Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 41

Susan is kind of upset. She says that I have gone back on my word and been on a mini-break after saying that I would not engage in such activity again.

It's not true of course. I have not been on a mini-break, I swear. A long weekend away with platonic friends who are girls is a totally different affair.

Actually, Susan is kind of wailing about it, she's taking it all a bit personally and really, to be honest, it's not a good look. Susan has a thing about mini-breaks. The thing is she got dumped on one in Rome by her last serious boyfriend but one and, really, she is still kind of sore about it now. Let's be fair, dumping someone on a mini-break is rather bad form and I am in no way condoning the behaviour of said boyfriend. I mean come on, have a heart, everyone knows that you do it once you get back. I mean seriously, what was that guy thinking?

In light of the Rome mini-break dumping, Susan has vowed never to go away on such a trip again and will tell this to anyone who will listen.

"I'm never going on another. In the future I am only ever going to go on proper breaks. None of this mini stuff. If they want to take me away it has to be for the entire week at the very least."
"So what are you saying? You're like a city break, but not a mini-break kind of girl?"
"Gord, city breaks are exactly the same as mini-breaks. You won't catch me on either, it's all long weekends."
"So, what, at weekends you're going to stay in London, like forever?"
"Absolutely, I'm going to be a permanent weekend residee?"
"A residee? You know, I'm not sure that's even a word."
"Of course it's a word, I'm definitely a residee and not a resident."

When Susan started to tell me this all again for like the 10th time, she said I had committed the most heinous crime. Going away on a bank holiday.

"I can't believe you went away, on a bank holiday of all things. What were you thinking I was going to do while you were away on your mini-break?"
"Hey, I've already told you it wasn't a mini-break. I went with friends. It was all good clean fun, so strictly not mini-break activity. Drunken hugging and a bit of bad dancing to Irish country music was really as bad as it got."

Susan looks horrified.

"OMG, dancing to Irish country music? What were you thinking? Were you shaking your legs?"
"Suze, there's no leg shaking, really it's all more of a shuffle."

What can I say somehow there was the black stuff, the wine and the Bushmills... and, oh did someone say bad combination? Well, you know how it is... you become susceptible. Besides I had been bouncing around all day on the back of a horse in the Mountains of Mourne in County Down, Northern Ireland. In all, having the most perfectly relaxing time in the world, you know, if you like your horses, country air and... oh yes a couple of glasses of various coloured liquids.

In a crazy and not entirely unexplainable way, one of the highlights, other than the cantering through the forests, was going to this typical community Irish bar where majority of locals were pushing 80. But really those people could dance and the sight of a couple of girls who were a good 35 years away from retirement did create a little excitement or as my friend put it, "You know that, glint in his eye, is really more like a blowtorch."

See, strictly not a mini-break and Rachel, who is a mini-break expert, is in full agreement. Rachel is like queen of mini-breaks. She has like the full set: Paris, Milan, Helsinki, Barcelona, New York and the ever popular Norfolk, which was the scene of her most recent outing.

"That's definitely not a mini-break, it has to be two people. Gord might have gone with two women, but let's face it he has never been that lucky."
"Ha!" says Susan laughing.

That girl is so harsh, but I digress. Rachel's recent trip was one in which she duly dumped the poor boy immediately upon return. Talk about make or mini-break...ahhh forget it.

"So what did he do that was so bad?"
"Looking for tips?" Susan goes.
"Of course, tips on how not to get dumped on a mini-break are always handy. You could have used these in Rome...."
"Boys are mean, and you are really mean," she says huffily folding her arms.
"OK, Rach, what did he do?"

It wasn't just one thing, she said, it was like a whole catalogue of things that just got her thinking maybe this one was not the boy for her, starting, she said, with him wearing his T-shirt inside out.

"Inside out?"
"I told him 'you know you're T-shirt is inside out', and he sort of grinned and went, 'pretty cool, hey?'. That's when I first started to think, OK mmm..."
"Not sure what I think about that, I think I'm on the fence," I say.
"Oh me too," says Susan, "not a dumping issue."
"Oh no, I agree," Rachel said, "next it was the music."

Rachel's one of those firm believers that men should be men and women women when it comes to certain things in life and music is one of them.

