When I started writing blogs for Paddy Power I was given a few suggestions for topics to get me started. One such topic was something along the lines of “why do people suddenly turn into dickheads when they start writing in the chat box while playing online poker?” We all know the type: they lose a pot and start bitching and moaning in the chat box, hurling all manner of insults you know full well they wouldn’t dare say in a live game.
Well that request was over three years ago and I still haven’t written that blog.
The simplest answer is that the person giving the abuse must be some sort of twat. But I must admit I’ve got some previous for that type of behaviour myself. So it got a bit uncomfortable trying to write a blog about it because a) I don’t want to be a hypocrite and b) it amounted to an exercise in explaining my own twattish behaviour.
But I will work this out if it kills me. For three years I’ve been wrestling with this in the back of my mind and consciously – or subconsciously – I will get to the bottom of this. But asking the question a different way, you could ask “why is acting a certain way online deemed more acceptable than doing it in real life?”
This all came flooding back to me this week because something which was the total reverse of this situation occurred. I got dumped by this girl I’d been seeing, first in person and then online – deleted from Facebook no less (and you don’t get more “dumped” than that!) But it was the online dumping which I found worse!
When you hear the details of the personal dumping you’ll find it hard to believe that this was possible. But honestly, it was. I’d better explain.
I am not and never have been a ladies’ man. Nor am I a man of “action”, shall we say. I meet girlfriends with the regularity of Halleys comet. Being a simple character I don’t have all this right side of brain stuff going on and I just don’t get all these subtle hints or see the little signals that women make. I’m much more primitive than that. I like sport and I like gambling. Don’t get me wrong – I do like girls – I just can’t be arsed devoting my life chasing them around like some people do, especially now I don’t drink. It’s fair to say I have spent less than 1% of my life in the pursuit of women. In fact I reckon it’s nearer 0.1%. Emotionally you might think of me a single cell organism, rather than a fully developed human being. A very basic creature indeed.
But once in a while someone comes along who is worth the chase. It happens about every 4-5 years I reckon. So every 4-5 years I make my very best efforts and leap into action. And then I get properly blown out – occasionally in a blaze of glory but more usually in scenes of abject humiliation. Sometimes I don’t even get to ask the question and just bottle it completely. But the common factor is the failure to attract the lady of my desires. Literally, it never, ever works. I mean, EVER (my last big failure was in 2008.) This is because the objects of my desire are about 10 levels out of my league.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I met such a girl. She is an absolute star. She has a brilliant personality, she’s brainy, beautiful looking and a body like Jessica Ennis, no exaggeration. We’d meet most days for breakfast and natter away and before we knew where we were it was lunchtime and we’d been talking for hours. She’s great. I liked her so much I gave her my copy of “Shantaram”, the best book I’ve read for ages and which was a gift to me from a good friend. But I never did manage to tell her that I fancied her. And then she left…pffft, gone, just like that. I’d forgotten to make my move! OK so I’m a massive bottle job. It would have ruined everything if she’s said she only thought I was a mate, but there were good reasons as well.
I moped around for a while, but then a day or two later I arrived back at my hotel one night to find the owner and his wife giggling at me and saying:
“You’re the most popular man in Varkala tonight”.
“Why’s that then?” I asked
It turns out that four Scandanavian girls came by looking for me. Three Swedish girls and a Dane. Not separately of course (imagine that), but as a group. The Dane I knew well – she was a mate of my beautiful and now departed friend I’d failed to make a bid for. I hadn’t really paid her the blindest bit of notice before tonight though. She showed the owner a picture of me from her camera, asking if I stayed there, wanting to know if I’d come out with them for dinner. Well it’s not as if I had a better offer, so off I went, even though I was well late. And it was her that I ended up getting together with. Or rather, she got together with me.
