So, as I think I may have explained in a previous blog or six, I have no vices any more. For one reason or another, I’ve had to give almost everything up over the past year and a half, and it’s left my life with a fairly different landscape from the one it had not so long ago. Mostly, things have changed for the better. Sometimes it feels worse, but not very often.
What I have realised, since the whole Bang Fail thing, followed by a pretty miserable weekend or two, is that I am going to have to start looking for some new things to fill the time that used to be filled with these long-lost extra-curricular activities. This has happened naturally somewhat anyway. I now go to yoga on Friday nights whereas before I would have been going clubbing. I have a New Hobby in the form of taking photographs, which I am enthralled by… I even tried to do an evening class, but not enough people signed up and it didn’t happen. Hopefully I might do one in September, though. I think I want to do more with my writing as well – like maybe join a writers’ group or do an open mic night every now and again with some poetry. It seems a bit odd to me that I had over a year of New Lifestyle before I realised that I needed to do something to fill the gaps, but I guess, as I say, it was partly happening without me making a conscious decision anyway, and my head was somewhat occupied with other things throughout most of 2010.
However, having said all that, I do still have one vice, one addiction left… one thing I use as a go-to thrill, that has all the allure and bedazzle of the purest marching powder… and that wears off and leaves me needing more just as quickly. There is one more thing that gives me a hit and that I doubt I will ever be able to give up. As Bryan Ferry said – oh, ho, can’t you see? Love is the drug for me.
I’m saying love, but that’s not really what I mean. What I mean is flirting. Possibility. The thrill of the chase. The best bit of any relationship, as we all know – the bit before it actually starts and reality can come crashing in to ruin everything, reminding us that no-one is perfect and nothing ever lasts.
In this post-modern, 21st century, multi-media world that we inhabit, there are numerous ways to flirt with people that don’t actually involve the horror of having to speak to those people in reality. Emails. Text messages. Private messages on forums. And the Mac Daddy of them all – Facebook. Facebook walls, Facebook statuses, Facebook messages, Facebook pokes, Facebook instant chat… each of these can be utilised as a weapon of maximum flirtation and used as a method to, let’s face it, massage my ego. I realise how horribly self-involved that makes me sound, but I’m going to guess that I’m not the only person in the universe that engages in this process in order to make said person (me, in my case, obvs) feel better about themselves. If I am – well, then I guess I am horribly self involved. I can live with that, though.
What is it about the thrill of flirting via the written word sent over telephone wires in one guise or another that feels so compulsive? Perhaps it is partly that I feel more myself when writing than I do when speaking. I can command a keyboard much more masterfully than I can command my own vocal cords. I am better, bolder, bigger when I am typing than when I am orating. Online, I can talk to strangers, and I can say the sassy things I could never say to a man’s face, especially now I’ve had to quit the old Dutch courage.
And of course, the messages that I get in return can be saved, pawed over, held up to the light like precious jewels, rather than forgotten in the transient haze that life is. Not that I ever forget a thing that anyone says to me, of course (how could I have become this bitter if that were the case?), but the written word is so much more tangible than the spoken one.
Of course, we all know that this addictive thrill is in its purest, most uncut form when it’s with one person and you know it’s really going somewhere, somewhere possibly really big. At least, I say of course we all know that, but even as I type this I realise what nonsense that it. That’s when the thrill is biggest for me, because I harbour occasional fantasies of getting married one day and don’t want to do the ‘juggling’ thing I read about in American novels… I don’t know how anyone can do that in reality without spending their entire time wanting to vomit from the guilt, even if everyone has agreed it’s all ok… I’m just not that modern. However, I realise that for some people, lots of low-level, non-committal flirting is the most addictive sort of all, and that’s why the idea of being with one person forever terrifies those people so much. So I shall amend that sentence and say that for ME, the flirting you get at the beginning of a real relationship is the biggest thrill of all – the 90%, weapons-grade, top shelf Colombian.
