Monthly Archives: July 2013

What am I in danger of becoming?

“A drunk, a pervert, a junkie and a womanizer…”
–Gwar, “The Salaminizer” (Scumdogs of the Universe)

No, that’s not just a gratuitous Gwar reference (though it is, admittedly, partly so): as I change and evolve (belatedly) as a human, and overcome the stagnation I’ve suffered for a good five years, I run the risk of becoming things I’ve hated and criticised in my lifetime.  Let’s go through Oderus Urungus’ list one by one (and be thankful I didn’t use the second version of the chorus)…

  • A drunk: ever since having a drink of cider when meeting a new friend through a dating site last summer (though she seemed to go off me almost as soon as she met me in person), I’ve been trying to “get off the wagon” and learn to drink alcohol again, something I’d barely done since my undergraduate days, and seldom then.  It started out as me just relaxing after climbing, but I’ve had a lot to drink this past year, culminating in getting quite sozzled a number of times during my American trip (though I should have bought my own booze instead of mooching off the others), and so tipsy on champagne at “female best friend’s” wedding that I was swaying, and danced like a lunatic.  Well, it makes a change that I can actually tolerate the taste of alcoholic drinks — and the thought of drinking when everyone else is doing it too — but I’ve got to be careful that I don’t end up an alcoholic, unable to face life without getting a buzz on.  At the very least, I’m going to keep my vow to never, ever drink anything alcoholic out of a can…
  • mcclure_pervertA pervert: now, admittedly I’ve always been a bit like this, as my mother remembers me ogling one of the women from Legs & Co. (a dance troupe who used to “perform” songs on Top of the Pops before music videos were widespread), and my first sexual fantasy as a budding teenager was about Jessica Rabbit (so much for claiming at the time that I found the concept of “sex for pleasure” disgusting, eh?).  However, now I find myself getting on the same Tube carriages as attractive women in summer dresses, and even trying to sit opposite them, if their skirts are particularly short (wait, did I write that or just think it?).  It’s all because I’ve been a “closeted hetero” for all these years and am trying to be more confident and open about the fact that I fancy girls, instead of feeling “ashamed” of myself, but of course I need to rein it in and stop thinking about sex all the time, lest I end up objectifying women.  And I need to get it through my head that objectifying women is inherently wrong, and not just if I get caught doing it!
  • beavis_crappucinoA junkie: okay, so I’ve not started taking illegal narcotics, and have no particular desire to do so, though I kind of wish they hadn’t banned khat in this country, because I would have liked to try it (but, as usual, something gets banned in the UK despite a lack of evidence of harm, purely because us peasants happen to enjoy it and politicians don’t).  On the other hand, I do have an awful lot of caffeine — for many years I’ve described it as “my alcohol”, and although alcohol is now my alcohol (er…), I’m still drinking caffeinated drinks, and relying on my morning cuppa to wake me up.  At least I’m not still buying cans of energy drink, drinking them and sitting in front of EastEnders enjoying the tunnel vision like in 2009, but I do feel disappointment at the Castle when I have a mid-climb snack and realise they’re out of their organic equivalent to Red Bull… maybe I need to get a better sleeping pattern, so I’m not reliant on this biochemical reaction to stay awake.  And yeah, I’ll avoid steroids as well — I’m not that obsessed with bodybuilding!
  • quagmire_womaniserA womaniser: no, I’m using the UK English spelling in the body of this post!  I might as well be honest and state that I’m turning things around at long last: over the past couple of months, I’ve been on a few… well, they could legally be called “dates” under the Trade Descriptions Act, and though none of them has really led to a “spark”, and I’ve left my balls in their courts (ooh, Matron!), still, I’m finally “playing the field” and going out on actual dates with actual women.  Yeah, I’m in that situation the protagonist in a romantic comedy always has (or Frasier in that one episode), going on several dates with different types of women; while none of them has worked out yet, this is nonetheless better than the desolation of my love life up to now.  I’m even finding the courage to go and talk to women I fancy as well — note that the only reason I dated that college girl in Michigan 15 years ago was that I overheard her discussing her subjects with someone, and realised they matched my own, so why not try that again?  However, while “sleeping around”, or even having a (consenting) harem, may appeal to me, I’m still a nice guy and looking for one special girl, with whom I can share my misadventures (and favourite TV), so while I can overcome failure and know it’s not the end, I also need to ensure I don’t waste any opportunities with women who really make me happy, just because I think I might be able to “do better”…

