Part 69: Alcohol

Champagne with bubbles – a rose coloured tipple, tequila sunrise and slippery nipple, larger with curry and whisky and gin, these are a few of my favourite things. Serious – alcohol is definitely my drug of choice. And even though I’m quite proud of my update to those Rogers and Hammerstein lyrics, it looks like God knew what he was doing creating me a couple of generations too late, and a couple of notches too socially insignificant, to influence their wholesome writing. Perhaps there is a Divine Plan.

When invited to any social event or celebratory festivity my anticipatory excitement is alcohol based, one hundred per cent of the time. I can honestly think of nothing more lovely than the alcohol accompaniment to most ‘occasions’. Just picture: sparkling fizz in a tall glass to toast the bride at a wedding; an ice-cold Corona with lime to wash down that first undercooked cheese burger at a barbecue; Budweiser and football on the telly; red wine by the fire after a Sunday roast; sake with sushi. Margaritas and the blue shimmer of a pool in high summer; double gin and tonic with ice and lime, at any time whatsoever; brandy on Christmas eve; sherry on Christmas morning; Sangria with tapas on a sandy Marbella break; Guinness down the pub in late October; Bloody Mary with eggs and bacon for a hangover breakfast (just jokes, I totally cannot stomach food on a hangover); a bottle of Pinot Grigio from the Co-op to slough off the tedium after a day at work. I could go on, but I think you get the alcoholic picture.

I do like a drink. And even though I’m pretty sure drugs are bad and will definitely kill us all in the end, I think nothing of glugging back legal intoxicants and spending the entire next day heaving over any available toilet bowl, replaying jagged and disturbing memories from the night before and forcing my brain to make pictures of kittens in order to stave off thoughts of suicide.

I’d think I had a problem, if all my friends weren’t doing it too.

In the modern world, it’s all about choosing whichever poison will help you get through the day. In hindsight, it might have aided my street cred had I been more rock and roll with my own choice, but hey, I experimented with edgier options in adolescence and what can I say? I am what I am. Weed’s out the window because of the paranoia; acid, MDMA and all the hallucinogens make scary pictures, and I don’t take cocaine because of the potential nasal corrosion – and anyway, who wants a drug that makes them more alert, surely that defeats the object of intoxication entirely?

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, I am from a culture that embraces excessive alcohol consumption above all else. Or perhaps I just move in particularly boozy circles. Whatever, it is my experience that even when friends and family know you have an attachment to alcohol that is beginning to function to the detriment of your career, health and relationships they’ll still be a bit pissed off if you say you want water instead of wine when they invite you out for dinner.

I cannot think of any social interaction whereby it would be acceptable for me to reject the offer of alcohol. Consequently, I spend much of my time languidly regaling hilarious tales of amusing misdemeanors, before that final Sambuca tips me over the edge and I insult a stranger or end up in a fist fight with one of my siblings.

And thus we arrive at alcohol’s big problem. It forces one who is minorly addicted to it to oscillate between fabulous and horrific, depending on the time of day and the quantity of alcohol consumed. This is not a healthy emotional continuum on which to conduct a relationship, as I’ve discovered after many years of high drama.

But what’s a girl to do? There are so many occasions during which alcohol can give you pleasure, and only three I can think of when the same can be said for romantic love (sex, cuddles, someone to take out the bins). I think, on balance, I’d rather an existence of alcohol induced solitude than one of sobriety, lies and stale romantic gestures made public to mask my misery.

I’m not sure it’ll make for a happy life in the long run, but at least I’ll have some outrageous stories for my memoirs. Providing I can remember them.

Pass the gin.

Part 68: Getting Your Shit Together

One of my most favourite maxims, which I’ve been repeating over and over recently, as the nights get progressively colder and my ability to pay the heating bill gets progressively fictional, goes like this: you can tell how little regard God has for money when you consider the kind of people He generally bestows it upon. Still, as Christmas advances and I recall the annual horror of facing a festive dinner sans lover, caught up in the cross fire of familial expectation re: breeding, the thought of enough money in the bank account to take January respite in Barbados dulls my contempt for riches. I shall certainly not be donating my lottery millions to charity, should I decide to play and be fortunate enough to win.

