Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 63

I wouldn't even bother mentioning this again...but, anyway, more on the lesbian front. I swear this is not my fault.

I took a small road trip to outside Sheffield and back with my friend David on Tuesday. As we swept along the M1 he was updating me on his recent exploits at the V-Festival (his festival highlights? Oasis and the Kaiser Chiefs), which seemed to involve collecting too many phone numbers for one man to deal with.

"Explain that bit again? How you got all those phone numbers?"
"Gordon, I spoke to them."
"Right! I'll remember that."

Anyway, David was also telling me about his friend MJ. Apparently, she's super cute (is that a phrase?), he has a bit of a thing for her and she has asked him to drop by later in the week.

Sounds cool, right? Well it would be apart from the fact that MJ swings both ways. That's right folks, left and right, and currently she’s swinging the girl kind of way.

I wasn't even going to go anywhere near this subject again, but after last week's post I got an email from an angry anonymous lesbian. Who would have guessed, lesbians are angry? I know, what’s that about? Boy, I'm really asking for it now.

This is what the angry anonymous lesbian (AAL) emailed me:

"As a lesbian myself, I find your blog both insulting and ignorant. Why write on subjects of which you know nothing about purely so you can have something to say? Less is more applies to verbosity..."

Harsh, right? Especially with all the dot dot dotting. I never said that I knew anything about lesbians. Honest. Other than the fact that I once went on a date with one and had an email from another one, which has earned the ire of AAL who decided to vent her spleen.

I digress, I was telling David about AAL when he started telling me about MJ. MJ currently has a girlfriend. A girlfriend who is a bit butch.

"When I first met her, she had a boyfriend, but dropped him for this kind of tough looking lesbian, who she’s still with, what’s with that?"

Me? I have absolutely no idea, she (women in general) move in mysterious ways. The thing is that MJ's girlfriend gets very pissed when you mentioned the ex-boyfriend. Kind of like AAL with me for talking about lesbians dating men.

"You know why the butch girlfriend gets pissed off don't you?" David says.
"I have my theory," I tell him, "Could it be anything to do with the fact that she's worried that her lipstick lesbian girlfriend might one day wonder across the gender divide and start dating men again?"
"Exactly, and you would be pissed off too, if you happened to be her current girlfriend."

Of course I would, but I wouldn’t take it out on some random blogger. You see AAL it's not my fault that some lesbians/lipstick lesbians, you know, swing both ways and want to date men. IT'S A FREE WORLD. You know, kind of, more or less, military industrial complex aside, but I don’t think I have time to deal with that one this week. Stay tuned though, I'll get to it in the end.

Ask me if I think that happens much, then despite it being a recurring male fantasy I’d say probably not. In fact, I’m with Kevin Smith ('Clerks', 'Mall Rats', 'Chasing Amy' et cet) on this. He was asked one time at an event why he had never made a science fiction movie. Good question. He replied he had. Pause for the punch line.

He joked his science fiction flick was in fact 'Chasing Amy' where Ben Affleck pursues, wins and loses a cute lesbian (who has an equally cute girlfriend at the time).

"A science fiction movie? I don't know. I think I have made one already... Chasing Amy. Because you go ask any lesbian, that'll never happen. Even if, and probably especially because, the dude is Ben fucking Affleck."

In the movie the sisters are mighty pissed to have lost a member of the sisterhood to the dark side, even if it is only temporarily.

I like that movie. I like it a lot. Seriously, I really do. What can I say? I have always been a big fan of science fiction.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 62

This whole internet dating thing is really something of a challenge in so many ways. For instance, I get a message from a lesbian who seems to have had a change of heart.

"Hi, I live in Islington and keen to meet so name your spot."

It's short and to the point. I like the no time wasting part as, really, despite the whole digital nature of online dating, it takes a lot of time. To be honest, she doesn't look half bad. So I read some more.

"I have been with women for many years & now would like to explore my sexuality with men...."

Mmmm, to be honest, it's at this point I start to wonder, if really I'm her man. To best honest, while like a lot of straight men I put down lesbians as an interest on my CV along with breathing and alcohol, I'm not sure our mutual interest in things Sapphic would naturally dovetail.

"You must be open, honest, solvent & a beautiful person. A bisexual man may be appropriate."

I almost choke on my beverage of choice at this moment. There's no way I am going to be able to get my head around the whole 'bisexual' requirement. After reading that little bit, I really know I am going to have to postpone our meeting. She obviously did not check me out properly before jumping straight in, you know, so to speak with her offer.

I consider briefly emailing her back and telling her that I have previous experience of dating lesbians and really the results were not what I had hoped for. Besides, I'm as straight a they come, Nelson's Column straight, pool cue straight, straight eight straight, that kind of straight.

