Friday, 10 April 2009

Quarterly Summary

’09 so far, in all its absurd glory…
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
-Hunter S. Thompson
1) Removal

One of the first things I did this year was boot a known paedophile and computer hacker from my Facebook friends. He will not be named under ANY circumstances. The man is so unbelievably dodgy that it defies belief. When I found out about his shady past it shed light on various questions: Why couldn’t he get credit to open an E-Bay account? Why is he living with his mum when he’s in a full-time sales job, making enough money to afford a cocaine habit? And more to the point: why did I ever make friends with him again after he sabotaged one of my web pages, resulting in the loss of many hours worth of writing? These are questions I no longer want to ask. I only wish I’d made the decision sooner.

2) Define “Audacity”

Recently I lost a female friend. That is, I was booted out of her Facebook contact list. She’s still alive, and as I am not the audacious one in this context, I’ll leave her name off as well. I’ll be pretentious and call her Woman X. She’ll undoubtedly read this eventually. She was very keen to hang around with me a lot and phoned me every day, and foolishly I took her attention-seeking and flirtatious nature as a come-on. After all, why would she give up the time to see me?
The more time I spent with Woman X, the more I realised she just wanted nothing more than friendship. This, to a degree, is fine. However when a woman phones you every day for forty minutes at a time, you know something is getting a little weird. However, when I tried to rationally explain this to her, she at first told me she was “disappointed” in me. I pushed forward on the issue at a later date, explaining that – on the whole- men don’t have time for female friends. It happens: I have a few myself. They are carefully selected and highly valued, but– in all honesty- I don’t speak to them that regularly. Nowhere near as regularly as Woman X phoned me. This reliance on my attention resulted in her making a very embarrassing display in a local bar involving crying, saying she’d done nothing wrong, and- unnervingly- saying she’d tried suicide before and would now probably try again. In hindsight, the apology I made was unnecessary and I was completely in the right.

“What would you have done”, she asked, “if you hadn’t come out with me, Matt? Just stayed in and written your blog?”

Oh what, I thought. Like that’s weirder? (On that point, a matter of days later I had my first story published on Flash Fire 500. So you tell me which is more worthwhile…)

It was another week or so (and a few hours worth of random phone calls from her) before I cut the mustard and said we just plain shouldn’t be in touch.

I’ll admit- I had received a push. A few days before, some “mutual friends”- an engaged couple I did not want to hang around with at all- pulled us to one side, individually. They felt Woman X was taking me for a fool. I had to agree that something wasn’t right. The situation of us hanging around together was becoming uncomfortable. It was this couple’s interjection that led me to tell her the hard truth in the bar. This weird, leech-like affection had to end. But Woman X still did not accept this, and wasted more of her credit and my time talking to me. This further awkward conversation ended everything, as I manically chewed Skittles to keep my brain from racing out of control. Again, I needlessly apologised for making her feel bad, leading me to ask where my balls go when I need to tell people to fuck themselves.
Woman X had one final weapon in her arsenal to point at me, though: my own writing.
Some months ago, before this couple were engaged- hell, they probably hadn’t even met- I posted a blog about the female of the couple- Access Denied. In it I tell of being thrown out of her house by her mother- an event I am still somewhat proud of. I describe the female- Oh, what the fuck. You’ve looked for it. You know she’s called Sarah. But anyway. I describe her- quite accurately- as a disreputable character. I go on to discuss why.

To get back at me, Woman X pointed Sarah in the direction of the blog. Many other writers have given feedback online and feel that this particular post was a well-written blog. Even the deputy editor of Esquire said he “liked it” when I sent it to him.

Sarah, however, did not. And she made this clear to me when she saw me in Oldham. To avoid a lawsuit for either defamation of character or assault, I walked away from her verbal tirade.

I didn’t hear from Sarah or Woman X for a few weeks. Yesterday, Woman X phoned me, “out of the fuckin’ blue” as Nice Guy Eddie would say. I did not pick up, preferring to wait for the voicemail. In it Woman X was begging me for help finding a job. She’d lost a contact number for a WELL KNOWN RADIO STATION, and was hoping I could text her the number.

Despite the easiness of web – based research, she rang the one person who she knows does not want to talk to her and would definitely not give her any help.

“-Boldness or daring, esp. with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.”
I agree. Thank you,

3) Defamation of Character

I once wrote an immense blog in a failed attempt to exorcise demons that have haunted me since secondary school. In it I described someone as a child prostitute- a claim that could be believable to some who knew her, but is still an unreasonable slur from a very bitter, hung-up mind. I used her name.

Some weeks ago my dad found one of my “business cards”- something I give out to people to encourage them to read my work. Many bloggers have these 1980’s throwback artefacts as tools of shameless self-promotion. Dad read this angry piece of school-set writing and he approached me, successfully controlling a blatant furious rage, to tell me to take it down.
He was right to advise me in such a way. I don’t want to be sued, especially not by some cretin who made life difficult for me a long time ago- someone who should stay firmly in the past. The blog has been taken down from all sites. I may rework it safely: the subject of how school affects us later in adult life is a fascinating one. The blog had numerous ideas (childhood/adulthood, charlatan hypnotherapists, attraction, sugar levels, anthropology, sleep, ad nauseum) that could have been developed with a bit of maturity- something that the original blog distinctly lacked.

