As I’m sure most of you are well aware, the world changes.
When I was younger, life was different. We described things we enjoyed as “groovy” rather than “rad” or “bitchin'”; we had a devil-may-care attitude about beef and fried foods, which we ate with gay abandon. There were no paedophiles, only tv presenters. I’m not claiming it was a better time, just a different one.
We didn’t relate to each other in the same way either. We would get together for “rap sessions,” where we shared our true feelings and a decent amount of bodily fluids with people who gathered together to celebrate and challenge the world around us.
I was a part of a community named the Sunshine Happiness Alliance Group with whom I briefly lived in a large barn in the middle of a dense woods hundreds and hundreds of miles away from the comfort and familiarity of Trenton, New Jersey. There were about forty of us in the “family” — we each held responsibilities (work and emotional) to ensure the group’s success; we grew, made and smoked everything we needed to stay healthy, happy and really, really high.
There was nothing untoward about our little group; the fact that six weeks after I left, the rest of them committed mass suicide I’m sure was purely coincidental. However, these days — these different but not necessarily better or worse days — though, some humans have evolved into borderline beasts who willingly abuse others through mind manipulation and control, which are surprisingly easy to master.
These people create cults, and you may be a member of one.
Do not panic. Keep your face completely neutral: they’re probably watching you right now, and any look of concern on your face is going to raise suspicion among the cult’s leaders. Stay cool, Jack, and read on.
First, we need to be sure. Consider these questions about the group with whom you identify:
- Do the leaders use trickery, seduction or military tactics to recruit new followers?
- Do they demand loyalty?
- Do they use symbols and expect you to worship these symbols as sacred?
- Do they treat people outside the group as aliens?
- Do they manipulate logic, even to the extent of contradicting themselves?
- Do they encourage you to challenge them or their ideas?
- If you do question anything, do they exclude you, call you a traitor or threaten you?
If you’ve answered yes, you may be in trouble. Again, DO NOT PANIC. Now we’re going to look at how you can break free and rid yourself of any residue of brainwashing.
- Interact with people outside the group — even if they look, think, worship or do sexy-sex in ways you do not.
- Drink at least a litre of water a day.
- Stop watching Fox News and reading the Daily Mail.
- Decide what you think is right and good, and be loyal to that.
It is nice to be a part of a group. In fact, not only is it nice, it’s also good, because people who are only ever on their own can tend to be a bit on the creepy side. Whether your group is based on politics, lifestyle or mutual admiration of a sports team, actor, musician, writer or hobby, there’s a real sense of warmth when you are with those with whom you have things in common.
But remember that you are an individual with the ability to think critically, and you must never let no one take that away from you. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.
On a completely unrelated note, have you joined the thousands who have already purchased my newest book? Don’t be like those other losers; what are you, a traitor or something?
We used to live in a world where not only did parents not have to warn their kids about strangers, relationships between children and mysterious adults were actually encouraged. Parents would often suggest their sons and daughters do odd jobs around strangers’ houses, take their money and sweets, get into their vans. Ahhh, good times. But those days are gone. Kids today—at home and at school—are repeatedly pounded like fists with the message that stranger equals danger.
Sadly, our world has become so effed up that I believe the Stranger Danger mantra is beneficial advice for grown women as well. Particularly when it comes to the dating scene, too many ladies are “hooking up” with strangers to disastrous results. I could you cite you thousands of horrible, blood curdling stories of broken hearts, lives and engagements, but I am not in the business of scaring people. Instead, just think on this: remember that last jerk you dated? Who was he before you met him? Answer: a stranger.
So if you can’t date strangers, whom am I suggesting you date? Well, firstly, I must remind you that we are living in the 21st century where love and marriage are teetering on the edge of extinction. The truth is: you needn’t date anyone. Flirt, dally with, shag, all fine, I don’t care. But if you are still chasing that boyfriend-girlfriend-happy-ever-after dream, I would suggest you get with the program.
But alas, I know that not all women are as enlightened as I and the continued popularity of padded bras, dating websites and issues of Cosmopolitan magazine indicates that ladies are still actively looking for love in all the wrong places. Cease and desist forthwith. If you’re going to date, date someone you already know.