How do I describe her? Well she’s vegan and wears several earrings, nose rings, nose studs, ear studs, massive 12mm ear lobe rings and various other body piercings, as well as half a dozen tattoos. She’s into travelling, yoga, ashrams and all that spirituality stuff etc, and I’m pretty sure she’s into other girls (but we don’t discuss this). But her real passion is being an eco warrior. You’re probably thinking girls like this are ten a penny but she’s more hardcore than most. In fact, she’s such an eco warrior she goes on demonstrations with other eco warriors and breaks into power stations, climbing to the roof, sabotaging the lifts and displaying their eco warrior signs 150m up the building and not coming down for 2 days. I kid you not. And they have rucks with the coppers who try to break them up. She hates the police more than I do! When she gets arrested she stonewalls the police and never, ever grasses on her mates, claiming she doesn’t know the other demonstrators, that they all turned up independently on the same day in some massive coincidence and that the moon is made of green cheese, while smiling sweetly at them. She’s a right little tearaway – a 7 and a half stone Danish lioness with all these principles, piercings and attitude. What’s not to like?
But I hadn’t realised she was actually really attractive as well. How could I have not realised? I really started to fancy her that night.
We went everywhere together after that. Everything was great, blissful in fact. This feeling is how Warren Fellows describes the buzz of taking heroin in his book “The Damage Done”. That warm feeling when you start a relationship of belonging, safety, that feeling that everything’s going to be alright. You’ve got no worries, no insecurities and everything’s perfect. You could say I was all jacked up with finest quality heroin I suppose. Just a contented smack filled single celled organism. And it’s great. “How long will this last” I wondered? Because I’m happy to be left in this state forever.
She’d properly stare at me with her massive brown eyes like I was the greatest thing that had walked the earth. It was a bit unsettling because I’m definitely not used to it. Oh and get this: she had brown eyes at night but during the daylight they became brown centred with a light green inner ring and a dark green outer ring, like an archery board. I swear to God, I’ve never seen anything like it before.
And as this went on, I may as well have been in a heroin induced stupor, a real one. Because all normal feelings – you know the cynicism, the sarcasm and the bitterness and the rest, seemed to vanish. So much so that after a mere 3 days of this bliss I’d become a great big vacant grinning single cell organism. A domesticated, unquestioning, smack filled single celled organism. Bewitched.
Can you imagine a gang of alley cats looking into a house and sneering at the fluffy domesticated ones sat on their owners’ laps with their big, round, stupid, happy eyes. Well that was me.
I’d start to develop a knowledge of which fish were endangered species “yeah I’ll stop eating tuna then” Jeez, have a word. (She loved that I’m a vegetarian. I’d just like to confirm to you that I turned veggie after reading the China Study, not because I get all squeamish that chickens don’t have en-suite bathrooms.)
In fact – and I’m embarrassed to admit this – ashamed in fact – at one point she was wittering away about Michael Jackson and she says she doesn’t believe he was a paedo. WTF? And I didn’t even bring her to book! What I ought to have told her is this: “it should be a criminal offence to deny Jackson was a nonce, in the same way holocaust denial has been criminalised. You soppy tart”
But did I tell her this? No of course I didn’t. I held back and just smiled like a total mug.
I caught the look of my pal Ricky from Liverpool. He knew.
I hate myself sometimes. But she’s so nice, so loving and positive and happy. What could I do?
Watching her walking around the resort was funny. I might not have noticed she was attractive at first but everyone else did. She was getting all manner of attention but I’d just think “You’ve got no chance pal she’s with me.”
How long does this heroin feeling last again?
One day I turned up to meet her at her hotel and she wasn’t there. I asked around and the two girls sitting at reception started to give me the sympathetic looks reserved for those who have been stood up.
“She might be on the beach?” they suggested with false optimism.
I just laughed. “No I’ll wait thank you – there’s no way she’s won’t show.” And she immediately walked through the gate beaming at me. Yeah, that’s my girl! I felt like giving it a bit of Stevie Wonder and busting out my own rendition of “For once in my life”, like a great big, happy, blind soul singer, gallons of smack flowing through the single cell. Yeah.
Meanwhile I’m thinking “So how long will this last?”
The answer is, it lasts until she gets bored of me: so about half a week in my case. Oh well.
So fast forward half a week and enter the dumping – first the personal one:
“You treat me like a princess. I don’t want to be treated like a princess”, she said.
