As lockdown restrictions start to ease, can you lose your flirting mojo?
As lockdown restrictions start to ease, social anxieties and a lack of conversation materials cause awkwardness and general confusion. Can you lose your flirting mojo? What happens when you send an awkward email? The best thing to do is go home and eat a Twix.
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It’s happening! The Great Reopening of Britain is upon us! Actually, this only makes sense if you’re listening to this around the time that I record it, and you’re not downloading it directly into your brain as some kind of historical document in a sci-fi future.
In which case, hello people of the space-future! Sorry the planet’s so fucked. We knew that with effort and sacrifice we could fix it, make things sustainable and still increase the quality of life for humans everywhere, but the old rich people in charge decided ‘fuck it, we want more yachts’, so now it’s ruined. Oh well!
Incidentally, whenever you hear someone talking about “the economy” and you’re worried that you won’t understand what they’re on about, in your head change “the economy” to “rich people’s yacht money”. It’s amazing how much clearer the concepts become. Try it: “Taxing billionaires won’t help the economy”. “Paying our workers a living wage would be bad for the economy”. “If we rise up and kill the billionaires, we can make The Economy work for everyone, especially those who need it most”.
Here in The Land of Gammons, we’re about to do the end of lockdown. Again. And I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it. Someone I’d not spoken to in ages messaged me the other day, saying “Not long now before we can go somewhere and get a cheeky pint in a beer garden!” and I had to stop myself from replying with “No thankyou, that sounds awful, goodbye forever.” because that’s how I felt. Something in me recoiled at the thought of being crammed together on a bench, surrounded by drunk straights swilling beer and being loud. Maybe it’s something about the thought of pints in a beer garden that does that to me.
For a start, Plague Island here isn’t exactly known for its good weather. It’s grey and cold and raining 90% of the time, and then as soon as the sun comes out and the temperature gets above 12 degrees, everyone is wandering around with the pasty flesh on show, quickly turning cherry red as their skin tried to deal with sunlight for the first time in eight months.
So, yeah, no thanks. It’s bad enough on the high street near my house already, with big puddles of sick all over the place from some dickhead who got smashed and bought a boomerang kebab on the way home.
Perhaps if they’d said “Not long now until we can go somewhere quiet and have a couple of cocktails served by a cute barman” I’d have been more likely to say “Yes please, that sounds lovely, let’s see if I can still remember how to flirt”.
Turns out I’m super bad at flirting, now. It used to be my specialist subject. I was an olympic-level flirting athlete. I could flip and twirl and straddle any conversation and have some suggestive fun with it. Nowadays this has become clumsy and awkward moments in emails that would have me ‘chatting with HR’ again, if anyone were misguided enough to employ me.
I know this to be true, because when you’ve been having a chatty back-and-forth with someone, and then you think “just gonna bump this up a notch, just a bit, just a little nudge towards cheeky sexy flirting, just a little thing that you think is just a slightly risque, fun little comment that’s still in the spirit of the rest of the chat, and they never reply.
And then the dread grows over an hour then two then the next day or so and you start to rethink what you said, and how it probably wasn’t the innocent little flirt you thought it was, and now someone out there thinks you’re a fucking creep. And not only do they think that, but it’s true. And not only is it true, but they can fucking prove it, because they have the receipts. There’s no way back from that. You can’t message them again a few days later and say “hello, yes. I realise now that my previous message, though harmlessly meant, seems to have come across a little bit fucking weird. Please disregard it, as I am certainly not as weird as that message, and indeed this one, make me seem.”
Maybe it’ll be ok, because everyone else will be in the same boat and we’ll all just be so starved of attention and the human contact that it won’t matter.
The first time I’m back in a coffee shop with a cute barista, it’s going to get weird.
Hi, can I have a cappuccino, please?
Sure. Would you like a large one?
I LIKE YOUR FACE SEX NOW PLEASE
That’s beautiful. Hold me.
Maybe it’s the ‘straight’ vibe that comes off ‘pints in a beer garden’ the way steam comes off an early morning poo left on my lawn by next door’s dog. It just has too much of the waaay lads about it and frankly, no thank you.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been safely wrapped up in my duvet for the best part of a year, but I just plain don’t want to be around straight people.
I thought it was just people in general, y’know,? I’ve been using lockdown and all of the restrictions we’ve had to keep to myself, generally do my own thing, keeping everything very low-key. That’s how I prefer to be a lot of the time - I’ve never been great in busy social environments, and I can only imagine it’s gotten worse as I”ve not been exposed to them at all over the past year.
I remember I was dating a guy once who said to me that it always worried him that I was quiet, because he thought there was something wrong. I had to explain to him that, in fact, if I’m quiet it’s because I”m comfortable around him, and in fact if I talk a lot I’m probably uncomfortable or something. That was a bit of a revelation to him, I think. But then he was American, and they’re not exactly known for their shutting the fuck up.
ALthough I have got even quieter. You might not hink it from this brash and sexy exterior, but inside I’m quite quiet and handsome. And not having done anything but eat biscuits and watch porn for the best part of a year has killed my conversation skills. I went round to a friend’s for the first time in AGES the other day, I was really pleased and happy to see them, really nice to catch up. It took 2 minutes. Then we had nothing to talk about because neither of us had anything to do. In the end, we sat in silence, me him and his boyfriend, and watch TV together. To be honest, I quite liked it, but at the same time, part of my brain was going TALK! SAY SOMETHING DON’T JUST SIT IN THEIR HOUSE IN SILENCE EATING BISCUITS! WE DO THAT AT HOME, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! But it was that or watch porn that were the only things in my repertoire. Suffice to say, I’ve not been invited back.
Even when it’s not my lack of things to talk about, I get socially exhausted if I’m around people too much. I think of it like a tank of social petrol, or a social battery. Once it’s drained, I need ot be left alone somewhere quiet for a while as it refills. And while it was never huge, I think now it might be closer to the size of a tank on a lighter, or a watch battery.
SO maybe there’s going to be a few events, especially in the early days as things reopen where I’m going to walk through the door, decide NOT TODAY, THANKYOU, and just head on back home to my comfy sofa and a salted caramel Twix. And that has to be ok. Trying to force yourself through these things isn’t going to help, and in amongst the random shit that life has taught me this year, alongside the importance of keeping in touch with those you love, the fact that salted caramel twixes exist, and “a 10pm bedtime is a lovely thing that should be embraced”, alongside all of those is the idea that when I’m just plain not feeling something, the best thing to do is just leave.
Here's an example: