...and very much not in the laughter sense.
Regular readers may know that I have been trying to better myself these last few months. Namely, my Four Pillars of Hateism have been;
1) Writing, 2) Dieting, 3) Exercising, and 4) Not Smoking.
These are, and pretty much have always been constant desires throughout my unremarkable adult life, mere outlines to a richer tapestry of personal wishes and must-haves, viz: Acquiring a decent and well-paid job, one that doesn't have me crawling regretfully out of bed at 7am with tears of anguish pouring down my fat fucking cheeks and that might actually leave me with a fulfilling sense of purpose on this sodding planet; Having a firm, hard, and sexually alluring body with which I can a) have sex with lots of women or just one nice one please, if that's Not Too Much Trouble, b) look good naked, c) be able to jog up the two flights of stairs to my flat without it ending in me doubled over clutching my chest in oxygen-grasping, lung-fucked breaths while my left arm clings on to the wall for support.
Regrettably, I have been finding all my attempts at self-improvement rather difficult. Before anyone thinks, "Pshht, all you have to do is change jobs/ stop smoking/ eat a salad" (delete as applicable), I would first like you to imagine that you have a loaded gun pointed at a doe-eyed whimpering puppy with its head cocked to one side in cute confusion, and "All You Have To Do" is pull that trigger and blow its sweet little puppyface into the carpet.
It was the writing that was the first to stop. I wasn't really doing any novel (Ha!) writing since just before Sweden. I've certainly done nothing since my return. Then there was the exercise. I had convinced myself that 3 hours sleep meant it was too dangerous to cycle in to work so I'd tube it in (daily) to ogle the ladies instead. And in that time, I'd be eating pretty much whatever I wanted and, trust me on this, fruit and veg never came into it.
In fact, the only thing I'd continued to do was smoke as I couldn't right four wrongs all at once so I'd opted to concentrate on just three; three simple, life-changing things that, one by one, I quietly dropped like the hunt for Bin Laden.
And it doesn't help that I work next to a newsagents that do under-the-counter duty-free two-pound cheaper Marlboro Lights for £3.50 a pack. (Non-Smokers: Kindly don't bother pointing out that I could save myself £3.50 by not buying them at all. Lessons in Empathy #3,264: Think of something you couldn't live without. Then imagine living without it.)
So that's been my mini-nervous breakdown, my ocean of continual regrets ~ Wishing I'd never taken up smoking. Wishing I'd not eaten so much these last, oh, dozen or so years. Wishing I actually had a fucking plot for this fucking book I'm not fucking writing.
But there's more to my feeling like a South Ossettian when the Georgians had invaded. Last Friday week, I had left work to begin the weekend with my friend and his workmates as my work has no-one there but my boss and me. My last post mentions the cute young lady I'd talked to. My friend read it and wanted to know which one of his colleagues I fancied. I refused to tell him while he begged for clues. We exchanged a few emails, and met up on Wednesday where I continued to leave him dangling. Eventually, I got bored of turning a molehill into a mountain so I told him. He announced she was single. I quietly shed tears of joy. He offered to put in a good word for me, and I told him not to.
Then I got drunk and told him to go for it.
I met them all again this Friday, two days ago, and utterly humiliated myself. Things had changed. My friend now knew that I liked this girl. The girl knew too. Going by the grins and subtle glances of their colleagues, so did the entire room.
I shifted awkwardly as I sat down in front of her. My personality deserted me. I sweated - visibly sweated - and had to mop continually the torrent of perspiration that gushed down my face as if I were under a shower. I tried to act cool, but instead looked like a nervous fumbling teenager in front of a bemused and attractive woman.
Then I discovered that this long-term single woman is currently in the very, very early stages of 'seeing' someone and it could be going so well that it's only a matter of days before she rescinds her single status and becomes 50% of a couple.
Of course, I may never have stood a chance with her in the first place. For one thing, she's attractive and funny, and my guess is that a chainsmoking man with tits and a dull job who sweats like George Bush in a mosque and is incapable of self-improvement is unlikely to be considered Good Date Material by even the blindest and most forgiving of women.
Thus, two days ago, on Friday night, I'd realised with purity and total conviction that I have fucked up my entire life. I get this thought now and again, a mere fleeting reminder not to forget that I could've been someone yet wasn't but this weekend, those thoughts overwhelmed me totally.
I work in a small office staffed with five other men, four of whom only come in briefly. I was only meant to work there for a year until I got back on my feet.
Last week was my three year anniversary. Writing is my only way forward, but I can't fucking write.
I cannot talk to, socialise with, entertain, or (as if), engage in meaningful and deeply profound relationships with women, and having a job that doesn't even employ them is not helping me in the slightest. I am turning into an odder version of Barry George.
So I drank heavily this weekend. I've never been a vomiting, staggering, fight-provoking maniac, and in that respect my alcoholic descent was socially acceptable, almost imperceptible. But I did meet up with friends later on that Friday where I was clearly more inebriated, and loud, and annoying. I then went home to sink half a bottle of vodka, trawl Youtube for crap, smoke continually, and got to bed at 6am Saturday morning.
Later on yesterday, I met up with Abe and Ed and forgot that we were going to see Louis C.K. in standup. I was hungover and bitter all day. Louis proved to be a great tonic if you're bitter because he's even angrier, despite the fact that his career seems light years ahead of mine. But then the men who collect the rubbish outside my flat (sporadically) have better long-term prospects than I ever will.
So I went home and spent what remained of my Saturday night downing what remained of the vodka, necking a quarter bottle of rum, and trawling Youtube for crap while smoking continually. Things must be on the up though; I went to bed at 4am.
I've got a dinner meeting with my boss on Wednesday. I've got to watch what I say as I'm unhinged enough to resign properly - I last resigned from my job nine months ago whereupon we all forgot it had ever happened and never discussed it again.
I've got this urge to quit not just my job but my life and my family and my friends and run off around the world again, an aimless cry for help from a hotter country. Trouble is, I've done that before. It was great while it lasted but I had to come home eventually, where I found myself thinner, and happier, and confident.
Then four years on, I end up writing a post like this.