When that’s the situation for me, that is, when I think a relationship might be in the offing, I don’t think I go more than ten waking minutes without checking my phone, my emails, my FB page for any communication. And every one that comes in feels better than the last, each one tops up the buzz… and each time I check for communication that isn’t there, it’s like I’ve taken the plastic baggie out of my wallet expecting it to be full, but instead it’s already been turned inside out and licked clean. It becomes my whole life. I know it shouldn’t. I know I should be more independent than that. But I am what I am, and ‘hopeless romantic,’ with all the different levels that implies, are probably the first words that will get written in my eulogy when I finally shuffle off this mortal coil.
However, in the absence of any promising relationships, I have noticed that I will tend to try to gather a collection of potential flirtees around me. All the better to boost my confidence with, my dear.
Because that, ultimately, is what is going on here, for me at least if you not for you, dear reader. My opinion of myself is a tricky, double-time dance along the mountain ledge of wellbeing, with narcissism and self-loathing as dancing partners. Sometimes narcissism takes the lead, and I think I am the new best thing since the last best thing, which probably involved me on some level anyway. But frequently it is self-loathing that heads up the dance, whispering with every footstep that I am too difficult, too forgettable, too awkward, too fat, too clichéd, too eager, too gauche, too plain, too miserable, too demanding to ever deserve love. The older I get, the stronger in some ways that voice becomes – although in other ways my self-esteem seems to grow in equal measures, so that the end result is actually just that the shouting in my head is louder than it was before, and I still have no idea if I am the greatest gift god ever gave the world or something that most people would wipe off the bottom of their shoe, given half the chance. Of course my rational brain knows that I am somewhere in the middle, just like everyone else, but rational is not my middle name.
All the received flirtation is ammunition for the narcissist’s side. And although I hate the narcissist, because she’s loud and screechy and she makes me squirm in bed at night when I remember what she’s done, I hate her less than I hate the other one. I’m happier when she’s winning – or at least I think I am. Each rush of seeing that I have a new text, more notifications, noting that I’ve got mail – each one is a new high. But is that high just as empty as the highs I have already cast aside? I don’t know. Communicating with people has to be better than communicating with a mirror and a straw, but if none of it means anything, then really, what’s the difference? Have I just replaced one shallow attempt to fill the hole where my soul should be with another? Am I the new Russell Brand? On a much less real and showbiz level, I must point out – I am in no way addicted to sex. But to the thrill of being absolutely sure that I meet the approval of some man or other? Yes. That is my poison. And I as I type this, I realise that I hate myself for that.
Hmm, this blog was meant to be funny. Sorry – not quite sure what happened there. I want to find a positive note to end things on, but am not in a fabulous mood, so I don’t think that will happen. Instead, perhaps, I shall show you a new poem I’m working on, the intention of which is to make people laugh. I hope it works. It’s a bit of a work in progress, so if there are any bits you think are rubbish… well, those are the bits I’m gonna change. ;-)
My life as a middle-aged fuss pot.
There’s oh so many things in life
that I don’t care to do.
Competitive sport brings me out in hives
I’m bitter 'bout dark chocolate too.
No tea – drinking dampened leaves
like you’d peel off you shoe seems wrong.
No coffee – I’m the only person alive
who finds the smell a sickening pong.
I won’t eat meat – I can’t eat wheat,
don’t talk to those I don’t know.
A single raindrop puts me in a strop
and a thunderstorm fills me with woe.
My ears are a-buzz with tinnitus
so I’ve thrown my iPod away.
I can’t stand next to speaker stacks
or listen to bands when they play.
Of course, I’ve got a banjaxed back
so I can’t use my new trampoline.
I’ve an irrational hatred of Buffy –
I think she’s a waste of my TV screen.
Eating chillies will give me the hiccups –
I’ll take a pass on those any day
and I’ll have a phobic panic attack
if I drive on a motorway.
For years I suffered insomnia.
Couldn’t sleep, so I had to quit drinking.
I could get lost inside a paper bag,
and I’m hopeless at positive thinking.
So what is there that’s left in life?
What can I bend to my will?
I think I’ll have to eke out my days
in my bedroom – sat terribly still.