Monthly Archives: October 2018

Numbers

“Eins, zwei, drei, veir, funf, sechs, sieben, acht”. Not exactly the most inspiring of lyrics, but Ralf Hutter is better known for his musical skills than his wordsmithing. Not that it stopped Kraftwerk becoming one of the greatest and most influential musical groups of all time. However, it is very appropriate when it comes to my blog.

You see, I began this blog six years ago, after I moved out of my marital home prior to my divorce. Fancying myself as a writer I decided to blog about my experiences as a cheap form of self medication, and sent out invitations to those I cared about, should they want to read it. Most didn’t, yet for some reason I kept on posting. I assumed that I was merely screaming into the void, but if you have to scream, you have to scream. During a career counselling session, it was suggested to me that I take the blog public, which, much against my better instincts, I did, which is why you find me here.

I turned the first 75 posts into an e-book, available on Amazon, Songs In The Key Of Single Dad and waited for the money to roll in. I didn’t, of course, and of course, it didn’t (See “Paperback Writer”).However, about five copies did sell, which puts me ahead of most writers, seeing as about 10,000 titles are published in the U. S. every year, most of which go unread.

I picked up the occasional follower from time to time and posted inconsistently as that is how life is. However, in the past two weeks I have received several “likes” (See “Five Years” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and “Answers”), and a few actual followers, bringing my total up to a magnificent 30. Not 30,000. Not even 300, but just 30. Enough to just about half fill a tour bus. A couple of bloggers I follow have posted recently about their following. One, Beauty Beyond Bones surpassing 50,000, which is bloody impressive.

What I’d like to know is how the bloody hell people find me in the first place. It can’t be word of mouth, because I have so few followers to begin with. I’m not tech savvy, so optimisation is not my forte, and I’m sure it can’t be the subject matter. I mean, the semi -incoherent ramblings of a middle aged white guy are not exactly the most sought after reading material, so what the hell?

I do have to give credit to Sam, whose blog Living! seems to have brought me some traffic. I’d really like to hear how Sam found my blog and why he considered it worth following, as I’m damned if I know.

Much as this may sound like a pity party, it isn’t. I’m not trying to monetise my blog, nor could I even if I wanted to, and I’m in no way seeking fame in any form, but I’d really like to know how people found my blog. I will, of course, continue to blog. I have quite a bit to blog about, including what appears to be a couple of very promising potential relationship opportunities. I  know how cold that sounds, but as things go, I can’t really say a great deal more before something happens. I’m meeting someone for a second date on Sunday, although I would argue that our 3 1/2 hour phone call last Saturday qualifies as a date de jure, if not de facto ( See future post).

There have been several occasions in the past when I’ve given serious consideration to just giving up on the whole blogging endeavor, but some spark of stubborn refusal to face facts keeps kicking in. I suspect that this is due to my being English. You see, a pig – headed refusal to face reality is what enabled us to build an empire and  survive two world wars. If my ancestors can get through that, I’m pretty sure I can keep sitting down in front of a keyboard when more than slightly drunk and pound out a few hundred words, regardless of whether any one reads them or not.

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Five Years

About two weeks ago I received a text from my “On a break” sweetie asking if we could talk. I put her off for a few days as I wasn’t really in the mood to talk to her and had already decided that we were done. I did think about sending her a text saying as much but decided not to. By this point I had already been on two dates (of which, more later), having reactivated my dating site accounts about three days after her telling me that we were on a break.

I had already bagged up all her toiletries, but left her clothes in the closet as I don’t really have a better place for them. As you can see, I’d already moved on, having realised that I  was the one making all the effort and getting very little in return. When the phone call did take place, it was all over in about two minutes. Of course, she had decided that we were done, no surprise there, and from my text agreeing to the call, she had reached the same conclusion regarding yours truly.

We had always joked to people that if we did ever split up, there’d be a custody battle over the espresso machine, but as it turned out, she said that I could keep it. Too bloody right, I was keeping it. I know it was given to us by a friend of hers, but she’s pretty much given up drinking coffee, except for the occasional purchased breve, but she also has nowhere to put it in her kitchen as it is too tall to fit in the space between the counter and the cupboards. I told her that I had intended to keep it anyway, and she didn’t argue. She would have been a real dog in a manger to do so, and we both knew it, so it ended there.