But, I do like to think, even though I don’t totally believe in God (and certainly don’t believe any God who might exist is a He), that you could replace the word ‘money’ with the word ‘love’ in the truism above and make it even more true. In fact, as I consider those friends and family upon whom the universe, in its infinite wisdom, has bestowed love, I start to think that the universe might be insane.

Certainly, many of the most vociferous lovers I know are insane, crashing from one affair to another, cheating, sexing, sneaking, weeping. Idealistic love causes more pain than money or drugs, and yet it is not only legal, but actually sold to us by means of social coercion from birth to the grave via fairy tales, every film ever made – from Fatal Attraction to Bridesmaids – and sentimental Sandals ads. I’d think there was a government conspiracy, if I didn’t know about biology.

The problem with love, of course, is not really love itself. The problem with love, like the problem with money, is the people who snatch at it with grabby hands, caring not for the many heavenly pleasures it might offer, only for having more and more of it, which might, eventually, fill up the empty parts of them so that they are whole. Hoarding secret stashes of it away in hotel rooms, second homes and lock-ups off the M5, they rarely step back to examine the cavernous voids growing cancerous spaces in their souls.

It would be far better for the world if the rich people and the careless lovers spent less time hoarding and more time doing the only thing that might really fill up their emptiness: getting their shit together. Taking a good long look inside one’s selfish heart, spending a good few tears on crying it out and good few precious food dollars on therapy is a wiser way to fritter one’s youth than lurching from romance to romance, like a ship in a violent storm; dating in desperation, sloping home the next day with borrowed bus fare and hair that smells of cigarattes and unwashed regret, and failing to reply to follow up text messages. I don’t mean to sound like your Nan here, but it is worth remembering that getting your shit together before embarking on a love affair will ensure solid foundations are laid from which to build a future life; whether that life is spent alone or with a partner or with that loyal Dalmatian you always dreamed of owning is dependent on what you find your shit consists of.

I’ve found that mine is fairly full of empty margarita glasses, neglected puppies and spiky, hand hewn weaponry. No wonder my romantic life’s been floundering these past few years; who knew I needed a veterinary mixologist with pacifist tendencies? Do you think there’re many of those online? I could do with a comrade; just to shield me from the Christmas dinner crossfire. A girl can’t cope with everything all on her own.

But don’t tell anyone I said that.

Part 67: Getting Fat

All my life I’ve been what you might call enviably proportioned: ickle slim wrists, voluptuous boobies, pert muscular buttocks and a waspish waist. I’ve been the kind of girl who can gurgle lard, sat motionless in bed watching back to back episodes of The Comeback for days on end, and still rock up to a party looking like I spend my leisure time training for competitive sports.

I’m not being boastful, it’s a fact – and, if it makes you feel better, it’s not like I haven’t had other problems to contend with: acne, an ice queen mother, straggling mousy hair that only looks fabulous cropped, covered in peroxide and styled with cheap chemicals that are bound to cause my early death, spending habits that will very likely lead to financial ruin, a psychotic ex lover, alcoholism, a kitten allergy, hay fever.

One can’t have everything.

Still, I know what the ladies are like (I am one) and if despite my myriad misfortune you’re still well jel – fear not! All that body beautiful looks like it might be a thing of the past. Whether it’s my age or my recent discovery of the steak’s prowess as foodstuff the reult is the same – my waist is definitely looking more womanly than waspish.

My thighs, which were once held taughtly apart, now flop against each other with a soft thwack as though filled with glutinous custard. Swiss rolls of tummy flab impersonate a waterfall over the waistband of my Levi’s. My back, once graced by jutting vertebrae, now wobbles (my back! I didn’t even know you could get fat there) as I step from the shower and boogie to So Solid Crew tunes in the mirror. Granted, my wrists are still sparrow like – but that doesn’t look so hot now that my upper arms resemble just-fluffed pillows.

The evidence would suggest that I’m succumbing to fat.

Who ate all the pies?

I did. And they tasted fucking good.

Fat: an inevitable but unfortunate milestone in the trot through life, signifying the End of Youth. For most vain women, this would no doubt cause panic.

Not for me though.

I’m well not bothered.

For the stylish, flab is easy to cover with loose fitting outerwear and flesh control panties. Plus, I’ve still got killer fingernails, scarlet lipstick and a wit that delights my mates and leaves my enemies curdled.