Make a list of the people you know. Exclude anyone who is related to you by blood. Cross out any exes. Erase anyone you work with—it might seem tempting at a drunken Christmas party, but office romances rarely end well. Also, get rid of anyone with whom you have a doctor-patient relationship. When the relationship goes sour (which it eventually will), you’re going to have get a new GP and if you think finding a permanent partner is difficult, good luck finding two decent doctors in one lifetime.
It’s likely there is one group of candidates left on your list: your friends’ partners. Do I shock you? Well, hear me out. I am certainly not suggesting that you participate in an illicit affair. As you know, I believe trust and honesty are points of paramount significance between friends. Your assumption that I would suggest such a betrayal is appalling to me.
Instead, gather all your coupled friends around the table and propose a deal. If you explain that you need some attention, some affection, perhaps even a bit of rumpy pumpy, I can guarantee that at least one of your friends is sick to death of those very things and would gladly offer up her partner to you in exchange for something she needs: a break. Between the two of you, you’ll be able to devise a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Now this solution will only be temporary, of course, but all those blind dates, online chats and singles nights at bars won’t be leading to anything permanent either. You know that. This strategy has many advantages: your friend has already told her partner all of your worst qualities so you needn’t try to hard to be someone else. Naturally, you already know the good, bad and ugly of the partner so you know in advance which areas to avoid (finances, work stress) and which to accentuate (athletic skills, nipples). You’ve also got a built-in break up strategy—the phrase “we can’t do this to her anymore” will end it quite quickly. Plus you’ll be helping your friend out. Everybody’s a winner.
Wise and wonderful women around the world know that when it comes to finding love, strangers are just too risky. Recycling isn’t just for rubbish: a secondhand romance may be just what you need.
My goodness, there’s a lot of shite talked on the Internet!
Of course, there are websites where important information and clever discourse are shared, but alas, they are few and far between. Most of what the Internet shares is neither big nor clever, but rather the kind of bollocks that comes out of the mouth of Jonny Chav after a night of drinking Special Brew and kicking the shit out of someone’s granny.
There’s no better place to see this ignorance in action than in the Comments section of pretty much every site on the web, regardless of the publisher’s own purpose. If you don’t believe me, spend a quarter of an hour browsing a few. Take the bullets out of your gun before you do, though, because you’re likely to have lost the will to live within minutes of reading.
I was really hoping when President Obama came into office promising to change our world for the better that he’d be able to clean up the Internet. However, I appreciate that he’s got to have priorities, which explains why he’s not gotten to it just yet (but not why he hasn’t closed Guantanamo Bay). Until it’s all sorted, I propose some basic rules about making comments on the web. I, of course, do not control the world (yet), so at this point, please consider them suggestions rather than requirements. I suppose I am appealing to people’s common sense, which I know is problematic as not all people possess common sense (I need look no further than my publisher’s recent edit suggestions to know this—absolutely outrageous!), but we’ve got to start somewhere.
1. If you feel a strong reaction to the piece you’ve just read, consider who wrote it. If they are a twat, do not write a comment. Twats will never learn, no matter how reasoned your argument may be. Instead of trying to right the wrong through an Internet thread, go out and actually try to right the wrong. You probably won’t accomplish any real progress, but you might meet some new people and/or get some sun on that pasty face of yours.
2. If you feel a strong reaction to the comments about a piece you’ve just read, do not write a comment. Firstly, there apparently exist some people who say upsetting things on comment threads just to rile or hurt others. In a civilised society, these people would either be locked up or employed as pastors in Florida. Don’t engage with them. If you think a person genuinely believes the upsetting things they’ve written in their comment, they are most likely a twat (see #1).
3. If you do not already possess some knowledge of the topic being discussed, do not write a comment. Instead go learn more about the topic. There are laws (or if there aren’t, there should be) which prevent two-year-olds from walking into an oncology conference and taking the podium to make claims about the latest bone marrow transplant breakthroughs—offering up an uninformed opinion on a comment thread is equally useless (and will confirm to others that you still make poo poo in your diaper). If you think you already possess some knowledge of the topic being discussed, be pretty damn sure before you write anything. If you feel compelled to use phrases like “My mate told me. . .” or “I think I read somewhere that . . . ” you probably don’t know enough about the topic to contribute to a worthwhile discussion. This isn’t a criticism (well, it kind of is); but seriously, it just makes sense.
