I was walking along Brunswick Street, on my way home after getting a haircut, when I saw someone I knew. They were sitting in a cafe window and I waved as I thought there was no way they wouldn’t see me, such was the position in which they were sitting and the direction I was coming from.
They looked up, saw me waving and their mouth opened and their eyes widened: it was quite obvious they had no idea who I was. I kept waving, though, thinking that surely they would recognise me as I got closer – I’d had a haircut not a face transplant. Yet they still didn’t recognise me, nor did they close their mouth. I laughed and just kept walking.
I contacted this person via old-mate Facebook a little later to tell them it had been me. We weren’t friends on Facebook and it had been a long time since we’d had any communication. I said I hoped their face had showed a look of not knowing who I was and not one of horror, considering the haircut and all.
I realised with some horror last night that I’ve been writing a lot about being single lately and perhaps I’ve given you, my reader, an impression that wouldn’t much please me: mainly that I’m frothing-at-the-mouth desperate to meet someone. Well this just isn’t the case. As much as I’d like to meet someone, sans the froth, I’m very good and very capable at being single. Most of the time I’m also very happy – which is an excellent bonus. And at the moment I’m just having fun – with men and without them.
Don’t get me wrong again, though: I’m bloody terrible with men. Good at being single, terrible with men. I’ve never met a more emotionally caged group of people! But they’re not all bad – I mean, surely – and I’ve been complicit in all that has gone wrong. And there has been a reasonable amount of good too.
Regardless of my level of authority on the subject (personally, I’d say it was high), I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learnt, so as you might either feel some solidarity or just further cement your conclusion that I’m constantly wiping my face (to rid the froth).
I can write about this because I know it won’t ever be read by the story’s subject. That’s something I can rarely say about my man friends. Usually at some point or another my blog becomes the topic of conversation and eventually they read it and then, I’m sure, they think they know. They just know who I am. A friend once suggested that my blog might be cock-blocking me. She may be right. But the way I see it is, it can only be cock-blocking me from men who wouldn’t have understood me anyway – and that’s essentially what we want, isn’t it? To be understood. Or for someone to make the appearance of trying to understand.
Anyhow, this post won’t be read by the subject so I can say that last year I developed a crush that spanned a greater length of time than any I’ve ever had, was more confusing than any I’ve ever experienced and was directed at a person I genuinely thought was very interesting and very different. I like people, all kinds of people, so I find it very easy to find ‘crushes’, but to actually like someone in the way that I liked this man – or at least thought I liked him – was, for me, a rarity.
I met him at uni, and at first I hated him. Hated him. Looking at him made me angry and listening to words come out of his mouth made me want to pound his chest with my fists and yell, ‘What is wrong with you, you ridiculous misogynist?’ Because I was convinced he was a misogynist (and I’m still not totally convinced that he’s not). He wanted the windows shut, I wanted them open. He would make comments on Freudian theories that made all the women in the class look around at each other with widened eyes. He once left an empty bottle on the table after class; I wanted to yell after him, ‘Some woman gonna pick up after you, huh?’
The book: War and Peace by Tolstoy
The locations: Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador, 2009
The big Russian classics should only be read when you are confident that you have the time that they require and the willingness to dedicate that time to the book. I started War and Peace way back in 2009 when I was in Honduras, on Utila in the Bay Islands, where I was learning how to dive. I hadn’t the slightest clue what I was doing (in life or in any sense), but I was certain that I loved whatever it was that I was doing – and I was equally enamoured by Tolstoy. I ripped through the book, literally…
On a particularly nice day, lying on a sun-bathed wooden deck that reached out high over the water, I sat reading the book. I remember feeling very self-conscious in my bikini, with my white skin aglow and two sandfly bites on my arse that made me look like I had four butt cheeks not two. I was already 200-odd pages deep (shallow?) and the book was becoming easier to hold in my hands. I had put it down, however, probably struck by something that violently resonated with my 22-year-old self (after all, I was reading about nineteenth-century Russia), when a gentle breeze picked up the front cover. Before I could stop it from happening the first 100 pages or so were flying out over the water. The paperback spine had melted in the sun.
I snapped the book shut and flipped it over so as to save what was left. Most of the lost pages had already settled on the water’s surface and were slowly moving out towards the horizon. War and Peace, on water. (It is rather beautiful and poetic in my memory – calm and warm, very surreal – but at the time it was sheer panic: ‘My book! My book is in the water!’)
My mum asked me what I did on the weekend. I told her I went on a Valentine’s Day date. She gasped violently. ‘Ohhhhh?’ she said. I felt instantly guilty; I didn’t think she’d actually believe that a) I would agree to go on a date on Valentine’s Day or b) that ever a thing would come about.
‘Yeah… by myself.’ I laughed; she sighed and sounded very disappointed.
It is rare for me to discuss my ‘romantic’ life with my mum, mainly because I don’t really have one – romance, for me, is receiving a reply text from a guy in less than 24 hours. Besides, she already thinks I’m headed for a life of eternal solitude if I continue as I am. At Christmas she warned me not to get so comfortable by myself that it would be impossible for me to ever live with someone.
I said, ‘I think it might be a little late for advice like that.’
So she suggested I join a few groups – a hiking group or something! – in order to meet someone. And she wasn’t even joking – she was quite serious! She seemed to be under the impression that I wasn’t putting myself out there. That I just sat at home with my head in a book all day, every day (though I do not deny this does happen, from time to time).
I said, ‘Mum.’ I said, ‘Listen. Don’t think I don’t try. I try. I’m trying.’
Valentine’s Day works differently in Japan where it’s the women who do the gift-giving. Mostly they gift chocolates – but not any old box of chocolates and not only to their lovers. There exists a chocolate hierarchy, based on price, quality and packaging, that reflects the relationship a woman has (or wants) with a man, so she’d want to get it right!
Giri-choco (obligation chocolates) are gifted to men with whom you have no romantic connection, such as colleagues, work superiors, teachers and male friends. You don’t give these chocolates as a gesture of love, you give these chocolates because you have to. They’re store-bought and cheap (but not too cheap) – I’m thinking these are your Cadbury Favourites (preferably on sale). If there’s someone you really don’t want to buy chocolates for, but of course have to, then you can get them cho-giri-choco (super obligatory chocolates). These are the real el cheapos; I’m thinking your Whitman’s, bought bargain-basement style, dated 2005.
Honmei-choko, on the other hand, are ‘real feeling chocolates’, and are on the other end of the spectrum, price- and quality-wise. These are an expression of love or romantic interest and so you give them to your boyfriend, husband or crush. I guess we’re talking Haigh’s here. Some women even go as far as making their own chocolates for their beau – this is the ultimate gesture as it shows you’ve spent time and care in preparing your gift. (Personally I’d rather die alone than make decorated chocolates.)
Long, cascading, natural, healthy hair on a woman is lauded as a symbol of beauty, just so long as that hair isn’t growing between her legs. Or under her arms, on her top lip, between her breasts, around her nipples or all down her legs – all that, it exists only in its non-existence.
At one time or another, driven undoubtedly, in some small part, by shame and disgust, feelings of which have been cultivated by external sources, and are not, unsurprisingly, organic manifestations of the female mind, I have shaved, waxed, bleached, epilated, plucked, lasored or simply lamented over every single hair on my body. All that ‘unwanted’ hair, you see, is seen as a demonstration of the ‘unfeminine’ – which seems a ridiculous contradiction, doesn’t it, since all women have body hair, and surely as women we should define and control what ‘femininity’ is.