Archive for the ‘general profundity’ Category

3D’s company

Something I’ve discovered from not looking is that I’ve become objective about the men I see, meet and talk to in a way I never was when I was actively looking. But this change – from partisan participant to independent observer – is a true double-edged sword.

On one edge, I no longer see potential in just anyone; there has to be something quite compelling about a man. And for me, compelling means much more than looks now that the visual element has been downgraded. He has to be interesting and outgoing and smart and funny – in essence, he has to have a personality. This edge of the sword is the good one; it’s saving me from wasting my time on beautiful unsuitables.

But on the other edge, I no longer see potential in anyone at all. Because I have to wait to be drawn into eye contact or invited into conversation, it’s down to men to catch my attention. Their personalities aren’t brought into relief by my expectation, flirtation or flattery; they have to do it themselves. And so far, none of them has managed.

No men I’ve met since I’ve stopped looking have seemed to have much depth to them. As I said before, in general they now seem a bit two-dimensional. Scathing I know, but someone has to be pretty special (not in a window-licking way) to pique my interest. Needless to say, this edge of the sword is the bad one; it’s making me bored.

Perhaps it was always a case of two dimensions, even before this not-looking experiment started, but I was looking too hard to notice. Perhaps it was only my initiation, input or investment into someone that highlighted their depth, facets and colour, and generated a genuine interest in me. To put it simply, I am their third dimension.

My own personality – the things I say, the jokes I make, the eyelashes I bat – is what brings someone else’s personality to the fore. It makes sense really. It could well apply to friendships too. If I made no effort to spark up conversations, engage the other person, entertain them, make them enjoy talking to me, I wouldn’t like the people I like and have the friends I have.

If we find matches in friendship like that, surely we find matches in love like that too. And does that maybe say that not looking is not going to work?


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I think I’ve stopped looking. I know, I didn’t expect it either. You’d think I might be happy about this, finally achieving my goal and being able to start testing the ‘It’ll happen when you’re not looking’ theory properly. But I’m not happy. In fact I think it’s nothing but a bad thing. A really bad thing.

Along with not looking for a man has come a significant feeling of not caring if I find one. This was supposed to be a good thing, a triumph even, but not caring feels like I’ve given up. In all honesty, I think I have given up.

It’s not a fun-and-shiny sort of given up – tra-la-la look at me, I’ve got a fabulous life and I’m not remotely bothered whether there’s a man in it. It’s more a won’t-find-a-man-because-men-don’t-exist sort of given up. I set out to stop looking around for men, to block them out of my mind, to cease expecting to meet someone interesting and I’ve achieved all of those things. At a price. The price of the gradual disappearance of hope.

It helps if you know my surname is Lemon

I'm not trying to juice myself, it's just a cry for help

I know that sounds a bit dramatic. Please don’t have images of me sitting fully clothed under a running shower, knees clutched to my chest, rocking back and forth. I don’t feel that way about it at all. I still have a lot going on, many things I’m happy about, great friends, fun plans, have the odd bugbear but don’t we all.

The hope that’s disappeared is not the kind of hope attached to my entire future; it’s specifically the kind of hope attached to boys and the meeting thereof. It’s the kind of hope that adds a little edge, a bit of buzz, a certain frisson to a night down the pub or an invite to a party or a sunbathe in the park or a meandering queue at the checkout. The sort of hope that whispers inside your mind, “There’s always a chance.” For me now, that voice has become an almost imperceptible but echoing “meh”.

All of the blocking, stopping, ceasing I’ve done over the past two months has gradually eliminated men from my consciousness like a very selective love-lobotomy. I still physically look at hot men but only in the same way as I’d look at them in photos or in a film or on TV. I just don’t mentally look at them, I’m not considering them if you like.

My looking at them isn’t interactive or participatory, it’s detached and observational – they’re on telly and I’m on my sofa, following the story but aware I can switch them off whenever I want. Little combinations of electricity and binary. Two-dimensional visuals with no real substance. Flat.

I feel a bit like I’m in a vacuum. A nice, safe little vacuum. That’s why this situation, this achievement of not looking, is so bad. It’s just so nothingy, so devoid of feeling, and if life is about anything, it’s about feeling. Happy, sad, giggly, tired, interested, shocked, amazed, confused, intrigued, afraid, titillated, lusty, excited, rampant, did I say titillated? I don’t want rollercoasters but I don’t want feet flat on the ground either.

Metaphors aside, hubba hubba

I don't care what you're selling in your little wet t-shirt, Franco, I'm not interested.

The feeling of boy-hope is missing; that edge, that buzz, that frisson is missed. Of course, the flipside of boy-hope is boy-disappointment, but feeling disappointment is still feeling something, and I’d take that over feeling meh at men being no more than fellow organisms to be dodged on pavements and ignored in bars.

I’m not really sure what to do with this little turn-up for my books. Is it just part of the experiment? A stage to be got through and soon I won’t notice it any more? Or is it the top end of a slippery slope? Is my disappearing boy-hope like a contagious disease that will take hold in other parts of my life?

Perhaps it’s normal and it’s just all the people who said “It’ll happen when you’re not looking” decided not to tell me this is how you feel when you really, actually, genuinely aren’t looking. No wonder you see so many pretty girls plumping for ugly boyfriends. Almost anything would better than feeling this kind of nothing – even feeling an ugger.

(*You win a point if you identify the song. You lose a point if you think I actually like the artist.)

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So far, I’ve written about the funny side of this experiment of mine. The last few days have made me think more and more about the – let’s not call it serious – the less funny side. I’ve poked fun at my inability to stop myself getting a good daily eyeful of man-talent, I’ve mocked my admission of congential perving, I’ve taken the piss out of the slutty tactics I employ in attracting bar service. But there’s more to me than comedy, lechery and boobs – I’ve got feelings, too, you know.