And if that doesn’t convince you, I’ll tell you this: it turns out the podge is a lot more enjoyable than it looks.

There are loads of Good Things about a bit of extra weight. My skin seems better than when I was slender for a start. And I’m actually warmer than I was last winter. Even though its -9 outside the layers of self love I’ve accrued, in the days since food replaced sex in my life, act as a lover shielding me from the warmth.

Also, there’s no chance that fat will leave me and emigrate to China to teach rich children with some daft bimbo it met at work.

So it’s already one up to fat on the fat vs lover scorecard.

Fat wins a second point as I realise it will only embrace me more tightly if I decide to lounge nude on the settee shoveling a lukewarm Burger King Chicken Tender Crisp inside my gob.

Fat won’t even mind when I shift my bum bum so as to salvage the last chip, which I appear to have sat on, and pop it in my mouth to join the masticated chicken burger.

What’s to dislike?

Part 66: All the Ladies, Independent

Those few of you reading these words who hail from a similar culture and time period (western, Y2K onwards) as me will, I’m sure, recognise the musical work I allude to in the title of this week’s post. A few of you, although I would imagine fewer than the few encompassed in the first sentence, might also recognise the line below – which I read today in Simone De Beauvior’s novel She Came to Stay. The line features in the opening chapter as our heroine, Françoise, takes a breather from playwriting in order to sit in a theatre and allow her imagination to transform the empty space. It goes like this:

At this moment, she did not in the least regret that Pierre was not beside her: there were some joys she could not know when he was with her; all the joys of solitude.

Now, I don’t know Pierre all that well yet – I’m only on page 17 – but still, I’m with Simone at this point, and with Destiny’s Child as well, in terms of the independent woman sentiment. To be honest, they’re sort of saying the same thing aren’t they? They just express that thing differently due to the conventions of the particular forms they work with. Poptastic R&B requires the crude articulation of a desire for material things that just isn’t necessary in existential literature. One form is not, because of that, inherently superior – as some snobbish cultural commentators might have you believe. I know this, even though on Sundays I like to read literary tomes and think of myself as an intellectual. The important thing both works tell us is that solitude is beautiful and joyous and that romantic love especially is wont to fuck it right up by interrupting one’s me-time and creating the expectation of certain objects and behaviours which society dictates people in relationships should gift eachother and adhere to. These include, but are not limited to: sexual attention, houses with a mortgage, sympathy, babies, diamond rings, fidelity, and, in worst-case scenarios (I’ve been there babes), diary access so that one’s lover can always be sure of one’s whereabouts.

Of all these expectations, the one that has really got on my tits this week is the diamond ring. Babies and sex are fine by me single ladies. I can forgive you for wanting those things, if you do, because you, like me, are a human with certain biological desires that no amount of French feminist fiction will eradicate. But wanting a diamond ring – wanting a marriage in fact – is slightly less fine as far as I’m concerned. And I don’t even think my disdain is to do with jealousy (although I’m willing to concede it might be).

To want marriage above all else you could possibly have in this life very possibly marks you out as totally pathetic (or at least as totally submitting to oppression). Particularly if once you achieve the betrothal that will eventually lead to that marriage the first or second thing you do is take a picture of your diamond ring with a mobile phone camera, upload the picture to an online social network – frequented by old school chums, distant relatives and minor celebrities you once met in GAY, when you were fun – and caption it ‘fairy tale’.

Just FYI: fairy tales were written in olden times. When ‘doctors’ used to relieve headaches by literally drilling into the patient’s skull to release pressure, or demons (I can’t remember which – the details of my year 9 history syllabus are somewhat hazy now – but I do know this: they didn’t know about paracetamol then, apparently). We’ve moved on, people. We no longer need a chivalrous cad to climb up our hair and visit us in a tower. We can chop off our own hair, escape from the tower (even though we’re bit scared of heights) and then rock a bleach blonde pixie crop and pout into the mirror wondering whether we are too old for pink hair (is one ever too old for pink hair? Seriously, I need to know), or whether an outrageous dye job might ruin our serious academic career aspirations.

