Go Speed Dater Go! (Or How to Blow it in under Four Minutes)

Here’s a question: when someone asks you how many people you’ve dated, do you count the ones you’ve met at a Speed Dating night? And how do you get the answer to the person who asked you once you’ve reported them to HR and got them suspended pending a full investigation?

I don’t know. What I do know is that if you have gone through all the time and effort to organise a Speed Dating night, you don’t want me turning up about half an hour early. Oh, sure, you’ll make an attempt to laugh it off and power through, but as you watch me awkwardly sip lemonade at the bar while trying to work out how to fill in my name and contact sheet you will feel the despair gradually fill your body.

And then to add insult to injury some dude with a neck tattoo, round spectacles and a fedora shows up.

A little while back, I decided to give speed dating a go. I had no expectations or hope of a result; I just wanted to do it to a) prove to myself that I could and b) actually do something about the feelings of loneliness that come hand-in-hand with my other stuff rather than just sit at home consumed with self-pity.

Having established that I was half an hour early (I honestly think the dude who organised it almost started crying when the others showed up), let’s move on to the evening itself.

On paper, only having to talk to someone for four minutes might suit me very well. I’m not the most talkative person on Earth, and when I do talk everyone wishes I would shut up. Having a time limit would almost certainly prevent me from saying anything too weird or offensive or start putting myself down and bumming everyone out. And it did, to a degree. But something else happened. Something that is probably worse.

I tried to be funny.

I’m not a funny person. Especially when I’m nervous. Or pensive. Or happy. Or angry. Or hungry. You get the idea. Already a bundle of nerves due to the prospect of meeting new people, I reacted by trying to turn every other sentence into a witty Bon Mot. A casual observer might have thought that a couple of these jokes landed, but come on guys. Come on. There is a difference between genuine laughter and polite laughter. Even I know that and I honestly can’t tell the difference between frustrated, sad or bored on about 30% of people. Which sounds bad, admittedly, but last year this was about 45% of people. Progress!

Anyway. Apart from the questionable attempts at humour-including one incredibly misguided attempt at quoting Anchorman-things went reasonably well. I managed to keep the conversation going and didn’t have to resort to Plan B, a daring escape plan I concocted on the train ride to London which would have almost certainly ended with me committing arson. I didn’t turn up to talk to human women wearing a fedora, so it wasn’t as though I had the biggest or most obvious red flags in the room. And nobody rolled their eyes when I told them I was writing a book, though in their defence they didn’t know me very well.

Like I said before, I have no expectations. If I can go almost three decades without entering a relationship of any kind, I doubt that one night of speed dating will change anything. I’m still the emotional mess who likes Comics and spends most of his time running. But I went out, met new people, and at least tried to be somewhat less of an introverted depressive. So whatever happens, I’m counting it as a win.

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The Short Person’s Guide to attending Parades (or Adam goes to Pride.)

There are a lot of advantages to not being tall. It’s easier to buy clothes. You will never have to duck to enter a room. And you are less likely to get odd looks when attending a showing of the latest Pixar movie, because everyone will assume you are late teens and therefore enjoying The Incredibles 2 ironically.

However, there are certain drawbacks to being shorter than average or even lower-medium height. Take parades. Everyone likes Parades. The music. The pageantry. The way every single supermarket along the route jacks up the price of water and crisps. It’s brilliant. Unfortunately, unless you are at least six feet or over, chances are the best view you’ll get is of the back of someone’s head.

This photo was taken at this year’s London Pride Parade. Now, I know what you’re thinking. How could I, as someone who barely scratches 5’7, (5’69.66, thank you) manage to see anything? Well, fear not, gentle reader. I’m here to share some helpful hints and tips for whenever you next find yourself at Pride-or, for that matter, any parade. Just remember, mind you, these are only suggestions. You could always just ask your taller friends “And then what happened?” over and over again. Tall people love narrating.

Anyway…

1. TIPTOES

We are taught from an early age that standing on tiptoes is strictly for people under the age of five or the quirky best friend in romantic comedies. And this is just plain wrong. If God hadn’t intended us to be able to add at least half an inch to our height just by repositioning our feet, then he would have given us camel feet. Hooves. (Reminder: Google What Camels stand on.) My point is that if you can get taller, then do it. It might be uncomfortable and look a bit weird. But remember-dignity is for the people in the front row.

2.CAMERA PHONES

Let’s look at the picture above again.

