Men Are Not What We Ordered On The Menu

Men are not the enemy; they’re just not what we ordered on the menu. Some we would bow down to whilst dribbling like pubescent teenagers. Others wear cardigans.

It’s understandable that the world would need the male species. Without them, the exceptionally thrilling sporting giants that are cricket and darts would be extinct and would therefore prevent us from living. No one would pose with a one hooped earring and end up looking like a mid-eighties George Michael. There would be no drunken brawls at Yates for us to film, put on YouTube and become internet sensations from. The globe, quite literally, would be at a standstill.

Women fail to see all these fascinating reasons for the existence of men. They can’t see the point in Spiderman when he’s clearly not a spider and the erection men have over HP sauce. They’re hurt by the obsession with Fifa; watching men run around on the pitch in slow motion was meant to be their personal enjoyment of the game. They’re bored of watching repeats of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air however much they fantasise about the lean, mean, comedy machine that is Will-hump-me-all-night-Smith.

The female species see only the bad in these Inbetweener-like creations. They sob over nostril-heaving underwear sat an inch away from the wash bin. They watch his every move on Facebook in case he ‘likes’ a woman’s Kim Kardashian-style selfie. They will waste their life away dissecting a text that ends with an ‘x’ and whether that is a secret marriage proposal with a hint of we’re-going-to-have-babies-tomorrow.

I must confess that I am one of these women. We just can’t understand them. Men confuse us more than Chris Martin being voted sexiest man of the year. Our well-developed, can-cook-more-than-beans-on-toast brains can’t function. It’s like the moment you found out in Maths that Pi wasn’t the kind that Jason Biggs became famous for; complete shock horror.

Women are simple. We like to cry about pandas, talk to inanimate objects and apply mascara with our mouths open. There’s nothing wrong or remotely illegal about spending time to cleanse ourselves in a shower after touching your beard or wanting to settle down to a guilt-free episode of The Only Way is Essex on an intellectual Wednesday evening. Kissing is a must unless your lips are drier than the Sahara desert and holding hands will gain you brownie points when we later decide if we’re ‘tired’ or not. Just remember, a hot dog without the bun isn’t fun for you either.

Women want Johnny Depp shipping them off to some dark and dangerous place in the Caribbean but end up with a caravan in Southend-on-Sea. Men want Jennifer Lopez in a maid’s costume in Manhattan but end up with their wife in a giraffe onesie in Hackney Central. We need to find a common ground where both sexes can accept each other even if they do the forbidden and wear flip flops. Let’s all agree, man and woman alike, to do the one thing that we both love doing – putting Hula Hoops on our fingers and pretending we’re married.

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A Couple of Married Twenty One Year Old’s

I’m twenty one and married to him. He’s twenty one and married to me. Before the inevitable flurry of ‘aren’t you too young?’ questions, I haven’t done a Kim Kardashian and married a gangster for a vagina-waving video that will be leaked to ensure my future millions. I am in love with a beautiful man and age is irrelevant.

At eighteen, we fell in love. At twenty, we got engaged. At twenty one, we said I do. Admittedly, I have never felt twenty one. Twenty one is meant to be the moment where you feel brave enough to try that forward roll that you couldn’t quite master back in PE lessons. It’s a time where you can wear a jumpsuit without walking around worrying about the camel attached to you. It’s being brave at its most envious. If asked what I’d choose as my mental age, I fear I’d be closer to the pensioner than to my twenty-one-year-old-skinny-dipping-in-a-mould-induced-pond-for-the-sake-of-it friends. So in that respect, I am somewhat of a cougar marrying this delicious twenty one year old toyboy.

The reality of it is that we’ve come up against a wall of negativity as though we’re claiming to be the next BNP leaders once we’re married. At one point, a Robin Hood style ambush nearly pushed us to elope somewhere in the Caribbean and skinny dip in those waters instead. But we didn’t. We made a choice to take life and love into, as our good old friend the cliché says, our hands. We decided that a small gathering at a pleasant registry office with five or six people would suffice for a long enough bedtime story for the future grandchildren.

