- I no longer work for medium to large sized companies staffed exclusively by transient young things, many of whom are ladypersons who in the past have looked favourably/ taken pity on me. Instead for 7 years I've worked in a tiny London office with the same four blokes.
- My ageing social life has slowed to a crawl, syncing with one or perhaps two other single mates where together we've accepted our lot in life and boxed any 'fun' into a few drinks at the weekend with a movie or perhaps meal thrown in.
- I have the social skills and confidence of a corpse.
So now I'm at a crossroads: I had dieted and revamped my image slowly Seizing the Day, and now I've Reversed the Day and Gone Back to Square One, so what does this mean for my 'I'll date when I'm fitter' bullshit? Basically it means I'll have to lose that weight once more before I look into that again.
Except it'll be a 'Tomorrow never comes' scenario. Instead, I've come to acknowledge this is less about my weight, and more about my balls (as in confidence, not my actual balls.) I'm not so fat that I'm consigned to a bed needing to be rolled over by three people so they can wash my back crevices. I'm not even mildly obese and even if I was, no-one should be excluded from being mutually in love. (Yes, I've been watching Undateables a lot)
I could sense for the last few weeks my brain coming to terms with this. It's been clear I can't just walk up to women on the street and talk, no matter what this fascinating if essentially fucking miserable lifestyle claims, so it's back to the equally miserable if infinitely easier internet dating I swore off years ago - as many years as the last time I had a girlfriend, if memory serves.
All I needed was a kick up the arse - and 3 days ago, it arrived.
My chum Ed, of summer holiday to Crete and the last half-dozen New Years' Eves fame, was nearby one night as I finished work. We went for a rare midweek beer where he described a story he was thinking of writing, which reminded me of a tale from my youth. You may recall it - it was one of the stories from the 1983 Twilight Zone movie, a Steven Spielberg segment called 'Kick the Can.'
Ed, to my surprise, had never seen it, yet it remained as vivid in my mind as if I'd seen it in all its schmaltzy entirety yesterday.
'So it's this old peoples' home,' I began, 'with all these old people. A couple of them are feisty types if a bit delirious, and there's this old English guy, or posh at any rate, remembering how he used to run around pretending to be Peter Pan, the "boy who never grew up", right? There's this lovely old woman there too, reminiscing about how much she loved to dance when she was younger, and this one crotchety old guy who complains that his kids never come to visit, and it's no fun being old. Anyway, this stereotypical Hollywood wise, kindly old black guy arrives, and he's listening to their stories. He produces a can - to a Jerry Goldsmith harpsichord, so it's clearly magic - and says they should all go outside and kick the fucker once the nurses send them to bed. The crotchety guy gets all crotchety and tells him he shouldn't get the others all excited, and tells everyone to act their age, yet they're all up for it. So this Nurse Ratched type calls it a night and gets everyone into their dorm and turns the lights out, and after a pause they all sneak outside in their dressing gowns and into the garden where they're slowly stumbling about kicking this can. Meanwhile the crotchety guy's still complaining, but they're having a great time. They're all laughing as the camera closes in on their feet as they kick the can to one another, then you realise their pyjamas are getting baggy and their slippers enormous, and their laughter and chatting have become chil-'
My throat seized. 'They've all turned back into chi-' I croaked, and had to stop as tears welled up in my eyes.
Ed looked mildly disturbed. 'Jesus christ!' he said.
I looked at him, and shook my head. I couldn't continue, and was now fairly shocked myself as I couldn't recall the last time I'd got emotionally overwhelmed in private. Getting tearful in public, that would've been maybe twenty years ago, at a fucking death.
'I've only had two pints!' I squawked, but it was too late. If I hadn't captured the fluid held behind the dam of my eyelids, tears would've plummeted down my fat hairy face like an overturned lorry down a cliff.
The last time I'd thought about 'Kick the Can', I'd been a child. Now I was half way through my life and nothing in any grand way had changed, and it scared the shit out of me. It was such a daft tale about growing old, the simplicity of youth, and the wonder of life, and there I was single-handedly doing nothing with mine.
I was so shocked that when I got home, I took out my credit card and paid for an online dating agency I've had an inactive presence on for years. I met my last girlfriend of 5+ years ago there, the American lady I'd not been able to commit to due to LDR and cowardice, and despite our flurry of emails at the beginning of the year, we'd reached a kind of saturation point. I woke up one day and finally 'got it', realising I was always going to miss her but enough was enough; it wasn't going to work and we both knew to leave one another well alone. And in the 3 days since I've been back on this website, I've looked at the dozens of emails stored up over the last few years I'd not been able to see before, and sent some new ones off. Tonight, I had two replies back I'd been hoping to receive.
And then, as I'd opened up my email, a new one arrived. It was a picture from my ex, of my ex, apropos of nothing, just to say hello, and I felt a little gooey and stunned. I really didn't expect I'd hear from her ever again. And now I'm full of guilt. I have new angles for the first time in years!
But oh yeah - new guilt.
I know what your advice will be. It's the same as mine and I know what choices I should make.
I just feel bad, and sad, and shit.