This image was taken by someone raising their arm, facing the general direction of the procession, and snapping blindly until he got something useful. And if this goon can do it, you really have no excuse.

3. WATCH THE CROWD

This is not accepting defeat. Yes, you might not be able to see the main procession with it’s floats and Gay Motorcycle Clubs, but half the fun of the parade is the atmosphere. Getting in tune with the crowd. Trying to determine how long it will be before someone falls off the scaffolding that has been erected on the other side of the road and cripple themselves.

Seriously, if you find yourself at a Parade, try to get a spot opposite some scaffolding. There are guaranteed to be at least five or six people who will get drunk and try to climb it to get a better view of what’s going on. I found myself honestly torn at certain points on Saturday-do I watch the parade and try to spot the Asexual representatives, or do I want to try and take bets on how long it will be before the scaffolding collapsed under the weight of at least twenty people who apparently didn’t know what a shirt was? In the end I decided to watch the parade and get some proof that other people like me existed, but I see no reason not to watch people almost cripple themselves if you get bored waiting for the Disney Pride Float to show up. For example.

All joking (?) aside, I did enjoy my first Pride parade. I honestly didn’t know what to expect-I think a part of me thought it would be some sort of Homosexual Freshers Fair/Comic-Con-but I really liked being a part of things. I liked how happy everyone was, I liked feeling seen and valid, and I even liked being in a crowd. If you’ve ever been clubbing with me, you will know that’s a huge deal.

What I also liked is that one of my best friends helped me come to a decision about what to do with my life. For those of you not in the know, I’ve got a job offer pending. I can’t really say what it is online, but what I can tell you is that it is very interesting and will give me a chance to help more people than I’ve ever been able to before. It will be almost as big a change to my life as going to University was. Which means while it is exciting, it’s also big. And scary. And I’ve not been good with big changes so far.

But my friend is right-I’ve been offered an opportunity. A chance to do something good and meaningful. A chance for a proper, grown-up career. A chance to draw a line under all the shit like Anorexia and chasing after people who don’t like me very much and all that frightening, confusing Emo rubbish and..reset. Start the line again at issue one. Reboot. Whatever.

So I’m going to do it. I’m going to take the job, I’m going to go back to Pride, and I’m going to keep moving forward.

Next: Adam goes Speed Dating!

An update on the Dating Situation.

After a great deal of consideration, I reinstalled OKCupid on my phone. And then I deleted it. A week later, I installed it again, deleted it again and carried on with my day. This process continued for at least a fortnight. In the end I decided to keep the app, if only to break the cycle.

Oh, and then I signed up for a Speed Dating night. Because it’s not like you need social skills for one of those.

This renewed interest in Dating may be confusing for some. For those of you just joining us-I’m Asexual! Surprise! This is of course on top of my diagnoses of ASD and Anxiety/Depression. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that they all begin with A, thus making it all easy to remember. Not that I’m calling Asexuality a mental illness, far from it. It’s a perfectly valid orientation, and I was not half relieved when I found out about it. For most of my life I had tried so very hard to pursue romantic and sexual relationships to hide the fact that I was not really interested in anyone in that regard. A lot of guilt, a lot of shame, a lot of blog posts about how broken I am. You get the idea.

But despite being a fraction more comfortable in my own skin now, knowing that I can stick my true feelings on the internet and nobody would give a flying whatsit, the jealousy I felt for people in and apparently capable of having relationships never really went away. While knowing intellectually that any kind of relationships has it’s ups and downs and side to sides, it just seems…nice. Nice to have someone you can come home to at the end of the day. Who you can talk to. Who you can hug without it being weird. Maybe even kiss.

What? I can be curious about kissing.

These thoughts tend to be strongest whenever I get low. At the beginning-when I tell myself that nobody could ever love me-and at the end, when I start to feel better but still wish I could hold someone’s hand but probably never will. And since I get low quite a lot these days….well. It’s been a real fucking rollercoaster.

I’ve made myself very unhappy over the years by ignoring or trying to bury the truth. I get lonely sometimes. That’s the truth of the matter. The reason I want to try dating is so that I meet someone who will make me feel less lonely or so that I will finally have proof that I will never inspire anyone to like me as anything more than the weird sort-of friend who doesn’t say much.

I don’t expect anything to happen. If something was going to happen, if there really was someone out there for everyone, SOMETHING would have happened by now. But by doing this at least I can say I’ve tried. Properly tried. And there aren’t many other evil, ugly, entitled little trolls who can say that.

