Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category

Death and The Maiden

September 30, 2011

Sad people make you sad.

By fortune alone I spent 33 years, 7 months, and 14 days, not having attended a funeral. No close friends, and only a few distant (in geography and mind) aunts and uncles have passed, and with little emotional strain. My grandparents were all dead before I was born, save one, my maternal grandmother. I was spared having to say goodbye to the old girl due to my still being a bit too tender, and my memory of a feminine Jabba shrouded in a Rothmans-blue haze remains uncorrupted for not having seen her in state.

But my remarkable record was shattered this summer, as I felt somewhat pressed to attend my (now former) manager’s service. She died abruptly and without warning from a brain aneurysm, suffered just inside the doorway linking the clubhouse to the terrace. As I am employed by a family owned and operated business, the club immediately suffered the loss of several employees, and those of us not tied to the business by relations, picked up the slack.

I cannot say I felt any personal loss for the passing of a woman I knew for only two months. She was polite and pleasant but essentially an acquaintance, though given the genuine warmth she engendered in the obviously large body of friends and admirers she collected, I suspect I too would have succumbed to her nature should she have lived. However, despite lacking a profound personal connection to the deceased, I nonetheless found myself suffering the effects of emotional strain.

I think most anyone would probably characterize me as slightly detached or distant. Not an emotionless monster, but nonetheless rarely breaking from an outwardly steady demeanor. I therefore found myself slightly surprised at feeling down for a few weeks after the death. As I have said, the death itself meant only so much, so direct loss was not the culprit. The cause was simply an endless string of unhappy people at work; tears, family members, friends hugging, the looming funeral, the “I just can’t believe it”, and the ever present demand that I am to respond with remorse disproportionate to what I am feeling.

An ugly situation. Social adequacy dependent on playing a part as if  in a play  in an improv group. I imagine I felt something akin to what an actor in a particularly dark or depressing role must endure when not working -that it is impossible to entirely let go. That if you pretend to have certain feelings… then you will feel them.

Best to just avoid the buzz kills.

Robin Lindsay



Shout it from the Highest Mountain

March 7, 2011

There is little less interesting, more boring, more inappropriate, less accurate, and as utterly and completely and universally irrelevant, as sharing your estimation of yourself.

Last night someone I barely know suggested, in all seriousness, that their IQ was very high. Amongst the most crass statements I have ever heard, and invariably uttered by those whose IQ is nothing to be bragged about, this socially challenged peasant proved no exception. The principle crime committed was not one of arrogance or inaccuracy, but of reducing the assembled to staring at the floor.

“What do you expect me to say to that?” he thought, assuming the rest of the company was sharing a similar train. “I had absolutely no indication of your superior intelligence until just now. Thanks for setting me straight.” The only other option, aside from an unlooked for miracle segue rescuing the conversation from the elephant, “bullshit.”

I can sing, or, I am pretty, or, I can write, or I am charismatic, or, I can act, or I am smart, or, I am good at sports, all fall under that umbrella of statements noone has any business making. There is little doubt that a heaping dose of self confidence is likely a necessary component of success in all but the blandest of endeavors, but whether anyone is any good at anything, is up to either a) everyone else, in the case of the arts, or b) the scoreboard, in the case of sport or business. Proclaiming competence get’s you nowhere outside of a job interview.

You’ll know, and they’ll know, and the quiet confidence so universally attractive, regardless of gender and romantic or not, follows. Loud confidence isn’t confidence at all, it’s arrogance. Universally condemned for suffering from the most unforgivable quality: being boring.

Robin Lindsay


How to be a Bore

February 7, 2011

Ancestry, dreams, illness, and tenuous celebrity connections, are four major examples of topics that prove a dreary bore to everyone but he who is living it.

