“You should date somebody from Twitter,” my flattie JC told me one night at the pub. This was a couple of years back, when meeting people from t’internet was still something of a novelty and you didn’t tell your mother when you were doing it.
“Don’t be an idiot,” I said and waved my beer dismissively. The truth was I had already considered this and had reasonable-sized crushes on more than a few of my followers. Plus my Twitter network was relatively small, highly interactive and privy to a lot of details regarding my personal life. It’d save a lot of the legwork involved in getting to know somebody on a first date.
“No, seriously,” JC continued, “I bet that if you tweeted on a Saturday night and said you wanted somebody to take you out, you’d have at least 5 offers in the first hour.”
I didn’t know whether he was right or wrong, but the likelihood of me actually doing this was roughly equal to using my beer money to sponsor an African child. I had met enough people online to know that some of them were fun and could become your new BFFs, but others were fun and then later proved to have a very tenuous grip on reality. In the beginning, it’s almost impossible to tell which category the stranger sitting on your couch chopping weed will fall into.
So I put aside the idea of Twitter dating for the meantime, but then after a depressingly dry season, I began to consider it more seriously. I mean, if I was on Twitter and I wasn’t a freak, then surely most of the other people who were on Twitter weren’t freaks either? Maybe I should be more open minded?
Later that week, I was on the bus after 6 or 7 cocktails and recklessly decided to ask out someone from Twitter. I looked through my list of followers and finally settled on a guy who had flirted with me a little in the past.
“Want to grab a beer sometime?” I DMed him.
“Sure!” he replied.
I arranged to meet him for drinks after work the following Wednesday. Then I texted my friend Keira and said, “I just asked out a guy from Twitter.”
Keira wrote back, “Two words: Mister Burns.”
Mister Burns was a philosophy student I had met a couple of years earlier through RSVP.com and, after seeing his reasonably attractive profile picture, agreed to meet in real life for coffee. But when he showed up on the day, he looked a bit like Gollum and was wearing a matching block coloured tracksuit. He smelled vaguely of urine. “I have to go,” I said, not even bothering to formulate an excuse, then climbed straight back into my car and drove away.
I wasn’t so worried about meeting this Twitter guy though. I’d seen a few photos of him and he looked okay. I was confident about the date, but when Wednesday arrived, I found myself feeling nervous. “What if he’s ugly?” I asked the girls at work. “Or what if he’s fat? Oh my god, what have I done?”
Fortunately, he wasn’t fat. In fact, he was pretty cute. We smashed some beers and had great conversations and I thought, yes, this is going so well, snaps for me.
I agreed to meet him for a coffee the following weekend, and I was genuinely looking forward to it. But in the harsh light of day, he was nowhere near as attractive. In fact, he kind of looked a bit like my brother, which was cause for immediate disqualification. It was too late to back out though, so I sat down, ordered a coffee and began mentally scraping together a list of possible excuses to leave early. He seemed nervous in a sober setting and spoke at great length about his cats.
This date was very borderline: bad enough that I knew I wouldn’t see him again, but not quite bad enough to leave after only half an hour. But then he solved my dilemma by shifting the balance.
We were discussing his vegetarianism, and I inquired about his iron levels. “Do you get sick a lot?” I asked. “I went off red meat for a while last year and just seemed to come down with cold after cold.”
“Well it’s different for women,” he said, “As they have a tendency to….you know…”
Here he made a violent flowing gesture with both hands and whispered, “Bleed.”
I picked up my bag and left him with the bill.
After I ignored him for a few days, he messaged me.
Him: “Was that initial drink supposed to be a date or a networking thing?”
Me: “A networking thing. Why do you ask?”
Him: “Oh I’m embarrassed… Not that I had assumed one way or the other, but yeah… Shit, I’m an ass.”
Me: “It’s okay, everybody makes mistakes.”
He unfollowed me on Twitter not long after.
This one time, at Hotel CBD, I was drinking gin with some friends when this forty-something guy began lurking near our table. My friend, whose eloquence was matched only by her drunkenness, turned to him and said, “Fuck off, you’re old.”
His jaw dropped a little and he went and sat at the table immediately next to us, looking crestfallen. I was embarrassed, so I went over and apologised on behalf of my friend. He bought me a drink and we started chatting. He told me he was in Sydney on business and didn’t know anyone, but just wanted to chill out and have a drink in town. We talked for a while about travelling, university, and how unnecessarily rude my friend was for assuming he was trying to hit on a bunch of chicks who were clearly young enough to be his children. I mean, come on, he just wanted someone to talk to! He just wanted to hang out! No funny business or anything. And what is wrong with society these days that you can’t just go up to people and say hello without them jumping to conclusions and assuming you’re trying to fuck them? The world has truly gone down the toilet.
