Once upon a time, in a country far far away… (well, actually, it was in this country, but with a functioning economy and a government who knew their arse from a hole in the ground)… I decided to buy a new car.
Remember those days? Well, I suppose if you’re a shareholder of The International Entirety Corporation or one of the other 4 companies than owns everything in a clusterfuck of monopolistic avarice, then those days are still here. And they’ll probably be here forever, or at least until the glorious revolution, when you’ll suddenly find your old-school tie is very tight around your neck, and that the short-cut to the top of industry has become a short-drop to the bottom of a scaffold.
This blog really is about dating, I’ll get to it. God, you’re so impatient!
But once upon a time, ordinary working class boys could work hard, go to a grammar school, get a job, and earn the kind of money that meant we had to decide whether to get the Audi or the BMW. That was me.
(Somebody wiser than me once said that the true poverty of the working class was the poverty of their ambition).
So I went to the Audi dealership, and took an A6 out for a test-drive. Nice. It had an understated class that I like, and when I took it back to the showroom I said to myself that I might like to drive one of those for the next 3 years. But before I committed, I went to try the BMW as well.
The BMW was good. If you drive one, or want one, I don’t think you’re wrong. But it wasn’t what I wanted, and I’d made a decision about my next car: the Audi.
This is the thing that didn’t happen. None of the following occurred.
I walked back into the Audi showroom, and the salesman called me a Vorsprung durch Twat. He spat on the floor in front of me, and shouted for his big brothers, Dennis and Charlie, who emerged from the shadows and chased me off with sticks. He found me on Facebook and daubed abuse on my wall. He ensured that I would never drive an Audi by slagging me off publicly in front of all other Audi dealers. I must not look at an Audi, or hang around car parks where Audis parked, or draw 4 circles in a row, or say “howdy” in a Sheffield accent. All those things were verboten, because I’d committed a cardinal sin: I’d gone for a spin in another car, because I wanted to find what’s best for me.
Those things didn’t happen. What actually happened was that the salesman welcomed me back, we had a “funny” (i.e. we both laughed politely and wished we were dead) conversation about BMW drivers, and I bought the car. It was nice. Well, it was OK. It was actually like driving a Belgian politician: it did just what I expected it to, but there wasn’t much to be excited about, and I could never spot it in a crowd. I preferred it when I drove an Avantime. God, that car was amazing. Why did I ever get rid of it? Why did they ever stop making it?
As a metaphor for dating, buying a car isn’t ideal. For a kick-off, it assumes that in dating it’s all my decision, and the girl is just a shiny object I want to get inside of and burn some rubber. OK, I grant you, it had crossed my mind…
The truth is, for a man like me dating is at least 80% the girl’s decision. Dating is a power dynamic, and my power is low. Plus, I don’t know how to talk to women. Well, I do now, but it’s a relatively recent development. I have no sisters or female cousins. In my primary school, due to a statistical anomaly (or perhaps an industrial accident at the local Robertson’s Jam factory) there were only 2 girls in a class of 32, and one of them left before I was 8. I went to an all-boys grammar school. And I work in software, where the only female presence is Lara Croft and one unfortunate systems administrator with a chromosomal disorder which brought him perilously close to being a Thai ladyboy, except, you know, from Eccles.
Until I was 25, the only woman I knew was my mother, and she’s got something of a beard and swears at the TV while watching football, so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn she’s a man too. Or at least a witch.
So I wasn’t exactly equipped to deal with “the women”. In my case it wasn’t so much the opposite sex, as the opposite of sex. I’m sure there are men who can click their fingers and women come running, but when I click my fingers I get – at best – an irritated waiter who will promptly piss in my clam chowder.
Most of the time, clicking my fingers just kills a child in Africa. I must stop doing that. Singing the theme to The Addams Family is an act of genocide.
I digress again. I keep doing that.
My point is, dating the way the British do it is a nonsense. Every time you meet somebody, it’s all-or-nothing. It’s a rare girl who will accept the man they’re drinking with on Friday will be drinking with somebody else on Saturday. And it’s not like women have the monopoly on monopolies – men are just as bad. If you even think about meeting another guy for drinks, you’re clearly a slut. No, not a slut: a bitch.
For those who don’t know the official definition: a slut sleeps with everyone, but a bitch sleeps with everyone except you.
Americans have a different tradition for dating. Over there, dating has a specific meaning which is very different from relationship. It means going for drinks, but seeing other people, and keeping your options open.
Over here dating means being utterly committed to one person who you don’t necessarily like, but who got there first. It’s basically the same as a relationship, but you haven’t changed your Facebook status.
Not that it matters to me. If I find myself dating one girl, that’s one girl more than I ever expect to be dating. But I’m not interested in dating anybody else, and even if I was I’d struggle with the guilt. If you look up “old fashioned” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of me. Not true: my dictionary doesn’t have pictures in it, what kind of idiot do you think I am?