4. Godwin’s Law proposes that all Internet debates will eventually lead to someone making a comparison involving Nazis and therefore the debate becomes null and void. Sadly, this is likely and not restricted to Internet-only disagreements. The new protocol is that unless a person can appropriately and critically explain all of Hitler’s political ideology (and no, being able to recite Mein Kampf word-for-word is not the same thing), they are prohibited from references to Nazism.
5. In the same vein, do not include any word or phrase in your comment that you cannot properly define. Particularly tricky terms include (but aren’t limited to) socialism, political correctness, middle class, immigrant, right, wrong, freedom and your.
If you’ve followed these guidelines and still really want to make a comment, go ahead and write one. Write the best, most brilliant comment ever written. But don’t hit submit. Instead consider how much time you’ve just spent at the computer. You’re not getting any younger, you know. Don’t waste what’s left of your life making a mockery of the art of intelligent conversation on a global stage. Use your time more wisely.
And if you still want your comment to appear on the Internet, I can’t stop you. But realise it probably means you are a twat. Or a Nazi. Or both.
Whenever we’re traveling, it’s a good idea to have a few landmarks on our maps to know that we are heading in the right direction. People point out the cemetery on the right to let us know that in two miles we need to turn left to reach our destination.
In our lifespan, those landmarks are milestone birthdays. They’re not quite as reliable as that cemetery (we all know what happens when people move cemeteries), because each of us arrives at them in different ways. However, when it comes to special birthday celebrations, our own experience is irrelevant. I’m not here to tell you where you should be by the time you’re 16 or 40 or 75; ultimately, if you want to follow or break from a tradition, it’s nowt to do with me. What I can do, though, is let you know what others’ expectations will be to help buffer the shock just a tad.
YOUR FIRST BIRTHDAY
The first milestone is obviously one’s first birthday. It’s clearly all about other people, since one-year-olds are legitimately too stupid to know anything about life whatsoever. Luckily, other people’s expectations for this one are pretty low: as long as they get to take a picture of you with cake on your face, they’ll be happy.
YOUR TENTH BIRTHDAY
Moving into double digits means that others will start expecting a little more. You might be expected to do chores; you may start dealing with money. You will also be asked to “perform” for people at family gatherings, and unlike when you were 6, it’ll no longer be cute when you sing off tune or forget the words of the Gettysburg Address (I’m afraid I had to learn this the hard way). How you deal with this pressure will be up to you, but the main thing you should be prepared for is that, while it will feel like the worst thing in the world to you, no one will really give a shit.
Adolescence is a complicated time because of the physical and emotional changes you will be going through. To add further complications, there are a number of different milestones during these years. For example, in the Jewish tradition, one’s thirteenth birthday is important—this is when you become responsible for your actions. That’s pretty heavy stuff for someone who is technically still developmentally an idiot.
For girls of any religious persuasion, the first menstrual period will be a momentous time for now you are technically eligible for the position of motherhood. What the hell’s that all about, nature? Depending on your family’s background, this will be greeted with either with pride or shame. Try not to let it affect you too much—luckily the hassle, pain and need for notes excusing you from PE classes should keep you pretty much distracted.
A driver’s license also signals a major turning point. This will heap more responsibility onto your shoulders. Undoubtedly you will think this unfair, because that’s just the kind of thing teenagers do. But remember, you can now get behind the wheel of a potentially lethal weapon, so there’s got to be some kind of balance between your needs and others’.
YOUR EIGHTEENTH BIRTHDAY
In many countries, your eighteenth birthday means you can officially do grown-up things like run for election, drink, marry, join the military and be a consenting adult. Keep in mind that you just because you can doesn’t mean you have to.
YOUR TWENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY
This is often the first time that you will start looking back on your life, realizing that some of it has already gone. Others will note this as well; essentially what people are really doing is reminding you that you’re on the path towards death. This is a drag, especially if they do it as you’re blowing out your candles, but it is, of course, true.
