Matchmakers-An Adam Goes Dating Adventure

Now and again, as long-time readers/sufferers will know, I get it into my head that I should try dating. Yes, I will feel like a massive fraud due to the whole Asexuality thing and yes, I know deep down that it will probably come to nothing, but sometimes I really want someone to come home to at the end of the day. Someone I can talk to, offer support to, make stupid comments about TV shows with. That sort of thing. So I try Dating, having apparently not learned a fucking thing since my last attempt at hitting the scene.

Recently, I came across a website which claimed to be able to set people up on lunch dates. It sounded pretty good. The people running the site would contact me, ask me a series of questions, and then set me up on guaranteed dates with people I would be compatible with. So far, so good. I entered my details and I waited.

A few days later, someone from Florida contacted me. The Website, she told me, was based in Fort Lauderdale but had offices all over the world. Which, okay. Fine. I was willing to buy that.

She asked me a few questions. What types of dating had I tried, why I had chosen that service. It wasn’t as in-depth as I thought it would be, but I was willing to roll with it.

She said that I was a very promising candidate (good) who seemed ready for a relationship (I’m tired, guys, insert your own joke here) and would probably benefit from taking the full interview and becoming a member. All membership would cost me was, and I quote, “Two Thousand British Pounds.”

Yep. 2 with three zeroes. Which, after I managed to regain consciousness, struck me as rather steep.

This was my first brush with the Matchmaking industry. Matchmaking is an old business, with religious practitioners such as the Jewish Shadchan or Hindu Astrologers arranging marriage pacts for hundreds of years. Matchmakers exist all over the world, with several major competing agencies in the UK. Their goal is to find their clients the perfect partner, and what separates professional Matchmakers from Zookeepers who shove two Pandas in a room while hoping for the best is a rather hefty price tag. Any service subscription around £800 is considered relatively cheap.

I did not know this, which is why I almost dropped my phone and forgot how to breathe momentarily. But while I had to turn my Floridian Contact down, something positive came from the experience.

For the first time, someone said I was ready for a relationship.

I am perfectly aware that this was probably sales patter, but hearing that I could probably maintain a healthy relationship with anyone is a pretty big deal for me. I have never really handled having crushes on people well. I get obsessive, I get incredibly sad and depressed when the ol’ inferiority complex flares up, I have never once liked someone who is single. That last one is a therapy session all on its own. The bottom line is that I have never been emotionally mature and healthy enough to be there for a hypothetical partner, and hearing that I not only might be but also that someone, somewhere, might be looking for someone like me is a confidence boost. And I would be stupid not to take it.

Still though. Two thousand pounds. If I spent that much on what is essentially a Dating App, my Family would disown me. And they would be correct to do so.

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On Headphones

I listen to a lot of music. Music and Podcasts, although I mainly listen to Podcasts at work because they are usually far more interesting than what I am supposed to be doing. Nine times out of ten if you see me outside my flat then chances are I’ll have my earbuds in. It’s not so much that I need to have a constant soundtrack to my life; it’s more a sensory thing. The world can be loud and harsh, and while some songs on my phone are not in any way calming, listening to them allows me to create a barrier of sorts between myself and the aforementioned loud, harsh, migraine and panic-inducing world.

A couple of the Counsellors that I have seen over the years have actually encouraged me to create a “bubble” around myself whenever things get too overwhelming. Whenever I feel the panic setting in, I am expected to push everything to arm’s length and pretend I’m surrounded by a force field which I can lower. I do. I put my earbuds in, my shield up, and only lower it to one thing at a time. Which is a good thing to do if things become too overwhelming, and as long as the music is playing, I am able to attack problems out in the world in sections rather than a confusing, swirling mass.

It’s not perfect. Sometimes I worry I’ve gotten too reliant on my force field. I like being in my own little bubble where I can only see and hear the things I want to see, and that is no way to live your life. But when every time you lower your shield and open your mouth you make things worse….maybe I need practice. Maybe the more I talk, the fewer mistakes I’ll make. Maybe I’ll be waiting so long for the right time to pop the bubble, I’ll miss it entirely.

Well, that took a turn. As a reward for sitting through whatever that was, here is a playlist for when you are walking and trying to sort your thoughts.