I should point out that this conversation was taking place in an outdoor cafe which was full of customers. She was speaking in a loud and clear voice. Very loud and very clear. I’d just sat down and she’d told me that we “needed to talk because she’d been thinking”. Oooer. I was sort of aware that this was coming because she’d been acting strangely the evening before. (Isn’t it horrible how those “I’m about to be dumped” tells are always 100% accurate?) But prepared or not, this really wasn’t a good situation:
I saw a head twitch on the next table. He was about to turn round to gawp and I glared a steely stare at his head like a laser beam. He must have somehow felt it because he stopped from turning his head round. Yeah that’s right pal. You can listen if you want but you won’t get to see who is receiving the good news.
“You keep paying for meals and it makes me uncomfortable”
“Really?” I asked. “Sorry, I didn’t know.” (You can eat a three course meal for a fiver here.)
“Well I did tell you” (she did to be fair but I just ignored her. When the bill is 500 rupees it’s easier to just sling them a note and be done with it)
“And you’re always giving me things. I don’t want you to. If I wanted them I’d buy them myself.”
At this point she produced a neatly wrapped little parcel, returning all the “things” I’d given her: a packet of water purification tablets, some sachets of dioralyte and a tube of germolene. She’d forgotten to bring back the flash drive and the cigarette lighter (for roll ups of course) but she would have if she’d remembered. Apparently she did appreciate the Tiger balm I’d got her though. Win some lose some eh?
Now I don’t know what her definition of “treating like a princess” is but it’s probably quite a long way short of the definition the Essex girls I know would use.
“I gave you those because you’re travelling round India. You might need them where you’re going and I’m going home soon. I just wanted rid of them truth be told”, I said.
Now I think about it this has to rank as one of the most pointless dumpings ever. I go home in a week (show me the way to go home!) She was moving on even sooner than that.
She continued in her painfully loud voice – a slightly robotic skandie accent with a twang of American – which you had to be deaf not to hear. I desperately wanted to tell her to turn it in, just to button it a teensy bit please, but she was on a roll. I could tell she was nervous because she was taking deep breaths and she’d obviously prepared this, so I let her continue.
“And the germolene – that’s got chemicals in it”. She said the word “chemicals” quite unkindly, like I’d tried to poison her or something.
“Yes – chemicals to treat that little cut in your leg. It’s an antiseptic cream”
“You know I don’t like chemicals.”
As her lips are moving I get this existential feeling as if it’s someone else sitting there and not me. Perhaps some self defence mechanism, who knows? And as she’s speaking a voice appears in my head – Mark Corrigan’s voice (he of Peep Show fame) – and Mark Corrigan’s voice says to me:
“Probably not the time to tell her you’re in love with her mate then” and I stifle a laugh.
Do you ever get that – Mark Corrigan’s voice in your head at the most unlikely moments? Or is it just me? Questions spring to mind. Can I take anything seriously at all? Does this make me slightly mad? Or could it even keep me slightly sane?
I snap out of it and try to concentrate on what’s being said – the dumping, the germolene, the chemicals, oh yes. Just then a stroke of luck – my mate Ricky passed by, sees us and not knowing the nature of the conversation, sits down to join us. Thank God for Ricky because it meant she stopped talking. The dumping had been duly completed but she says would we like to go to dinner with her and her friend tomorrow night because she leaves the day after? Bit weird but I say sure.
I tell Ricky what’s just gone down and he said I looked completely stunned, so no poker face there then! Now Ricky is a wise man in any case but he has the added advantage of not being a smack filled single cell organism like me so he can see things more objectively. He starts by telling me that this was destined to happen. It was so obvious to him and mark his words, there will be “more Freddie Mays in her wake before her trip is over”
He asks me the next day what I think the chances of her actually turning up to dinner really are. I say 60-40. Of course she doesn’t show. See, he is wise.
He then makes a few excellent points raising certain inconsistencies about her. For one, she’s immaculately well turned out for such a hippy don’t I think? And had I noticed how she watches her weight (she eats like a sparrow). A real lefty eco warrior wouldn’t care about looking like a model.
And then he says something that made me think. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have the time for all those principles”. He had to go out and work for a living at14. Plus, who’s paying for her travelling and all her legal bills when she gets arrested at these demonstrations? It’s a good point. I’d not stopped to think for one second how she manages to travel the world just on her principles and the power of yoga and meditation.