Freedom is Very Important. Which is why I capitalised the last two words of the previous sentence. If you’re fortunate enough live in a country and a family that offers you choices, to be reading these words on a computer
or smartphone or tablet, to be feeling sorry for yourself because you are sans lover, then rejoice! For you are free. Your freedom is to be celebrated with independence – despite what the rest of the big bad world suggests, you owe it to all those who are not free to milk your own freedom for all that it holds. So fuck the rest of the world – especially the coupled ones who use their social networking profiles to PR their lives. These are not happy people. These are not soldiers who have tasted freedom. These are people who are in metaphorical chains (and sometimes real ones, in sadomasochistic fantasies).

Being free means being the mistress of your own fortune. Spending an unexpected £300 windfall on books to educate your mind (fuck the credit card bill – this is war), wearing lipstick to bed just because you feel like it, choosing to have sex or not to have sex depending on the proximity of available and attractive lovers, riding into combat on the back of a horse, wearing only nipple tassels and a chastity belt. It means indulging in love or indulging in anarchy or indulging in violence at whim, and accepting the consequences. Most importantly, freedom means that the responsibility for having a totally fucking fantastic, fulfilling time lies on your shoulders alone. Throw your hands up at me!

N.B. The only time it is wise to reconsider one’s independence is if the world unexpectedly produces a comrade you can stand shoulder to shoulder with. Like a brother, or a sister, except one you can legally have sex with. This is harder than it looks and will never result in you describing any aspect of your life as ‘fairy tale’.

And if you do find a comrade, my advice: request Sundays off.

Occasional solitude does not get old.

Part 65: Fag Hagging

The Urban Dictionary, which I’ve been dutifully browsing as ‘research’ for this post, has several definitions of the term ‘Fag Hag’. My favourite goes like this:

Also known as Fruit Fly and Queer Dear. This is a woman who prefers the company of gay men because she recognises their effervescence, incisive wit, and sheer brilliance regarding the human condition.

LOL.

That’s totes not why I prefer the company of gay men (if anything I am the effervescent, witty, brilliant one – as I’m sure my many gay friends will reluctantly admit; if only to humour me).

The company of gay men, I hate to break it to you, is very much the same as the company of straight men – with one massive advantage. Gay men will not try to have sex with you, ever, even when they are really pissed and you’re showing so much cleavage that it’s effectively porn.

And they always remember to compliment your beauty, because, although they don’t want to have sex with women they do sometimes fantasise about them emerging from gorilla suits adorned in sparkling flapper dresses and dancing with a group of dwarves*.

Also, Gay Pride Los Angeles 2011: men (alright, a man, singular, but still) left the parade to have their picture taken with me because I looked ‘fierce’!

Since this event I’ve concluded that the gay community can do no wrong.

I like men. I like them a lot – and not just because of their descended genitals, Adam’s apples and other biological anomalies.

No, I love the socially conditioned differences too.

Their confidence, their conviction that they are always right (even when they’re not), their capacity to have a conversation that is not about relationship woes or triumphs, their ability to be genuinely pleased for you when you achieve something amazing, without harbouring a teeny bit of resentment, their innate selfishness and vanity.

It’s all good as far as I’m concerned (except when they decide they want to fuck you and the feeling’s not mutual and they turn into creeps). Of course, women have a place in my heart too, but sometimes a bit of masculinity is a necessary tonic to help one refresh one’s love for the sisterhood.

How I do love getting tarted up in leopard print – talons painted red and sharpened to a point, like claws. Sipping whisky-on-the-rocks and smoking Marlborough lights in the platonic company of a chiselled young hot thing, as though I’m a Hollywood starlet from yesteryear. It is the definition of fabulous.

And yet, deep down, I know that the Hollywood starlet suffered for her fabulous. She was sleazed all over by creeps, and often died in tragic circumstances. Or was forced to drink or swallow pills until her beauty was ravaged, which at least had the advantage of making the creeps crawl away. Although often, by that point, she had convinced herself she was in love with the creep and so was destined to live out her days in sadness or insanity.

I have no intention whatsoever of suffering for my fabulous. Which is why I recommend fag hagging if you’re really determined to enjoy being single – rather than treating it as an exercise in short-term promiscuity before settling into a life of domestic drudgery.

