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>Valentine’s Day: Romantic or Commercial?

14 Feb


Today is a bad day to be single. All around us we see the delivery of flowers, valentine cards and sweets. Everything is covered in hearts and tints of red and pink lest we forget what time of year it is. But is any of it real? In a world when we no longer have time for intimacy and sleep with our Blackberry, has all our romance been stuffed into one day? Negligent husbands come out of the woodwork to buy their wives’ affection with a box of chocolates. I bet their mistress gets diamonds.

True romance is different. It doesn’t wait till February 14th rolls around each year. It’s always lurking in a corner somewhere – ready to strike when you least expect it. A couple that is truly devoted to each other doesn’t need mass hysteria to convince them to treat each other nicely for one day. Valentine’s Day is not about love. It’s all about cashing in on gullible minds and in the current economical hardships, the shops need the holiday desperately. Valentine’s Day has turned into a bottom line. It’s become a business and it’s a billion dollar industry.

If I were in charge, I’d cancell the whole damn thing. No, I don’t say that because I’m single. I say that because the holiday is a cop out. Every time a relationship is in a bad place, Valentine’s Day can temporarily make them forget their struggles. He buys her a gift and she decides to give him another chance. Only men dump their loved ones today. No woman on Earth enjoys being single on Valentine’s Day. It would mess up their plans to gloat and make their girlfriends jealous with romantic anecdotes.

But the sad truth is, tomorrow it will all fall apart. That’s what happens when your relationship is a charade. It can’t last. So why waste your time, energy and money on it? I dub today Liberty Day. All of us stuck in a bad marriage or destructive relationship should choose today to turn our life around. Take control of your life because sometimes, being single is a whole lot better than being married. What’s romantic about being a fake, anyway?

What do you think of Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comment box.

>Can Men and Women Be Friends?

31 Jan

>We are often told that it is impossible for a man and a woman to be friends. Like in When Harry Met Sally for instance. But why do people think this? Because either individual will feel something more than friendship. Is this really true? Can a man and woman not simply be friends, enjoy each other’s company and support one another emotionally when needed? When people with common interests are found, we should be pleased at the prospect of being able to share our passions. But in a world where people settle for less, are we looking for a spark even where there is none? It seems that we do. Friendship is like a wingless bird. But what purpose does a bird serve if not to fly?

Women can be bad at reading signals, finding suitable boyfriends and it may explain why we desire the unattainable ones; gays, celebrities, superiors at work, husbands, etc. It makes them fascinating because they can never be ours and we can never know them as intimately as we would like. We are curious about these creatures; what secrets do they hide, what are their eccentricities and so on.

In a sense, a friend is unattainable. After all, despite the fact that you are close and discuss the most intimate aspects of your life, there is a distance between you. Yes, there can be sexual tension. But while watching soap operas together? While chatting about the uneventful Sunday you spent vacuuming your apartment? Friends will listen to us whether we say something newsworthy or not. It’s part of the deal. But a friendship that is rooted in humour and chit-chat is far removed from a romantic attachment. How do you even transition from cooking tips to bedroom trips? With strangers, the rules are clear. You ask each other out, go on a date and if all goes well, you get a kiss goodbye. Easy-peasy.

But it’s a different story all together when you’re attracted to a friend. How do you know if someone is romantically interested in you or just needs someone to talk to? He laughs at your jokes, touches you, keeps in touch. But all friends do that. It makes perfect sense that we fall for our friends. We get along famously, have the greatest laughs and make each other happy. So isn’t it a very small step then for admiration to turn into attraction? Yes. And yet, it doesn’t make it any easier to start a romantic relationship. If the relationship is not a success, you may your friend forever and be sorry. But if you never even take a gamble, you will be the sorrier.

So how do we know if it’s worth the risk? We don’t. We can only hope. So, considering our friendships seduce us with a comfort that cannot be easily matched by a stranger, it is no wonder we wish to date our friends. We are at ease around them, know their character and have been acquainted with their darkest secrets. We feel safe. And that is a feeling worth preserving. So we go on the prowl. But our friend might have hidden qualities you did not know he possessed. He could be a horrible lover, a terrible grouch in the morning or, worst of all, possessive. So perhaps it is not so safe to date a friend after all. Because you can never know someone perfectly. Now we have determined that many friends are attracted to each other, is it possible to feel only regard and no passion? Yes.

Even for attractive people. Even if someone makes you laugh, treats you with kindness and would never forsake you it is quite possible neither of you wishes to cross the boundaries of friendship. But does it happen often? Probably not. And then there’s friends with benefits. Where do they fit in? More often than not, you lust for them but love does not enter the equation. So what is that then? A human’s need to get physical to someone they like. Primal, sporatic and lost between friendship and romantic attachment. Relationships are never white or black. Usually, they have several shades of grey and that makes them so complicated. 

>The Joys of Being Single

23 Jan

>What’s so bad about being single? Nothing, really but we are constantly manipulated to think that something is wanting when we are without a partner. We but need to turn on the radio to be bombarded with the latest pop sensation crooning a love song. What’s all the fuss about? Is love really so indispensible? I don’t think it is. Yes, relationships have their perks – someone to share your life with, to discuss your hopes and dreams with. But apart from the occasional romantic gesture on Valentine’s Day, love is not all it’s cracked up to be. Do we hear a John Williams soundtrack when we lock lips with that special person? Do we overcome all obstacles and get back together at the very end? More often than not, we don’t. Not even close. Our princes would rather play a game of football with some mates, play poker or hang out at the local pub. Hardly romantic, is it? And then there’s some of them who just sit around the house all day playing computer games on their playstation because there’s this ”new, awesome game out!”. How many men actually buy us flowers or take us out to dinner? Not many. Besides, do you really want to sacrifice your spare time to babysit a 30-year old little boy? Probably not.