I told the kids about it last night, and my daughter claimed that she had “Sort of seen it coming”. I’m not convinced that I believe her, but she is a very astute girl, so I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. It seems a bit weird that a five year relationship should end with such a sudden whimper, but I guess I had seen it coming too.

To be honest, not having to schlep over to Seattle every other weekend either directly from work or very early on Sunday morning has been very refreshing. I’ve enjoyed long lies in, had time to myself, done some cooking and been able to watch the Liverpool game without the need to balance a laptop on my knees and wear headphones. I know the above sounds selfish, but when you have no time to yourself, life can be a little wearing. To be honest, the first weekend I had to myself this year was in mid June when my now ex sweetie was away in Fiji and the kids were in Hawaii. Six months without a weekend to myself. Seriously, is it expecting too much to want some time in one’s own head and not have to fit housework, shopping and all the rest around other people’s schedules? I really don’t think so, at least, not for a single guy. Marriage is a full time commitment, but at least with marriage you have a partner with whom to share the load. Usually.

A lot has happened over the last five years, most of it good. We took several trips, including a week in Hawaii, I’ve learned a bit about wine, been introduced to the music of The Old 97s, seen films I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, visited new restaurants and had my horizons otherwise broadened. I’ll go into greater detail in a later post or two, but my recent dates have been quite encouraging, one of them extremely so, and that gives me some hope. I mean, I’m now five years older than I was at the start of my most recent relationship, and one does wonder about one’s shelf life, especially at my age. I will admit that I’ve lost some weight this year due largely to my decreased drinking, increased walking and improved eating habits, but still, there’s always an element of self doubt regarding one’s own attractiveness to others.

I do also wonder about my ability to maintain a long term relationship. Maybe my Aspergers and general selfishness and lack of empathy mean I’m not going to find someone with whom to live out my years, but that way madness lies, so I’m not going to think about that too much in case I go into an emotional death spiral.

I do wonder, however if she had started seeing someone else before we ended it. She took herself off for a weekend a few months ago, to “Think things over” and I did wonder then if anything was going on. She didn’t travel on her own for the first four years we were together and I admit that I examined the picture she sent me very closely for any sign of a second person, but that may just have been my natural paranoia.

I don’t have a snappy ending for this post, maybe because the end was so anti-climactic and unemotional. However, having made the decision to move on, I feel much better in and about myself. Details to follow.

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Filed under dating, lifestyle, mental health, personal relationships

The Answer

Before I start I just want to point out that this post is not part of the current series outlining all that has happened in the past couple of weeks. I need a little more time to get my thoughts in order before I put electron to LCD, so bear with me as I go off on a tangent. Actually, I’m surprised that no car company has produced a model called a Tangent. It would make for some pretty amusing advertising copy, but I digress.

My local fine brewing establishment has a Thursday night ritual that has been going on for a few years now. At first I wasn’t keen on it, and would usually try to avoid drinking there on Thursdays due to the noise and the overcrowded nature of the bar. You see, it fell prey to the all time most popular pub event: the trivia quiz.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good trivia quiz. I have a vast fund of useless knowledge at my disposal and enjoy putting the little grey cells to to work as Hercule Poirot was fond of saying. The issue was that as I didn’t know anyone there back then, I didn’t have a team to join and didn’t fancy paying the buy – in ( there isn’t one, as I found out later).

However, once I fell in with the people that now constitute my closest friends I had a ready – made excuse to attend, and the addition of a couple of locals helped pad out our numbers and add some different skills to our knowledge toolbox. The nice thing is that the winning team are presented with a voucher for six free beers, which at six dollars a pop, works out to be a pretty sweet deal. Whenever we win, the vouchers are held in escrow, as it were, and produced either at subsequent quiz nights or other nights when more than a couple of us are present, so everyone gets a fair share in return for their effort.

Starting my new job last year – see “A Forest” and “Au Suivant” –  I had a six month period when I didn’t finish work before 10 pm, so taking part in the 7-9 pm quiz just wasn’t an option. This began to change in June when I had achieved enough seniority to be dealt some middle shifts. Naturally, rather than using the time to get some extra sleep I would  grab a burger from the grill before leaving and head to the quiz as fast as local speed limits would allow.  One of the first times this occurred just happened to be my birthday. My then girlfriend suggested that I bring it up casually in conversation. An idea I nixed instantly as to me doing so would look like trolling for pints. I don’t think we won that night, but I most certainly enjoyed myself.