When the day arrived, it wasn’t all fields of gold with Kool and the Gang giving some heartfelt rendition of ‘Celebration’. It was more like Rylan Clarke howling into my ear at it’s-too-early-o’clock.

                I woke furious for no other reason than the fact that morning had come and slapped me in the face too soon. I wanted a coma-like sleep where not even the smell of Johnny Depp’s dreadlocks could raise me from the bed. But on one occasion, a woman has to accept her bride duties and muster the effort to actually put on a dress and hide her dishevelled self beneath a white veil. Once I had, I felt like Cinderella albeit with a slightly transvestite-like tallness.

Arriving before the groom isn’t tradition but I wanted to sit down without sweating through the layers of netting that had stuck to my nipples. I wanted to be still without the worry that my hair would blow so far back in the open car windows that I’d eventually turn up bald. I wanted to throw myself in front of a mirror to ensure my fake eyelashes didn’t look like two slugs chasing each other on my eyelids. I arrived mere minutes before him and was ushered into an office whilst he gallivanted like some gladiator through the halls of the building.

I walked into the ceremony with my best friend of eleven years to Mariah Carey’s voice. Although, we had discussed how romantic it would be to play Kesha’s Timber and allow for a country dance down the aisle, we opted for the sensible choice.

                Once we were stood facing each other, we couldn’t help but laugh. The registrar silenced us and we began to say our vows to one another. It was when love pulled through and showed everyone that it really does conquer all even for those who can’t cook eggs properly.

With all the meaningless jokes pushed aside, it was as beautiful as the warm, orange sun setting on a summer’s evening. It was like all your favourite memories merged into one black and white film. It was like hearing all the angels sing together just for you. It was like our lives had stopped and a new one had started where we had new titles and new beginnings. It was, and still is, the best decision we’ve ever made, twenty one or pensioner.

 

Tip-ping Me Over the Edge

I refuse to tip in restaurants and I’m not sorry. Why is it after we’ve paid a David Cameron style wage on food that we really could have just microwaved at home, we’re supposed to hand over ‘loose change’ to someone who has barely acknowledged our existence for an hour? Hold me hostage and feed me meat-filled burgers until I pay up because otherwise my purse will stay firmly shut. It’s become this strange legal kind of mugging where they stand before you ready and waiting as though you’re drowning in money and they have to somehow relieve you.  

I can understand that waiters and waitresses have a difficult job; cleaning up some mutated spaghetti mess is hard for even the no-gag-reflexing individual. However, they’re not the only ones that ‘serve’ people. In retail, you don’t walk up to a till point and add a tip to the payment of a crop top, in fact you’d be completely outraged and stroll out with an air of ingratitude. So I’m struggling how after a quick Mr Muscle wipe of the table and a plate of chips I’m expected to hand over my flat keys as a substitute for my lack of tip just so I can escape through the side exit.

The worst part of the whole ‘dining out’ experience is the expectation at the end. It’s an Oliver Twist style moment where ‘more sir’ really wouldn’t be an exaggeration. We all want more money but by giving me a glass of coke and a toothy smile really isn’t the way to go about it. Here’s a prime example of exactly why I’m not willing to give up my week’s earnings on someone who probably chucks hangers on me when walking out of a high street fitting room.

When I was out for dinner the other evening, I requested a vegetarian meal. As abnormal as that is for a waitress to hear that vegetarians really do exist and they’re not just an urban myth, she asked me if I was ‘sure’ that is what I want. Pondering this for a whole second of my life, I proceeded to tell her that yes, after eleven years of Quorn and Tofu, I was extensively sure that my choice was one that I would not later regret. When she left, we waited for forty minutes without our drink order although I’d asked numerous times emphasising the ‘please’ in case I got the whole saliva-in-burger drama. When the dinner arrived, it was a chicken dish that smelt of farmyard manure and a breaded Chicken Run character. After huffing and puffing like an overheating, constipated fish, she eventually replaced it with a salad that I, once again, didn’t order.