ALL MY HEROES-Bleachers

POP THIEVES (MAKE IT FEEL GOOD)-Childish Gambino feat Jaden Smith

THE BENDS-Doomtree

PEOPLE HELP THE PEOPLE-Birdy

MERCENARY-Panic! At the Disco

IN-Riverdale Cast

THE LAST OF THE REAL ONES-Fall Out Boy

TRUE-Jaimeson and Angel Blue

FUERZA-Tony Quattro feat. Nani Castle

BatPenis (or You say Circumcised, I say Uncircumcised, let’s call the whole thing off.)

Four days ago, history was made when Batman showed the world his Penis.

Here it is.

DC Comics has already been quick to assure fans that all future copies of Batman: Damned will have the bat-wang edited out of them. But despite their assurances that this is an out-of-continuity story and that there will be no mention of Batman having any kind of genitalia in the main Comic series, movies or films, there are still issues that need to be addressed.

The most prominent issue is that Batman appears to be circumcised. Which is fair enough-Batman is ostensibly American, and in the USA the majority of men-a whopping 80%-are circumcised, so it stands to reason that Thomas and Martha Wayne found the time to get their son cut. It does, however, make you wonder how many other superheroes are circumcised and how US audiences view men who for whatever reason still have a foreskin.

So I went looking.

My first query made to Google-“Do Women Care if you are Circumcised or Uncircumcised”-gave me mixed results. It seemed that for every woman who preferred a penis with a turtleneck,there was one who thought having a foreskin was smelly and gross. My second-“Do Men care if you are Circumcised or Uncircumcised”-told me that there are virtually no health benefits for Gay Men getting circumcised and very little protection in terms of HIV. Which was depressing, but didn’t really tell me anything about whether men preferred partners to be cut or not.

It was then I realised that I had been writing the word “Circumcised” more times than was probably necessary. Surely all bodies, Male, female or beyond the binary are beautiful in their own special way? Of course they fucking aren’t. Don’t be stupid. But they are the only bodies we get, so we might as well try to accept them for what they are. And if that means you are one of the two-thirds of all men on Earth who still have a bit of a hat on top of your John Thomas, then that is something you have to learn to live with. It’s not like there are multiple clinics which are willing to perform the procedure on adults under local anaesthetic for a nominal fee. Don’t be daft.

With that out of they way, I sat down and tried to figure out which superheroes were circumcised. And the answer? Probably all of the major ones, with a few exceptions. Superman, Thor, Black Panther, Quicksilver and the X-Men’s Nightcrawler and Colossus were all born outside the United States, and the first three came from civilisations and cultures that were advanced enough to know that going for a baby’s penis with a razor never ends well.

My internet search history would raise more than a few eyebrows and the body dysmorphia that was a key aspect of that time I had Anorexia briefly returned, but it was worth it to find out that while there are a significant number of women and men who care that you might have a foreskin, it is not a dealbreaker as long as you keep things clean. Plus, there are at least six superheroes that still have a foreskin and all of them have been featured prominently in films. So there is that. Yay representation!

Why does everything have to be IMPORTANT now?

It is only natural for artists of any kind to place a message in their work. Everything from renaissance paintings to episodes of the original series of Star Trek contain deeper meanings about feminism, the folly of war, and the dangers of totalitarian government to name but a few. However, the art came first. The writers, directors, musicians and artists of yesteryear knew on some level that their best work was intended for everyone. Yes, they were political. Yes, they were progressive. Yes, they came out strongly against philosophies Nazism and Communism in times of war. But they very rarely turned their creations into lectures.

Over the past decade or so-although much more prominently since 2016, the year of the global gas leak-it seems that every other work of media is a Very Special Episode. Very Special Episodes, for those unaware, is a term used to describe an episode of a Television show which deals with difficult or controversial issues. Drugs, gun violence, that sort of thing. Normally the audience could count on the show they were watching to deal with the moral issue at hand and then return to normal within the space of thirty to forty-five minutes.

This is not the case anymore, and it is not limited to TV. Comics, Books, Movies and even Computer Games have to deal with serious weighty issues to be considered legitimate. The parts of media that already dealt with quite serious social issues-such as X-Men comics and Doctor Who-are lambasted for not doing enough, and are either dying out or forced to become embarrassingly right-on in order to appease the righteous indignation Twitter Brigade. It is not uncommon for the Bad Guys in any form of media to claim that they are Making Something Great Again, and every team of good guys are meant to be the plucky, diverse resistance against a terrible regime.

