My life hasn’t changed since I bought a cat on a whim (aka: Making tentative enquiries about a cat that accidentally snowballed into actually buying one, because by that point I was too embarrassed to say ‘Nah, I was only asking. I don’t need a cat, thanks). Things have merely shifted into some kind of bizarre neighbouring dimension where nothing's changed, except now my misery has company in the shape of a furry being trotting around my apartment as if she owns it.
Occasionally, I'll be approached so that I might for a brief moment stroke her thrice, upon which she’ll walk away and collapse onto the rug always an aggravating stretch out of reach of my desperately needy hand. She's also for some reason like a small diode giving us electric shocks, which I'm pretty sure is hindering the whole bonding with me thing.
It’s a crying shame too that she’s not the picky-uppy kinda feline I had in my youth. Whenever I lift Rebecca to my chest (she came with that name, so don’t blame me), she struggles to get away almost instantly. The best I’ve managed is about 6 seconds one morning when, being hungry, she needed me. She knew it, as did I, so I was granted some hold time as she judged me through angry blue eyes before thinking ‘Fuck this!’, and struggled for the floor while I screamed: ‘LOVE ME!!!!’
The flat meanwhile hasn't got as filthy as I'd thought. The litterbox is more like a litterhut and doesn’t stink (but then I’m on my knees daily, scooping out Becky's crap and solidified chunks of urine). The worst smell is her food, and the biggest inconvenience clearing that (dried cat food – the hardest substance on earth), and for my troubles I’m afforded some mildly sub-thusiastic leg rubbing during dinner preparation that misses me altogether 70% of the time.
In fact, true to female form if I want her attention I just have to ignore her. It’s a pity I hadn't learned that when it comes to my former girlfriend (American). Once again, leading a life as ladybereft as a sweaty gentleman's leather club in Vauxhall, I have no other option but to pine over the last woman to accept me sex-wise. Perhaps it was a mistake during my Crete holiday for me to email if she wanted some freshly pressed olive oil (being a big fan of just being given stuff, she readily said yes). Perchance it was a bigger mistake to add several packs of Lindt chocolate to the package once I'd returned home. Maybe it was a mistake on her part several weeks later to email that she was considering ‘popping over’ to London, a missive that had me more excited than a child arsonist with ADHD watching his school get firebombed by robots.
In the flurry of digital conversation that followed, I offered her a place to stay on my couch, intending to honour and respect her privacy with every fibre of my being (but if she wanted to sexually assault me, I didn't intend to put up a fight.) Yet a pattern emerged in that flurry, the same pattern of the last SIX BLOODY YEARS where I, the twat, pretty much instigated all contact, and found myself having the last word. So I thought, ‘Screw her,’ and don’t contact her for a week - a whole week! - then I’m in the pub with a friend who tells me ‘She was definitely The One, you know. Marriage material.’ So I think, ‘Yeah, sure, whatevs,’ and go downstairs to get my round but find myself walking outside to casually call New York on my mobile to say, ‘Hi!'
It's needy and pathetic. I think about her daily, because I miss her, and because I don't have the balls and/or confidence and/or will to go out there and
begin that painful,
awkward hell of meeting other desperately lonely people via the fucking internet date. And as I get older, I realise my natural inability around women is only getting worse, and more awkward and cringey. At our office party in a small restaurant, I made smalltalk with our waitress that wasn't supposed to make her ill-at-ease and creeped out but it did. I tried guessing where according to her strong Slavic accent she was from, and she grunted "Europe" before leaving to get our drinks. She smiled easily at my colleagues whilst frowning at me to such an extent that I thought this was deliberate juxtaposition aimed at getting me to back off, which was horrible to see as I'd barely even leaned on. And when we got up to leave as she stood with waiting customers nearby, she said an abrupt 'Bye' whilst staring at the wall as if she was trying to burn through it with her eyes rather than look at me.
So that's basically what I'm capable of when I try and engage in a little feel-good flirtation with a young lady in the service trade, meaning I'm stuck with Internet fucking dating. It'll never happen at work, because I'm still embedded in a tiny all-male office, which is also confusing the hell outta me as my boss is making restructuring plans involving him at the core and me, his Number Two (poetic), with opportunities for huge theoretical wage increases.
The trouble is, I don't really know if I want an utterly magnificent wage doing a job for the rest of my working life I never wanted in the first place. And that's a biggie. My boss's plans will take us both (he said) into £-stupid, company director’s wages basically, money I never considered I’d earn. And it’s getting me down. I feel like I'll be selling my soul to the highest bidder, still sat in the same place I told myself several years ago I would be leaving soon (around the same time I'd started an LDR with an American I was ambivalent about).
I think I’d rather be poor, yet happy. I’m almost 63% certain of that. But on the other hand, I'll be earning more than my most successful friends, which obviously is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD. They’ve long done way better than me with their beautiful wives and pretty children and houses with stairs, so earning more money than them will mean I’m winning for once, even though it's by accident, and in a game I'd lost interest in. And not very good at. And bored with.
Basically I'm still in a rut, and realising I'm not just horribly timid among the opposite sex but generally just crap in careers too.
And then last night, I went to PostSecret Live in London. My mate Russell was helping his brother arrange it, and it lifted my mired fucking spirit. Essentially it's that website on tour - the one with the postcards with people's secrets on them - featuring the originator Frank Warren talking about it, and showing some of his favourites on a giant projector. Even better was the fact that it must have been 80-85% young women there. It was like they'd all been stored up over the several years I'd managed to not be in a room with any of them, and it cheered me greatly to get occasional glances that didn't end in their vomiting. (It helped being one of about twenty blokes in an auditorium of several hundred women though).
There was something so feelgood, so life-affirming yet simple in Frank's message. It helped that he's a slight, bespectacled kindly American chap gentle of voice (not to be confused with the gruff cockney fist-flinging promoter of the same name), and his message that we're all valid and worthy. It was no wonder the whole place was filled with impressionable young women - and me. In fact I was so moved and blissed out that I came very close to stepping up to the microphone to calmly reveal my secret was that I'm petrified of public speaking. But it's probably good I didn't, as I almost definitely would've felt empowered enough to go on to reveal that I once slept with a prostitute. Instead, I sat there as (mainly) young girls revealed they were more upset that their hamster died than their uncle, or they're compulsive Icelandic liars.
There was one point during the whole event, during the clapping after each confession, or the cheers of support as someone stepped up to the mic only to be seized with emotion, that it dawned on me that this is what cults must feel like, and I started to feel really quite cynical. But then I remembered there was no promise of paradise at the end of it, or group commitments to be made - unless you count the website, I suppose - and I started to defrost again. Instead I sensed that we're all human and beautifully imperfect, and that I really should give up on that woman who long ago gave up on me - and if I really want happiness, instead of chasing wages I should chase my dreams.
If you happen to know what my dreams are, answers on a postcard please.