it might actually help them to get to know me better (although of course there is always going to be a lot about me which doesn’t get recorded here, it is still very much me ).
Then there’s the practical issue, of exactly how one hides a blog which is already public. Right now, if someone knows my name then they can google me, and from there it’s only a click or two to get to my front page. I could try removing all references which link my name to this site, but then I don’t really want to hide my identity here– that’s not what blogging is about for me.
So currently I figure that at least if I tell someone about it it saves me having to wonder if they’ve already discovered it themselves and are secretly learning all my strengths and weaknesses.
… But then, if I did somehow keep it secret I’d be free to use an anecdote without worrying that they’d already read it on the blog… and the fact that I’m already imagining this post being read by someone I want to impress, and considering not posting it for that reason alone…
If I do decide to make it less traceable to my name (just enough to avoid the casual googling) I will do it at the same time I change the domain and remove stinky WordPress (which means probably sometime within the next 5 years).
Update: A very cute and slightly pertinent comic from xkcd
Cleaning out my old document folders I came across some bits and pieces that I wrote years ago, before I had the sense to just start writing stuff in a blog instead. I still maintain this as one of the best reasons to make a journal public; it prevents the author from disappearing up their own arsehole, safe in the knowledge that it will never be read. Anyhow, quality varies wildly and most of it will never see the light of day, but the following brought back a funny memory.
Out walking in Newtown, waiting at traffic lights to cross the road (opposite the post office). On the other side is a cute girl, not unusual given the location. Waiting waiting waiting. She’s pretty cute.
Birdsong. Where the hell is that birdsong coming from? It sounds like one of those plastic whistles you put water in, but I can’t see who’s doing it. It’s coming from across the road.
The walk signal goes, everyone starts crossing, and she is looking straight at me– and smiling! And did I mention she is cute? Birdsong continues, still no idea where it’s coming from, and I’m meeting her gaze and now I’m smiling too. We’re walking toward each other grinning like idiots like we have some amazing shared secret. Time slows as we walk past each other but we can’t stop, so we keep walking, with a final sidelong glance. I get to the other side feeling kind of light, and still kind of in slow motion, and I turn slowly to see that she is doing exactly the same thing on the other side of the road, and for a frozen moment we are staring across at each other like a couple of weirdos. But I haven’t actually stopped walking, and so… I just keep walking. Like an idiot. And the birdsong is gone, still no idea where it came from.
A very nice moment though.
Then I think hey, she wasn’t really looking at me, maybe there was a giant sparrow circling just above my head, singing loudly. And then I realize, oh no I must have some kind of shit on my face, and she was laughing at me, not with me, and so then I walk along trying to discreetly examine my reflection in shop windows.
Ah yes, charmingly insecure me, eh? A nice epilogue to this story is that over coming weeks I found myself catching fragments of the same birdsong, and finally realized that it was this one homeless guy who just wandered up and down the length of King Street doing this amazing whistling in such a way as to be nearly undetectable. I hope he’s still around (beardy, thin, always wears shorts and blundstone boots).
Anyway, I really mean it about writing in public being better than writing in private. To illustrate with an only slightly exaggerated example, before I started blogging if I felt really down and negative about myself (lonely etc) I might sit down and write:
Why must I be so sensitive and intelligent?
Why can’t I just enjoy life like everyone else does?
What is it that makes a life good anyway?
Why doesn’t that girl break up with her stupid boyfriend and go out with me instead [because I'm nicer]?
But obviously I would never write something so painfully adolescent and self-indulgent here (except to illustrate a point of course). I would be forced to actually come up with something worth reading which still communicated what I felt, and if it turned out that what I felt was really just a general malaise or ennui then all the better; I could identify it as such and move on. A blog can make you less precious about your troubles, and that’s one of the reasons I’m still doing it I think.
PS: For those who might be curious about my current mood, I have recently found myself single again after a very nice relationship which lasted four months. The split is totally amicable of course, but no matter how amicable it’s impossible not to become a little reflective about everything at times like this. Like being over 35. Hoo boy.
I just realized this kind of segues into what I did today…
Although my physical health has been steadily improving since my time in hospital, my fitness level is at rock bottom, largely for lack of exercise. So even though it’s cold and damp here all the time, today I decided it was time I hauled my dimpled ass out of here and went for a decent walk if nothing else.
I tramped down to Mission Bay like I used to do regularly, and decided to get some chips for lunch and sit on the beach. Just me, my chips, a cold wind, and about a thousand seagulls giving me the eye. After tossing them a few morsels I remembered that there are more fun ways to feed seagulls than having them scrabbling in the sand; you can feed them in the air!
Basically you just throw things up rather than down, and before you know it (if you have a good wind) you will be surrounded by a cloud of gulls, hovering in mid air just a few feet apart. You can then just toss food into the cloud and it never even hits the ground. The formation will ripple but then rapidly stabilize again. Simply handing them food works too– I didn’t cop any nasty bites or scratches while doing this. As long as you keep feeding them you can just marvel at these birds bobbing effortlessly right in front of you, and really really envy them.
Kudos to Coco for demonstrating this technique to me many years ago ;)
… is the title of a book I’m going to write, which I’ll finish in about a year, and as I’m crossing the street to discuss cover art with the publisher I’ll get run down by a fiery redhead on a moped, causing me light injuries and starting a relationship which will cause me to disavow everything I’ve just written about the joys of being single and having all my time to myself.
