Part 115: Football (or Deeds Not Words)

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The Suffragettes – who I have thought about a lot recently, due to Christmas providing time for my brain to think excess thoughts, unrelated to the usual (you already know the usual: work, (lack of) romance, illnesses I might have, the terrifying unpredictable future, whether I should get a dog or not, Paula Yates etc.) – had a slogan, that they used to sew onto banners and paint on posters and scream at passersby during marches: ‘Deeds Not Words’.

It’s a slogan I like a lot.

In fact, if I were going to get a tattoo (which, you might remember, I am most definitely NOT going to do), it would be ‘Deeds Not Words’, in big bold letters, (possibly in Garamond font, or maybe Calibri, I can’t decide) across my forearm, so I could hold it up whenever I suspected someone was using bullshit to avoid taking action, just as a subtle reminder, before I punched them in the face (or smiled in a strained manner, with my mouth but not my eyes, while I imagined doing so).

Now, I don’t give serious romantic advice very often – primarily because I am aware that the ridiculous state of my romantic life means you would be unwise to trust any relationship wisdom I might think I posses – but bear with me. I’ve decided to tell you about ‘Deeds Not Words’ because I have recently been reminded of a romantic lesson that I think I ought to share, despite the fact it is glaringly obvious.

That lesson is this: a person’s actions betray their true feelings far more precisely than words that come out of their mouths, or through their fingers and into your eyeballs via the various mediums of technology we now use to communicate.

For example, football.

No man who is really into you will make you watch football for at least the first year of your romance. This is a relationship truth. (And, although, yes, there are women who are into football, we all know they aren’t the hot, charismatic ones men really want to go out with.) Thus football behaviour is a fantastic relationship barometer.

I will now illustrate this point with a story:

I’ve got an acquaintance, this straight, single bloke who is good-looking, well-spoken and charming. He runs his own business and has a big, modern apartment in a decent part of London. A couple of weeks ago I saw him at a party, and, as a lithe single woman is wont to do when faced with an eligible, solvent bachelor – especially when her cleavage is artfully exposed and she has downed a margarita and two glasses of prosecco – I asked him about his love life. ‘I’ve been doing Tinder*’, he told me, ‘but it hasn’t worked out so well.’

Then my straight, single, good-looking acquaintance described his behaviour during his most recent Tinder exchange and totally proved the point of Deeds Not Words as applicable to football. He had met a woman on Tinder, he told me. I presume he had found her attractive because they’d been on a few dates and, when she asked what he was up to one evening, he said he was ‘tired, but you’re welcome to come over for dinner, if you want to.’

So she did.

His words, I think you’ll agree, gave his date the impression he was interested – setting up second and third meetings, replying promptly to text messages, always signing text messages with an ‘x’, telling her stories about his life, inviting her to his house and so on (I’m willing to admit, on reflection, and due to the protests of my straight, single, good-looking acquaintance, that if a man uses the word ‘tired’ in a text message replying to your date-solicitation, it’s not a great signal re: the future). But, when she arrived at his flat for dinner, he made her watch Liverpool Swansea, telling her, ‘come on, it’ll be good for you’. And, if that wasn’t Deed enough, when she retired to his bed, my straight, single good-looking acquaintance told me, he didn’t follow her in right away because, ‘I wanted to watch the Arsenal highlights on Match of the Day.’

‘That’s when it should have been obvious’, he said, ‘I wasn’t that into her.’

And in my head the little voices went totally mental, ‘ha!‘ they shouted. ‘We knew it! How many times have we told you?! Deeds Not Words! The Suffragettes knew their shit! That’s how they got the vote and laid the path to emancipation that has led to you writing this blog under a pseudonym!‘

Deeds then, especially football related ones, are often a reason to be single. After all, no woman who possesses self-esteem should need to date a man who wants to watch the Arsenal highlights more urgently than he wants to touch her naked, silken flesh.

Remember this wisdom, if you decide to date again. (As I will, certainly, be doing.)

*Tinder, for the uninitiated, is a dating app that describes itself as ‘like real life, but better’ (not difficult, Tinder copywriters, if your real life is anything like my real life) – it is, in essence, Grindr for straight people – and so, inevitably, more about the subtle, endless mind games and less about the mindless spontaneous sex. Which is unfortunate. In my next life, I’m coming back as a gay man. Preferably one who is alive in the 1930s so I can get it on with a young Tennessee Williams. (Yes, I believe it’s possible that we’ll reincarnate in the past, as well as in the future, because, as Jack Johnson once sang, ‘there’s no such thing as time’.)