When you leave the house in the company of a gay man you’ll either be headed for a gay bar, where the sleazes won’t want you – or else everybody will assume you’re a couple. Which is great because, unless you happen upon a cad with the requisite charm and sex appeal, you can forget about copulation, avoid all the sleazes and get so drunk in the company of your gay man that you throw up in a shoe.

Life doesn’t get much better than that.

* At least, this is what I understand from the disturbing erotic footage I saw playing on large screens on the walls of a fairly hard-core gay club I was fortunate enough to visit some years ago. There were also blow jobs and a huge fluorescent light that depicted a penis becoming erect and spunking all over the walls. I’d recommend it; if only I could remember where it was.

Part 64: Facebook

My education, as I might have mentioned before, has not been insignificant – despite being almost entirely state funded.

It’s equipped me with the life skills I’ve needed to set up this blog for a start.

And the ones I needed to read almost an entire chapter of Simone de Beauvior’s The Second Sex while pissed on whisky, that time my ex was horrid and I wanted a French person to give me stylish, intellectual reasons to hate men.

What my years of book-learning haven’t given me is the time, patience and fluency of foreign tongue that would allow me to read Dante’s Inferno in the original Italian.
I haven’t read it in English either, but that’s alright because there’s a decent enough synopsis on Wikipedia. That synopsis has familiarised me with the essential facts that will enable a metaphorical application of the epic work here (I apologise in advance if you came back for the kind of sexual stimulation I offered last week. That seemed popular. I’ll probably return to it once I’ve got this out of my system).

Dante’s version of hell, as you’ll perhaps know from popular cultural references, or from reading it yourself (yeah right), has nine circles. My fave are the circles Wikipedia dubs ‘lust’, ‘anger’ and ‘violence’. Not because these are the sins and vices I most frequently fall prey to myself, but because they’ll be filled with my peeps (I tend to be attracted to impulsive, unstable types – I’ve mentioned that before as well. Because it’s true. I might be a bore, but I’m no liar).

You know what they say about heaven for the weather and hell for the company?

Well, even though it’s very windy in that second circle I’d much rather blow about with Romeo, all intense and prone to spouting poetic declarations of adoration, than chillax with the type of people who are likely to be cloud bouncing up in heaven (I tried to think of some hilarious examples, but can only come up with the following dead humans who are definitely heaven dwelling: Jesus, Mary Whitehouse, Mother Teresa – what a party).

Because hell, as depicted by Dante, clearly isn’t vile enough to keep the charismatic away, God obviously needed to invent a tenth circle that would properly teach us sinners a lesson and improve the quality of company his end.

And thus, on the eleven-thousand-billionth day he created Facebook: where the narcissistic, the insecure and the voyeurs would dwell, suspended in cyberspace, consumed with the bitter cyber-rage that comes from seeing digital snaps of an ex-lover’s sister marrying her long term beau and buying a spaniel puppy.

They know that nothing good can come from looking. And yet, each day they trawl her profile, retching bile as they spy her simpering status updates and photo captions (‘Pixie and Jeff having Sunday snuggles. XXX’) underneath smug pictures of weekend country walks, pictures of pup emerging from tartan chrysalis as a dog, of dog falling pregnant with an ikkle puppy litter, of puppy scan pics (‘my baby’s having babies! Awww.xxx’) – as the lives of the narcissistic, the insecure and the voyeurs remain frozen.

Peter Pan-esque the narcissistic, the insecure and the voyeurs upload their own smiling photos. They post links to ironic singles blogs they’ve written through jealous tears in cold, damp northern flats. Hoping that exchanging bile for cyber-lols will end their ceaseless suffering. But it never does.

Facebook is not a happy medium – despite the best efforts of its collective usership to pretend otherwise.

And, importantly for this blog, Facebook has just too much potential to cause relationship ruin for me to suggest that being in one while you’re an active user is sensible.

I mean: irrational jealousy sparked by an old pic of your boy snogging his comprehensive school sweetheart. Rational jealousy sparked by inbox messages evidencing your boy’s affair with his brother’s girlfriend. Ugly pictures of you passed out on a crate in The Venue, New Cross on New Year’s Eve 2008. Someone you’ve been sleeping with using ‘lol’ unironically, or tagging themselves in a photos wearing wigs to fancy dress parties, or attending fancy dress parties. Or ‘liking’ a photoshopped picture of an old couple holding hands in the sunset.