I went to see U2 last night with friends (after getting last minute tickets, I am not a giant U2 fan) and for much of the night felt conspicuously sans partner, having instead to settle for discreetly ogling the young hotties. There was one song which seemed set up to make people get all emotional and wrap their arms tightly around their loved ones, and rarely have I felt more alone (ironically that song was One… or maybe that’s not ironic– who the hell knows with irony).
Things that are great about being single (and living alone): No one messes with your stuff; no one hassles you to do anything; no one gets annoyed when you don’t come to bed; no one gets upset when you see a movie without them; no one comes home after a bad day and brings you down with them; no one expects you to reassure them about their insecurities; no one makes you feel like the worst person in the universe by pointing out you’ve said or done something insensitive; no one gets jealous if you flirt with someone else.
Things that aren’t: No one hassles you to do anything, so you don’t do anything; there’s no sleepy girl to wrap you in her loving arms; no one gets excited with you about seeing a movie; no one expects you to be there for them after a hard day, and no one is there for you; there’s no one to share your insecurities with, and no one to remind you how important you are (to them); there’s no one to hide behind when flirting turns out to be ill-advised.
Things that are just weird: Smells. I find myself getting attached to my own scent. In lieu of a significant other I seem to be chemically bonding with myself, so I can pick up my own shirt from the day before, hold it to my face and be strangely comforted by the familar smell of moi.
Dating is also weird, as in virtually impossible for me. Like other singles I sign up with the dating sites and agonize over creating a profile which will portray me as confident but not smug, sensitive but not wet, intelligent but not intimidating. Unlike other singles I find it hard to actually follow up on any contacts I make, so usually end up ditching it again after a month or two. As everyone knows, chemistry is vital, and pheromones do not travel well via email and IM, so it’s almost a guaranteed disappointment– and I just haven’t the stomach to play the numbers. Last time I went out with someone via such a service I think I fell in love with two other people we just happened to run into. My rational mind has limited say in who I yearn for, so no matter how good a match on paper it probably isn’t going to work for me.
Kissing is a funny thing… so nice and yet sometimes so annoying. I cannot abide the prolonged kiss (especially when it’s the people queuing in front of me in a cinema) nor any which seems to assert ownership. But I do like the affectionate, the playful and the spontaneous kiss. We need more of those.
I have kissed relatively few people in my life, and have spent enormous slabs of time not kissing anyone at all, which is what of course leads me to embarrass myself wondering aloud about how I feel about it anyway (ie how much I miss it). Thinking about those kisses that I really remember, I realize there are only a few, and they all seem to have happened during my high school years.
So here’s what I recall of five memorable kisses, presented in chronological order (initials used to protect the innocent from turning up in a Google search)
- CS, at a Blue Light Disco (ie chaperoned by local police), I was 12 or 13 I think, she was a year older. This kiss was a big deal, because of course it was my first "real" kiss, by which I mean it was a horrid clumsy open-mouthed pash with teeth banging together and all that (no tongue though). Also she was about a foot taller than me so I had to crane my neck somewhat. What I remember most about that night is coming home afterwards with a sore neck thinking "holy crap I finally pashed someone!"
- AD, in the kitchen of a two storey terrace in Surry Hills. I was 16. This was a short soft kiss accompanied by a warm embrace– an affectionate moment that just kind of happened, and left me feeling a little embarrassed but still very nice. Embarrassed because I was at the time infatuated with her sister CD, who was not there, and who also was not available… Suffice to say that I would be lying if I said I didn’t find AD attractive, but I didn’t think it would have been such a great idea to pursue this further (plus I was and still am a chicken-shit). Writing this I now recall that we had spent the day together… it’s kind of odd really, we had an unusual relationship which just kept getting weirder.
- CD, on the living room floor of a friends house after a New Year’s Eve party. This was one of those moments you spend so long waiting for that you can’t believe when it finally happens. I had been chasing her for almost two years, and this was such a big moment that I totally missed the details (mostly I was numb with surprise shock etc) but it must in retrospect have also been one of my seediest kisses ever, since we had both been drinking and smoking the night before and were neither of us fully awake when the momentous thing finally happened. Still, it was great!
- CB (best friend to CD), at her house in the middle of town. This was supposed to be just a friendly kiss, with decidedly closed mouth and exaggerated puckering, but since she had just stepped out of the shower her skin was unbelievably soft and her lips like… pillows? They were damn soft and warm anyway. This reminds me that there was some weird rumour at the time that the three of us were getting it on together, and to be honest at moments like this it didn’t sound like such a terrible idea.
- CD again, on the verandah of her family home in a quiet valley 20 minutes out of town. We had already been together for some time, but this spontaneous burst of light kisses left us both grinning like idiots, making me realize that a kiss can and should be pleasurable and fun, not just automatic. Also marked the beginning of the end for my interest in the pash* since that never delivered the same amount of pleasure.
There have of course been many other pleasurable moments, but these are the ones that stand out in my memory right now. I’m guessing this is not unusual, since the teenage years are a rather emotional time and such moments will tend to imprint much more strongly then.
* The thing I really grew to dislike about the pash is that it prevents one from talking– and of course I find that infuriating! It’s not so much "Shut up and kiss me" as "Maybe a kiss will shut you up"