Even though no one in the team is under 50, we have a broad range of interests between us, as well as plenty of experience, and this really helps. Two of our team are doctors who spent many years in cancer research, so have a very fine knowledge of science, one guy, a local, is basically a walking sports almanac, and as he’s an engineer, is quick as a flash when it comes to anything maths related.

The other local is a generalist, but does know his films to a pretty decent extent and like me knows his geography. I’m very much a generalist too, but I have so much obscure information tucked away ( an advantage to being mildly Aspergers) that I can often pull answers out of the dark corners. Mind you, I have cost us some points in the past, as indeed we all have, but that’s the way it goes. The other Brit, apart from myself and the good doctors knows his stuff too, although for him I think the quiz is as much a social event as it is a test of knowledge. That’s fine with me, as the evening is as much about spending time with friends as it is going head to head with the other teams, many of which are long time entrants, and a bit of friendly rivalry never did anyone any real harm.

We do get our fair share of victories, sometimes by the smallest of margins, and sometimes, as happened last week, by a healthy margin, despite the fact that we dropped quite a few points. I mean, who knew that Jay Z’s real last name is Carter? Certainly none of us did. Thanks to our lineup, I’ve gotten to know the two locals on the team. The funny thing is that I had seen one  of them at the bar for a couple of years, but being the way I am, I never spoke to him until he joined us one evening and then became a permanent quiz nighter. He’s quite a decent guy, but can go on a bit at times. Still, he’s friendly and amiable, so that outweighs his sometimes excessive chattiness.

The other guy? well, he works with our sports guru, so that explains his presence. The thing is, I’m not really keen on him. For someone who bears more than a passing resemblance to a Sontaran, (if you don’t know what that is, ask the nearest Doctor Who fan) he has a very high opinion of his attractiveness to women. Not that I’m going to be mistaken for Ryan Gosling, but dude, really? Also, he’s a survivalist. He showed me the video of the supply room in his home, and he has approximately one years’ supply of food, water and fuel on hand. Oh, and at least six assault rifles and enough ammunition to start a small war. Yup, you read that right. Now, I have a camping stove, some bottles of water and cartons of soup in the house just in case we lose power during the winter, but this guy is ready for the apocalypse.  Think “The Road” “Reign Of Fire” or “The Postman”, and you get the idea.

He seems pretty normal on the surface, and when it’s just the guys he can be reasonable. He’s also not backward when it comes to buying someone a pint, but a couple of months ago he grabbed the behind of one of the female bar staff, and that is just beyond the pale. Had I been the manager, I’d have thrown him out on his ear and banned him. However, the young lady in question, who is very sweet and good at her job “Didn’t want to make a fuss”, so he got away with a stern lecture. To give him his due, he’s been on his best behaviour ever since then, but he’s on thin ice as far as I’m concerned.

As it goes, the quiz makes for a pretty decent night out – a chance to meet the rest of the gang, a bit of mental exercise and the chance to win free beer. Ahh, “Free beer”, the most wonderful sentence in the English language. In fact, we’re organising a cultural celebration in early November and I’ve compiled a quiz especially for the evening. Seeing as we’ll be celebrating British culture, all the questions relate in some way to the old country, and I’ve curated a playlist especially for the occasion. I realise that this might put the locals at a disadvantage, but since when did the Brits care about bloody colonials?

 

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Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.

My Dad usually visits from mid June until Late July so he can be here for the kid’s birthdays, however this year his medical appointments meant a later than usual visit. This wasn’t a big deal, as I’d much rather see him than not, obviously, but this meant that his visit would overlap with our fifth anniversary, which my sweetie and I had intended to celebrate with a trip out of town, as is our tradition. Not to fear, though, as I arranged for him to spend several days with the kids and their mum, giving him extra time with them, even though the school year had started and they would be out of the house most of the day.