#NotAllAdams

The latest series of Love Island has a villain in the form of Adam Collard. The 22 year old personal trainer has been accused of emotionally abusing his female partners. Needless to say, this is not cool. It is in fact a pretty shitty thing to do to a person, and this behaviour does not reflect at all well on Adams in general.

Yes, we have a tendency to make mistakes. Among our number are poor boyfriends, Emo Sith Lords, and Emo bloggers who really don’t want to have the “I would be a horrible boyfriend, so it’s probably for the best if I never have anything even resembling a romantic relationship” conversation with his Mum and Gran for what seems like the hundredth time. But these negative examples should not in any way colour anyone’s perceptions of what it means to be an Adam. We are a proud, noble people with a rich, mahogany-bound cultural history. We make a positive impact on the world at least seven times out of ten. Some of us even have girlfriends we don’t gaslight.

Before watching Love Island tonight, I would like to remind everyone reading this about the Good Adams out there. Good Adams such as:

ADAM

The OG. The first man. He didn’t create women, but he certainly helped. Without him, there would be no us. Bit too trusting of Snakes and did not think the whole “starting the human race” through at all, but he gave it a go and really that’s all we can ask of the guy.

ADAM PARK

The second Black Ranger! The first (and only) Green Zeo Ranger! The first Green Turbo Ranger! That’s right-an Adam has been three Power Rangers, and would have been four if the actor playing him hadn’t had the gall to ask to be paid more than the minimum wage. How many Power Rangers have you been? Exactly. Come back to me when you’ve got a giant robot.

ADAM ASHLEY-COOPER

Apparently he’s a Rugby Player. Good for him.

ADAM WEST

The only Batman who didn’t feel the need to put on a silly voice and later the Mayor of Quahog, Adam West lives on forever in our hearts and in the memories of the criminal underworld of Gotham City.

ADAM LEVINE

Calling the Maroon 5 frontman a positive example of Adamkind may sound like a bit of a stretch. But what you have to remember that….he…has not, to the best of my knowledge….been on Love Island (?)

#NotAllAdams

Bruschetta, but Better

Disclaimer the First: I have nothing against Bruschetta as a concept. As finger foods go, it is definitely up there with Mini Pork Pies and the little Onion Bhajis you can get from Tesco. I can imagine myself at a Garden Party or a Family Wedding grabbing a couple of slices of Bruschetta and some Cocktail Sausages and retreating into a corner where I can work out how long it will be before I can make my no doubt daring escape.

Disclaimer the Second: I have nothing but respect for Italian cuisine, people, and culture. All I am doing in this blog is offering a different spin on a timeless classic, like an all-woman team of Ghostbusters or how Love Island is basically a re-imagining of putting two Pandas in a cage and not letting them out until they’ve mated.

Now that that’s all out of the way, let’s talk Bruschetta.

As you can see from the image above, Bruschetta is chopped tomato on a pan-fried piece of bread. Sometimes there is Bacon. Sometimes there is not. It’s a rollercoaster. One you can ride at any half-decent Italian restaurant or if someone you know gets hold of Jamie Oliver’s latest cookbook and just properly goes for it.

I had some Bruschetta recently. It was a fine, serviceable starter. But I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing from the whole experience. Once I had done a few other middle-class things-pay my iPhone contract, renew my subscription to the Guardian, speak out against Gentrification while secretly hoping that the new block of luxury flats where the Community Centre used to be has a Starbucks-I set to work hoping to come up with a new, more satisfying take on a modern classic.

STEP 1-The Bread.

Bruschetta is quite small. You could fit a slice of that crunchy bread slice in the palm of your hand and still have room to spare. Which is fine if that’s your thing. But here’s the thing-it leaves you hungry. You will have to buy more food to make up the meal, and that’s pretty expensive. What if you could find a way of making the Bruschetta your main course? Say, by using a different style of bread? Something a bit bigger?

Like this? Note the relative size. Not the ample space for toppings. Note the way it is cut-no spillages here! The toppings will just fit right in, and you will have something sturdy to hold on to. Now all you need to decide is what to put in it.

STEP 2. The Toppings.

Normal Bruschetta is topped with a blend of chopped tomatoes and herbs. Again, fine in small doses, but look at the size of the Bread! You’d look a right idiot walking around with so much chopped Tomato. You can still have it, of course. Just not as much.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Rather than Tomato, why not try Cheese as a Topping? Or Bacon? Or both? For texture and spice, maybe add things like Mushrooms and Onions, with some chilli sauce and mustard for an extra kick. Just a suggestion.