I don’t like being stood up as a rule, but when you add the dumping to the equation AND the fact my eyes have been opened, I decided to send her a little message. I sent it to her on Facebook. Nothing too drastic, but I do berate her for standing me up and mug her off a little bit about things in general. Perhaps a bit harsh but I was on a roll and you know what’s it like when you get typing. Yeah, have that you trust fund hippy.
The heroin effect has officially worn off and usual service is resumed.
Is that childish behaviour? No doubt, but I am childish. Who wants to be all grown up and mature anyway? A fully mature person only has about 2 seconds to live.
I don’t know what I expected her to do – read it and say “you know what? You’re dead right, do you want to get back with me?” And indeed the laugh was on me – a Facebook deletion ensued. This infuriated me. She can’t do that! Her soppy mate also deleted me too, but that doesn’t matter because her page was the most nauseating sack of dross I ever saw.
I was enraged. The face to face dumping just means “we had a good time, see you around” but the online deletion clearly spells “I never want to know what you are thinking, what you are doing and I’m not interested in anything you ever say again. In fact I hate you”. And I find that worse. Talk about having the last word. You just can’t get more dismissed than that!
I email her and say sorry, but I know that’s not going to work. She’s never responding and I know it. She’s too sensitive and even more stubborn.You know how girls can fall out permanently with even their best mates because of some offhand comment, so the heinous crime of saying something negative to a hippy will no doubt be punished by a lifetime of silence. Cue much shaking of heads and talk of “bad karma”.
This really annoyed me to the point I even had a dream, and not a Martin Luther King dream either. I dreamed I saw her getting into the taxi to leave. I shouted out “YOU CANNOT DELETE ME. YOU DELETE WEIRDOS AND STALKERS. YOU DON’T DELETE YOUR MATES.”
She just flips me the middle finger and says “Ass-hole” as she looks forward and the taxi drives away.
I wonder to myself if that robotic skandie-yankee sound – quite irritating when she’s chirping away at 5.30am as you’re falling asleep – can sound so impossibly sexy right now.
And then I hear the words of Mark Corrigan….
“Well that’s you told mate”
And instead of Stevie Wonder singing “For Once In My Life” I hear the Verve and they are singing “The Drugs Don’t Work”
Deleted from Facebook and ignored forever. Oh the finality of it all.
I’m under no illusions here – most people probably adjust their settings to minimize my Facebook rantings on their feed in any case. But not wanting to hear anything I’ve got say, ever? Cumon! And I like to think I’m quite interesting (sometimes). Vanity and a thin skin eh? It’s a terrible combo I know.
And now I sort of get it: the difference between saying something to someone’s face and saying it online is obvious: saying it in person doesn’t leave an audit trail of your twattish behaviour.
So this begs the question: why DO people do it at the poker table?
I’m even more confused now. But like I say, I’ll keep thinking about it until I figure it out.
So that blog – you know, the one about chat box warriors from 3 years ago – well it’s still a work in progress I’m afraid. But don’t worry, you’ll be assured to know that I am working on it subconsciously.
The one piece of good news is I think I’m returning to normal. Today at 10.30am I overheard a conversation at breakfast. I recount this verbatim in order to illustrate the fact that the gene pool has no life guard.
Blonde American girl: Is Syria in Africa?
Israeli girl: No, Africa stops at Egypt
Blonde American: Because I’d like to travel to Jordan and Syria and Lebannon
Israeli girl: I’d wait if I were you. It’s not very stable.
Blonde American (oblivious to that comment): So do you live in the Middle East?
Israeli girl: Yes Israel’s in the middle East.
Blonde American : When I travel to Israel we should meet up in Tel Aviv
Israeli girl: Sure
Blonde American : Cool
Yes, that’s so kewl.
As kewl as the soppy red Hindu dot on her stupid forehead. I bet she says the word karma a lot as well. I move from my seat – the best seat in the house with the beautiful view of the Arabian Sea – just so I can escape her drivel . The last thing I catch her say is “Oh so you’re a Taurus”. Bloody hell, get me out of here. I don’t know if it’s pity for her tiny brain or hate that I feel, but I’m getting a headache. Still, at least it’s a normal, happy, cynical feeling. I’m getting back to being myself again. Phew! This wretch might be giving me a headache but my senses are at least functioning properly again. That’s something to cling on to I suppose.