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Archive for the ‘WINs’ Category

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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Holler out your Sunday praises, followers! My mission is turning a corner. I think I’m converting to the teachings of the gods of Not Looking. In a heathen sense, of course.

The final scores for the week are a few hours off being on the doors but, seeing as I’m home alone now, I think it’s safe to announce that FAIL numbers are down. Consistently down. Not quite zero yet – this is still me, remember – but they’re not hovering far off it. None too bad when you consider the lofty heights my fail-rates have been known to reach.

Now I appear to be through the worst fail-wise, I’ve seen the good side, the up side, the Monty Python bright side, to my venture. While I’m going about my business and looking at far fewer men, I’m beginning to notice far more men looking at me.

Whereas, under normal operation, I figured I attracted looks from men because I was the one who stared at them first, now I know that anyone I spy out of the corner of my eye who is looking at me is, well, looking at me. Looking at me. Looking at me! Trust me, this is quite the turn-up. And here’s why.

Despite regular witterings about my hotness, which imply a general comfort with my appearance (if not borderline narcissism), it may come as some surprise to know that this comfort is by no means steadfast. For all the times I say I’m hot there are as many, if not twice as many, times I believe I’m not.

This is typical girl shit, obviously, although I believe men are just as likely to wrestle (in a manly heteroerotic way) with these thoughts themselves. They just don’t mention them as much as women. In this respect, and hopefully very few others given my gender, I’m like a man: I don’t really talk about my physical dislikes all that often.

I’m pretty sure my friends would agree I don’t discuss them much. Except this one. They know about this one. This one I mention quite regularly, especially when attempting to buy trousers. Funnily enough, it’s also shared with men:

(I’m not really that into basketball though. Or after a girl that looked good so I would call her. A boy, yes, that’d be nice. I’ll definitely take the rabbit in the hat, however. Magic!)

I probably come across as quite comfortable with my appearance: I wear tight tops, low necklines, short skirts and bum-hugger jeans. Sometimes I’ll catch my reflection in the mirror and think, “Hell, yeah, I’d do ya!”.

But then a split second later, I’ll slip into minute-inspection mode and pick metaphorical holes in any number of perceived flaws. I’ll tell you even the clothes I wear are chosen because having child height with hourglass curves requires the definition of separate anatomical parts in order to avoid having the silhouette of a teapot. My ability to think myself attractive is high; my ability to believe myself attractive is not.

It’s probably true of a lot of people, and now to them I would recommend following my not-looking lead. Not because they might be on the hunt and, patronising beyond patronising, “it’ll happen when they’re not looking”, but because of the by-product. If I’m anything to go by, you’ll experience an increased noticing of genuine looks from actual men – it’s the next best thing to a confidence boost in a can.

When I first noticed this phenomenon, I was mildly disturbed by it. All those stary, stary men, what did they want with me? Why are they looking at me and, when I return their look (legitimately and within the rules), looking sheepishly away? Have a I got something stuck to my face? Have I – horror of horrors! – developed a tache of some sort? What on earth are they playing at?

And then I realised. They’re eyeing me up. They’re checking me out. They’re trying to engage me in their own little Rule 1 FAIL (not that anyone else actually lives under these ridiculous rules). Well get a load of me. I am Miss Fancy McFanciablepants and I am out and proud. All those years I’ve spent meerkat neck extending, pupils darting, eyes locking meant I was too busy looking to notice being looked at. All this time, I should have been leaving the man-mountain to come to Mohammed. (Remind me to draw a cartoon of that.)

I don’t know if this is the first indication that not looking might, in fact, work. Firstly, it’s too early and there’s not enough volume of evidence. Secondly, just as many men could have been looking at me before, I just didn’t notice it myself. And thirdly, a look isn’t worth much in the finding-Mr-Mazing stakes – I need digits and dates, people. But until such time as that happens, I’ll take this opportunity for another me-orientated terrible musical interlude:

(I am totally the nun.)

Still, this new phase is a step in the right direction, plus I’m already enjoying the fruits of my not-labour: one young chap I noticed eyeballing me at the park today got a seductive lip-lick-hip-swing combo for his ocular efforts. Bless him. He didn’t get a look, though. Not my type. He should’ve been a little bit taller.

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I may only have been at this not-looking game for a couple of weeks but already I consider myself somewhat of an expert. In the past, I felt I was proficient, even skilled, in the art of visual (and let’s not deny, physical) seduction, but I think my new-found talents surpass even that. In such a short time, remarkable.

But, as with my proficient – nay skilled – visual – nay physical – seduction techniques, I can’t possibly keep them to myself. So herein lies the definitive, expert, tried-and-tested, empirically-backed guide to How Not To Look.

Level 1 not-looking – Stare into the sky or at the ground
Caution should be exercised in known areas of high population density, eg. London, or areas of high poop density, eg. anywhere within a one-mile radius of chavs who own any form (legal or illegal) of pitbull/bull terrier/Staffy, eg. London. The odds are not in my favour here. Those employing entry-level tactics should also be aware of the double-whammy sky-staring-bird-poop problem. It’s a blessing I no longer work near Trafalgar Square, let me tell you.

Level 2 not-looking – Blur the eyes
I have to say, the world is a far more beautiful place when you take the edges off everything and everyone. It’s much like having several pints inside you but without the overwhelming need to wee fourteen times an hour and then eat cheesy chips. However, the practice has given rise to the unique question: “Is that a man or a lamppost?” The bruise on my right bozonka knows the answer.