I’ll just consult the lawyers first…

4) Publication

On a lighter note, I had a short story published earlier this year. “Dead Chinese Girls”, a piece of flash fiction, was featured in an online magazine based in the States. The editors of Flash Fire 500 chose the story along with other writers’ works from across the globe. The magazine is official: it is included on the website, who describes itself as a “searchable list of fiction markets”. It was the first piece of writing I’ve created myself that has achieved publication. I intend to throw another story their way soon.

5) The engagement ring

Relax, ladies. It’s not mine.

Two weeks ago: a frantic young woman searches the ground in the smoking area of The Tokyo Project, Oldham’s indie club. Mobile phone lights are activated. Necks are craned, allowing the cold air straight down the backs of a group of revellers. One, a pretty young woman, is panicking. Her engagement ring is missing.

She’s younger than me- as most clubbers are now. And she’s already on the way to the altar. This is unnerving enough at first- then I remind myself that I’m 27 in a few months. Shit. I think of my friends- most are younger than me- Dave and Amy: engaged, Colin and Daisy: living together with a baby, others are… well… kind of together. It’s not always easy to tell, and it’s not exactly my business to ask.

The light on my phone picks up something minute and circular. It’s a diamond ring. I’m reminded of the cartoon, “Bravestar”, about a cowboy sheriff with various animal-inspired qualities.

“Eyes of the hawk”, I say, holding the ring carefully.

She’s overcome with relief. She hugs me and buys me a drink. Things could have been so good if it wasn’t an engagement ring… just a ring. Life goes on.

6) Jailbait

I am never drinking again. I promise.

This weekend I missed out. I might not be writing this now if I hadn’t got drunk. I’d be in some other part of Manchester, in bed with a beautiful blonde nineteen year old. For real.
Said woman, whose name escaped me the moment she told me, delivered the chat-up line of the century.

“Would you believe I’ve been to prison?”

How do I do it? Why are so many of these women that I attract- although momentarily- absolute nutters?

“Yes,” I cheekily retorted. She didn’t see that coming. Everything was going so well. There was just one problem- I was drunk, and I cannot handle any situation intoxicated. I took her to the bar, as I couldn’t think of anything to say. I remember she wanted a brandy and coke- the rest is a strange blur. My money was safe- and sufficient- in my man bag. But I forgot to look there for some reason, and began frantically searching my pockets to cover the extortionate tab that the club, The Birdcage, wanted from me. Eventually she had to chip in, after which she took her drink and fucked off, ignoring me for the rest of the night. It was some time before I realised why I was being shunned.

This is why I am happy to be designated driver. Things just make more sense.

7) Wrestling

Later that night, I was involved in a drunken wrestling match on my mate’s parent’s bed. I was pitted against one of the biggest drug barons in Manchester. I shit you not. Suffice to say, I tapped him out with a guillotine choke.
And on that subject, I will say no more.
8) Dorset MILF

I exemplified superb Karaoke skills later that weekend, blasting out “The House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals. It is a fine song if you have a loud, brave voice. It cannot be pulled off by the timid. It can also be difficult to even hear without convulsions if you have seen Martin Scorsese’s Casino. After that song’s inclusion in the film, Joe Pesci’s character and his onscreen brother are beaten to death with baseball bats.

But I don’t think everyone in the pub was making that connection- a blonde woman from Dorset was so bowled over that she took me outside for a kiss and partial grope. She was at least forty, but she had a remarkable cleavage. Alas, she was returning home the next day so I didn’t get much more than that.

9) Man of the Night

Sunday nights in Walkabout mean one thing- lurid games involving drink, nudity and depraved behaviour.

So it seemed right that not only would we go there, but that I would at least compete in these games. The five of us competing- one a ‘roided up gym rat trying to muscle his way in front of the other contestants, three random pissheads and me, completely sober- were put through our paces. After a dance-off, the stragglers were booted offstage leaving the alpha males the only ones standing in the ultimate masculine challenge: The Full Monty.

The first time you do this, I guarantee you will be terrified. I have found myself publicly disrobing- always in Oldham’s Walkabout for some reason- on numerous occasions since 2005, when I resigned from the same branch of the bar. This scenario is somewhat comfortable for me. I am not afraid. That is how I could stand in front of the whole bar and pull off the helicopter trick; which- hopefully- should need no description.

It may have been this move that swung it for me (pun intended). The DJ declared me Man of the Night, who gave me the prestigious award of three bottles of Becks (which I wouldn’t drink even if I weren’t driving. Yes, I was sober throughout the whole night.) All the while, my mates chanted my MMA-based nickname:


10) Arm Bar

After 18 months of Mixed Martial Arts training, I have finally pulled off my first Ju-Jitsu Arm Bar. I have been submitted to this numerous times, and have started to get to grips with the escapes. But when my grappling partner, “Mr T”, put his forearm against my chest, the light bulb finally clicked on and I spun into the submission, tapping him quickly.
It looked something like this:

The plan for the rest of the year: Find a decent woman. Go to more house music clubs. Become a more skilled martial artist. Get published again.

Take over.