After a while, I noticed my friends were getting ready to leave, so I stood up and held out my hand.
Me: Have a good night.
Old man: So, can I have your number?
Old man: I find you very attractive and I’d like to take you out to dinner.
Me: We just had a ten minute conversation about how old you are and how it would be criminal of you to date anyone my age.
Old man: Mmm I know.
Me: If you really want to, you can add me on Facebook.
Old man: What’s that?
He gave me his business card and I kept it for a while, because he looked so much like Drew Carey.
That pretty much sums up my dating history anyway.
Me: One of my friends bought an egg.
Matt: What’s that?
Me: It’s like a vibrator, but you can put the whole thing inside you.
Matt: Like a sexy tampon?
Me: Did you just remember one of my jokes?
Matt: *dirty look*
Matt: Do you want a lift to work in the morning?
Me: No thanks. My only exercise these days is walking to work. And fucking.
Matt: I like a girl with a bit of meat on her bones.
Me: Think very hard about what you say next.
Matt: I mean, I like you.
Me: Just stop talking.
Matt: But I was being nice?
Me: Shut up.
Me: Be careful with that guitar. It’s worth more than you…
Matt: *dirty look*
Me: …to me.
Some of you will know who was involved in the events below. Please do leave a comment and feel free to ask questions, but I would appreciate it if no names were mentioned, in order to protect the innocent (and the guilty.)
I was having drinks with an old friend when the subject of my particularly heinous ex came up.
“You need to be smarter,” he advised as I wrapped up the latest update.
“Fuck off,” I replied. “It’s not as if these guys come with a big tag saying DOUCHEBAG. You can’t pick them.”
“Yes, you can,” he insisted. “Well I can, anyway.”
All men think this. They have absolute faith in their ability to spot an arsehole, presumably because they’ve been one themselves at some stage.
“Go on,” I said.
“Okay. So if a guy has a popped collar – he’s a douchebag. And if he’s got the southern cross tattooed anywhere on his body, I won’t even speak to him. Also, bleached hair is a huge indicator of fuckwittage.”
“But my ex didn’t have any of that stuff,” I protested. “Then again, he wasn’t a conventional douchebag. He was actually…evil.”
“Yeah, yeah, all men are scum,” my friend said, and waved his hand dismissively.
I opened my mouth to argue, but found myself at a familiar loss. I’d already had this conversation with various people over the past few months – with both men and women – but I was still struggling to find a way to explain exactly what went on in my relationship.
In a nutshell: I chose to be with an emotionally abusive, lying, manipulative cunt, for nearly two years.
Did I know it at the time? Yes. Was I able to walk away from the relationship? No. How did it actually happen? I’m not sure.
I’m a reasonably well-balanced individual. I’m relatively smart. And ordinarily, I’ve got a pretty healthy sense of self-esteem. But over the years I was with this guy, he took all the parts of my brain that made me normal and systematically destroyed them. By the second year, I was a mess. I couldn’t concentrate at work, I didn’t sleep, I was 8kg below my normal weight, I took too many drugs, I drank too much, I had no interest in my friends, and I lived in a perpetual state of fear and intense anxiety.
It started slowly… A few comments about my weight, my make up, my dress sense. Some condescending remarks about my work or my writing or my professional reputation. Over time, that developed into plain insults, combined with accusations of cheating, irrational jealousy, and constant arguments. He made a habit of pointing out everything I did wrong (and I was always doing something wrong.) He told me that my friends were conspiring against me and I should cut them out of my life. He read my emails and went through my things. He joined forums to follow my online interactions. He forbade me from talking to some of my male friends. He ranted and raved and screamed until I learned not to complain about anything. He told me I was paranoid. He told me I was stupid. He told me I was inappropriate. He told me I was a slut. He yelled at me when I cried. He said he wanted to punch me in the face. He threatened to kill my family.
And he cheated. Oh yes, he cheated, a thousand times. And for an obscene period of time, he had two serious girlfriends concurrently.
“Why did you keep going back to him?” is the question everyone asks.
Quite simply, I was terrified of not having him because he had rebuilt every aspect of my life to revolve around him. There was just nothing left. I had alienated most of my friends, and my relationship with my parents had become strained because I was so agitated all the time or trying to hide the fact that I was fucked up. My work, my music, my writing, my social life, and everything else I enjoyed had somehow come to involve him to such a degree that I couldn’t do any of those things without him. He made my life miserable, but I needed him desperately because I had come to depend on him for almost everything. I had no coping skills left and having someone else control my life was somehow comforting, even if they were the one who made the mess in the first place. He would regularly orchestrate situations that he knew would devastate me, then swoop in at the last minute to fix things as I floundered. Eventually, he was all I had.