So there you have it: the most worrying thing of all is that I might be getting… normal!  Yes, horrifying a thought though that is, perhaps I’m just getting back to where I should have been five or ten years ago, instead of hiding away and then complaining that I have no friends, and that strange women fail to return my gazes.  But I need to avoid going too far the other way and becoming an alcoholic skirt-chasing (or skirt-flipping?) drug-addled maniac, and hopefully this blog will help me chart a safe course between the Scylla of stupidity and the Charybdis of excessive introvercy, to the Ithaca of (relative) normality and happiness…

What, you thought I’d stop being pretentiously pseudo-intellectual as well?  I’m not getting that normal, buttmunch, that’s why I’m still listening to Gwar — almost no-one else has even heard of them in this country, and it’s nice to have something unique.  They don’t drown out the voices in my head, they make them sing in harmony.  As I said in my post about Eminem, I used to be a prude, but all this vulgar music has helped me lighten up over the years.

And, just to continue the chorus of the opening song: I’ve undergone a lot of personal development since I started this blog, but — I NEED MORE!

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I get knocked down, but I get up again

anal_pratdirge

“Needless to say, I had the last laugh!”

Don’t worry, folks, your humble narrator is back on his feet today, indicating very strongly that while I may innately suffer from some form of depression, it’s really getting brought on (at least in recent times) by some kind of nutritional imbalance.  I laid off the boiled eggs today, and I’ve felt… well, a bit like I’m detoxifying, getting the unpleasantness out of my system.

Too much information?  No, I was talking about negative spiritual energy, because I’ve been to yoga again!

After buying my mother a late birthday present (don’t read that, Mumsy, or you’ll spoil the surprise!), my yoga class helped me considerably, both in terms of spiritual relaxation and meeting people.  I’m still friends with “American girl”, someone who really helps to draw me out of myself, and I’ve made a new Japanese friend with whom I intend to meet up next Tuesday (just before going to a full-on Japanese meetup event that unfortunately conflicts with yoga!).  I’ve got a long weekend coming up, as I’ve booked Monday and Tuesday off (due to the need to use up my annual leave before my leave year resets).

As I keep having to remind myself, I need the company of other human beings — but there’s something else: yes, Dave’s realised he shouldn’t go everywhere hoping to “meet someone”.  But there’s a basis for this, and unfortunately it’s the notorious Reddit, to which one of my online forum friends directed me yesterday, as it has a sub-forum dealing with shy guys like me getting the confidence to talk to women.  See, the objective isn’t to “get” someone, it’s to experience the process of trying — and while I won’t use all their chauvinistic quasi-baseball (?) metaphors about “opening sets” and “number-closing”, I’ll take that bit of advice on board.

And maybe something I heard from a self-proclaimed dating expert, that when chatting a woman up, you should (a) not face your body towards her immediately, because that makes you seem “needy”, and (b) look at her mouth when she’s talking, because then she’ll subconsciously… er, yeah, somewhere between phrenology and BMI in terms of quackery, I’m sure!

I hope I haven’t worried anyone too much… yeah, fat chance, I worry about myself sometimes.  I’ve just got to keep plugging away, and improve my life bit by bit, knowing that I’ll get these occasional downers where it feels like I can’t cope — but I made it this far, so I can make it to the end!