And we get it, okay? We fucking get it. Trump is bad. Patriarchy is bad. Anyone who shows even the slightest deviation in thought or behaviour is probably Evil, and does not deserve to be treated like a Human Being ever, ever again. WE FUCKING GET IT.

I want to be able to live in a world where you are free to express doubts about the new series of Doctor Who without being labelled a misogynist. I would like to live in a world where I could read a YA novel and not see the words “Old White Dude”. I would like not to have to read one more fawning article about how a certain movie is striking a blow for civil rights. I would like to be able to go on social media and not be bombarded with posts and links from people who are desperately trying to convince everyone else that they are one of the good guys. I mean, that probably won’t happen. But it would be nice.

Robots are obsessed with Fuckin’

If, like me, you’ve ever used a Dating App you will know that not everyone is who they claim to be. A man claiming to be an “Artist” is just another way of saying that man is “unemployed”. A woman who posts a group shot as their profile pic is most likely not even in the photo to begin with. Someone who claims to be an “Entrepreneur” is another way of saying that this person is unemployed, with about sixty crates of Juice Plus tablets that they will try to sell you on the first date with all the manic energy of a person who knows they will lose their thumbs if they fail to meet their targets.

Then you have the people who aren’t actually people at all. It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that in a world of Twitter Bots and Russians there are fake automated Dating Profiles set up in order to lure in the unwary and horny. The trick, of course, is knowing how to spot them.

Recently, I went back to my Dating Website of Choice in order to see if I had any likes and was pleasantly surprised that someone had messaged me. I responded, apologising for taking so long to reply and enquiring after her general well-being. This turned out to be surprisingly seductive, as my new match’s replies quickly became somewhat explicit. (I won’t go into any further detail on the off-chance this woman I was talking to is a human being who clearly does not believe in wasting time.) I responded in vague terms-“I don’t know”, “That’s kind of flattering”, “I’m not sure what that is, if I’m honest”-until I tried to get out of the conversation, at which point the Match told me that she really enjoyed talking to me and sent me a link where we could continue “in private”.

Smelled a rat yet? Me too. Hand on heart, who honestly enjoys talking to me? It’s pretty clear that this would not have ended well if I clicked on the link. At best I would have ended up in some sort of Westworld situation with a vengeful sex robot, and that just seems like a lot of hassle.

I managed to avoid giving my debit card details to a shady organisation pretending to be someone who might be into me, but it pays to remember a few helpful tips about protecting yourself from machine-powered heartbreak. Tips like:

-Avoid links to websites you don’t recognise. If there is more than one X in the address, you probably don’t want it showing up on your search history.

-Check the profile. Is it blank? Does it contain words like Sexxy? Is it listed in a foreign country but is somehow showing as close to you? Tread carefully.

-If they tell you “I am a robot”, that’s probably a big clue that they are a robot.

-If their responses sound like they are copied and pasted from Porn or Fifty Shades, it probably is.

-That above tip is just an example.

-I am not on trial here.

-Like you’ve never been curious, ya judgemental sod.

-If they ask you to test their fidelity, you’ve got an Android.

-If you can’t use the iTunes Store to download apps, you’ve got an Android.

-If they say they like to sit back and recharge, they are probably being literal.

Robot STDs are no joke. Always use a Norton Antivirus. And it is the Man’s responsibility to remember to use it, before you ask.

Inspirational Quotes and Lasagne

I’ve made a lot of mistakes. These range from telling a terrible joke and causing an awkward silence to saying that I was sharing some chips with someone “because I love you”, freaking them out and effectively ending the friendship. I’ve felt horrible about what I’ve done. I’ve developed depression, anorexia, and a habit of writing blogs that Morrissey himself would call self-indulgent because I have taken every single mistake-no matter how large or small-and added it to a massive metaphorical pile of evidence that suggests that I am evil. That I am broken. And the more desperate I got to try to make up for what I may have done in the past, the needier and self-obsessed I got.