After some confusion, we found a place, made arrangements and were anticipating a quiet weekend in a cabin with a great water view. So far, so good ( that’s called foreshadowing, folks). We planned to be back in the city on the actual night of our anniversary and I fully expected that as usual we would go out to any one of several very nice restaurants for a meal as eye – wateringly  expensive as it would be delicious. In light of this, my dad gave me $150 to put towards the cost of the meal as a way of assuaging his guilt over forgetting my sweetie’s birthday. A very nice gesture, and not one I expected, although characteristic of him as he regards birthdays as something he should remember, and the two of them get on very well.

I trousered said cash in the knowledge that I’d be able to cover the cost of the meal myself, and would explain all when the bill arrived, the surprise winning my Dad some bonus points into the bargain. We had a relaxing trip and duly headed back to the city on the Tuesday morning. We stopped for lunch on the way home and I asked my Sweetie what she wanted to do about dinner expecting to hear the name of some swanky eatery. Imagine my shock and surprise when she said that she wanted to eat in. Naturally I was disappointed, but didn’t want to force the issue, so I let it go and decided that I would put the cash aside and that I’d take her out to dinner the next time I was in the city.

We had a quiet night in and I headed off to work the next morning thinking nothing more of the situation, apart from a sense of disappointment at not having had the opportunity to dress up for an important night out.

Fast – forward to the last weekend of my Dad’s trip. He announced that he’d like to take us out for one last meal as a way of saying thank you for hosting him, and providing a neat end to his trip. I knew what was coming, but held my counsel. Dad is not a great lover of Mexican cuisine, largely because he doesn’t like rice and never developed a taste for spicy foods. Bear in mind that he grew up in a culture, time and place where turnips were considered a spice! There are no shortage of Mexican restaurants around here and we’d visited quite a few during his trip, so he was pretty much burned out on the idea

He wanted to revisit a restaurant in a nearby town to which my ex had taken him. Sure. He would be picking up the tab for all five of us, so he most certainly got to decide where we ate. This put my sweetie’s nose out of joint as she doesn’t like the town in question, being very sensitive to her surroundings and despising the very thought of malls, be they mini, strip or indoor. She also hates anything that appears “Corporate” even though we’d be visiting a standalone restaurant.

I’d told my Dad about not having a celebratory dinner and my intention to have one at the next opportunity, and during our dinner he made one of his signature stupid jokes, saying that I hadn’t taken my sweetie out to dinner so I could pocket the cash for my own use. Stony silence. Pluto at night cold. Nice one Dad. Seriously, very, very well done. Needless to say, nothing I said made any difference and the funereal atmosphere on the way home persisted. Dad went straight to bed, realising the damage he’d done. My sweetie sat at the table studiously ignoring me as my Son gave her some technical tips regarding her laptop.

Just after my son retired for the night she told me that she was heading home in a tone that left no room for debate and with a look that made Medusa’s stare look like a major come – on. Her final words before driving away were “We’ll talk about this later” in a tone that was all threat.

Not the best way to end an evening by any means, but there was nothing I could do to make her see reality. I explained what he’d done to my Dad the next morning, and he was suitably abashed. Of course, I was very angry with him, but kept a lid on it as his words hadn’t been malicious. On the way to the airport two days later I asked him to write to my sweetie once he got home and explain, but put little faith in it doing much good. With this in mind I sent my sweetie a text asking if we could talk, and the next day we had a very tense conversation during which she steadfastly refused to believe my explanation over my Dad’s joke. I have to say that this has been par for the course over the last few months, as she’s been willing to believe the worst about me and has been drawing away for some time.

Let me give you a brief example: I went over to her place a little while before my Dad arrived and found her in bed. Of course, I joined her, got comfortable and in the way you do, started to make my intentions and affections clear. Her reaction? “I haven’t seen you for two weeks. Sex is the last thing on my mind”. Direct quote. WTF? I mean, seriously, WTF? That put a veil over the weekend, I can tell you.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, she told me that we would be “On a break” , meaning that we would have no communication until she had decided whether the pluses of dating me outweigh the minuses. Well, to quote Agnes Brown, most famous creation of Irish comedian Brendan O’Carroll, “That’s nice”. If you’ve ever seen “Mrs. Brown’s Boys” you’ll know exactly what that means.