I suffered most of this in silence. I never really told anyone what was happening, because I knew what their answer would be, and I knew I couldn’t leave him. Plus, I was just plain embarrassed. There was simply no point in having that discussion.
But of course, it ended eventually. I uncovered a series of transgressions so major that even I couldn’t talk myself into believing his bullshit anymore. I arranged a meeting, and then I threw myself at him, kicking and screaming, hitting and biting. He didn’t feel it, but he left me alone after that.
Once the adrenaline of that final episode wore off, I fell into a bit of a slump. I was still reeling from everything that had happened, but everyone had already heard the story and was bored with it. I looked okay, so everyone assumed I was. My job kept me busy and functional during the day, but most nights I drank until I passed out. I felt completely traumatised. I’d always known my relationship contained some untruth, but discovering the scale of the lies was devastating. It felt like an episode of Scooby Doo, when the villain peels back his mask and you realise you had completely mistaken his identity altogether. I agonised over how I was supposed to prevent a situation like that from developing again, when I wasn’t really sure how I’d let it happen in the first place. And at the end of the day, I was simply floored by the fact that a human being could be so completely, purely, remorselessly awful. So I drank until I couldn’t maintain a string of logic, I turned off my phone, and I didn’t leave my house unless I absolutely had to. I simply needed to sit, alone, and try to remember who I was. Gradually the shock wore off and I remembered how to be a normal person, but the anger never really faded. I realised that up until that point in my life, I’d never actually hated anyone. I say that I hate things or people all the time, but this was red-hot and bigger than me. I was afraid it would make me do something terrible. I’m still afraid of that.
I think about him less now, but when I do, it’s always in fantasy: I see him drunk, stumbling around the city one night. He trips and staggers in front of a bus. It crushes him instantly. His body breaks and he’s thrown to the side of the road. He lies there, a tangle of gore and smashed limbs. He can’t speak, but he can hear. And he needs an ambulance, fast. I walk over, kneel next to him, and look into his eyes. “You worthless fuck,” I say and spit in his face, then walk away.
Arsehole: Why won’t you go out with me?
Me: You’re coming on a little too strong.
Arsehole: What do you mean?
Me: Well.. it’s like when a cat is trying to sneak up on a bird. If the cat runs up to the bird, making lots of noise and sudden movements, then the bird will get scared and fly away before the cat makes it within a five metre radius. But if the cat moves towards the bird slowly and quietly, one step at a time, eventually it might be able to sit right next to the bird.
Arsehole: I don’t understand.
Me: I’m the bird.
Arsehole: Do you have any hot friends?
Love is a Class IV substance that was legalised in the 1960′s for treatment of depression and bunions. Often confused with hunger, love is not a matter to be taken lightly.
I once bought a bottle of love, then I woke up in the desert two days later with a criminal record in all four Australian states. I had “GORDON” tattooed around my belly button and a thermos full of dead whores. I was forced to walk back to Sydney using only my cunning and a greyhound bus, and when I got there, I threw out all my love and ordered a mandolin and a chocolate-brown shag rug online.
If you’re worried you might have been exposed to love, you can call the Gay Men’s Health Line on 1800 009 448 and do not listen to John Mayer.
To conclude: people often fall in love and people always die.
When I was in highschool, there was a group of boys four years above us who were all blonde and hot. They never showed the slightest interest in us during school, but after graduation, I became visible.
One night I spotted the group’s ringleader, Ryan, at a local nightclub. I caught his eye, then looked away and smiled. He approached me and asked, “Can I buy you a drink?” and thus began a brief sort of relationship.
Ryan was attractive, friendly and smelled nice. However, once we got to know each other a bit better, I realised that he was painfully boring. I didn’t really care about any part of his personality because it was all so mundane and ordinary, I wanted to stab out my eyes with a dirty chopstick. The sex was good, but when it came to conversation, I would have preferred a homeless person. The issue was that Ryan was too normal and well-balanced for me. I need to date men who are tortured and neurotic and irrational, otherwise I lose interest after about eight minutes. So whenever Ryan talked, my eyes would glaze over and I would fantasise about being with somebody less average. Every time he suggested we go out for dinner or a movie, I would panic at the thought of being forced to endure hours of his conversation. “Why don’t we just stay at your place and fool around?” I would suggest, trying to reign the relationship back to its shallow, physical roots.