Nothing elicits instant dis-attention with such inevitability than when an acquaintance recounts a dream. An oblivious woman at a party had a captured audience of smokers on a balcony some years ago, and her retelling of the previous night’s unconscious cinema was met with eyes on shoes and hurried puffing. What is unimportant are the specifics of the dream (the one notable exception would have been if the entire cast of the balcony had somehow all featured in her dream. No one cares what you dream about unless you dream about them -Doug Martsch). No matter how thrilling or surreal or unfathomably bizarre your dream was, your victim of a conversation partner wasn’t there and can’t rent it later. Fuck off.

Little concentrates the mind like a virulent invader insisting on puffing one’s glands to the point where swallowing is an achievement both memorable and traumatic. Much like having sex or doing drugs, its requires a great deal to distract oneself from the task, and despite the occasional or otherwise expression of sympathy, you simply had to be there. “But dude, I was so high.” “Yep.” “No, dude, you don’t understand, I was really really high. Like soooo high.” “Ok, I believe you. You were really high. Good for you.”

Margaret Atwood and I share the same birthday. Utterly banal facts of that order cannot possibly be of even the slightest interest to anyone who doesn’t also share Margaret’s special day. In fact, it is somewhat embarrassing to admit that on some small level I find our shared birthday noteworthy, but it is one of those inescapably narcissist moments that one is doomed to file away under significant digits. There is only one pitfall to avoid; if  Margaret Atwood comes up in conversation, resist the temptation.

I suppose being a none too distant member of a decaying European dynasty is interesting enough to get even the most portly Doritos aficionado laid, but your distant cousinship to the heirs of  the Nabisco fortune is not even worth mentioning. Perhaps it might come up well into your retirement over a game of cribbage with your wife, where she will respond with a “huh, I didn’t know that” but that will be the end of it. We all have relatives, what have you done?

Crazy People are Boring

December 30, 2010

So I removed him.

My attitude toward social networking has remained essentially unchanged since the days of (I missed out on the Friendster phenom). One is not to take net-based socializing seriously, or perhaps more to the point, not to take it any more seriously than a bit of gossip bookended by a game of Scrabble and shoe box of embarrassing photos from 1994. However, a recent event has me feeling a bit sick and longing for my halcyon days of care free networking.

Robin Lindsay thinks your philosophical outlook amounts to: what if we are all living in the matrix… dude?

Above is a status update of mine. Typical for being mostly non serious, but also for the subject matter being a favourite target of mine: flakey cosmic stoner philosophy. It quickly resulted in a few comments by those who got the joke, and then a full on and remorseless debate between myself and a routine antagonist. That debate, like most, I welcomed, and despite being a confrontation with little quarter given and no end in sight, was not a vehicle for bruised feelings or personal insults.

But in walked another. You know the type. Overly sincere. Irony is lost on them. Somewhat paranoid. This fellow from my past injected himself into a conversation above his head, and when I failed to agree with his assertion that “I should stop wasting my time with…” had this to say:

“you are controlled by emotion. you would state the opposite of what I said, no matter which, if only to be contrary. you have no control of yourself and could easily[sic]played like a fiddle.”

I gave him the chance to explain this overtly hostile and insulting remark, but he pressed on with “you always disagree with what I say” and a list of further character assassinations. For the record, we have had precisely one other conversation, very short, and unremarkable. So, I did the only thing I thought appropriate: I deleted his posts for being embarrassing to the both of us, and removed him from my friends list.

Ugh. Much like a draftee might resent his government for turning him into a killer, I now resent my former friend for making me be harsh with him – to take Facebook seriously. The situation is further complicated by what might be a real-life encounter at a NYE party, hosted by a mutual friend.

I feel compelled to write to an advice columnist. Perhaps Prudence, at Slate.

Dear Prudie,

A nutter insulted me on Facebook and then I deleted him. I might have to see him on NYE, and don’t know how to handle it. What should I do? Avert my eyes? Pretend nothing happened? Try to make peace? Prepare for hostilities to continue?


The Greys

December 2, 2010

Throwing her arms in the air in bemused exasperation she exclaimed “I don’t get sports.”