            At the end of the meal, my Nan decided to tip six pounds for her ‘enthusiasm’. She had as much ‘enthusiasm’ as a funeral director in a labour room. I kicked up what can only be described as a ‘hormonal’ raucous until my Nan told me that ‘its rude not to tip’. I need this explained to me because for the love of all that is food, I was given a bird to eat.

Call me the wicked witch of the west but my point is true; service is service and it shouldn’t be one rule for one and one rule for another. Receiving great service is a joy but it isn’t one that deserves reward because at the end of the day, they’re getting paid. You may argue that it’s ‘stressful’ and ‘busy’ in restaurants but it is too, in a shop or in an underground station or on a bus. These people don’t play the puppy dog eyes and almost splutter into your soup when you give them nothing. It’s not about politeness because I will engage in conversation in the very typically English way where we evaluate the ‘awful weather’ and I will always say my please and my thank you. But I wonder, when did a heart-felt thank you become a metaphor for I’m-a-tight-fisted-pessimist? It’s about time we all admitted that it’s tipping us over the edge.

 

Broken Homes, Broken Record

I’ve never met my Dad. He’s out there somewhere in this world not knowing my name, my age or my number. He doesn’t care and neither do I and that’s the harsh reality of it. Some men were born with the physical inability to grow a pair of at least average-sized testicles and feel paternal love. Some men give it in abundance.

I am not filled with hate or a sense of rejection. I am not waiting one day for a love-filled reunion where he can shower me in birthday presents, Christmas presents, graduation presents and I-wanted-you-aborted presents. In my head, I see a man that my imagination has allowed to grow as years have passed and the only constant is the disappointment in his eyes at having to look at the sperm he unleashed twenty one years ago.

There are some people who are either full of good faith or possibly suffer from our long term friend naivety that claim being a parent is just as hard as the presidency. They argue that to know your child’s first name is a step too far in the maturity level of manhood and that men simply have to perform a magic trick and disappear. I fear this is as true as going to the back of my wardrobe and stepping into a fairy tale land of Narnia.

Growing up, it was never a deep dark secret as to why the man that forgot to use a condom one day wasn’t there to play against the other fathers on sports day. It was out in the open like some sort of infectious disease that other dads could catch, become ill with and eventually abandon all involvement with their own children. I was told, in very simplistic terms so my four year old mind could understand them, that he ‘just didn’t want you.’ But to me, it didn’t matter because I had Bananas in Pyjamas on video and those trusty old friends always wanted me.

When you reach a certain age, you realise you’re part of something bigger like a revolution of the half-parented. There’s a school full of abandoned students daydreaming just that little bit longer in class. There’s a street full of children holding onto their mother’s hand just a little bit tighter. There’s a world full of people loving their partner just a little bit stronger.

You meet people and discover their broken-home status. You feel relieved that you’re not alone in knowing more about Leonardo Dicaprio than your own father. You don’t know his age or his hair colour or how his touch would feel. The relief is short-lived. There’s a look in people’s faces and it’s a look as though a part of them is lost somewhere in gravity and no force, no matter how strong or scientifically proven, can bring it back to them. This, however much it is denied, is unmistakable.

In most cases, children grow closer to the parent that chose to nurture them and who taught them that they weren’t going to die if they let go at the top of a really big slide. There tends to become an unbreakable bond that life, in all its many stages, cannot tarnish for that one love does conquer all.

For some of us, it doesn’t quite work out that way. The cracks were always there; no loving kisses goodnight or a hug before school. The years start to erode at the parental relationship until there is nothing but debris left and you wonder if there had ever been love at all. You wonder what having a mother would feel like and how there was such distance there that you may as well live in a foreign land. You try at length to build something, no Eiffel Tower of emotions but something that you could feel inside your chest when you couldn’t breathe. But sometimes, just sometimes, all is lost.

I think it’s a sad truth and statistic that broken homes are becoming more of a norm. If parents aren’t together but a child still knows the difference between Pat Butcher from Eastenders and who their mother is, life has pulled itself together. If not, us children that society tries to ignore or who they are slightly embarrassed of will be fine.