My friend Berit made a smart point when I told her about this little project and the rules I’d set myself. We were discussing what looking really means and she said it’s not so much the act of looking directly at people, or looking out for people to look at, which is the subject of my experiment; it’s more the expectation the looker holds in their mind when they do the looking. Or the making eye contact. Or the flirting, the chatting up, the meerkatting, the accepting invites with ulterior motives or the internet dating.

One for the compost

Welllll helloooooo laydeeeez!

But I’m not sure what my levels of expectation are. I know I’m not desperate for a boyfriend. If I were, I would have one tomorrow, and he would be fat, ugly and stupid, with the creative impulses of a cardboard box and the personality of a wizened parsnip. There’s no shortage of them and they’d certainly want to get into this hot dish.

I also know I’m not desperate to meet Mr Mazing. If I were, I’d be turning every fat, ugly, boring, thick, wrinkled parsnip into the man-apple of my mind’s eye. While I’m certainly open to giving chaps a chance and seeing where things go, in the past year I’ve called it a day on more close-but-not-quites than those I’ve thought way-hey!! about. There’s no denying, though, that I am on the look-out for a Mr Mazing. (I don’t say my Mr Mazing because I don’t believe in The One – why is a diatribe for another time maybe.)

Really, the only definite aim I can have for myself in this project is to stop looking for Mr Mazing altogether. Some of the rules I’ve set may seem reasonable in this pursuit, some may seem trivial. I mean, throughout any given day, we each make eye contact with any number of different people, most of them not big, hot hunks of manmeat – to stop doing that might seem silly. But my thinking was that regular, small adjustments would effect an overall greater change. Little acorns, mighty oaks, that sort of thing. Only it turns out the smaller changes are actually the hardest to make.

First off, there’s the whole thing of trying not to do something in fact making you far more likely to do it, or at least think about doing it. For example, if I tell you not to think about Ann Widdecombe naked except for sequinned nipple tassles and a heart-shaped merkin, all you’ll think about is Ann Widdecome naked except for sequinned nipple tassles and a heart-shaped merkin. (Yep, I nearly vommed too.)

Amnaesia's never been so appealing

Penny for your thoughts

It’s become partly the same for me. Not frequent visions of Widders in her birthday suit, but thinking about not looking at men is increasing the number of times I actually Iook. I’m having to reprimand myself for looking, or stop myself from looking, or dart my eyes away to avoid looking, so many times that I can’t genuinely believe I ever used to look this much before.

Secondly, there’s the possible influence of knowing I can’t look that’s leading me down the path of temptation towards the forbidden fruit of looking. Thirdly, there’s the fact that by reprimand or prevention, I’m drawing attention to the very act of looking in a way I never used to. Back in the good old days, the before-not-looking days, I would mindlessly gaze around rooms and tubes and streets hoping my eyes would light upon some tummy-wibble-inducing male specimen. Now I’m doing it mindfully while trying, mindfully, not to do it. And failing. A lot.

I said at the start about this being like a smackhead coming off crack or a fattie coming off biscuits. I meant it as a joke. With hindsight I see it’s a very hard reality. And this is only week two. I gave myself a year for this experiment because I wanted to be fair to the theory, give it a real airing and see if it holds up, avoid as many accusations of bias or sabotage as possible. But sitting here now, I’d be really surprised if I can keep going for a whole month, let alone 12. Not looking is a surprisingly exhausting activity.

Not looking also has unexpected knock-on effects on my general feelings. In trying to avoid looking at faces, I’ve looked at the ground a lot more. There’s a theory that, when someone looks down, they go inside their own mind either to understand a concept or listen to their internal voice. One positive side-effect of looking down has been greater avoidance of dog shit, but a more negative one has been far greater exercising of my little internal monologue. I am very bored of the sound of my own over-thinking voice right now.

Hubba hubba

Gratuitous placement of wibble-inducing manmeat

There’s also the issue of overcoming the fear of not looking. As I said, I’m not parsnip-desperate but I do want to find someone. Sooner would be better, of course, but I’d like to think the wait for Mr Mazing will seem worth it in the end. I only wish I knew when that end is due to come.

My response to the lack of clear timetabling is to keep myself occupied with the search. Taking away that distraction has left me twitching in its vacuum. What if I don’t notice the lingering look of a fellow tube-traveller? What if I miss out because I don’t drag myself to that party? What if Mr eMazing passes me by because I’m not touting myself on the interbob? To sit here doing nothing about a situation I’d like to change is not my usual style. It feels a little like fiddling while Rome burns – Rome burning being the coupling-up of all the non-parsnips: the sausages, the charcuterie, the manmeat that I believe is still out there.

People counter this fear of mine by trotting out the old “if it’s meant to be…” defence. Unfortunately, this doesn’t wash with me – as well as not believing in The One, I don’t believe in fate. That’s my barbecue-lighting humanist side. It leaves me thinking that if I’m not looking, it’s not going to happen. This is as much a test of a theory as it is a test of will.

So yes, while all these things float around my head, I’m also conscious of the fact I need to keep these chronicles entertaining. You and me, we can’t be just about having fun, but we can’t be just about getting serious either. So, I’ve decided, each time I look or break any other of my rules, I’m going to hit myself around the chops with a wizened parsnip. Not only will it remind me of what I’m not missing, it’ll also inject some comedy back into proceedings. And right now, I need to remember both the time I’ve wasted on bad root vegetables and the importance of living on the lighter side of lovelife sometimes.

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