Speaking of pool cues, I go on another date with a BBC type, and we play woozy afternoon pool supported by beers, which has various kinds of affects on our mutual ability to shoot straight.

***

The first game is over quite swiftly, the subsequent ones take longer and longer. By the last game, I pray for someone to pot the black before I age anymore.

It is a sort of quite pleasant way to spend the afternoon on any occasion, even though there is zip attraction on my part. Besides I win. I'm not fussy, what with my limited pool skills, so beating girls is as good as beating anyone else so to speak.

There was a slight.discrepancy in that the said girl started the afternoon at the grand age of 30 but had later graduated to 34. Personally, it had no impact either way. It was just curious.

Apparently, this is not uncommon, you know, so I head, when it comes to this sort of thing. For instance, I get another message that deals with just this subject.

"Hey, liked your profile, I did think of knocking a couple of years off my age, but then I thought what's the point? Anyway, hope to hear from you. Claire."

Age is a sensitive thing, but I'm not sure men approach it in quite the same way. It seems to me that there is possibly a slightly greater pressure on women, which might have something to do with biological clocks, the loud and off-putting ticking sounds, and the pressure women feel related to that.

I ask Susan if she has done this age thing during her internet dating adventures. She's coy, which is a stark admission of guilt of some sort.

"Suze, really, I didn't think you would have gone in for that kind of thing."
"Huh."
"Seriously, I saw you more as a straight up kind of girl."
"Straight up kind of girl? What is this - a 1930s romantic comedy? Are you going to call me kiddo and tell me to keep your chin up?"
"Would that help?"
"No, but anyway, I didn't go in for it."
"Come on, I don't think you're telling me the whole truth."
"Okay, I considered it, but for maybe a nanosecond or so."
"A nanosecond?"
"Okay, a couple of days, but then I swiftly rejected it as an ultimately humiliating descent bowing to the twisted and sexist prejudices of men who I am supposed to want to date."

That's what I like about Susan. Sometimes she just doesn't hold back.

"Okay..."
"Besides, I wasn't going to knock anything as large as four years off, that's really pushing the boat out. I was thinking maybe two. I could get away with two, do you think?"
"Suze, I'm sure you could get away with at least four if you wanted to."
"I know, I thought that too, but then the dark thought entered my mind."
"The dark thought? No one said there would be dark thoughts."
"Yes, the moment of darkness when you have to admit that thing you told them was in fact a lie, at which point they lose all respect for you and dump you even though they had been perfectly happy until five minutes before said admission."
"So why tell the lie in the first place?"
"Gord, it's obvious - if you don't tell it in the first place then they won't actually go out with you as you, as they - as in men - only want to date women a number of years younger than themselves."
"I feel I should apologise or something."
"Of course you should apologise, you're partly to blame. Dating is so harsh."

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 61

I've been wondering how to get myself arrested for quite a time. I've finally found the perfect solution. It's total genius, you know, give or take. Welcome to the world of Impulsedating.com.

It's hard to keep up with all the dating fads. I guess that is why they call it an industry. The latest is a site set up by one Marcus Warry. I know, is that a joke? You know, like, be wary? Mmm, possibly not.

I've digressed even before I really got going. You know what the idea is. This is how it works. You see this girl, she's kind of pretty, but you don't know how to approach her. Here's the solution: you hand her this card that carries details of your dating profile, allowing her to log on to the site and potentially get in touch. Potentially, of course. Me? I plan to get thousands.

It's kind of, as Warry puts it, romance at a "single glance or a cheeky wink". Personally, I've never been any good with cheeky winks, I think that's where the arrestable bit comes in.

Warry's not the only one at it. There are other such sites kicking about as well. One being wasthatyou.net, which has a similar modus operandi.

Pretty much as soon as I heard about Impulsedating.com I had to make a call and ring my friend Adam. I knew this was absolutely perfect for him. I do, of course, mean would have been perfect, if he didn't already have a girlfriend.

"Dude, this would have been perfect for you. It's right up your street, you know, so to speak. You get these cards and you give them to random women."
"Random women?"
"Well, more random women you see who you fancy, as opposed to random women in general."
"Go away."
"OK, but keep this in mind in case..."

Hmmm. With that he hangs up, I swear people are so touchy, but really it would have been just like that time before Christmas when he strolled into the pub late one Friday night with this rather attractive looking brunette girl in tow. Everyone, including the women, gave her a once over with the respective "not bad" or "bitch" thoughts subsequently percolating the ether.

It turned out he had just met her like three stops back on the bus. OK, it might have been four, but really you have to respect workmanship like that. It would have been an ideal moment for such cards to come into play... you know if he had not already persuaded her to join us in our favourite and much praised local.