I am never going to make things right. Sam will never talk to me again and neither will Kat. I will never be able to win my way into a core group of friends and will actually isolate myself further if I try. And I will never be able to go back in time and fix all the things I think I’ve done. But should I? Am I evil? Have I done anything that is truly that horrible? Or have I blown it up out of proportion, letting myself think what I’ve done is bad because in some perverse way it makes me feel like I am somehow important?

I’m not that special. I’m not a Villain. I’m not on some never ending quest for redemption. I just feel guilty about making some stupid mistakes I made when I was still just a kid, and I’ve punished myself enough. I have nothing to prove.

With that out of the way, let’s have some #INSPIRATION!

The only thing standing between you and your goals is the Figure in the Hooded Sweatshirt, staring at you with eyes as black as coal. Their name is Lesley.

In a world of Tesco Lasagnes, be Marks and Spencer. Slightly more expensive and less likely to contain Horse.

A Lasagne, like a person, is made of layers. You are not just pasta or beef. Although if you are Vegan, you are probably just pasta. Sorry.

The Figure in the Hooded Sweatshirt is in your Kitchen. The Figure in the Hooded Sweatshirt has a jar of Dolmio and some mincemeat. Learn to like where this is heading.

Where is my John Wayne? Where is my Prairie Son? Where is my Happy Ending? They are all eating Dinner. Learn to let go.

The Lasagne recipe on the BBC Good Food Website contains 794 calories. You probably contain much more. Be thankful for what you have.

A letter to a stupid Sixteen Year Old.

Dear Adam

You’re sixteen, and you are dumb. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about; basically everyone your age is dumb. What you should be embarrassed about is the lengths you go to try to hide the fact that you aren’t the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. A large vocabulary-mainly consisting of words that you are only seventy-five per cent sure you know how to pronounce-does not equal intelligence. The sooner you accept that, the easier Sixth Form, and one day University, will be.

I’m writing today to tell you that one day, you will have a breakthrough.

As I write this to you, you’ve already met KS. She is, as far as you are concerned, a miracle. Having never given much thought to girls or boys or even basic socialising before, it came as quite a shock to you to meet someone who you would do literally anything for. She’s beautiful, smart, brave, and gives you quite a shock when she doesn’t reciprocate your feelings. Spoiler alert, I guess.

You handle it poorly. Not in a Love Simon way, but still. Having been told all your life that you are a disappointment and a waste of oxygen, you interpret KS’ polite turning-down as a sign that you are wrong in some way. Broken. Evil. Someone who can never be loved because this one person makes it quite clear that it won’t work.

Armed with the knowledge of your own perceived moral failings, you resolve to try to be better. Be the sort of person someone-translation: someone like KS-could care about. You try. You try so hard. And the harder you try, the more you run, the more you push people away. And the more you push people away, the further down you spiral.

You keep spiralling all the way through University. Despite being desperate not to make the same mistakes, you wind up making the exact same bloody mistakes. You put people on pedestals, you invest way too much emotional energy into someone who actually ends up not liking you very much due to your desperate and needy behaviour. You bend over backwards trying to prove to everyone-these perfect new friends, the ghost of KS-that you can be better. You try being tough. You try to be funny. You try to be vulnerable. You try way too hard and every setback is met with frustration and depression.

The worst of it is that you never let it go. You add every single awkward moment or social misstep to the list of evidence in your head that proves you’re a bad person. You turn it over and over again in your head, always letting it lead you back to KS and how you drove her away. It carries on for years. It drives you down further and further. You stop eating. You almost die at least twice. Let’s make this clear right now, none if this is KS’ fault. You are the one who threw your toys out the pram when you didn’t get your way and invested all your self-worth in the opinion of one person who you don’t speak to for years. This is all on you, buddy. You would do well to remember that.

And here you are. Still alive somehow. You are blessed with a flat, a good job, and people who care for you in spite of everything. So take my advice.

Accept it.

You are a good person. You. Not the characters you feel you have to put on. Everyone can see through that bullshit from three streets away. They will like you more if you be yourself. And if you do what every single person on Earth does and make a mistake, don’t allow that mistake to define you. Like I said-bullshit. Three streets away. Acting all broody and mysterious and repentant is not nearly as cool as you think it is. You don’t have to anyway, so don’t bother.