"Later he put on Norah Jones... you know like to get in the mood."
"But that's chick music," I exclaim.
"That's incredibly sexist," Susan says.
"Oh, but he's right, it is. It's like it's OK for a girl to own Norah Jones, but for a guy to put it on it's..." she shakes her head.
"Corny boring predictable middle of the road dinner party pop jazz?"
"Just the phrase I was looking for, but if that had been it I probably wouldn't have dumped him. It was the last thing that did it for me."
"Well don't keep us suspended what was it, tell?" says Susan.
"Suspended? What's the whole language thing today?"
"He had a bottle of massage oil...
"That's so classy," I say.
"I know, but it's worse than that," Rachel says, "the bottle was only half full, he'd used it before."

Susan harumphs at this.

"Just like mini-breaks," she says.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 40

So how bad was it? This is what Susan asks me when she rings me up wanting details of my blind date. And really, who was to know that telling someone they sounded like Yoda would go down so badly.

In retrospect I really shouldn't have gone. I had this creeping suspicion that I put to the back of my mind that again going on a date, even a blind one, with someone called Sara was asking for trouble.

I have dated two Saras before: pushy and, well, slightly kinky Sara; and psycho and, well, slightly disturbed Sara. Their differing qualities aside they both looked exactly the same. It was like they came from the same factory. You know, like a scary Sara producing factory. Maybe it's something Sara Lee does.

5'5"/5'6", long dark hair. I'm convinced that, like most things, there are simply two varieties. Everyone seems to agree on this, not least of all Yoda who is always banging on about "Always two there are, no more no less".

Go with me on this, there is something of a Yoda theme. I know it's my own fault, I've seen 'The Empire Strikes Back' far too many times. Personally, I blame George Lucas for constantly putting out newly redigitised digitised remastered mastered versions and then using the Force, or marketing as it's also known, to make me crave them like some saddo fanboy.

Anyway, I digress. So, sitting in a bar in North London tapping my fingers and nervously studying the crowd until in walks 5'5"/5'6" girl with long dark hair who waves at me was kind of a freaky way to begin date night, which is kind of like fright night, but with less death. I explained all of this to Susan.

"Oh that wasn't such a good start, was she scary or psycho Sara?"
"Not sure, she was all hippy chick, you know, big into the candles and aromatherapy. It did all kind of put me on edge, but I did that thing of opening my mouth and speaking without quality checking the words that were leaving."
"Oh dear, you don't mean you told her that she looked exactly like several ex-girlfriends?"
"Actually that's exactly what I mean."

I swear I am usually quite good at checking the words that come out of my mouth, but you know what it's like, it doesn't matter how many dates you have been on the whole slightly nervous (followed by slightly drunk thing) always seems to kick in. No? OK, it's just me then, but really, I'm fine with that. It was literally the first thing that I blurted out.

"And how did she take it?"
"Well apparently, the phrase 'you look exactly like two people I dated disastrously' isn't what every women wants to hear on a date."
"Who would have guessed," Susan quips.
"I know, that's what I thought."
"You're really going to have to work on the whole talking bit."
"You know, sadly I think you're right, that wasn't even the worst part."
"The worst part? Oh dear, you didn't manage to work 'Star Wars' into the conversation did you?"

Susan makes it sound like I do this all the time, I swear I don't. I just can't help myself sprinkling conversation with mentions of iconic cultural stuff... or something. OK, Yoda was the worst part, but who was to know someone would get so offended being compared with Yoda. He might be small and green, but the guy talks backwards, I mean come on, how cool is that.

Sara number three, who had yet to turn into Sara number one or two, was not particularly impressed with how things were going. Having at the start really said too much, I had now swung dangerously the other way and was saying rather too little.

"You know that considering this is a date, you're not really saying all that much."
"Yeah, I know, funny thing is, usually it's pretty hard to shut me up, it's like if I were a superhero, my special power would in fact be talking too much."
"As super powers go, I have to tell you -- not so hot."
"True."
"So what's the problem?"
"Well, to be honest, I'm having trouble suppressing the fear that you might be about to exhibit some pushy-kinky slash psycho-disturbed behaviour."
"Kinky? You've got your hopes up."
"Yeah... that didn't quite come out right. Really, I'm very conservative."
"You mean you think I might be just like someone you've already dated. Someone kinky?"
"Or disturbed," I said brightly.

In retrospect, possibly too brightly.

"You say that like it's a good thing. I thought your aura looked a bit fuzzy."
"My aura?"
"Yeah, you look like you're kind of unbalanced, you need more balance in your life."
"It's spooky, but you kind of sound like Yoda."
"Yoda, but he's small and green and talks backwards."
"I know, but how cool is that."
"I've got it, you're one of those really sad types that has seen 'Star Wars' movies like a zillion plus times. My ex-boyfriend was just like you. He had the complete collection of 'Babylon Five' and 'Farscape'. He watched them constantly."