Besides, tomorrow I’ve got something to look forward to: after another online session with the bods at my IT agency, and probably also after dinner and my nightly episode of Doctor Who, I’m going to Regent’s Park for a stargazing event!  (Unless it’s rained off or clouded out, of course!)  I used to do astronomy all the time (I’ll probably write a post about how I survived three years living in Worthing with my folks between university courses sometimes, as it includes the local astronomy society), and I’m sure I can remember enough to sound impressive and knowledgeable, perhaps even as much as the late, and sadly missed, Sir Patrick Moore.  I’ll try not to go girl-hunting and just enjoy the event, but it is worth mentioning that I got together with that girl in Michigan as a result of an astronomy “open house”…

Past rock bottom

“The genius of the hole: no matter how long you spend climbing out, you can still fall back down in an instant.”
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

Today I felt worse than, perhaps, ever in my entire life: I’ve never gone off at work and cried like this before, and I feel no hope that things will get any better — if anything, this will only make things worse for me overall, like an endless spiral.  Maybe I’m just suffering from a kind of malnutrition (I’ve been eating a lot of protein lately, and probably not enough carbs to offset it) — I certainly hope so, as I can’t possibly survive feeling like this…

This follows a period of relative optimism: although last week was terrible at work, it was fine in my personal life, as not only was the weather spectacular, but I met, or thought I met, two potential girlfriends on Friday and Saturday.  The first, who happened to attend a vegetarian meetup instead of the opera, was someone I could talk to, and wasn’t hung up on age (mine or hers); she said “we shall see” when I asked if she fancied doing something some time, but thus far she hasn’t responded to my message through the Meetup.com website.  I’ve seen her on Facebook, but I daren’t add her in case I scare her off entirely.  The other was at a sci-fi meetup on Saturday, and who, like me, had had trouble getting to the venue due to the Northern Line being shut; she seemed to like me, and we spoke for ages, but even though we left at the same time, she went home a different way, somewhat abruptly…

On Sunday I did basically nothing social, passing up the chance to go with “best mate” and his friend from Surrey to a beach in order to concentrate on my IT studies.  These would have gone better if not for what I can only assume is a deliberate trap regarding setting up a dial-up connection in Windows 7, but at least I was getting through the material, and I felt like I was making progress.

And then came Monday… we all hate them (at least we do if we work full-time), but somehow I began brooding on the morning Tube train, and by the time I’d reached work I was in a very introverted mood, which only got worse as the morning progressed.  Fortunately my supervisor appreciated my low mood and rearranged my supervision session, but that was only a small consolation.  And yes, the annoying woman made me feel even worse by not SHUTTING UP the entire time!

Somehow I made it through the day without needing to be excused and come home; although still unhappy when I arrived, I figured: maybe someone’s written to me through a dating site… but no, the girl from Saturday had actually left the group entirely, and bits and pieces that occur to me from our parting that night make me believe it’s my fault, and she’s avoiding me.  Of course, she could have been kidnapped by some global conspiracy to stop me ever getting a girlfriend (who also tidied up her Meetup.com group membership), but that’s hardly likely… is it?

But wait, it gets worse: remember I was chatting through a dating site to a girl with bipolar disorder, and empathising with her?  Well, today I described my emotional state to her as being bipolar, and she responded by saying she didn’t want to play “mind games”, urging me to get professional help, and blocking me.  Now I’m really down, because I wasn’t trying to get a date with her, I just wanted a friend… and now my depression has driven someone away who could have been really beneficial to me.  As a result, I’ve barely been able to eat anything for dinner this evening (pretty much forced down bread rolls), and I’m feeling listless.

I’m truly scared that I might always be alone — that all my friends will carry on with their happy lives, and I’ll just disappear forever.  I don’t want that, and I’m determined to get through this depressive phase no matter what it takes, without contemplating suicide (throwing myself into work helped today, just a little), but it’s one of those days where it seems I’m truly condemned to a life of enforced solitude, because the more I struggle against it, and the better I think I’m doing, the worse the inevitable fall is.