Level 3 not-looking – Ignore everyone
This one works a treat if you find your eyes easily caught. Very effective. Everyone either thinks you’re aloof, rude, Mr Magoo myopic or hates you, but you’ve got to consider that a price worth paying for zero FAILs, right? I can’t tell you the number of friends and acquaintances I’ve walked straight past in the last couple of weeks. I’m not being figurative, I can’t. But the way I see it, true friends would understand. They’d be reading my bloody blog for a start.

Level 4 not-looking – Not heads but shoulders, knees and toes
I’ve found my gaze is most often drawn into looking when I spot a potential hunk of hot in my peripheral vision. It’s almost a reflex reaction to zap my eyeballs up to their face. I’ve developed the technique of locking onto another part of their anatomy instead. Unfortunately, under this experiment, crotches, asses and chests are ruled out. Too obviously associated with the look of attraction. Knees, though, they’re safe. As are feet. Arms, too. Anywhere that isn’t naturally associated with eyeing up. Not shoulders, really. Too close to the face. And too hot. I just included that in the title because the song wouldn’t have worked without it.

Level 5 not-looking – Fix your gaze on ugly and/or old feckers
There are some right fuggers and grandpas about town who thought they were in there with a hot little piece of ass this week. (That’s me, by the way.) And why not? They’re helping me avoid fails left, right and centre. I’m helping them stave off a severe attack of the lonelies/the nursing home. It’s a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship. Some might call it parasitic. I might call them wrong. And married to a fugger whose head’s too easily turned.

Level 6 not-looking – Lezz it up
A recent revelation and a most welcome one. Instead of looking at manhot, why don’t I look at girlhot? I don’t know why I didn’t see it before, quite frankly. It’s so obvious. There’s some real lady talent out there, and not just in the mirror. In general, women make more effort with their appearances, wear tighter clothes and, let’s face it, are better looking. Why shouldn’t I take full advantage? Plus there’s the almost universal rule that guys are never as hot as their girlfriends, so why waste my looking time on the second-class citizen of a relationship?

When all else not-looking fails – Stay in
A zero FAILs tally on Saturday attests to the validity of this method. I didn’t leave my flat, I read several chapters of my book, I made some scones, I wrote a long and heartfelt post for this most amazing of blogs, I listened to as many CDs as I could find in their cases (four), I got a little bit drunk on a nice Chablis, I didn’t look at a single man. Or an attached one. It works! The only problem in using this technique is that, well, I really don’t think anyone else can be as good company as I am. You may well get bored with yourself. And if you’re a guy and you’re trying this, we know where that’ll end… At least blindness will mean you won’t have a problem not looking any more.

So there you have it. I can’t see where anyone could go wrong with clear, informative, helpful and wise tips such as these. Or rather, I couldn’t see where anyone could go wrong if it wasn’t for the gargantuan catalogue of FAILs I’ve racked up in the past few weeks. God, if I only fancied old gimmers, I wouldn’t have a problem at all.

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Not a sausage

After a short absence – the reason for which is about to become abundantly clear – here is the Situation Report.

Day 3: FAILs 8. A good improvement.
Day 4: FAILs 7. Not bad, considering I was down the pub.
Day 5: FAILs 5. Good, considering I was down the pub.
Day 6: FAILs 3. Very good, considering I was down the pub.
Day 7: FAILs 8. I was down the pub. Hungover. I gave up trying. Sorry about that.

All FAILs were breaches of Rules 1 or 4. Just for a change.

I’m getting much, much better at behaving myself. Well, if you ignore Day 7’s performance and the fact that I’ve been George Besting my liver for most of the week. (And seemingly obliterating the brain cells responsible for my writing abilities, so apologies now.) There’s a downward trend in the fails market and wins are on the up, as they’d say on Wall Street in between pocketing government bail-outs and receiving their redundancy notices.

Take Friday night’s pub visit. (That’s Day 5 if you can’t be arsed to do the math; right now I couldn’t.) I’ve lived in London more than four years and in all that time I’ve never borne witness to such a high-grade sausage fest. A wall-to-wall boycarpet so unusual in its richness and beauty it attracted comment from all of my female friends. And yet only two of Day 5’s five fails actually happened at Pub Saucisson. A remarkable feat for a carnivore like me, given the amount of butcher’s-hookable meat hovering at the edges of my field of vision.

Meat feast

Ooh la la!


Even as I left the pub, I spied with my little peripheral eye the shape of a tall, lean hunk of charcuterie just outside the door – and I didn’t so much as dance my eyeballs towards his face. I even completely blanked my male workmate who was waiting on the pavement next to him. WIN! That’s right, ignoring my friends now makes me a great success.

Other notable wins include: skipping a party I didn’t want to go to even though it was hosted by my two male neighbours, thus implying a high likelihood of sausages on sticks (Rule 6); and returning the conversation of two very good-looking men – one known to me, one stranger on a train – without a single flirt-giggle, lash-flutter or surreptitious cleavage-squeeze (Rule 2). That, my friends, is progress.

But, as I mentioned in my last post, the black and white world of my not-looking rules has been increasingly encroached upon by the grey areas associated with real-life application. Some pretty important questions concerning the rigidity and/or stretchiness of certain rules have popped up and they demand answers. I’m just going to have to wait until I’m not hungover before I can give them to you. I promise it’ll be bumper (ish). That ok? Thanks.

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