However, one might argue that you would look silly walking around holding a bit of bread with so many condiments. So here’s the clever bit. Before adding the condiments, add something like a sausage, or a vegetarian sausage if that’s your thing. Burgers don’t work. The meat is big and round, everything falls off. The meat has to be narrow, like a Frankfurter or I guess a Carrot if you are Vegan. Once you have this lying on top of the bread, you can put your toppings on and around it, creating a Bruschetta that not only looks the part, but tastes it as well! (Is “Taste the Part” a thing? Screw it, I don’t care.)

STEP 3-Eat

Chew, taste, swallow, repeat.

P.S.-This style of Bruschetta goes great with Chilli fries.

My street name is Two Jobs Langley.

I can’t really talk about my Job on social media.

This may come as a shock to some people reading this, as I usually can’t wait to post my innermost thoughts and feelings online. Who can forget the epic Anorexia saga? Or the shot-by-shot recap of my most recent panic attack, which I wrote about not two fucking days ago? I use my blog and Facebook account like an electronic therapist, and while it is great for me to get my feelings out in the open and has no doubt led many to ask themselves what a Cis White Dude has anything to complain about, it is a wonder that I have managed to get anyone to employ me at all when my mental health history practically has it’s own Twitter account.

I do, however, have rules. I don’t write about my immediate family. In fact, I try not to mention anyone by name. I don’t write about subjects which I know very little about-for example, I’m not going to talk about Pride Month despite being Asexual because I feel I still don’t know enough about the whole culture and how someone like me fits into it. I don’t write about Gardening. And, due to the insane amount of data protection involved with what I do, I don’t write about my job. Don’t get me wrong, if someone asks me directly, I will tell them where I have been employed for six years. But I don’t update my status or update my blog about it. That way lies disciplinary hearings and people spitting at you in the street.

Recently, I have applied for two new jobs within the organisation I work for. And for some reason, they have accepted me for both. My street name finally makes sense! Hooray! Now all I have to do is choose. Boo!

It could be worse. I’m in no rush; I’ve got a month to decide what I want to do. And it’s not like I’d take much of a financial hit no matter which route I’d decide to take. It’s just tough to choose. There are pros and cons for both. Such as:

JOB 1-The Pathway

-PROS

1. I would be on a fast-track graduate recruitment scheme that guaranteed me a really cool career at the end of it.

2. It would give me a chance to really help people. I’m not smart enough to be a Doctor, empathic enough to be a Social Worker, strong enough to be a Soldier or a Fireman. If I follow the Pathway, I could really give something back.

3. On a more selfish note, I am only one of about six candidates that passed the assessment centre. That’s six out of about one hundred. I could actually go into something with a sense of confidence for once.

CONS

1. It’s a lot of work. Two years of almost non-stop study, physical assessments and written tests. One failure could result in being booted from the programme. That’s a very precarious position to be in.

2. The hours are wildly unpredictable. I could be sent anywhere in London at a moment’s notice, and that would play merry Hell with the system I’ve got in place that keeps me relatively sane. If I have a bad day or freak out and I miss something, someone will get hurt. And it will be my fault because I know I’m like this, but went in anyway.

3. Everyone I’ve spoken to about the Pathway so far has just assumed that this is the one I’d choose. I don’t want to have to do this just because everyone thinks that this would be the best thing to do. I don’t want to make myself miserable again.

JOB 2-At the other End of the Phone.

PROS

1. Fixed hours, fixed location. Basically it has all the stability the Pathway lacks.

2. I’d still be helping people, it just wouldn’t be as hands-on. Which has to be a good thing. Imagine being the victim of something horrible and then have yours truly turning up.

3. I know more about being a Civilian Member of Staff than I do about being on The Pathway. Less of a culture shock, plus I know about the rank structure and how my career would look in the long-term.

CONS

1. One could argue that I need to stop relying on routine to keep myself stable.

2. Do I really want to work in a place where they time you going to the toilet? (No joke.)

3. When will an opportunity like The Pathway ever come again?

That’s as specific as I can get. Like I said, data protection and the risk of someone putting a brick through your window. But those are the general arguments. This is o S of those choices that will kind of define my life going forward. Even if I quit and go and find something else, the decision to leave the Organisation would still be a result of me choosing either the Pathway or the Phones and being dissatisfied. It’s tricky. In a good way, I guess, but it’s still tricky. And it’s not like I have anyone at home I can have an objective conversation with.