The other night between bouts of Quizzard, the lone female in the room availed herself of the opportunity to inquire as to the male obsession with sports. I have to admit that I might not be the best person to ask, as my sporting obsessions tend toward individual contests; whiling away entire afternoons in front of the television watching golf, tennis, or snooker will no doubt maintain as habits for years to come.

That said, I have enjoyed the occasional baseball game, and even football can prove diverting. Hockey or basketball not so much, though World Cup soccer has the capacity to engage my full attention for a game or two (especially if the UK are taking on the Krauts). The Olympics are a big snooze. Running? Throw the thing? That manages to engage the attention of adults? I have to admit I have for some time wanted to be an Eastern European spy who also happens to be a Biathlon (that’s gun-skiing to you) medalist, but that’s a story for another day.

The appeal of sports is rooted in four major concepts: vicarious competition, tribalism, and appreciation for athletic aesthetics are the obvious first three. The fourth, less obvious but entirely indispensable, is the narrative. Each and every game of anything is also a story, and not only is the story about the events that transpire over  the next couple of hours, but it is also a tale in context. What and who do these teams represent? Are the big, bad, and rich New York Yankees bashing a small market minnow into submission? Will the minnow prove to be a David in the face of Goliath? Or are The Yankees taking on their arch nemesis, The Boston Red Sox – the darlings of perennial vigils held in hope of an eventual victory in the face of The Evil Empire (until recently anyway, they finally won).

Sports are dramatic. Yes, it is cheap drama, and the tension no more sophisticated than that built by a nauseating television program about hot doctors screwing each other… but no less either. Males like sports because they are allegories for murder and conflict – the stuff of many a good story.

So, I raise my arms and ask: How can anyone who claims to be a grown up willingly sit through an episode of Grey’s Anatomy?

Touchy, Touchy

November 25, 2010

I call her Ipodie

Never having been one to swoon over gadgetry or gear, my relationship with technology was until recently limited to master and servant. I order my tools to function, and when they fail I replace or fix, and without the slightest pangs. I have owned guitars and amplifiers, recording equipment, computers, cell phones, cameras, bicycles – all manner of technology that elicit genuine giddiness in some, but fail to make an impression on me such that I adore.

But now I own a Touch. Soft clarity, ease, instant gratification, and in your pocket. The functionality, while impressive and indispensable, is not our hero. No, the protagonist is the operating of the device, the joy of interacting with lovely, and not austere or rigid and without being cartoonish. Such is the delight that the act of deleting spam is one of pleasure and not nuissance.

But there is the danger. To find yourself craving the company of $200 worth of plastic is worrisome. Not to sound dramatic about such slight distractions, but rather obnoxious habits loom, most notably the slope that leads one to become the arse that taps away when someone else is speaking, or at a party, or when one should otherwise be fully engaged with a person. The temptation most often occurs during the least pause, when conversation arrests for only a moment, and the urge to fill that space with something manifests into searching your pocket. At least with smoking one could remain charming and attentive.

But minor concerns are these, as rudeness is easily combated by self awareness, and as the ubiquity of the technology becomes a reality, more easily forgiven. Now to get to work on the next best-selling feature of the Apple App Store: Are You Being a Dick?

Robin Lindsay



August 26, 2010

Below is a heavily reworked piece, originally titled Finishing Each Other’s Sentences

Originally published, May 2009

The next time you find yourself awash in dangerous toxin and in dire need of a means to induce vomiting, I suggest clicking here.

The E-Harmony ad campaign, with its noisome Jazz-pop and impossibly handsome couples, is such obvious fantasy that I dare say no one is fooled. The men in the ads are especially hard to believe, with their fashion model looks, interesting careers, sensitivity, and artistic streaks, are the archetype for the love-interest in any feminine masturbatory aid you care to name.

The conceit is that E-Harmony, unlike the balance of the online dating sphere, will match you based on “compatibility.” Aside from sidestepping the obvious question “by what means other than compatibility can one be matched?” the actors (or, “real couples,” if that is to be believed) have such universal appeal, that no talk of compatibility is at all relevant in their cases. Can we get a show of hands from the female readership that would reject a handsome chemist who likes to paint, is vulnerable but decisive enough to drag you off to the closet for a grope, and is interested in something stable? Some types are almost universally attractive, and any talk of “compatibility” is neither here nor there.