I read a quotation once in an English class back in secondary school and it is one that has stuck with me when delving into what my mind tells me not to – ‘smooth seas do not make skilful sailors.’ We are skilful and we are not alone, parents or no parents, we will know how it feels to be truly, heart-warmingly loved.

Colours of the Sky

*These are our experiences only and this piece of writing is not intended to offend anyone.*

We all point out colours in everyday life; the colour of the sky, the colour of a blossoming flower, the colour of the sun. There are other colours that some people point out too. I hope that these colours don’t matter to you.

I’m white. Although, I’d consider myself a pale peach if anything but for the sake of argument, I’m white. My boyfriend of two years is mixed race. He’s half Jamaican, quarter Asian, quarter white. I know what you’re all thinking, sexy mix, but that’s not something I’ll delve into right now. Unfortunately, I’m not looking to be the next E.L James and write a new trilogy of porn. We are, in politically correct terms, a ‘bi-racial couple’. I’d say we’re just a couple.

When I first met my boyfriend, I fancied him because he beat me at air hockey but told everyone I’d won. I fancied him because he spent five hours taking us on four different buses trying to get me back home when really it was a simple half an hour journey. I just fancied him.

Taking him back home to Kent was easy. My Nan made him every type of meat you can think of to ensure he ‘got his strength up’; it was all very 1960’s. My Grandad greeted him with a handshake and whipped out his wallet to show my five year old self with cheeks the size of Africa. As attractive as I must have looked, my brother came in to rescue me. He made a few jokes and everything was how it was supposed to be.

However, when we went out for dinner at an infamous little restaurant just outside of Canterbury, I noticed it. It was no big drama. No raised voices or physical scraps; just an acknowledgement.

We were all sat around a large table, tucking into roast dinners when an elderly couple on the table opposite kept staring. I’m the least confrontational person since time began but this is the one thing that makes me want to stand up and quote the Bible or Martin Luther King or something that would make them see real life. My boyfriend ignored it. I stared back, cocking my head to the side and waiting for them to enjoy their own evening together. They spoke loudly and pointed. First of all, pointing a haggled old finger in our direction like a half-dead version of ET isn’t going to make me feel anything but pity. Second of all, saying that I’m ‘white’ out loud isn’t exactly a revelation. As shocking as it may sound, I hadn’t woken up for the eighteen years previous to that believing I was any other ethnicity but white. I was fully aware that my two white parents had conceived a white child.

My brother heard their comments and stood up. At six foot one with a fierce coat of man beard around his face, he looked slyly intimidating. I remember the days when he used to bite me for eating all of my Happy Meal and not saving him a bite of my cheeseburger but those days are gone. The couple continued to stare. Why is it that some old people think that there’s some strange hierarchy which they top because they’ve been in the world a few decades longer than the rest of us? I’ll get up for them on a crowded bus but I won’t tolerate racism.

My brother remained standing. The couple stood and faced us. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the plates of food they’d wasted. They’d spent so much time infatuated with the ‘bi-racial’ couple that they’d forgotten to eat. Either that or those haggled fingers couldn’t clasp a fork properly anymore. They refused to finish their dinner sat opposite us and were guided to a table in a different part of the restaurant. I hoped they had a Granddaughter who’d bring home a nice respectable white man to continue the real sense of equality that I thought this world was beginning to have.

I don’t want to paint a picture where it’s all one-sided but I’m not going waste my time recreating too many moments of ignorance. Everyone can be with anyone and I’ve chosen to be with a mixed race man. Choice is one of the most powerful things in this world and it is choice that I hold above race, class and any other form of grouping that exists.

I’m not going to sit here and say I’m ‘proud’ to be in a ‘bi-racial’ couple because that would mean that I see a difference in me and my boyfriend. We are what we are. I’m proud of us as a couple for who we are, not because we’re white and mixed.

We all point out colours in everyday life; the colour of the sky, the colour of a blossoming flower, the colour of the sun. There are other colours that some people point out too. I hope that these colours don’t matter to you.