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

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