This isn’t going to be one of those posts bemoaning the youth of today or my not knowing who any given YouTuber may be outside the limited circle if my interests. There’s no qualifier to that statement. It’s far more fun leaning in on people’s inability to accurately tell my age and making statements that leave people frowning and doing some mental calculations.
For a good few years the revelation that I have a daughter (The Charleesi) who has not only graduated from University but is holding down a full-time job was enough to prompt variants on a theme of “but you don’t look old enough!” What can I say? Good genetics and marrying young seem to have made me, for now, a bit ageless in appearance?
Or there’s the look of confusion when I mention I’m older than Google, or indeed the world wide web – or inform the cub that I’m nearly five times older than he is.
I’d have thought the copious amount of grey and silver in my big bushy beard was a bit of a giveaway, but maybe some people think it’s just highlights or something.
Perhaps it’s just having reached a relatively fearless point in my life where I’ll happily tease people or play word games that veer into strange territories that make people wonder if they actually heard me correctly.
As long term friends will attest, even that is nothing new. Maybe one of these days I’ll end up being the dirty old man in the corner that no one pays any heed to.
I couldn’t resist. When myr s mentioned they were needing to have a crackdown on tidying, and our conversations had turned to how we could motivate that, I suggested a rewards chart – and agreed to buy a big bin, which was duly delivered today.
And it looks more than a little like a spaceman from Among Us.
So, I did a thing on social media yesterday that people seemed to enjoy. Inspired by a post I saw on Thursday, I designated Friday as a day to use ALL CAPS TALKING IN A PARTICULAR THREAD. WE WOULD CHANNEL THE THERAPEUTIC VALUE OF TALKING LIKE BRIAN BLESSED TO COMPLAIN OR PRAISE THE DAY.
It went very well. Comments ranged from telling people about having a coffee – or even too many coffees – to being called in to work from an empty office, and on the tendency of library staff to sing the alphabet under their breath while shelving or arranging stock.
Some people claimed they’d started shouting out loud instead, and we may have had a few sessions of talking very loudly out in the workroom for comedic emphasis as word got around.
By and large, it has put a smile on everyone’s faces, so I think I’ll do it again next week. Who knows, I might make it a regular thing if people enjoy it.
My counsellor is the first to tell me that I have a tendency to want to help people and put their problems above my own – and she usually says so when I’ve spent a long time talking about my concerns about a friend, or someone I work with. So this extended period of lockdown and general stress has been an exercise in closely managing my own mental reserves so that I stay boundaried in the sense of maintaining my own safety while still being present for people.
Its not easy. It can be quite seductive a call to throw grand dramatic gestures. Everyone wants to be a hero after all, but keeping the slow and steady drip of checking in on people – listening when they do or do not respond, or sending the odd off-colour joke without expecting a reply – seems to be a middle ground that is allowing me to not over extend myself or to feel that I’m abandoning people.
Its hard when there’s that little voice wanting to leap down the phone and hug someone who is clearly in distress, but that little voice doesn’t take into account other people’s wants, needs, or support networks – that’s where it becomes unhealthy in trying to impose itself.
That’s the point where it becomes about me, not about them.
I am glad to bale to report that I amvery lucky with the support networks that I do have, and with the friends that can and do ping in and out of sight on various platforms. I’m doing my best to be a reliable generally positive part of their networks, rather than a burden on their time or the cause of a heavy sigh.
So, silly memes and reimaginings of scenes with disney characters, songs and daft videos – all of these and more will continue to flow as distractions. I might even get some work done in between them all too.
I’ve been going to the same counsellor now for the best part of twenty years. Initially it was do deal with issues around trauma, depression, anxiety, and prolific self harm, but these days is as much a clear space to keep grounded and to work through and process life in general. Lady M has recently started seeing one too.
I mention this because we had a huge power cut a couple of evenings ago in our neighborhood. With our usual aplomb we both said ‘candles’, turned on the torches on our phones, and soon had enough light from various sources to relax on the sofa and have a quiet natter about life, the universe, and everything else our attention latched onto.
Lady M started recounting how she was talking about our polycule in session, and how supportive her counsellor had been. From various online discussions I’ve become aware of just how lucky we are to have found people who have not been judgemental, let alone supportive of how and who we love. Some of it seems in support of something that makes us happy, and some of it is recognition of the emotional labour and honesty required to make these – and indeed any – relationships flourish.