Remember how lucky you are. Life can be tough, and you’ve got some horrible things in store, but you are strong. You survive. You can get through anything, and you have the means to make the world a better place than where you started. Don’t waste that potential.

Finally, and most importantly-don’t for a second mistake people for Gods. Don’t put them on pedestals, don’t let one person’s opinion colour your perception of yourself. They are just like you, with their own problems and neuroses. Treat them like equals and they will respect you more than if you desperately seek approval that you never feel worthy of.

I wish you could say you stop missing KS. I wish I could say you wouldn’t give anything to see her again. All I can say is that it is pretty fucking stupid to let the past define you and that she would never want you to live the rest of your life in agony. Respect her wishes.

Thanks for reading this.

Adam

Everything you wanted to know about Nitrous Oxide but didn’t care enough to ask.

Hello readers.

We’ve had a lot of fun here over the past couple of weeks, and I promise to go back to writing about Speed Dating and posting rants that are completely devoid of self-awareness very soon. But right now I need to get real. Pull up a chair and prepare to rap with me, because we need to talk about Nitrous Oxide.

Nitrous Oxide (otherwise known as Laughing Gas) is the up-and-coming legal high that everyone is talking about. People have been using N20 to get high since 1819, but recently there has been a sharp rise in people using Laughing Gas in Clubs and by young people under the age of eighteen. In fact, Nitrous is now the fourth most popular drug in the UK. And why wouldn’t it be? Inhaling it gives you a sense of Euphoria and giddiness followed by a mellow relaxation that is punctuated by laughter. It is easy to get hold of providing you are willing to pretend you are a dentist or making whipped cream. It is comparatively safe compared to most other drugs out there-only a handful of deaths over the past forty years and hardly addictive.

The problem is that using it makes you look like a absolute twat.

When I were a lad, Drugs were edgy. They were dangerous. They were cool. You smoked them; injected them; you had the thrill of finding someone with decent Molly and once you had a Dealer, you had a Dealer for life. Nowadays, people seem to think the best way to get a good buzz going is sucking on the end of a balloon. Yes, you can do it anywhere because technically it’s not illegal-but isn’t that somehow worse? To be seen in broad daylight with your lips around the bottom of a children’s party balloon, taking deep breaths and giggling every couple of seconds? It doesn’t make you look hard. It makes you look like a five-year-old who is helping your mum decorate your birthday party.

More than anything, though, I feel sorry for the kids. They will never know the scent of weed drifting out from the small patch of scrubland at the back of the school. Gone are the days where they could try to impress their mates by telling them all about the wicked pills they took in Magaluf or the tab they dropped with their big sister’s uni friends. The Pot Brownie-once a staple of Teen Comedies and Michael Bay movies, the one thing most teenagers could realistically see themselves trying in a couple of years or so will cease to be, replaced by some greasy bloke standing around outside Zens with a pocketful of canisters. Imagine-we now live in a world where the Pot Brownie may go extinct. Let that sink in.

And let us not forget that Nitrous can be dangerous. People have died! Plus, like all drugs, N2O can be cut with other substances. We all know what happens when Laughing Gas is mixed with Helium. One moment everything’s normal. The next the poor bastards are doing covers of “Uptown Funk” and causing all sorts of trouble for Dave. At some point it begs the question: is it worth it?

It’s not worth it. It’s never worth it. So the next time someone asks you if you want to try some Laughing Gas, say yes to be polite and look cool, and then throw the canister away when your friend’s backs are turned. Remember: Balloons are not toys. Except when they kind of are. That was a bad example.

And now, I’m Angry.

You aren’t supposed to say you get angry. Or, if you do feel like that, you are only allowed to be angry at certain things. Like Donald Trump, or some ill-advised tweet or some other big abstract thing that you have absolutely no control over but all the same makes a good, socially acceptable target. You aren’t supposed to just be angry with yourself and the world and you certainly aren’t supposed to admit it. Just take a deep breath and count to ten and hope that nobody finds out about that nice collection of Red Flags you have going.