The problem, though, is that I don’t want to be diagnosed as clinically depressed, or bipolar, because then there’s no excuse but to take mind-altering drugs to “even me out”, and then I worry I’ll go from being a person to “a productive member of society”.  I don’t want that — although I want to change and become a different person, I don’t want that person to be a dull automaton — but what alternative do I have?

Still, one piece of optimism I’ve gained recently is simply that “things look better in the morning” — so I’ll wait until tomorrow before I try anything drastic, such as asking for a doctor’s appointment or phoning the work counsellor again.  Plus, I’ve got yoga again after work, although I don’t want “American girl” to find out how I’m feeling in case I drive her away as well.  No, I’m not holding out some forlorn hope that she’s going to choose me over her boyfriend, but I’m happy to have her as a quasi-sister, and she’s the one person left in my immediate life who makes me not want to stop being a “nice guy” and become some kind of womaniser instead.  And I don’t want to depend on her either, so I have to get through this on my own.

Don’t worry, dear readers: I feel a bit better just talking about this stuff here (I also posted incoherently at that forum I was on about before, only to be told that I’m “lucky” not to have had to endure a relationship before — that’d be fine if I was sleeping around, but I’m not!), and I’m sure I’ll survive tonight, and not feel so loathsome tomorrow morning.  I just wish I had something more positive to report than that…

Alone again, naturally

rob_tracy

Rob Tracy, the least-convincing Thunderbirds puppet of all

I’m still going to loads of meetup groups and making new friends, and it’s getting so hectic that I don’t even have time to play video games every night of the week (oh no!), but on Wednesday and Thursday I stayed in to study IT, with the films of the dorky American guy who looks like Matt Frewer with Bee Gee teeth, and whose hairline changes back and forth in different videos.  Similarly, tonight I’m staying in (although I had dinner with a vegetarian meetup group), and perhaps I’ll study IT again.

More probably, though, I’ll play a game, watch TV and chill out.  I used to do that all the time, almost every night that I wasn’t going climbing or attending a monthly Japanese meetup event in Leicester Square (the only ways I socialised outside work in 2012), but now that I hardly ever get the time, it’s all the more wonderful when I can sit in my room and be by myself.

Which is a lot like Gwar.  Oh, stop groaning and pay attention, I’m going somewhere with this!  I have five Gwar albums (all right, I won’t name them here), and I could listen to the most insane thrash metal band in the Universe on constant shuffle (and indeed have done), but I think it’s better to listen to my entire music collection (sans skits and things) on shuffle, rather than focus on one group.  Listening to all my old Eminem, D12, Dr. Dre, 2Pac, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Gorillaz, Cee Lo Green, OutKast, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Bee Gees, Beatles, Prince, Four Tops, Rolling Stones, Ian Dury and The Blockheads, Black Sabbath, Blur and other random tracks broadens my horizons and gives me some nice variation — and indeed, often I hear something I haven’t heard in ages!

And then sometimes I get a Gwar track and feel quite happy (and probably end up singing it quietly to myself when working alone in the archive at work), because I feel like I’ve earned it — even though the other stuff is enjoyable, there’s a special place in my heart for this, but it’s good not to wear it out.  I rue the day that Gwar is boring and pedestrian!

chunk

This, needless to say, is what I’m trying to escape

In a similar vein, I’m going to try to reduce my chocolate intake, as advised by my personal torturer (I think he’s back from honeymoon next week, so I’d better clear a space in my diary for him), because while it’s the greatest substance ever created by humans, I really shouldn’t be eating it every day, just because that’s been my habit since childhood.  After all, it might be the one thing still perpetuating my “love handles”, despite all the weight I’ve lost this year, so I’m going to cut down and see what happens.

