Part 164: Not Giving a Shit

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The problem with not giving a shit is that it’s very hard to do publicly. By which I mean: people who tell you they don’t give a shit are, invariably, lying.

If you genuinely couldn’t care less about a given person, place or subject then you don’t mention it at all. The non-mentioning reflects your state of mind, which is: blank to the point of emptiness. You are definitely not thinking about the thing, because you don’t care about the thing.

For example, I am trying to think of stuff I couldn’t give a shit about and I am finding it very difficult to do. Caber tossing maybe? But there again, I’m not one hundred percent sure what caber tossing is. (UPDATE: Turns out caber tossing is inhumanly beefy men (and women I presume, although not in the first few google images, which is as far as this research went) — think Incredible Hulk, but grey skinned from the long Scottish winters — wearing kilts while lifting and then throwing giant logs. It looks quite fun. You see my point? As soon as you start to consider a thing you have an opinion and, therefore, by definition, you give a shit.) This is why it is so much more painful not to receive a reply to a text message than it is to be told flat-out that you are no longer required on the sex and companionship front. The radio silence communicates, in a volume louder than words, that not a shit is given and that feels horrid, because you’d rather be thought of negatively than not at all.

We all would rather be the anecdote about that crazy bitch with the hair than never mentioned again and evaporate into obscurity. It’s basic human nature; we are all terrified of the abyss.

What people mean, when they say they don’t give a shit, is that something they actively dislike or are annoyed by is being forced upon them (see me and: football, liquorice, John Simm, overcooked meat, details about your forthcoming wedding plans, post-2004 Ricky Gervais, arguments for the privatisation of the NHS), or, when aimed at person or statement, that they feel slighted but don’t want those around them to notice and so have chosen to front with aggressive bravado.

‘I don’t give a shit,’ always indicates a lack of emotional intelligence. It is a transparent device, concealing a profound inability to tell it how it is. (see: ‘Do you like my new dress?’ ‘That colour makes your skin look pasty,’ ‘I don’t give a shit what you think,’ and ‘My ex called’, ‘Are you ok?’ ‘Yeah, course. I couldn’t give a shit.’ ) This is why I have removed ‘I don’t give a shit’ from my vocabulary and started using it as a litmus test for friends and potential lovers.

Damaged people are everywhere. Stalking the streets, like apparitions in soiled leisure wear; sending messages to women they’ve met online about how much they enjoy having their ‘hairy balls slapped hard’ (no, really); sucking up narcotics through their veins and their noses so that they become numb to the searing void pain has eaten in their souls. They are marrying your friend, swearing at your mum when she takes too long to pull away at the traffic lights and some of them are running the country. And all the time they pretend that they don’t care, while their barely suppressed agony seeps out and poisons the world.

I want my friends and lovers to give a shit and know how to express it. I want them to tell me when I’ve hurt them, made them angry, happy, horny, crazy, sad. I want a life that has sincerity (although not one without sarcasm and bitching behind people’s backs, obviously), one where what matters is that you know how you feel and how to deal with it (see: ‘Do you like my new dress?’ ‘That colour makes your skin look pasty,’ ‘I didn’t need to hear that. Next time I ask you about my clothes choices, you have to lie, unless we are near a wardrobe so I can avoid disaster before I leave the house,’ and ‘My ex called’, ‘Are you ok?’ ‘I’m not sure. I got this sharp pang in my stomach, a bit like when you veer too close to the edge of a cliff. I don’t miss her, day-to-day, but I do feel regret and sadness about how it ended.’)

*I realise the header image is somewhat out of whack with the overall tone of this post. But you know what, babe? I don’t give a shit.

Part 163: The Art of War

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It struck me recently that I have been doing life all wrong. You’ll probably have noticed as much if you read this blog on a semi-regular basis. For it example, it turns out that spending 70% of every day alone, in your pajamas, leaving the bed only to fetch cheese strings from the fridge and, occasionally, to quench your thirst by swigging orange juice straight from the carton, is not great for your mental health. See also: continuing relationships with men who have stood you up more than twice – especially if you suspect they’re concealing an opiate addiction – and watching Dance Moms to the point where you understand what a ‘sickled foot’ is and feel actual, physical pain when Abby Lee resigns.