Ah, what would a Blog be without a slathering of self-pity?

Oh, btw, I’m still writing. Got a book in the pipeline.

What? I’m not going to stop writing because the Public Sector can’t seem to get enough of me.

The different stages of your next Anxiety attack, and how to cope with them.

Anyone who has experienced Anxiety, in any form, will tell you that it is really hard to keep track of your emotions from one moment to the next. These people will then feel incredibly guilty because telling someone that something is really hard is just so patronising, isn’t it? God, this is why nobody likes them.

It is true, however, that for some sufferers of Anxiety wildly fluctuating moods are just as much part of the fun as a overriding feeling of terror and despair. I know from experience that for every minute you spend staring at your shaking hands in a locked toilet cubicle, you spend three getting more and more depressed as the worst things you’ve ever done play on a loop or-as bizarre as it sounds-deliriously happy with more energy that a Nuclear Power Plant that is completely off its tits on Cocaine.

Recently, my Anxiety has stepped up a gear. I don’t know why. One theory, put forward by concerned family members, is that your body changes every seven years and my hormones are somehow giving the chemical imbalance in my brain a boost. Which…okay? I mean, by their logic, I should expect to turn into Jodie Whittaker in approximately fourteen years, but a theory is a theory.

The last time it was this bad, I ended up doing some stupid shit which culminated in being hospitalised with an Eating Disorder. I don’t want that to happen to anyone else, I’m going to take you through each stage of an Anxiety attack so you, constant reader, know what to look out for.

(DISCLAIMER: The following advice is purely subjective. People with Anxiety may experience their condition differently, and as such may require radically different approaches to their treatment. Also, I am not a licensed Therapist. For the best results, talk to one of those.)

STAGE 1-WORRY

Does what it says on the tin. It starts off small, over something trivial and mundane. Maybe you were late for work and your boss glared at you. Maybe you completely failed to make the joke in your head sound funny out loud, and your flat mates are looking at you like you are an idiot. Whatever the reason, you can’t let it go. The feeling that you’ve done something wrong. That you’ve been doing everything wrong and this is the only time you have noticed. It burrows down into your brain and it starts to grow.

The solution seems simple. Brush off whatever ridiculous thing that made you worry and move on. Right? Except that by the time the thought to do this has crossed your mind, the worry has already taken root. The first thought when you make a mistake, therefore, is not “What have I done?”. It’s “What can I do?” Own your mistake, take responsibility, don’t wish it would go away. Make it go away. Otherwise you get..

STAGE 2-FEAR AND LOATHING

By now the worry has grown. It’s in your head, in every single one of your memories. Suddenly you are the villain of your own story. And everyone knows. It’s only a matter of time before you lose your job, and your loved ones, and your freedom. Here’s the kicker-you feel you deserve every single bad thing that could happen to you.

Honestly? I got nothing. I wrote the book on Self-Loathing, and promptly burned the manuscript because I am a terrible writer with half-baked, offensive opinions. During an Anxiety episode I spend a lot of time on Stage 2. I’ve seen myself become obsessive and jealous and petty and spiteful so many times. I can’t be the only one whose self-hatred and insecurities are amplified by Anxiety, and to those people I say-You aren’t evil. I wish I could say more than that, maybe give you a distraction attempt that actually fucking works, but I can’t. All I can say is that you aren’t evil. If you were, you wouldn’t feel guilty. Angry? Bitter? Vengeful, yes, but not guilty. Fear and Loathing sucks. But the fact that you feel that about the bad things you’ve done has to be a good sign.

STAGE 3-OBSESSION

When you are alone and afraid, you grab hold of anything that might look like it might help you escape. It could be a book. Or a TV show. Or, at it’s most destructive, a person. Your obsession becomes your life. You channel all your fear, all that nervous energy in the pit into your belly, into the object of your obsession. You place them on a pedestal and make them the embodiment of all your hopes.

Yeah. Don’t do that. Seriously. If you manage to catch yourself doing that to anyone or anything, walk away. Fast. Or you will end up losing the thing you claim to care about.

STAGE 4-ANGER

Why? Why does this happen? Why is it always me who suffers? Why can’t I be happy for once? Can’t someone ever look at me like they love me? Why are people so annoying? And opinionated, my God, why am I a bad person just for thinking something different to the presenter of some Podcast?