Of course, diets always begin tomorrow

As for the weekend, I’m going climbing, with or without “best mate” (who thinks it’s too hot at the moment), and then in the evening giving that sci-fi society another chance, though the Northern Line being shut will make it a difficult journey.  I’ll also try to write something in this sadly-neglected blog, simply because so many new experiences and thoughts need to be put down in words, where any old stranger can read them!

Or I’ll just sit outside in the sun and ogle women in summer clothes… hey, I’m allowed, right?  Right?  Right?!

What’s changed?

sisyphusAlthough things often seem to repeat themselves, and it feels like I’ve made no progress since the last time I tried such-and-such, it’s helpful to reflect and see just how far I’ve come since starting this blog, and indeed before that… it helped that my supervisor at work today said I’d improved a great deal over the past year, which made my low feelings on Tuesday (following a blood donor session, and due in part to some very frustrating working conditions) stand out more, rather than seem to be normal!

What am I doing now that I wasn’t doing before?  Well, I know I go on about climbing a lot in this blog… well, tough, I enjoy it, and although I haven’t been able to go this week due to other things (and “best mate” not wanting to go during the summer heat), it’s something I want to continue.  Overall my health is improving, and although my personal torturer is still on his honeymoon, I’m doing my best… well, okay, not my best best, but I’m still doing some exercises to maintain capability, and I’m going to reduce my food intake (especially chocolate) yet further.

Another reason I haven’t been exercising as much lately is simply that I’m busy socialising, especially singles events, and also studying IT.  Now, I’ve been speed-dating in the past, and I’ve been to IT classes, and neither led to anything in and of themselves, so are these futile pursuits that will result in the same dead ends?  Well, hopefully not: I’m with an agency that will cajole me into completing my studies and taking exams this time around, and I’ve certainly gained enough confidence that I can talk to people, even attractive women.

Oh yes — even though I’m still single, I find myself increasingly optimistic that I might actually meet someone, and overcome my shyness and self-recrimination.  Maybe not on Internet dating sites, where I feel women tend to write me off because I’m over 30 (trust me, it happens to guys too!), but in real life, if I can pluck up the courage to initiate a conversation, or at least have a reason to start a conversation, I can actually make a new friend.  This happened recently: I spoke to an American girl just after a yoga meetup, solely because I heard her American accent, and we had a lovely long talk and are now good friends!  She’s got a boyfriend already, but didn’t mind me asking her out, and still wants us to be friends.  She also thinks I’m “super-sweet”… okay, maybe that’s not the best compliment to a guy who wants to be sexy to women, but it’s certainly better than being ignored!

There’s something I need to keep in mind: just because I fail with one woman, and she doesn’t even give me the time of day, doesn’t mean every woman feels the same way.  It’s been too easy over the years to just give up and assume there’s some massive conspiracy, or that Jung’s collective unconscious works for women and I somehow strike out with all of them within a given area when one rejects me, and I’ve got to accept that, unbelieveable as it sounds, there might actually be women out there who not only find me attractive (and are themselves attractive), and not only like me as a person, but also are actually single when I meet them!

Perhaps this diagram wot I made in Word 2010 sums it up:

dating_obsession

Me?  Shallow?  Well, remember that I’m trying to make myself attractive to women, because I think there has to be some level of physical attraction, some passionate spark, otherwise you may as well be two elderly people sharing your sunset years, rather than young and vibrant people who want to enjoy life (and sex).  However, pictures on a dating site usually don’t do justice to a person, which is why I need to meet women in the flesh… and I seem to be doing that at long last, in a way I just couldn’t when my only social interactions outside work were Japanese or IT classes (both, alas, “sausage fests” in my experience), or the occasional Japanese language event where I was often intimidated by the wall of noise (getting there early is always important).