On that note, have you ever read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War? It’s a military strategy written by a Chinese general in the 5th Century BC, broken down into easy-to-digest sections such as ‘Waging War’, ‘Attack by Fire’ and ‘The Use of Spies’. It remains popular with army types, business strategists and, if The Sopranos is to be believed, Italian American Mafiosi, all of whom are engaged in physical and psychological battles, where strategy and overcoming the enemy is paramount to survival, or profit.

What it is not, I have come to understand, is a dating guide. The Art of War, is not, in any sense whatsoever, a self-help book in the tradition of The Rules, Men are From Mars Women Are From Venus, Keeping the Love You Find, or similar – none of which, I should probably point out, I have read. The Art of War is, in fact, the only relationship self-help guide I have ever read, except that it isn’t, as I’ve just pointed out (despite the efforts of several men with tiny penises to make it so – FYI, I’ve not read any of these either). It was only this week, on discussing my dating tactics with a therapist, that I realized why my romances I have tended to go spectacularly amiss.

I’ve been selecting lovers, and subsequently treating them, as though they were opponents in ancient warfare, rather than equal partners whom to trust, nurture and one day, perhaps, make tiny fat babies with. For example:

• ‘The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.’

As any of my ex-lovers will tell you, I very much enjoy a great explosive row that allows one to expunge negative thoughts and feelings in a tirade of insults and objects blindly flung across a domestic space. However, I also know that if one really wants one’s own way, this is a risky strategy for success. Better to subdue him and slowly manipulate him into doing what you want without fighting. I find blow jobs are often quite effective in this regard. Also, asking in front of his mother when you want him to do stuff you know he won’t want to do. Alcohol can be quite useful in both situations, for tranquilization purposes, so long as you aren’t dating a bloke that gets wound up and aggressive, or impotent on it.

• ‘Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.’

Remember that ‘39 questions to make someone fall in love with you’ quiz that was circulating online last year? I have long used a version of this to ensnare men and make them susceptible to manipulation. For example, if he tearfully describes how his Dad walked out on him the week before his 12th birthday, I have tended to realize he will likely have a deep fear of abandonment, which is one of the easier fears to exploit, and, when necessary, have threatened to withdraw my company and labour until such a time as he does what I want.

• ‘Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.’

Mostly, he’s my enemy, but every now and then – usually after he has delivered a particularly intense orgasm – I consider him my soldier and therefore attempt mother-figure type behaviors, such as cooking him dinner, stroking his poorly shoulder and sending him texts asking where the fuck he is at 3o’clock in the morning.

• ‘Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.’

A taxi driver once told me that men don’t want a woman more educated than them. Thus, at the wooing stages, it is very important to pretend to be a little bit stupider than you actually are. I find this is easily done by a) giggling a lot, b) asking basic questions about subjects on which he feels he is an expert (snooker, Mortal Kombat, the molecular impact of environmental pollutants on the atmosphere, whatever) and c) emphasizing that your PhD is in an expressive arts subject and, therefore, non-threatening.

• ‘Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.’

You won’t always be pissed off because he borrowed £56 and never gave it back – one day it might even make an amusing anecdote for a blog post. But, once it’s over, it’s done babe. If the relationship ends you have to go no contact and sign up for an extreme sports event, such as a half-marathon or Iron Man challenge, to take your mind off him and replace the endorphins you’re no longer getting from sex. Otherwise you’ll end up in a decade-long on-again-off-again nightmare that will severely impinge on your ability to form functional romances long into the future.

Actually, that last one is quite good advice – although you’ll be unsurprised to learn it is the only one I have failed to implement. The rest are, obviously, terrible, terrible strategies for establishing a stable, satisfying romance. And while most relationships are shambolic, painful and dysfunctional, you probably want to avoid following my example, if you can help it.

Don’t do as I do, is the moral of this story.

*Image is ‘Art of War’, by Stuart Miles from freedigitalphotos.net.

**Shout out to Trish from work, who told me – after I published my last post – that the way to keep your whites white is to dry them in the sun. This will bleach them naturally, removing unsightly faded stains and other evidence of debauchery.