Tale as old as time. Someone gets scared, that fear turns to anger at what they perceive to be the problem, they lash out. Might I suggest doing something creative instead? Art, writing, playing an instrument or something. If the world is big and scary and full of things that affect you negatively, make a world where you can work off some steam. Just don’t go on Twitter. Or comments sections.People are angry enough on those as it is.

STAGE 5-DEPRESSION

You can get through this. It may seem like you won’t, it might seem like that this is as good as it gets, but it isn’t. Talk to someone, if you feel comfortable doing that. Eat something even if you don’t feel like it. You need your strength.

You can get through this.

STAGE 6-FEAR AND LOATHING AGAIN

This is where you wake up, bolt upright in bed, completely out of breath and trembling. You just remembered that time when you were seven and threw a tantrum at some kid’s birthday party, of course completely ruining it for everyone as you are wont to do. And just like that the movie starts again, now with episodes of shortness of breath and the need to hide in small spaces from things that might not be there.

The good news is, this is when it begins to die down. You can go for longer without worrying about things, you can concentrate on what’s going on in front of you, and you gradually rejoin the world. Be careful though-this is when the major panic attacks happen. When you guard is down. Talk to someone. Don’t be alone, even if you want to be. The end is in sight. All you need to do is to let people help you.

STAGE 7-REPEAT.

GOD FUCKING DAMMIT.

Should I post this Thirst Trap? A guide for the casual Instagrammer by someone who considers Nudity kind of Gross.

Instagram. Whether you consider it a useful picture and file sharing service or simply Twitter for the illiterate, at some point you will have some exposure to the only social media site that hasn’t stolen your personal data (yet).

During your association with Instagram, you may come across something known as a “Thirst Trap”. Essentially, a Thirst Trap is the act of placing a sexy photograph and/or flirty message on social media in order to get people to publicly profess their attraction to them. Kind of like those super-depressing Facebook or Twitter status updates some people (ahem) put out in order to get sympathy-“God, everything is such a struggle right now, I can’t believe some people!” etc-except these images are designed to provoke arousal. It’s just another kind of ego-stroking exercise.

While Thirst Traps are most commonly associated with Instagram, you can do it on Facebook and Twitter as well. Apparently. But before you take your shirt off or show your bra, maybe you should stop and think about a few things. Things like-

-How attractive am I? Really? Would the world be a better place if it saw me in my underwear?

-Why am I doing this? Do I really want to measure my self worth in the number of people having a quick one off the wrist to my holiday snaps?

-Again, why am I doing this? What do I have to gain? Do I really think a modelling agency will see a picture of me at Pole Fitness and think: Yes. Yes, we can use this one. They will be the face of our new line of athletic tops and jorts. We are USA PRO!

-Will my Ex see this and come running back? Do I want my Ex to come running back? My Ex was horrible! They were the ones who tried to get me to try Veganism, and do you have any idea how many things have milk in it? Fucking loads!

-What does the đź“Ą emoji mean in this context? Seriously, very confusing. Something about Slots?

-What will I do if someone out-traps me? Will I escalate? Will I spread rumours my rival voted for Trump?

-Have I seriously bought my phone into the shower with me?

How you answer these questions is a matter of personal taste. Who knows, you may actually enjoy looking sexy on the Internet, in which case? Great. You do you. Live your best life. Your best, sexy life.

But clothes were invented for a reason, you know?

Screw it, maybe I’m just a prude. I don’t get how things could be sexy. Just how I’m wired. I’m fine with Sex Scenes in Film or on TV, as long as they don’t last very long, but the idea of getting your kit off and posting it online is just…Yeah. Bit odd. To me. Because I am Asexual, I am not ashamed, pride, Crystal Gems, etc.

Full disclosure: I thought a Thirst Trap was something from Mad Max. The more you know.

STOP HAVING BABIES AND GETTING MARRIED, PLEASE.

Look. I get it. You love this person. You want to spend the rest of your life with them. You want to have a house, and a dog and eventually, who knows? A little version of you that between the ages of thirteen and twenty will be the worst roommate ever. But I really need to ask: is this what you want?

Probably, I assume.