I went through the five stages of grief pretty quickly considering we’ve been together for five years, and I have come to the conclusion that no matter her decision, we’re done. I’m done. I’ve had enough of making all the effort, always being the one to make compromises, do all the commuting so we can spend time together, putting up with all her proscriptions, dislikes and biases, always having to justify working retail and my work schedule.

So with that in mind I’ve reactivated my online dating profiles and am once more back in the pool, as it were. I’ve already had some promising responses and had a first meeting with someone last night. I have also met someone through my social group and I have to say that I’m very taken with her, and even though I read subtext about as well as I read ancient Greek, I think she likes me. This particular situation, however is one that I will be approaching very cautiously as I think it will take time and a subtle approach to avoid messing up in my usual spectacular manner.

Anyway, that’s how things stand. I have yet to hear any sort of response from my now former sweetie, so I will just have to wait and see. I wonder which of us will be more surprised by our next conversation.

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Story To Be Told

Preface:

A lot has happened since I last posted, some six weeks ago. Seriously, a lot, so this is the first a series of what will in all probability be several posts in quick succession. So, to start at the beginning, my dad arrived for a four week visit in late August, the first time he has been here in two years, and the first time since I moved into my new place. Not having any vacation time, I took a few days unpaid and made arrangements for him while I would be at work.

I picked him up at the airport, and all was as usual, him giving me a detailed account of his flight, all the arrangements he’d made, all that you would expect as he burned off nervous energy. naturally, he was quite tired when we got back to the house, so he turned in early.

This is the thing about my dad: he’s been retired about 15 years, so he doesn’t have any work related news, he doesn’t get out much apart from a Friday trip to the pub with his friends and his usual shopping trip. This means that he falls back on the stories I’ve heard for the last 40 years. Do you have a film that you’ve watched so many times you could act in it? Can you recite whole chunks of the dialogue verbatim? Do you know exactly what is going to  happen next? Well, for me that would be Blazing Saddles, Monty Python’s Life Of Brian and just about every story my dad has ever told.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they’re all boring, not by any means, but I can get to the punchline before he’s finished the first sentence. I have to realise that some day I won’t get to hear these stories any more. Ever. And that’s quite a disheartening thought, so much as I might want to cut him short, I just let him go on and tell the story anyway, as he doesn’t see but half a dozen people during the week and he hasn’t seen me for two years.

One advantage of this trip was that we had plenty of opportunity to go out drinking. I’d asked my boss for as many middle shifts as possible, so I could at least spend part of the morning and most of the evening with Dad and have a social life. Naturally, this meant going to the taphouse, which also meant he got to meet my expat friends and a couple of the locals, none of whom had heard any of his stories, and there’s nothing to reinvigorate a performer like a fresh audience. It was really heartening to see him in full flow, regaling people with tales from his prison service among other things, and he hit it off very well with everyone, which I think helped perk him up. I had heard from the friend who booked his flight that he was getting frail and should probably use a cane, so I feared the worst, but need not have. He had the schmooze gene that I lack, so I envy him, I really do.

One of the highlights of his visit was his chance to reconnect with one of the taphouse owners. They met when I first took him there during it’s inaugural year, and the two of them hit it off immediately. I realise that seeing two elderly people flirting may have a high “Ick factor” for some people, but it’s all harmless, and she’s always asking after him, so when they finally did meet, they spent the whole evening locked in conversation.

One thing I did learn from him is that my Mum had wanted a third child, but that he didn’t. I suppose it goes a long way to explaining why she was always so sweet on my daughter, but I suppose women always want a daughter or grand daughter, so I probably shouldn’t read too much into it.

I also got to hear in great detail, and several times over about his Friday lunchtime pub sessions – who picks him up, who drives him home, how many pints he has, who drinks real ale, who supports which football team. In fact, I could join them for the first time and be up to speed in about 10 seconds. Mind you, at least it means he gets out for some socialising at least once a week. He is most definitely not the kind of person to go to a Senior Centre and, as he puts it, sit around with a bunch of old farts.

One thing that really annoys me though, is the fact that he will bring up things from 40 years ago as if they only happened last week. We all have events from our youth that we’d rather forget, but he seems to take great pleasure in bringing up anything that crossed my mind for about two minutes when I was barely a teenager. Anyway, I suppose I shouldn’t really complain.

Stories apart, he can still manage to make life awkward for me, but that’s for another day.

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