 Posted by PicasaThe Salisbury

I'm thinking he could do wonders with impulse dating cards. For myself, I am less sure. Some people are bound to be better suited to this than others. I would no doubt forget the cards or simply forget to go over or something, if previous experience is anything to go by and it usually is.

"Like that one time at band camp..." or at least a long time ago when I crashed and burned, but at least I managed to get some cash out of it. I should, of course, explain.

It was years ago when I was a post-grad student doing some work experience in London. I caught the Tube everyday for a couple of weeks and for three days in a row I was on the same carriage as this attractive girl. The fact that this so rarely happens IRL is: 1) perhaps why it's easy to remember; and 2) part of the reason that it's difficult to remember to do anything about it -- in an "oh wait, this is actually happening to me now" kind of way.

Anyway, we exchanged smiles a couple of times, she was reading Truman Capote, who of course everyone should have read at least something by, and that's it. After three days, when she got off at Baker Street for the last time, I never saw her again. It was like the fourth day got cut out of the programme.

What I did instead was write a short story and sell it to a women's magazine. Of course, the story ends slightly differently, where the narrator drops a note into the lap of the "Baker Street Girl". Exactly as I had thought about doing and never got around to, but then that's the difference between fact and fiction.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 60

News just in. Apparently women have had it with metrosexual men, now they want retrosexuals instead. I know, it's all deeply confusing.

It took ages to get the whole moisturiser and talk about your feelings thing straight, you know, more or less, and now it seems retrosexual man is what women want.

What do you mean you don't know what retrosexual man is? OK, I have to admit when I first saw this I kind of scratched my head before working it out.

Retrosexual is basically throwback man, epitomised by the likes of Russell Crowe and Mickey Rourke, who are really just pale imitators of the original brand of womanising drinkers and bar-room fighters like Oliver Reed and Richards Harris and Burton.

Apparently women are fed up with all the moisturising and male grooming-obsessed metrosexuals worried about their wrinkles and younger faster better skin toned counter parts coming up behind them at . The situation is so bad that Maxim magazine in the US last month warned that if men become any more feminised, they are in danger of dying out altogether. Altogether? That sounds harsh.

According to Maxim, men are suffering from a deadly condition called , give me a break.

Funnily enough, I had a small incident at the weekend where, upon buying a male grooming product (okay a simple bogstandard moisturizer, the sales assistant engaged me in conversation about its effects.

"How do you find this?"
"Er..."

It was the best I could do along with dropping my jaw, which helped accentuate my inability to speak.

"I find it a bit tacky? Poor absorption."
"It's not tooooo sticky," I said.
"Maybe I'll give it another go."
"Yeah, I should have said this wasn't for me."
"Next time," she quipped with a smile.

First, when did sales women get so chatty? I'm against it. I want to say it now. I expect disinterested surliness when shopping in London. I am sure I'm not alone in this. I get completely thrown by anything else as you can witness.

But it isn't just the chatty thing, of course, it is the general desire to not really talk about male grooming. Straight men/blokes/guys do not generally sit around and discuss these things in the pub, like women who swap tips with each other and discuss the merits of different brands.

I always wondered why this was and came up with a number of reasons that it is not such a big part of men's lives, it's a [relatively] new subject for men and there's a slight embarrassment and lack of comfort talking about it, this side of the Atlantic at least.

But retrosexual man? Can it really be true? I asked Susan who is a great barometer of all such things.

"Of course it's true, you spend too long in the bathroom."
"That's simply not true, I'm literally in and out of the bathroom."
"Oh lies and damn lies, I've been left waiting and you have some vague excuse, but I know the truth is you spent an extra 20 minutes in the bathroom."
"No way, I'm Wash & Go guy."
"No Gord, you're meant to be like the Wash & Go ad, but the truth is you're still mucking around in the bathroom checking you've applied enough moisturiser."
"So you're saying this is why women want Russell Crowe?"
"Yes, Russell doesn't spend time in the bathroom, he's out beating up people in the bar."
"I know, but they are usually smaller and weedier than him, so really not a good ad for retrosexual."

See I had her there, you know, more or less.

"OK, the truth is who wants a boyfriend who has better skin than you do? It's kind of insulting."
"Insulting, how can that possibly be?"
"We've spent years working at it and along come these guys who are all about seaweed facemask and aloe and vitamin E moisturiser. Looking shiner than we do. It's not on."
"Really you should stamp your foot or something."
"Any second, just give me a moment."
"So really, you're saying it's about unwanted competition?"
"Of course, and having to wait for the bathroom, which I should add is a crime."

OK somehow "mantropy" be damned, there's no going back, I'm not going to reveal any more personal male grooming facts (that would be just plain weird), but who has time for all the retrosexualness? The drinking and a fighting it all takes time, besides it can get messy.

