We Want A Niche

The point of Breaking Bad wasn’t that good people can bust out. It wasn’t that evil can lurk inside a milquetoast. It wasn’t even that civilization neuters men.


The point of Walter White is that we need a point. We need to belong, to be recognized and to stand apart.


How are we doing? Is dating working for you? Is dating being real, or could it use a stint in rehab?

My working philosophy is that meeting and uncovering new people is more complicated than ever. Like the cereal aisle in the supermarket (or the dry pasta aisle, or the juice department for that matter) choices abound. What is not in abundance is reliable information on how to discern between boxes of cereal, or indeed how to decide between them. What works for me might give you gas by lunchtime, and a third person might be better served by eating eggs for breakfast.

We all suffer – not too strong a word IMO – from the Hollywood notion of dating. They take us from quirky but cute meeting to satisfying ending by way of a challenging interlude in ninety minutes of flawless Technicolor. Of course we’re all smart enough to differentiate fantasy from reality, but still, at some level a precedent so created creates room for disappointment.

Dating can be about disappointment, or it can be about discovery. As I have written previously, dating is a string of failures with one success if you want to look at it that way. Or it can be an around-the-world series of moments with different people, the ultimate prize being self-discovery and the treasure of finding The One. X marks the spot, after following a few red-herring clues.

But the greatest need is the map on which the location of X is shown. And for that, dear friends, I’m sorry to say that only you can provide the document. For everything else we have Google and blogs.

Year of the Titmouse

How is it that a bunch of folks on a nondescript planet in a boring part of the universe are smart enough to send spacecraft to explore their neighbourhood (Cassini, the Voyagers, various Mars-cars etc) AND think that astrology is valid?

Tell me true, oh sweeties.

OK, fine. That’s just the ornery Taurean in me coming out. The ability to hold mutually contradicting beliefs in the face of clear cut evidence is one of our defining characteristics eg:

-> Sure, he’s married with kids, but he says he’s unhappy and will leave them to be with me.

-> I know, he’s a drunk, but he’s a good guy underneath.

-> She says it’s just an “emotional relationship” so I’m sure they’re not having sex.

Delusion is a protection mechanism. Facts are so hard-edged that we might actually need to tell ourselves stories just to round off the edges. Buffering the brutality of our own nature and that of people we think are close to us is the lubricant of all our relationships.

Does anyone really want the unvarnished truth all the time?

River Me This

Thesedays, my precious darlings, dating runs in two rivers.

The first river is the old-fashioned kind, a river like, say, the Colorado. It starts in the Rocky Mountains as snow-melt and spring bubbler, gradually turning into Lake Mead by way of the Grand Canyon. Eventually it keeps LA alive…a dubious prospect but nonetheless the fact of 1,400 miles of downhill adventure.

The second river is newer, much shorter and without any of the history or variety. It would be like a glacial river in Iceland: short, sharp and to the point. A thoroughly modern river. A great ride.

You can see where I’m meandering to with this metaphor. Long-form relationships and their precursors – by which I mean formal dating and marriage – are like the Colorado. Although the flow might start with a rush, time and terrain change the river’s direction and temperament. Dams create reservoirs and calm, but also tail water and froth. Flat land slows the river down, and steep terrain does the opposite. Rocks make rapids. And eventually it turns out that we have to give it all to Hollywood…but it was one helluva ride.

Our Icelandic river is more of a day-trip flow. Anyone can hop on for the short ride, all we need do is hold hands and jump in together. It’ll be fun and breathless for a while, then the ride ends. You can start back at the top again (because it’s only a short hike) with or without the same partner. It’s an amusement park outing.

Trouble arises (because you knew there had to be a downside) when one or other of the participants in the River Party forget which ride they signed up for. I see this when women think they are in the Icelandic way of things, but as soon as they get wet decide they need the guy to be more of a riverboat captain. The guy who thought he was in for nothing more than a quickie, or multiple quickies in a row, suddenly finds himself being expected to pitch riverbank tents and create fires and text “good morning” every day.

Huh? I thought that by her active participation as an equal that Icelandic Rules applied here, not Red River Rules. There are no tents in Iceland; we go to the bar, drink, and decide in the morning if we want to go swimming again.

That’s it. Unless you want to try the Colorado. That changes everything.

Who? What?

Three declarations:

Hi, I’m Wombat. I’m heterosexual. 

Hello. My name is Monique, and I’m a lesbian. 

Hey there. I am Thomas. I’m gay.

Which one is the odd one out?

To my eye, it’s my own statement. No-one cares that my sexual preference includes women only, and frankly, that seems about right. I don’t care about anyone else’s either. Your congressional activities are your business.

So does that mean homosexual men and women describing themselves by way of their sexual preference sounds more natural? Maybe. But let’s examine this more closely. Is it really these folks who so publically identify? I think not. I have never been introduced to a man, to have him immediately go to his sexuality, whether gay or not. Ditto any woman. People identify contextually, viz:

Hi, I’m Pete, and I’m the network administrator. 

Hello, my name is Andrea. I’m the CEO.

Why, darling, I’m Natasha. You can think of me any way you want.

Okay, that last one was a red herring. Kinda.


It’s always others who attach sexuality to the individual.

Why does this happen? Why does my acquaintance Lindsay always end up “Lindsay the Lesbian”? It’s certainly not her. And I’ve worked with gay men before who were often referred to as “Gay….Dave/Larry/Tony”. Sure, they were homosexual, but made no more if it than I did of my heterosexuality – in fact, they were most often the least forthcoming about that part of their lives.

There is no point to my questions, other than to muse over the importance with which we rank our sexual being…and how public we make it.