Part 123: Undercover Policemen

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If you are as alert and tapped into digital culture as I am, you’ll have noticed that the algorithms Facebook uses for targeted advertising are crap. Like, seriously – have you ever clicked on the cheap looking classifieds that make up your sidebar? Or those ads that pop up beneath the lie that your friend has ‘liked’ some corporation or another that, in reality, she would so never like? Of course you haven’t. No one has. It is a mystery to me that Facebook turns a profit. Or maybe it doesn’t, actually. I’ve never looked at its annual accounts, which might or might not be freely available online – although who’s got time to check between masturbating, sourcing recipes for coronation chicken and keeping up to date with the Oscar Pistorius trial?

The extent of Facebook’s advertising failure dawned on me the other day, as I stood at the kitchen counter, sucked the soft flesh from a clove of garlic I had roasted the night before and stroked my thumb over the screen of my iPhone with a cold, dead look in my eyes. A website called ‘Uniform Dating.com’ had targeted me, advertising itself with a montage of soldiers, some holding guns.

Facebook has me all wrong, and it should know better, considering that I spend approximately 85% of my waking life posting pictures of baby mammals and misguided status updates all over it – at least seventeen of which, over the years, have included my mantra ‘no actors, no army’. (Although, to be frank, I’m not that strict about the actors bit any more; lately, artists in all their guises are doing it for me, since I discovered some of them have massive penises.)

I’m not into uniforms. Unless they’re worn by members of sports teams (and even then, probably not – what with the tendency sportsmen have to shag better looking women behind your back and shoot you in the head when you go to the toilet at night). Men who wear uniforms are generally stupid, compliant or conventional; often, they are all three. And that’s not my thing, thank you very much – even though I have always nurtured a fantasy about giving birth to a hot, stupid man’s baby so that I can say ‘let’s hope she has Daddy’s looks and Mummy’s brains’, and make all my friends laugh.

I know what I want and what I want is not a man in service of the government. Before you accuse me of snobbery, I’ll point out that some of my best friends are police officers and I’ve almost certainly got off with more soldiers than you’ve had hot dinners – but that doesn’t mean I want to marry a man in uniform. Which is why the recent news about undercover police officers infiltrating activist groups, pretending to be anarchists and impregnating earnest, dowdy eco-warrior women terrified me.

Alright, I’m not likely to join an activist group in the near future – due to apathy and the fact they’re probably really strict about recycling. (I’m also not big into dreadlocks on white people.) And while I’m aware that undercover police officers don’t wear uniforms on a daily basis, I’m pretty sure they’re still required to wear them in emergency response situations and for ceremonial purposes. But either way, the whole undercover scandal just goes to show that even when you’re really careful about selecting a mate with shared political and hygiene values they might turn out to be lying scumbags, with a secret life involving a wife and children in the home counties.

I’m not sure it’s worth it, babe.

P.S: I’ve just remembered about firemen. I’ll make a concession for firemen because of the bravery and also because it’s more of a safety suit than a uniform, when you think about it.

*The bloke in this image – “Soldier With Gun In Hands” by imagerymajestic at freedigitalphotos.net – is hot, granted, but you can’t be swayed by that. After a point you’ve got to imagine the bullet in that gun tearing into a human being’s flesh – and then you’ve got to have a good long try at reconciling your libido with your morals. But maybe your morals are more right-wing than mine – in which case, go for it.

Smeetings

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A bit of everyday wisdom, offered with tedious regularity to single adults and, latterly, wurkin’ it in abbreviated form as the title of a popular dating website (with which friends of mine have had success – although: no, thanks, it’s not for me) is the metaphorical truism ‘there are plenty of fish in the sea’. (I call it a metaphorical truism both because the phrase is a metaphor and also because, in reality, the depletion of the oceans’ resources due to human greed has resulted in there being hardly any fish in the sea. Which, as well as being ecologically alarming, has had a detrimental effect on my battered cod roe consumption – by which I mean, can you get it any more, and if so where?)

People want to tell you it’s easy to meet eligible, solvent, stable, stimulating men – either because they’re undiscerning themselves, or because they’ve been in a relationship with the same person since their teens or early twenties and therefore have no idea about the current dating landscape and should, frankly, work on finding topics of discussion that will not require offering romantic advice to their single friends. Although, who can blame them? Had I been having sex, exclusively, with the same person for a decade or more, I too might be eager to respond to stories from the front line in a way that would make me feel like I was still in the game.