This can also be a difficult time for men especially as it marks the end of what’s commonly referred to as your “sexual peak.” Don’t let this talk worry you; you have plenty years of masturbatory pleasure left.
YOUR THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY
This is often an important one because you are likely to remember your parents in their thirties. This is a recipe for comparison: how come your mother was married with kids on her thirtieth and you’re still single and letting your ex’s new girlfriend raise your twins? How come your father had worked his way up to a managerial position by his thirtieth and you’re still waiting for your band to hit the big time? You may be doing these comparisons in your head, but, trust me, others definitely will be and may start treating you like you’re a failure. (They’ve probably been feeling this for years, but it may be the first time they act on it.)
For women, your thirties will also mark a milestone in terms of your bodies: they will start changing but more importantly, you’ll start hearing (or at least hearing others talking about) your “biological clock.” The truth is, if you are planning to throw your life away on motherhood, now is a good time to it. But don’t let your parents, your friends or your spinster aunt’s regrets pressure you into doing something you’re not ready to do.
YOUR FORTIETH BIRTHDAY
This is seen by many as the Big One. Because unless you’ve already passed it, forty is seen as past it (particularly for the female of the species). You don’t have to embrace this interpretation, but be aware that many others do. This includes the twenty-year-olds you work with (their flirting is actually mockery) and your doctor (who will now expect you to regularly schedule tests so he can tell you which parts of your body are starting to fail).
YOUR FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY
People will note that you are a half a century old; given that only freaks live a hundred years, I think we all know what they’re really pointing out: most of your life is gone. Not even crumblies think of a 50-year-old when they think of a young person, so be prepared that even if you feel young, using the word to describe yourself will cause others will see you as delusional and/or embarrassing. Even the phrase “young at heart” is a bit troublesome at this point as you think about your echocardiogram results and your dodgy arteries. I’m definitely not saying you are old, but you are older than a whole generation of other adults. They are well aware of this.
YOUR SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY
You might get a bus pass or discounts on your early bird dinner special, but the truth is this milestone isn’t as important as it once was. Starting off your sixth decade used to signal your eventual retirement from employment, but nowadays you’ll end up working until the day you drop dead, so thank god for that, eh?
YOUR SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY
You are old now. Everyone thinks that and will expect you to act old. They will assume you don’t remember yesterday, comprehend technology, or experience sexual desire. Even if their assumptions are wrong, you may want to consider working their mistakes to your benefit. Being in your seventies allows you to lie like a rug and people’s reactions will usually just be, “Ahhhh, bless.”
YOUR ONE-HUNDREDTH BIRTHDAY
What others expect from you on this milestone is absolutely irrelevant.
Obviously, your body as it ages will present you with opportunities and limitations, but ultimately age is just a number and like most things related to numbers, obsessing about it is boring. Others will respond to you in different ways as you evolve, but it’s important to be true to yourself. It’s your journey, regardless of the route you take. But if you are headed through my neighbourhood on your way, can you stop and pick up a pint of milk for me?
This afternoon, I was outrageously accused of being unfair to young people. And I have no intention of forgiving the childish little shit who said it.
Yes, I had just finished writing up a complaint to the council about the lads across the road, but this had nothing to do with bias — I was only speaking on behalf of the entire street. And when I came home from the surgery yesterday, my comment about the new consultant’s youthful choice of shoes was purely innocent. And why would someone appear on television in droopy trousers if he didn’t want his pert, tender bottom to be remarked upon? I’m allowed my opinions, aren’t I?
Despite Christopher’s attempt to back me into a corner (an experience I have enjoyed much more in the past), you’ll not see me making any grand comments on a large group of people. That would be discriminatory, and if there’s one thing I hate more than Australians, it’s discrimination.
But I will say this: if you are a member of the large group of people who claimed the new Doctor’s dialogue needs subtitles, you, my friend, are a racist.
This morning a friend sent me an email letter to which was attached a ‘hilarious’ photograph of something she saw on her travels across the US (I won’t say which state it was in, but if you assumed it was a Midwestern one, you would not be wrong). It was of a bumper sticker that read:
If I pass you on the right, your in the wrong.
The car displaying this sticker was unsurprisingly red and had hubcaps on its wheels which spun even when the vehicle was stationary.