In the past, I’ve been more of a depressive nihilist type than an angry one. Anyone who has met me over the past sixteen years know that there have been explosions-I’ve yelled, I’ve thrown punches, on one occasion I got drunk and attacked a microwave. (I was a terrific flat mate. 10/10 would recommend). These episodes, while incredibly violent and destructive in nature, grew fewer and farther between as I got older and marginally less easier to wind up. Recently, though…

On one level it’s quite nice. Usually after a low period I go for days where I just don’t feel like moving under the crushing waves of guilt, loneliness, despair and other emotions that would make a smashing My Chemical Romance song. That hasn’t happened in a while. Over the past few months it has taken all my self control not to smash something when I am met with the slightest obstacle, and even when I’m not full Hulk, there is still a bubbling, seething feeling of anger just below the surface.

So on another, more relevant level? Fucking scary.

I don’t want to feel like this. I don’t want to scare people or make anyone think I am capable of hurting them. I especially don’t want to be angry at everyone else on some level for being scared of me-why am I always the weird one? Why am I always the creep? Why is NOTHING I DO EVER ENOUGH TO MAKE ME A GOOD PERSON?-because what does that say about me? I have worked hard, I have worked damn hard to prove to everyone that I’ve changed. That I’m not the same entitled prick when it comes to women (and certain men, to be fair). That I am capable of contributing, that I can be part of something without ruining it. This is just reminding me that on some basic level I haven’t changed at all and that…that makes me angry.

Dating: What the hell?

So how do people do it, exactly?

Clicking. A Spark. Whatever. The alleged moment when you like someone enough and they like you back enough to want to be more than friends. It’s presented as this incredibly easy thing-when you know, you know-but in reality it’s a clusterfuck of missed opportunities, amateur attempts at telepathy, and feeling incredibly jealous of the people who have somehow managed to navigate the awkward, sweaty minefield and hooked up with someone long enough to at least rent a flat and buy a cat.

Not that you can admit that you’re jealous, of course. What would be the point of making yourself look weird by admitting that you would like just to have someone to talk to at the end of the day? All that will happen is that you’ll get the “You’ll Find Someone” speech.

If you’ve been single as long as I have, you’ll know all about the “You’ll Find Someone” speech. It almost always takes place in a dark place. A club or a bar at around midnight, when you’ve had a bit to drink and you’ve let slip that you are worried that you are the only person in your friendship group who isn’t standing around awkwardly next to someone or sharing an equally awkward close-mouthed kiss in a photo on Facebook. Once you’ve revealed this information, one of two things will happen. If you are a woman, you’ll get an arm around the shoulders. If you are Male, the person you are talking to will avoid eye contact with you and start scanning the room for possible escape routes. It all leads to the same thing.

“Don’t worry” they will say “You’ll Find Someone. It’s just…you just have to believe in yourself. A bit. And just be patient and…Yeah, things will work out for you. You’ll be fine. Excuse me, I have to go set myself on fire.”

Thanks for that! After a while, you stop sharing this sort of personal information because a) it sounds kind of lame and b) what would be the point? The people you are talking to about this will, like as not, be in long-term relationships themselves (you aren’t going to talk to any single people about this because a part of you will think they have no advice to offer you beyond “if you really must take a photo of your evening meal, make sure you at least have tipped it out of a box and onto a plate”) and be too busy thinking about the rest of their lives to indulge your fears of being eaten by Cats upon your eventual demise. A part of you wants to give up. Another part of you will make you try literally anything to get some of that sweet, sweet external validation.

You will download every app available. You will start talking to people in bars, only to stop when you remember the creepy dude who kept buying you and your friends drinks on the night of your A-Level results. You may even try speed-dating. I myself have attempted this (twice) and my biggest takeaway is that I can turn off any member of the opposite sex in under four minutes. If you want to go to a basement bar and yell at thirty people, none of whom will ever want to see you ever again, go speed-dating.

And all the while you will look at people who have somehow managed to achieve a genuine connection and you think “How?” or “Why?” or “Wasn’t he dating her mate for a while? Christ, that must be awkward.”

You know what? I have a good life. I was born into a position of social privilege in a rich country. I have a job and a home and a support network for my interests. If the worst thing that happens to me is that I’m lonely, that still beats living in a state of constant fear of attack or being deported to a war-torn country where I will probably be executed for being queer. Not everyone gets to be loved in return, and I should just accept the fact and try to be happy with my lot. But it’s just a bit frustrating that there are some people who go through relationships like a knife through butter or have managed to find the love of their lives at the age of sixteen on the way home from school. How do they do it?