For the record: it is not easy to meet eligible, solvent, stable, stimulating men. Especially not ones who are good-looking enough that you’d consent to see them naked and fascinating enough that you’d consent to meet them for a fourth date. And, crucially, also attracted to you.

It is not easy to meet eligible men full stop. (Although, I have found it easier since I started wearing liquid eyeliner and smiling more often. Habits which coincided with each other, for reasons I don’t have room to expand upon here.)

Thus, when a company called ‘smeeters‘ (a contraction of ‘single meeters’ or ‘social meeters’ or, possibly, depending on what you’re in this for, ‘sexual meeters’) contacted me and asked if I’d like to try out their services I said ‘yes. Go on then. Why the fuck not?’

This was the deal: I was invited to select two single female friends and take them along to a designated bar, where we’d be introduced to three single men, provided with one free round of drinks, and left to our own devices.

Weirdly, when I met my girls to brief them on the evening, drink a bottle of cava and eat cold meats, there was a smeeting going on behind us. This suggested that smeets are a fledgling ‘thing’ and that I might, for once, be riding the crest of a fashionable wave – as opposed to standing at a beach bar, drinking a Bloody Mary, watching it crash into the sand.

‘Let’s relax and enjoy it’, I told my single friends, Cecilia and Dionne (whose requests to appear in this blog under the cover of pseudonyms I’ve refused, because their real names sound like pseudonyms anyway), ‘but we must also remain dignified. And we must not drink too much booze. And none of us are allowed, under any circumstances whatsoever, to have sex with any of the men, because then I’ll have to write about it.’

And we all nodded, and we sipped on coupes of cava and we threw back salami – which the venue we’d gathered at had, inexplicably, chosen to serve on a chintz patterned cake stand (when did London so wholeheartedly embrace twee, and please, can it stop?). And we knew that we had never gone anywhere without at least one of us breaking at least two of the rules I’d set for the evening, and that, in any event, should one of us decide to fornicate with a stranger, especially if that one of us was me, there is no way I would write about it, and post it on the internet, where it would be read by mum.

Our smeeting was fun.

No, really. Apart from a minor hiccup when the barman mistakenly told us we’d arrived a day late, and nearly caused us to leave before we’d begun, it exceeded expectations. Dating with your mates in tow is a simple but genius idea – primarily because it shortens the odds of anyone being awkward or visibly nervous or very badly behaved. Things that are, in my experience, highly likely when it’s just you and a stranger sat in some dank venue making small-talk, with the unspoken potential of the future looming between you.

My friends looked dazzling, as they always do. Cecilia with her sparkling earings and long legs draped in dusty pink silk and Dionne all sheer black skintight blouse and cleavage. I must say, I wasn’t looking too bad myself – what with the requisite smile and the eyeliner and a wicked set of tiger patterned nail extensions that made me feel fierce and that drew compliments from no less than five people. Which is no mean feat for nails.

And the men! I know you’ll want to hear about them. They were, like my girls, charming, laid-back and good company. The smeeters people certainly did a better job than I am usually capable of on the not choosing total arseholes front.

One of the guys (Craig?), was a jolly, quintessentially English tennis-coach-turned-something-in-an-office type, and the other two were Canadian. One of the Canadians was called Mike and the other one, Colin, was a sturdy ice-hockey playing former high school jock. All big shoulders and white teeth wholesome maple-syrup manners.

I, obviously, broke the ‘don’t drink too much booze’ rule within fifteen minutes of arriving, and therefore did not listen to Colin the Canadian’s protests that he had in fact never played ice-hockey (or much sport at all). Rather, I spent the entire evening referring to him as an ice-hockey player, because I was pissed, yes, but more significantly because my fantasy about him was more important than his actual real-life personality – which I think is the definition of objectification.

In hindsight, objectifying pleasant men in public might not have been a high point in the history of my dating behaviour.

But fuck it. What are you gonna do? I mean, there are plenty of fish, right? And it’ll only cost me fifteen quid to smeet some more of them.

* In the interests of not being a corporate whore, I should probably point out that I did not pay anything for my smeeting. I got it free on the proviso I write this blog. I’m not sure how I feel about paying for dating services (I’m still holding out hope that someday, someone I meet via conventional means might be tempted to buy me dinner) but Cecilia and Dionne reckoned it was decent value, and say that they’d definitely do it again.