Also note that the boundaries in the above diagram can be blurred a little:

  • A woman may not be “classically beautiful”, but still make it into my dating zone.  The girl I dated in Michigan had a low opinion of her looks, but I certainly thought she was hot!  I’m not interested in how “society” considers her appearance, only in how attractive I find her.
  • In the same vein, a woman may have personality traits which make her seem less “nice” than society would expect, but I like people who aren’t just bland and shallow, and have “character”.  I’m communicating online with a girl who suffers from bipolar disorder, because (as you probably realise) I have some sympathy with her condition, and as I said before, perhaps a “wild” woman is what I need…
  • As for being single… well, no, that’s less negotiable than the other aspects.  I wouldn’t want to break up a happy couple, or come between them (ooh, Matron!), and I probably wouldn’t be interested in an “open relationship”, or being an unhappily-married woman’s illicit lover… but you never know, do you?

Anyway, enough about girls — though that whole issue does represent a reason, nay, an inspiration for me to improve my self-confidence and get myself in shape, I need to do these things for my own sake more than anything.  But don’t worry, I’m still making friends: indeed, before “American girl” (yes, that’s going to be my name for her in this blog, deal with it), I made two new friends through Meetup.com groups, both male, and both black Londoners (no, I’m not fulfilling some “minorities quota”, they’re both cool guys), and there was also that crazy group I met when a meetup group disappeared on me…

Perhaps the best improvement I’ve made is simply not spending so much time alone, and getting out there to socialise — and, more importantly, sustaining this effort and not just giving up after a few failures (as I’ve done in the past with online dating).  That’s also why my health has improved: Wii Fit Plus recording my weight has shown a marked decrease since the start of 2013, and although I’ve still got “love handles”, I’m getting closer to my ideal body type.  One needs to record one’s progress, so that one can see how things are improving and not be discouraged that things are “taking too long”.

Oh, and some other changes I’ve made: not staying up every night to watch the same episodes of Family Guy and American Dad!, not chewing gum constantly, and broadening my musical tastes… if I can keep the changes moving, and not let myself get downhearted whenever I get hit by a “reverser” (like someone on the Internet upsetting me), then I’ll become… what, exactly?  And is there an ultimate end (other than death, which is hopefully somewhat remote), or will I continue to change, evolve, adapt, grow as a person?

Just wish I could get some early nights, and not have to stay up writing this drivel for a bunch of half-wits with no lives to… oh, am I still typing?

Unwitting dictators

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Charlie Chaplin in “The Great Dictator” (if y’all need that explained)

I still feel low sometimes, as I’m sure you’d imagine, and tonight has been one of those times, but it’s made me realise (hooray, epiphany time again) that I need to stop letting unimportant (to me) people control aspects of my life.

Although I’d been feeling a little withdrawn this evening, due to a “British-American Dating” event set for Independence Day falling through due to lack of interest (i.e. I was the only one who RSVP-ed), and possibly also due to visiting the dental hygienist, it was a silly offhand comment on a web forum that sent me down.  Yeah, serious business, but it’s a forumite I’ve known for years, and who has started being a lot more impatient with me, and a lot more critical of things I say, since beginning her own transition (literally — I’m using feminine pronouns out of respect for her chosen gender), and it was simply a claim that I’ve got no friends and thus don’t know how normal people would act.  Maybe she didn’t realise it would set me off, and maybe she regrets posting it now (or at least posting it without a 😛 smiley), but hey, too late.

As a result, I nearly left the forum entirely; due to this very same person I’d tried to do so last autumn, during the depths of a depressive phase you guys know about, but didn’t manage it then (I ended up leaving Facebook for longer!).  However, why should I let one person control where I go?  I guess it’d be easier if this person was a genuine bully (admittedly the jury’s still out on that), because I despise bullies and believe in standing my ground against them and defying them, as though they’re trying reverse psychology; but when the person doesn’t realise they upset you, or realises but doesn’t care, and you’re too shy or polite to tell them (or have tried to no avail), what can you do?