While all of us are out – and in general have had positive regard from co-workers and most of our families, it has still been hugely important to have these structured places to be able to talk in depth about each other and what’s going on in our collective and individual lives. Humour plays a huge part in how we talk about and to each other – and while it’s not my place to recount what Lady M says she talked about and the responses she got, I do want to share something from one of my recent sessions.
I’d been talking about myr s and their embracing of their non-binary journey and was asked how the changes made me feel. I said that the great advantage to my partners of my being bisexual was that I can put my hands in their pants and be very happy with whatever I found there. It took my counsellor a good couple of minutes to stop chuckling.
I’ve been asked to stop breaking Lady M. The comment came from our metamour, the inimitable Lady J, in response to pictures and video I posted earlier this evening of Lady M after we watched the finale of The Good Place.
Side note: If you haven’t watched The Good Place, I highly recommend it to you as an intelligent and witty story that hides behind a facade of goofiness.
There were tears, and blocked nostrils from a light cold, and snot, and laughter in frustration, and giggles from teasing. All at once. Which of course I had to share with lady s, and then with permission on social media – and now here, because I think you’ll all join me in laughing with her, and commiserating if you’ve seen it too.
I stayed over at lady s’ on Sunday, and we rounded out our evening with trying out the worst jokes and puns we could think of. The puns in particular got more and more laboured and tortured, fuelled by YouTube videos playing in the background. Inspired by a brief piece that mentioned the extinction of Moa birds, I piped up with “Moa, Moa, Moa your boat, gently down the stream…” and got covered in the mouthful of drink she’d been swigging at the time. It’s the little sillinesses in our shared weird little humours that I love – even as we have to endure some bloody awful jokes along the way.
By way of contrast, there’s a building I work in that has had ongoing problems with leaks; but today a new wrinkle presented itself and I’m very glad I’m not working there at the moment. A colleague had noticed an odd smell, and discolouration near a wall, and on investigation found that the underfloor heating was flooded. After joking among ourselves that we now had not only a built in spa at the library, but hit and cold running damp, the hysteria was firmly muffled and the engineers called in.
We’ve established it’s nothing as simple as the local river rising – and therefore ruled out that it was a hitherto unknown vampire defence – and now await the reports and recommendations on how best the building can be rescued.
I finally have some glimpse of the truth and irritation that lives in the hearts of fifty percent of the population. It’s my day off, and I needed to get some more coffee.
I was already slobbing around in a teeshirt and tracksuit bottoms, so I pulled on some trainers and slung my new hoodie on, gathered phone, wallet, and keys and stride in out. I was halfway down the stairs from the flat when my brain started to twig there might be a problem.
Where was I going to put my keys? Where, for that matter, my wallet or phone? I was halfway across the estate before my brain caught up to the conclusion that I had no pockets. Ah, I thought, so this is what it’s like.
I could have turned round then, but my coffee was calling, so I carried on, thinking that I really wished I had something to carry them in rather than all consumed in one of my fists. The only way to be more convenient and have my hands full would be… Yes, a bag over my shoulder.
It was at this point that my irrational hatred of “manbags” or satchels rose to the surface. Why need one? I thought, if you already have pockets?
As I walked across the car park, I spotted various women grimly holding possessions or wandering carefree with their handbags. I then got a bit confused at seeing a woman with pockets still carrying things in her hand until I realised she was playing Pokémon Go as she walked up to her car.
Once in the supermarket I if course had a basket, and then the luxury of a plastic bag in which to put my possessions along with my shopping.
How have women not risen up in fury yet at a lack of pockets?
I really must remember to buy some more small cat bells. I’ve been getting complaints. Oh, not about my silent padding about and giving Lady M and coworkers nasty surprises when I start talking behind them, but about lady s.
The small bell that she has worn on her collar for quite some time snapped off recently. Her fiancée is most put out about this – she had got her ear in to listen out for the little jingle as lady s wandered around the house and now she has no warning.
I did offer one of the larger bells I have in the flat just as we headed out to the anniversary party, but this was deemed unhelpful.
I shall have to peruse online for replacements – I say plural as I’m bound to need spares…