After a month or so of this, I met somebody more interesting and stopped answering Ryan’s calls. I then successfully avoided him until roughly a year later, when I bumped into him at the same club in which we met.
“Hey!” he cried, scooping me into a hug.
“Hi,” I said, pulling away from him.
“Gosh, I haven’t heard from you in ages!” he said.
“I lost my phone,” I lied.
“Can I take you out for a drink sometime?” he asked.
“Oh, I don’t think so. No, thank you.”
“Hey, Neek,” he said, beginning to look downcast, “I don’t know if you heard, but my dad had a heart attack a few months ago and he… he died. My dad died.”
“Oh. I’m sorry,” I said, scanning the bar for my friends.
“I could sort of use someone to talk to right now,” he said quietly.
“Well you’ve still got your mum, right?” I reminded him. “Listen, my ride’s about to leave. Take care.”
The following is a text message conversation that occurred sometime during 2006.
Me: “If I had to give you awkward and unpleasant news, what would be your preferred mode of delivery?”
Boy: “Text is fine.”
Me: “I really don’t like you.”
Boy: “No worries.”
Believe it or not, I once dated somebody with a questionable friendship circle. They were nice enough boys, but they had a habit of going to the pub on Friday night and waking up on Sunday morning.
One such Sunday morning, I was requested to pick up a few of the boys and transport them to a BBQ. And so I was happily driving along, enjoying the sunshine and attempting to ignore the smell of hangover in my backseat, when a certain gentleman named Daniel grabbed my arm. “PULL OVER” he said, opening the car door.
I sat in my car and waited while Daniel vomited profusely on somebody’s rose bushes and swore in between heaves. “Cunt.. Haaaggguuhh.. Fucking.. ggarrhgh.. Mother.. snergggh.” And then I waited while he turned on the nearby garden hose and held it over his head, washing off the spew that had splashed onto his face and shirt. “What a fucking yak!” he declared, chunks of vomit flying as he violently shook out his hair, not unlike some kind of wildebeest.
It was then that we both noticed the young couple and their children, sitting on their front porch and staring at the rose bushes, untouched bowls of cereal in front of them.
A few years ago I was lonely, bored, depressed and rarely left my bedroom. After too many white wines one night, I created a profile for myself on RSVP and sat back to watch my inbox fill with eligible young bachelors. One guy in particular sparked my interest. Let’s call him Gavin, because that was his name, and still is his name, assuming he hasn’t died.
Gavin and I exchanged a few emails and chatted on MSN. He was smart and funny, and looked cute in his profile picture.
I asked Gavin if he wanted to meet up for coffee. (Like I said – I was extremely single at this point in my life.) He agreed, but said I’d have to meet him in Penrith because that’s where he lived and he didn’t drive.
Alarm bells began to ring softly in my head, but I ignored them. Unlike today when a single spelling mistake can disqualify somebody, back then I was a lot more tolerant. I liked to think that I would never judge a person based on where they lived.
And so I made the long drive out west, found the shopping centre Gavin had nominated, and located the coffee shop he wished to meet at. It was closed, so I sat outside on a bench and watched the local ageing men walk past. Suddenly one of them stopped in front of me and asked, “Annik?”
I considered denying my identity, but I’d already hesitated too long and confirmed it. Gavin bore an uncanny resemblance to Mr Burns from The Simpsons. He was completely bald, hunched over, and had rotting teeth. He smelled like cheap cologne and was wearing a block-colour charcoal track suit. He embodied every physical Penrith cliche.
“The coffee shop’s closed,” I stammered.
“That’s okay, we can just go for a walk,” he replied.
We strolled slowly to the side of the carpark as he babbled awkwardly about a holiday he once took, I can’t even remember where, because my brain was busy going “JESUS FUCK I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE.”
As we approached the road, I turned to Gavin and said, “You know what? I have to go.”
Then I walked over to my car and drove home.
When I got there, I had a text on my phone from Gavin saying, “Sorry if that was disappointing.”
I didn’t write back. I blocked him on MSN and changed my email address. I removed my profile from RSVP and showered thoroughly. Then I burst into tears.
Never before had I felt so incredibly shallow. I’d enjoyed conversing with somebody and exchanging stories, then as soon as I knew what they really looked like, I wanted nothing to do with them. I was a bitch and I was going to hell.
Later that night, I related my online-dating experience to a friend’s mother.
“Am I totally horrible?” I asked her when I had finished.
“God, no,” she replied, “You can’t fuck an ugly person.”