It’s like (and I can hear you groaning already) the annoying woman at work: when she’s in the office kitchenette, I find myself curiously reluctant to go to the adjacent water cooler, even if I’ve already crossed to that side of the office with my cup du jour (yes, I reuse plastic cups, save Gaia and all that).  I’m even reluctant to buy Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the office for fear she’ll come over to thank me (and probably ask which one’s my favourite), or to wear a suit in case she feels the need to tell me how smart she thinks I look, unless I know she’s going to be out for the day (which is a task in itself as she seldom updates the whiteboard properly, effectively using it to show what she was doing last week).  She definitely knows that she annoys me, because she asked if I would be able to bear her sitting next to me at a recent restaurant-based leaving do (mercifully, she ended up sitting with a new mother instead).

It’s stupid, isn’t it?  She’s not even intentionally annoying, just noisy and over-enthusiastic, yet I’m letting her dictate my actions.  Well, it needs to stop: if I have to mumble “g’morning” to her by the water cooler, I will (since my job probably depends on it or something), and I’m certainly going to wear a smart shirt tomorrow so my friend can take a picture of me that’s worthy of a dating site.  I don’t want to be friends with her or anything like that, but I shan’t let her intimidate me any more.  And, similarly, I won’t leave that web forum just yet, though I am wondering why I still go there… maybe it’s the fact that some of them (not the annoying one) are Gwar fans.

And on that topic, perhaps I should emphasise how the Scumdogs of the Universe not only help me drown out the annoying woman at work (which is perhaps something else I should change), but also cheer me up when I’m down.  On that basis, here they are…

Single guy seeks wild girl

fg_d&g

“What a mismatched pair — a free spirit and a puppet”

I know I said I wouldn’t go on about my girl troubles in this blog, but technically I’m not going to be complaining as such tonight (except about our flaky Internet connection, which will probably cause this post to be a bit disjointed — if it makes it to publication at all!): no, instead it’s another epiphany I’ve had regarding this ongoing issue.  It’s something I’ve suspected for some time, but Friday evening put it into context…

It was another of those Meetup.com events I’ve been trying to go to as a part of becoming more outgoing and less of a sit-at-home sourpuss, but unfortunately it seems to have been one primarily aimed at ladies in their 40s, judging from the females on offer.  (There were attractive women at the venue, but they were there for a parallel event, and not to meet single guys!)  Seriously, I’m not into older women like them — and it’s not just a looks thing (because hey, bring me Courtney Cox in Cougar Town and I might be interested), it’s also personality as communicated through body language and speech.  I really, really don’t want to spend my life with someone who seems to have no passion, no joie de vivre, and is merely “pleasant company”, in that she’s polite and asks questions, and forces herself to smile a lot while sipping the inevitable wine; I’m not a charity, after all, and there has to be some spark between us.  The evening wasn’t a total loss: at least one of the organisers (herself attractive, but spoken for) helped me chat up some of the younger women at the venue, and even though I didn’t pull, it was a bit of a confidence-booster.

It was a blessed relief when “best mate” (as I’m going to my Irish climbing buddy instead of “newest friend” henceforth, for reasons I’ll go into below) phoned up to see what I was doing, because he was “bored out of his tree” waiting for another mate of his to perhaps call up, as it gave me a way out of a boring evening.  We got some food (I’d actually had to skip dinner just to go to this event, which wasn’t even catered), and he said something which brought home to me just what I need to do…

You see, “best mate” has a bit of a crazy lifestyle: even though he doesn’t drink (which is rare enough for an Irishman!), and doesn’t go out much during the week, he attends wild parties some weekends and indulges in, shall we say, recreational substance usage… but he wants to meet a nice woman who will “tame” him, and stop him living this destructive lifestyle.  And that got me thinking: what I really need is a woman who is herself a bit untamed, wild, crazy, and in need of a sensible guy who can give her some stability in her life, and whom she can in turn coax out of his shell and make more confident and outgoing.