It is plain to all and sundry that E-Harmony is selling a fantasy. However, buried under the nauseating love-in is a subtle message: online dating is okay. Look at these successful people; they are busy, sick of the bar scene, and have excellent reasons why they are 30 and single. These people aren’t losers and neither will you be. There is nothing to be embarrassed about.

Twenty-five years ago you were a social outcast by definition for merely owning a computer. Now that it can get you laid, the computer is well established as mainstream and girl-friendly.

Robin Lindsay


I Like it Vanilla

August 20, 2010

Below is another reworked piece, originally titled Wake Up Blitzen.

First Published April 02, 2008

My favourite flavour of ice cream is vanilla. The typical responses by my peers to my simple assertion of preference span the chasm of shocked disbelief to bemusement. Those who delight in two scoops of Triple Chocolate Orgasm cannot fathom why someone might choose to forgo such an overwhelming sensory delight in favour of a bonne bouche that is entirely non-diverting.

The fear of condemnation for being boring and possessing the sexual charisma of a limp husk, led me to query the etymological connection between “vanilla” and “plain” or “ordinary.” It began in America in the 1970s, and most commonly meant “conventional, of ordinary sexual preferences.” Using “vanilla” today still describes the ever broadening list of common sexual practices, and the metaphor of an all white dessert of simple flavour standing in for three and a half minutes of missionary sex is a natural one.

However, if one mines the encyclopedias and dictionaries with perseverance, one finds an odd nugget – a most curious accident of history. The word “vanilla” derives from the Spanish word “vainilla” which finds its roots in the latin “vagina.” Named by 18th century conquistadors for the plant’s resemblance to our favourite part of the female anatomy.

Our unassuming dessert choice finds its origins marked by an overt sexual reference. Double Fudge Brownie Explosion may cause women to press their knees together while their eyes roll back in ecstasy, but cannot claim any definable connection to the world of sex, unlike trusty vanilla.

So I await my next dessert date down at the Malt Shoppe, where she will undoubtedly spoon mouthfuls of Rocky Road and I, meek and mild, will just as surely have a bowl of naturel. But with a raised eyebrow and a grin, I will draw her attention to a spoonful of my ice and ask “remind you of anything?”

Robin Lindsay


Gawk & Snicker

August 19, 2010

Below is a heavily reworked piece originally titled The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall

First published March 13, 2008.

A stable relationship comes bundled with many hidden costs. One easily overlooked charge is the inevitable boredom couples radiate around them – their well defined sexual status slacking the tension that is otherwise palpable when people of the opposite sex mingle. The only exceptions to this banal state of affairs are the new or unhappy pairs. Foundations yet to be poured or beginning to crack are grist for the sewing circle and card table alike, but the well established tandem is passed over for having nothing to contribute to the mill of chatter and assumption.

The high wire act is invariably made less interesting for having a safety net. The skill and talent and concentration of the acrobat is no less impressive for having insurance, but the drama of the event is all but removed. Something similar can be said when a couple arrives at a party. In the majority of cases they will arrive together, and will spend their first moments unconsciously making known they are taken and by whom. From this unmistakable jumping off point, they are free to unyoke and disperse, and even gently flirt with the opposite sex, all the while knowing that across the room is the warden, ready to reinforce and reestablish the relationship with a pet or a peck should it be thought necessary.

The single person at the same gathering is forced to work without a net, and in full view of their peers. Their encounters with those whose body parts fail to match but are nonetheless perfectly compatible are rife with dangerous potentiality. They must at the same time flirt with desirable mates, be prepared to gracefully extricate themselves from undesired consideration, and handle the embarrassment of having to do so while their friends exchange knowing glances. Forgive my repeating myself for saying again that such an act is a tightrope.

The single person instills genuine intrigue for being a variable. The attached are whole numbers, countable and mundane.

Robin Lindsay


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