Unlike in England where two-way roads are so narrow bicyclists barely have the space to travel down them, most roads in America are multi-laned in each direction. Americans drive on the right side of the road (and before any Britons assume that I mean right as in correct, rest assured I mean right as in not left: you will not find me in any motoring-based morality arguments like that). The general rule is that those driving the speed limit should drive in the right lane, and that the left lane be used only by those who are speeding (which happily makes it quite easy for coppers to spot lawbreakers). The left lane therefore is also known (by twats) as the ‘fast lane’.
Clearly the driver in the red Ford displaying said bumper sticker feels strongly about this guideline. He is clearly so outraged by those in the left lane travelling at the speed limit that not only does he feel the need to overtake them, he also takes the opportunity to remind them that they are in fact wrong’. I can only deduce from his placing of a non-removable decal on his vehicle (not even on the bumper, mind, but across the rear window) that the ‘fast lane’ issue is a passion of his, something he feels in the very pit of his soul.
Perhaps I should admire his commitment. However, I do not. Because he is clearly an idiot, and idiots do not deserve admiration for anything they do. There is one simple clue to his idiocy—though I’ve no doubt there’s plenty more evidence available—and I trust that you all spotted it instantly within my unbiased description above.
It’s the word your.
Not driving fast in the ‘fast lane’ may be frustrating and naive, but if you need a clear cut example of something that is across-the-board, out-and-out wrong, you need look no further than the word your.
Your means ‘belonging to you’. I assume the driver meant you’re, meaning ‘you are’. While I acknowledge the two words sound the same, they are in fact two completely different words. The bumper sticker might as well as read ‘tomato in the wrong’. Tomato does not mean you’re and your does not mean you’re.
God gave us the English language to use to communicate with one another. It’s a great language. It’s got words like crumbly and delicate and trumpery, fantastic words that incorporate a range of sounds and many shades of meaning. But the language only works when used correctly. Using words incorrectly destroys marriages (my darling, our love is so holey) or results in incarceration (I have the head of that old dear hanging over my fireplace). Using words incorrectly is wrong.
If I ran the world (which as of yet, I do not), people driving slowly in the left lane wouldn’t give me much pause. But people who say your when they mean you’re would immediately be banished to Idiot Island (formerly Molokai) where they would be exiled until they learned to speak correctly. If that took their entire lifetimes, then so be it.
Earlier this month, I wrote about the body and why it’s okay to like yours even if it doesn’t fit the unrealistic ideal perpetuated by the media and my mother. However, now that I’m thinking more clearly and my finger is fit and flexible once again, I feel compelled to attach an addendum to my previous treatise.
It’s about dancing.
It implies that most of the time we’re dancing, we restrict ourselves if there are others around because we fear being judged by someone else. It is only when we are alone — when ‘no one’s watching’ — that we (the key chain implies) ‘let go’ and respond naturally to the music.
Here’s the irony: when you dance as if someone were watching — and I’m the one who’s watching — I am going to be judging you hard.
Because there’s no better guarantee that you’ll look a twit than if you try to control your body while dancing. Dancing should occur without restriction because it is a natural function of the body: like sneezing, breathing, or orgasm, it is simply an instinctual reaction to external stimuli. If you try to control your sneeze, you can actually blow up your brain (or something, I don’t remember exactly, I didn’t do the research myself). If you try to control your dancing, the result can be equally devastating (at least to me, if I happen to be there when you do it).
What I’m saying is this: don’t think about who’s watching. Just dance. Sometimes you might look silly, but that’s fine — you look ridiculous when you sneeze but you don’t stop yourself from doing that. Have you ever seen your orgasm face? I confess I didn’t watch the entire video your ex posted online, but from what I saw, I’m confident it wasn’t pretty. Yet, that video received over a thousand likes before your lawyer had it taken down. Why? Because you were just being natural, you were just letting yourself go and enjoying the moment.
That’s what you should do when you hear music you want to dance to: let yourself go and enjoy. When I see people who refuse to do this — who dance as if they know people are watching them — yes, I will mock them. I don’t even care if it is during the father/daughter dance. I mean it was her third wedding anyway, and why have an open bar if they didn’t want people to take advantage of it?