I'm sure I have something more to say about this, but my Ashtanga class starts in five minutes.

***

Image wise though, I must be sending out the wrong signals. From the world of online dating I got another message. Woman concerned was holding her pet rat up to her face. I've just got no idea what that says, you know, about anything.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 59

Online dating is apparently all the rage, with more and more people turning to it. I've tried hard to avoid this subject, but really there seems to be no way around it.

According to the Online Dating Survey from Nielsen//NetRatings one in three surfers now use the net to meet people, but apparently not entirely willingly, because one of the most interesting things the research said was that there was a bit of a "social stigma" about the whole process that stops people admitting that they've done it. It's like a dirty secret that people don't like owning up to, but the numbers speak for themselves with three-and-a-half million people a month doing it in the UK.

I know loads of people who've done it, one who met someone, but most seem to say its really more miss than hit. I did my usual pub-based research and the overwhelming feeling from those who have tried is that, while it sounds like a great idea, the reality is not so cool.

As always, Susan is full of top dating advice.

"It's full of crazy foreign women, they drive you insane with their strange tics and erratic behaviour," Adam says.
"Well, really Adam, you should stop dating them."
"Stop? What kind of talk is that? We would have nothing to talk about," I say.
"Hey, what can I say, they have the best pictures."
"But all I've found is that people look absolutely nothing like their photos, they're artist impressions, very very flattering artist," Susan says.
"I like the emailing, but really..." Rachel says.
"That's the only bit that's any good. I think I could live without the rest. The email thing is really quite nice. Sort of like flirty electronic popularity, but then...."
"Suze you sure? Flirty electronic popularity?" I say.
"What you mean, you didn't find it like that?" Susan asks.
"You know, now that you mention it..."

See I should come clean, I did give it a go. Hey, I've tried everything else (plate smashing, blind dating and dating lesbians) and, well, I have a slight affinity for the online thing. I did say slight, right.

I put a profile up on a site earlier this year and then waited a bit. To be honest -- you've seen my picture, it's not enormously flattering -- I wasn't actually expecting much, but as a testimony to how many people are actually doing it, I got quite a lot.

They ranged from the quite genuine who weren't really quite my type (research still ongoing) to the inappropriate who lived in bizarre places, I don't mean South London, I mean like Oxfordshire and Lithuania. I've posted a few here for your amusement.

Anyway, I sort of digress. I went on a few dates and really the biggest thing is, which is borne out by the survey, that people really don't tell the truth. To be honest, they're kind of allergic to it. I've had my wrist slapped for saying it's just the women, but apparently some men doing the online dating game are just as bad.

Susan, for instance, has met up with guys who had no hair.

"It was gone. He had lots of hair in his picture, that's just trade description act misleading."

And those who had put on a few pounds.

"Actually can I rephrase that, a few pounds is being kind. I mean stone."

And of course, those who had gained a few years.

"How do you go from being 32 to 42?"
"Is that a trick question?"
"No."
"Maybe it was a typo?"
"No it wasn't a typo, he just said that 32 sounded better."
"Well..."
"Gord that's not the point, I like the sound of 32, but," and she over turns her palms, "but I don't say I'm 32 as that would be cheating."
"Cheating? I think you mean dishonest."

A third of people own up to lying in the research, but while men are more likely to use a photograph taken in the last 12 months and to tell the truth. Women, are apparently more creative with the truth.

But, hey, F Scott Fitzgerald was kind of right when he wrote in 'Gatsby' that "dishonesty in women is a thing that you never blame deeply". It's true, men are willing to let it slide, particularly if the women concerned happen to be interesting enough or pretty enough. I'm not entirely sure what that says about men.

The four dates I went on were all like this and all miss, miss, miss and miss. On paper they all sounded fine, but it turns out there is something of a gap between paper and real life. Who would have guessed.

Two were totally forgettable, one in a kind of pleasant way and the other, well, really had been creative with the truth when she wrote slim because she was like a beach ball. An Olympic beach ball.

Then there was the beauty journalist for a Sunday newspaper. Dressed in a Sarah Jessica Parker-style tutu last seen in 'Sex and the City' opening credits... just sort of stretched a bit and not quite covering up all the necessary flesh. She was kind of like a mad tinkerbell, who was convinced she was being stalked by... actually I couldn't quite work that out in my rush to leave.

I think it must be a prerequisite that you have to meet a least one archetypal Bridget (yes, I'm aware of the irony, and the pot-kettle-kettle-black overtones here), who was all blondeness, white wine and Silk Cuts. This one worked for a top 10 ad agency in new business and was not really in favour of fast exits.

"You're going?"
"Er, you know I thought I might," I said.
"But you've only had one drink?"
"True, but..."

So we had another drink. We talked shop. Actually, I realised I know nothing at all about shops.