I have no idea how people manage relationships now that all the skeletons are out of the proverbial closet, poking your cousin with a sheep (yes, I know no one’s used that sheep throwing app since sometime in 2007, but still), which is one reason I’ve been single since I signed up to the social network.

I mean, I could deactivate – only then I’d probably never find out how many teeny spaniel pups Pixie gives birth to when she finally drops that litter.

And there’s always next year for functional relationship stuff. At least, there is in hell.

Part 63: Matching Underwear

The lights are low.

In front of the mirror I lean forwards and, angling my body to the side, examine my full length profile: juicy, muscular buttocks covered in rosy lace. The same lace cups my pert, youthful breasts. They resemble slightly overripe cooking apples, or firm nectarines held aloft – as if my chest, personified, were the madam of a particularly slutty brothel offering up flesh for passing customers to bite.

This is how I feel in that rosy lace underwear: like Cindy Crawford on a good day. And if you’re having trouble visualising what that might look like I urge you to click here.

You must think – should you believe the narrative of tales told in R&B videos and the words I just wrote above – that one glimpse of my toned silken flesh wrapped in matching underwear would be enough to spontaneously fell a decent man. Not even a decent one – on desperate days I’d be happy to fell that one I saw being sick outside the Wetherspoons at Leeds train station last week (don’t get me wrong, I do have standards – even through the vomit you could tell he would be a suitably caddish rogue in la bedroom).

But this is the lie of the bra and knicker twinset.

Like all of the most terrible lies it involves relationships and cuts like diamond sharpened glass once you unfold it.

Matching underwear is not capable of felling anybody.

There are three main reasons for that.

The first harsh underwear truth is this: a matching underwear set looks sexy only once – the first time you wear it, before that wash where it shrinks or you lose the bra or the elastic goes in the knickers or the lace starts to fray like the split ends of a home bleached barnet. If you disagree with this harsh truth it’ll be because you’re one of those women who washes their lingerie by hand, as recommended on the care label, in order to maintain its quality. In which case I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave. You don’t really fit in here. Perhaps you should try mumsnet instead.

Truth two is (obvs) that matching underwear cannot spontaneously fell a sexual partner, because you will not be spontaneously wearing it. As we all know, unless you have planned a sexual encounter in advance (in which case it’s likely to end in disaster before the underwear stage), you’ll be in one of your mum’s old sports bras and that greying thong you purchased in topshop circa 1999 with the slogan ‘he shoots, he scores’ barely visible under the faded image of a football.

Truth three is the most harsh. Particularly for anyone from the underwear advertising industry who might be reading. Men don’t care about matching underwear. Seriously. They’re well not bothered – unless they’re gay or 15 years old – even when it’s porn. As I probably don’t need to tell you (you’re undoubtedly more practised than me in all things carnal) if it’s got to the stage where you’ve let him see your underwear he’ll just want to get it off your body as quickly as he can.

Yes, alright, before you start, I know that I have a habit of selecting unrefined blokes, but I’m willing to bet fictional dollar that I’m not wrong to generalise here. People who want to have sex with women aren’t that bothered about the coordination of said woman’s undergarments.

I’m not sure from experience whether it’s the same for lesbian couples, but in the interests of inclusivity I just asked my lesbian sister whether she preferred matching underwear or old cotton briefs on a lady lover and she said, ‘I couldn’t give a flying fuck’. Which proves my point. Kind of.

But all is not lost. For us singles matching underwear can provide the kind of bliss it will never provide the coupled. This is because it is both tantalising to our own senses (see paragraph one), while promising that which it can never deliver in a way that won’t make us want to tear our beloved’s insensitive eyes out.

It’s like what Oscar Wilde said about a cigarette being the perfect type of the perfect pleasure – ‘exquisite yet it leaves one wanting for more, what more could one want?’

Wearing matching underwear when you’re single is exactly like that, I say, typing these words in my favourite black rose patterned undies and glancing sideways at my reflection between sentences – both appreciating my excellent underwear taste and longing for my flesh in a way that no man ever will. Yes, there are reasons to be single.