I did try and put her straight. I never watched either 'Babylon Five' or 'Farscape', and so was really no where near as sad as said former boyfriend, but really it was all kind of over by this stage.

"So that was it?" Susan asks.
"Well not really, she did say that I should under no circumstances whatsoever feel obliged to call her or contact her again."
"Oh dear."
"I know, but really, I like really clear instructions when it comes to post-date follow-ups. It can lead to misunderstandings."
"Gord, those aren't misunderstandings, those are just desperate measures on your part."
"Oh thanks.

I swear, Susan can be so harsh sometimes.

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 39

Families are terrible things. Mine just will not leave me alone. This time it's my sister. She's twisted my arm and I'm going on a blind date.

She's tried before and I have skilfully managed to evade the set-up. I even got the T-shirt "Just say no to charity dating".

I swear my sister is insane. Last time, she said she knew a girl who was totally perfect, she worked in TV, and I simply had to go out with her. This was very far from the truth. There were several huge problems.

I knew there was something she was not telling me.

"You're holding out on me, I can just tell."
"Of course I'm not, this girl is wonderful. She's ideal for you. I know you would get on fantastically. All you have to do is say yes, you'll go out with her."

It sounded far too easy, which to be honest has never been my experience when it comes to dating.

"Just say yes? I have a great deal of trouble with that word. No problem with the word 'no', but yes," I scratched my thin layer of stubble, "I'm not so sure."
"OK, her ex-boyfriend was a male model."
"Are you serious? That's insane. I can't go out with someone who recently dated a male model."
"Look, she's really very nice, and she isn't all about looks."

That is, of course, such a lie. People who date models always say that. Apart from other models, I guess, when it can't really be about anything else.

I mean could you imagine it? I know just what it would be like. She would be all "oh your stomach is not as flat as Tarquin's " or "your hair is not quite as shiny", but let’s face it, the whole time she would really be thinking "you're nowhere near as good-looking as Tarquin".

And the worst thing is you would be able to read it. I mean, come on, it would be all over her face.

"Gordon, she is really good looking."
"Really, are you sure?"
"Oh absolutely."

I scratched my stubble again, there had to be something else.

"OK, there's something else, I know it. I can feel it and the force is never wrong on these kind of things."
"You watch too much 'Star Wars'."
"True, but what kind I say, I'm on a permanent trip to recapture key childhood moments."
"Oh really."
"So tell me, what is it?"

My sister sighed down the line, I swore I could almost hear her cross her arms down the line.

"OK…she's German."

Oh, I knew it. I can't go out with a German, I make really politically incorrect jokes about the war. I'd be performing my favourite skit from 'Fawlty Towers' before we'd even sat down. It simply would not be fair on the German concerned to have to date me.

"Are you insane? You know I'm always making really bad jokes at the expense of Germans. I even talk to myself in a bad German accent when I lose things."
"I know, I just didn't want to tell you. I thought it would have been a surprise."
"Shock is the word you are looking for sister dear. So the answer is no. It would be completely unfair on Gerta or whatever her name is."
"It's not Gerta, German's aren't called Gerta, you made that up. Her name is Martha."

This time my sister called me really late, earlier in the week. After 20 minutes of trying to get rid of her I agreed to go... well kind of after she had agreed a forfeit -- oh come on it seemed only fair.

Surprise, this girl is "totally perfect".

"You'll really like this one, I promise."
"I want a money-back guarantee."
"You want what?"
"If it's a disaster, mismatch, I want dinner at restaurant of my choosing and at your expense."

My sister ummed and ahhed down the line, but I knew she had already suggested the idea to said girl and that she would fold like a really foldable thing.

"OK, but really I can tell you, not even you can fail to have a good time. She's a Sara."
"Hey, that's an improvement on Gerta, that's a start."
"She wasn't called Gerta, anyway you're so ungrateful."
"Hey, you're the one calling me, Ms Pushy blind-date setter upper. What else?"
"Well she can horse ride..."
"I didn't think I would ever hear myself say this 10 years ago, but a definite plus, what else?"

There was another pause. Pauses in my view, are rarely good.

"Well… she works in the City."

In the City, that's insane, I can't go out with someone who works in the City, all the capitalism and greed and…oh really is that so bad!

"The City…"
"Don't even think about it, I've already said I'll buy you dinner."
"OK, I'll go."