I’m not trying to rag on Parents or Married Couples. Hey, love is great. More love the better. I just do not understand how so many people can have their lives together to such a degree that a child is a blessing and not something you might be able to trade for MCM Comic Con tickets. That feel that Marriage is a logical step in the relationship, not just an excuse for a party or an extremely roundabout way to get a new George Foreman Grill. Or even just cohabiting with someone they love very much after spending years together. Fuck me, the longest relationship I’ve had is with iTunes, and even they have tried to leave me twice.

My point is that I don’t get it. Yes, we are grown-ass adults (I assume, it’s not like WordPress gives me a detailed demographic breakdown). Yes, by this point in their lives our parents had had multiple children, a mortgage, and a terrible dark secret that probably won’t be revealed until Season 3, but come on. Come on, guys.

Come on.

Think about who you might be hurting. You might be very happy, but there are consequences to all this happiness of yours. Like Overpopulation. There are already more than 7 billion people on a planet designed for 4 billion at a stretch. Do you really want to destroy this planet? This wonderful blue orb that is filled with wonderful things that keep trying to kill us all? Mother Earth may have started this fight, but surely there are better ways of finishing it than just squeezing out another baby and watching them grow up in some kind of Ready Player One situation.

Before all that, though, you normally get the news that someone is engaged. I say news. It’s just a photo of someone’s hand with a ring on it. That could mean anything! They could have found it in a cereal box for all we know, but one look at some bit of metal and suddenly everyone feels the need to fall over themselves congratulating the happy couple as if they had actually done something. Completing the Great Northern Run? Getting a Doctorate? Assembling the Infinity Stones? Achievements. Agreeing to spend your life with someone you are already living with anyway? Not an achievement. And yet they feel the need to force people to treat it like it is.

And then you have the wedding photos. My God, the wedding photos. For weeks after the big day, you get a constant stream of images of suits and wedding dresses on all social media platforms. Here’s the Bride and Groom kissing under a tree! Here’s everyone in a big line in a field! Here’s all the Groomsmen walking away from the camera! Here’s the happy couple dancing in a Black and White! Here’s the same photo in colour! Here’s a video of the first dance! Spoiler alert: it’s Bryan Fucking Adams! One can only hope he gets paid. Or maybe all the profits go to Kevin Costner, who knows at this point?

As you have probably figured out by now, I don’t get invited to many weddings. I get pretty maudlin when I drink, it’s cool. I just wish that people tying the knot or having their first, second or third child will stop and think “Is this really a big deal? Do I need to remind everyone (Adam) that I am falling in love and being an adult and living my best life while they (he) still reads YA fiction and only just figured out how to use the Fan Oven? DO I?”

How to remove Toxic People from your Life

There are some people who just aren’t worth it. They are annoying. They are emotionally draining. They are immature and possessive. They are judgemental, sometimes to the point of being a bigot. They are just generally unpleasant to be around. We all know-or have known-at least one or two over the course of our lives. Maybe after a period of reflection, you have realised that you are that Toxic Friend. In which case, well done for having a moment of clarity, I wish you luck in being a better person, so on, so on, blah.

For the rest of you-the ones who aren’t in any way a Toxic influence or lack the self-awareness to realise that they are the problem-there is always going to be the question of what to do with people like that. You can’t just be polite and hope they will wander off on their own. Just ask any of my social circles, that shit will not fly. You need to be more robust. You need to be completely, nay, brutally honest. You need to look them in the eye and tell them “Your behaviour is unacceptable. Either grow up or leave us/me alone. Or both.”

Alternatively….

-CATAPULTS

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Getting a Catapult is easy. How am I going to trick my shitty fried to step onto it?” Luckily, this is easy too. You will need a pack of crackers, some Nutella, and a basic knowledge of Road Runner cartoons, but it’s totally do-able.

-MOVE HOUSE

Risky. If the Toxic Friend is obsessive enough, they might be able to find you based on where you check in on Social Media. Which is why if you move House, the first thing you should do is to mail your phone to Paraguay. You won’t even have to share a country with them.

-PUT A BOUNTY ON THEIR HEAD.she

Bounty Hunters. We don’t need that scum! Except for this to work, you kind of do. It will also help if you are rich or live in Gotham City.

-PLANT DRUGS ON THEM

As long as they stay perfectly still for several months while the Poppies grow, this one works like a charm.

-MASTURBATE

If you tried this in a Prison Riot or on a street corner, you would be guaranteed to be left alone. Same principle.

-DRESS UP AS A SPOOKY GHOST

For reasons that should be obvious, do not attempt this if your Toxic Friend is from an Ethnic Minority.