Indeed, I considered going to one of these rave parties with him on Saturday night, but instead decided to go to another singles event in London — and although this fell through (possibly due to lack of response on Meetup.com?), it meant I encountered a whole new bunch of people, and had a fun evening!  Yes, here’s my new “newest friend”, a guy who took pity on me when I was wandering a small rock pub, frustrated that I had no idea where the group was meeting, and inducted me into his circle of friends, who were very friendly and enthusiastic about my presence.  Not only did I have a Jager-bomb and a shot of tequila during the evening, but I even had the guts to go and talk to an American girl in a minidress!  Didn’t get any, of course (though this seems to be because she was more interested in making out with women, despite not herself being a lesbian — so at least I got to watch, eh?), but better I took a shot at it, and maybe even impressed my new friends into the bargain.

Hey, they even wanted me to stay with them for the rest of their crazy night out, but I had to go home because I was (again) hungry, thanks to (again) not having a proper dinner beforehand… it was like the four Danish guys from my American trip, except I didn’t tell them to shut up and let me sleep, like a total square (don’t worry, I apologised the next day).  Hopefully I’ll see these guys again for more debauchery another time, especially if a singles event fails to materialise (or is a washout)!

This isn’t the only time in my life that I’ve been tempted by the dark side.  There was a deceptively innocent-seeming girl at university, with pretty eyes; she got drunk and slept around with the guys in my class, but she also seemed to like me as a person (even though I annoyed her sometimes with the weird things I said!), and who I sensed didn’t want to live her crazy lifestyle any more.  One time during the summer of 1997, when I’d been out in London with one of my second-year housemates, I was sitting on the train home when she came and sat next to me, having apparently seen me get on at Waterloo!  I often wonder whether I could have been with her if I’d had the nerve to go for it, but at the same time I feel that I was perhaps better being a friend and a confidant to her than just another bloke trying to get her into bed.

She certainly never made a move on me… but you never know, maybe if I’d gone to the pub for her housemate’s birthday instead of to the computer lab to indulge my libido… then, er, I could have helped her home when she inevitably got drunk, and not taken advantage of her, because I’m not like that, but instead shown what a nice guy I was, and won her over that way!  Having said that, I wouldn’t have gone on that student exchange to Michigan in 1998 if I’d been with her: having a girlfriend alone would have made me a lot less depressed at university (it’s always been “I’ll never find anyone” rather than “I’ll never find the exact right one” that’s upset me over the years), and I’d have had no need to go to America in the belief that only American women would give me a chance!

And that would have meant I never met my roommate’s family in Michigan, and visited them again over the years… and, for that matter, I’d never have dated that sweet, innocent Mexican-American girl for an entire week and then driven her away by trying to make out with her every time we met (because I was so desperate to make up for lost time).  Who knows how many things would be different?  Would 9/11 have happened…?

But no sense regretting who what I did or didn’t do in the past; here’s to the future, and the crazy girls I hope to meet.  Obviously sweet, innocent girls are also welcome (especially “ugly ducklings” who need to be told they’re beautiful), but no boring “old before their time” crone-like women who don’t take care of themselves physically or even have interesting personalities!

(Please note, I’m not writing off all older women: my fabulous mother shows what can be achieved by someone willing to exercise and push herself to the limit, and she could probably pass for my big sister now!  There, that should please the old harridan and shut her up for a… oh, er, am I still typing?)

(Only joking, Mumsy, if you’re reading!  If you’re not, huh…)

One final point: despite my intention to “cut loose”, I don’t intend to take (illegal) drugs or get arrested (obviously I may not be able to control either of those, depending upon circumstances), but wild parties may just be what I need to start living.  I like to think I’m a moderating influence on “best mate” (are you used to me calling him that by now?), and that he in turn is helping me enjoy myself, so maybe if I join him at one of these raves, I can support him with his alcohol abstinence, and he can introduce me to a hippy chick looking for love… as long as I spend the week studying computers in my spare time, of course.

So even if I don’t do it, I can still do IT, eh?  Eh?  Philistines…