*Image by John Kasawa at freedigitalphotos.net

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Part 114: Warning Signs

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As you might have noticed, I am rather fucked-up about men. And, although several therapists have tried to blame this on my Daddy, I’ve come to the conclusion that Pa cannot be held responsible.

It’s all my fault.

I’ve made a series of poor decisions, life-wise. Starting with overindulging in EastEnders, back when I was a girl.

I will never recover, for example, from the way Den fucked with Ange, and then came back from the dead to fuck with more women. And then Zoe Slater killed him with a doorstop – although really, that wasn’t punishment enough.

As a woman, I’ve become disastrously obsessed with the TV show Catfish. Where mad people create fictional online personas to attract lonely people and thus create more mad people in a perpetual cycle of dishonesty and desperation. All of which is televised by an attractive American who claims he was catfished himself, but who, I’ve decided, is probably lying as part of some meta-catfish that I don’t understand, but that probably has something to do with money. Or sex. Or drugs. Or power. Or a combination of the above. But who knows? People are often disturbed, and there are not always obvious reasons why.

And then, in real life, other events occur that confirm my suspicions about men, and how you can’t trust them (although you couldn’t say that exposure to said events was my fault). For example, Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris turning out to be paedophiles. And my mate’s (I’ll call her Bonnie) long-term boyfriend turning out to have married someone else, while he and Bonnie were still dating.

My ability to take anyone at their word is minimal.

But we must not be downhearted. We must simply learn to recognise the warning signs, clearly indicating crazy, often in phosphorescent neon, and step away before our hearts break.

There are always warning signs.

For example, Jimmy Savile with the tracksuits. And Rolf Harris’s penchant for sportingly restraining kangaroo. And Bonnie’s boyfriend’s attempt to cover his receding hairline with a fringe, and his insistence that he was ‘between homes’, but could afford a Rolex, and how he’d turn up at her house for sex at five am on weekday mornings.

We usually only heed the warning signs in hindsight. In the present yes, we see them, we see them right there in our faces, but we ignore them because we are hungry for love and sex (even if we understand the two aren’t necessarily related).

The big yellow sign indicating my ex was a nutter came early on in the relationship, when he introduced me to his mother. For the first half an hour of that meeting, he sat on the end of the sofa and tenderly massaged his mother’s feet, while I pretended to be distracted by the dog.

Why did I act as if I wasn’t horrified by this? Why did I not leave immediately, screaming for the police? Because I wanted a boyfriend, obviously. And also because I liked the way he called me ‘sweetheart’, and paid for everything. I wasn’t sure it would be easy to find another man as munificent with money and endearments.

And so it came to pass that I got acquainted with the importance of heeding the warning signs.

Of course, warning signs are not always so glaring.

But you can always spot them, if you pay close enough attention. Like the time I was staying with my friend Dan, and he brought home a hot ripped date. In the morning, as they snuggled post coitally, I offered tea.

‘Yes please’, said hot date.

‘How many sugars?’ I asked.

Hot date shrugged. ‘Er, I dunno. Like, seven.’

Seven!

Seven sugars in his tea!

‘That’s a warning sign’, I told Dan – who didn’t listen because he wanted to get laid again, obviously. And because hot date had a washboard stomach and melting chocolate eyeballs.

Unsurprisingly, hot date also turned out to be a serial philanderer.

By spotting the warning signs I have managed to avoid entering into any unwise romances in the past half decade.

I have entered into zero romances – if by romances you mean affection and tea in the morning as well as sex. This is because, if one pays proper attention, everything is a warning sign.

His orange button-up shirt, that earring in the shape of a raindrop, the African tribal masks on the wall in his bedroom, the framed photo of a Doberman. How he says ‘sweet’ at the end of a sentence to indicate pleasure. And, when there’s nothing obviously wrong, one can invent stuff, so that one never has to trust. Like, you could use accuse him of lying about his age, or of impersonating himself on the phone, or of using you for sex. (Because you are that good at it.)

And then you’ll be all alone forever. Which might be exactly what you want, but – I’m not going to lie to you – it does get depressing in winter.

*Image by creativedocfoto at freedigitalphotos.net