For one reason or another, relationships usually don’t work out. Whether it’s because we simply have different goals or don’t get along anymore, no man is worth crying over. After all, life as a single woman has many advantages. We can do whatever we like! If we want, we can belt out all our favourite pop songs without disturbance. We can hang out with our girlfriends every night or call them every hour. We don’t have to feign interest in his day-to-day sports conversations anymore or suffer through tedious chats about work, computers or cars. We can just sit back with a large tube of ice-cream and have a chick flick marathon without pesky boyfriends trying to feel us up or making us feel guilty for eating something with calories. We can flirt with whomever we like and it doesn’t come with any consequences. We can have brief, meaningless flirtations just for the fun of it and go shopping without a comment about how ”you plundered another store!” All those little habits of ours we try to hide to appeal to men can come to light again and even be celebrated. No more boys nights with rude friends we can’t stand.

Singletons live life from moment to moment. They don’t need anyone’s permission to move to Spain if they feel so inclined. When in a relationship, it limits you. When single, you are free. And it’s a great feeling. No responsibilities, no rules and regulations. You live life as you want and if anyone doesn’t like it, they can go to hell. Really, is a romantic stroll on the beach worth all the trouble? When romance is so hard to find, why do we keep looking or even worse, settle for less? Let us be free and let romance come to us. And if it doesn’t come, do we really need it?

>Dating and the Workplace

14 Jan


Is it morally acceptable to date a colleague – or even worse – your boss? At work a certain standard of professionalism is to be maintained. Colleagues rarely turn into friends. It is a different kind of relationship. One that ends with your shift. Or does it? Once you allow a colleague to step into your private life, confusion ensues. That professional relationship between two colleagues or a boss and an employee is easily disrupted when business and pleasure amalgamate.

A drink, a dinner, a breakfast in a foreign house. The start of a new relationship is exciting enough without the complications of being involved with someone from work. Couples usually separate after their morning routine and are reunited after a busy day at the office. But for the work place love affair it is only the beginning. It is the ultimate test. To be around each other constantly, intensely.

Hour after hour. Breathing in his perfume as he leans over your desk to clarify an issue beyond your expertise or walking past him on the hall way as your eyes meet and you reminisce the magic of the previous night. Your conversation is light – casual. ”How are you? Are you busy today?” No sign of the passion you know is slithering underneath the surface. It is a convincing mask of good behaviour. It is tempting to glance at his desk every so often. Your favourite distraction. Just to catch a glimpse of that smile.

But you are different people here. Not lovers, holdings hands and an embrace of souls. But two people reaching for the brightest star of the career ladder. Working together, sleeping together. Yay or nay? One might argue that a tension arises after that first night. How are we to act at work? Will we reveal our romantic attachment to one another or will it be a clandestine love affair? Who are we to tell? Friends? Maybe. Family? Maybe. No one? Might be best. Who do we trust? Many opt for secrecy over honesty. Why? They might not understand. They might disapprove. They will talk.

The more important he is the more they will gossip as if you were characters from a soap opera or the next door neighbour known for her promiscuity. So a distance is created between the two lovers. For the sake of work. The truth is covered up with an indifference that can be confused with estrangement. At least one of the two will be unhappy with the neglect that follows. Whether it is worth it, is another question.

What is more important: your relationship or your job? And then there is the inevitable finding out. No secret can be kept forever. There is always that one chance encounter with a colleague one cannot avoid. And then it’s all over. ”You’ll never guess who I just saw at the cafe.”

And how will you deal with the fact that your relationship is the hottest topic of conversation amongst colleagues? The whispers, the looks. Your private life exposed. Do you even want to know what they think? Probably not. But a small part of you cannot help but be curious. And what if the boss is the man you love? Some might consider it inappropriate to date a superior. They might wonder if it is that promotion you seek rather than love. And it is somewhat unusual for your lover to correct your mistakes, not to mention awkard. But a necessary evil. The day ends and the embarrassment fades.

When the two lovers walk home after work, chatting about difficult customers or issues that had to be resolved, they switch roles upon entering the apartment. Work leaves the conversation and more often than not, the conversation makes way for passion. He unbuttons your coat and nuzzles your ear as you clumsily remove your boots and sit upon the bed, waiting for him to join you.

Gone is that common interest that dominates your discourse: Work. It’s dating by association. All that remains now is the will to be close to him. For his hands to explore your body and keep you warm. For the night to stay so morning will not transport you back to that workplace of indifference. But it will. Ready yourself.

>The Love Particle

5 Jan


                                                            Are chick flicks dangerous?

Love is all chemicals. We know that. And yet we crave it. We love to get lost in its magical aspects. Pondering over those never changing questions: Does he like me? Am I his type? What should I say? What should I wear? We’re addicted to romance. Walking hand in hand, receiving sweet text messages and accepting flowers on anniversaries. It fills our stomach with butterflies that flutter either briefly, for quite a while or forever. And we just can’t get enough. What is it about this fairy tale that makes it so desirable? Are we stuck in some phase that makes us believe we’re a princess about to be saved by a knight in shining armour? And if he arrives, on horseback naturally, how do we recognise him? How are we to know he’s not the villain of our fairy tale? Men do not speak their mind (like we do). They hate that one question: What are you thinking? Their motives are only discovered too late.

So when our princess is locked up in a tall tower with only her long, curly hair for a rope, what are we to do? We wait for our Prince Charming. But we’re not patient. We give in to temptation and settle for the Prince’s understudy. A handsome, nice enough chap who’s fun to be with. But something’s missing. It’s that ”thing”. That spark – whatever the Hell that is. And the longer we fool ourselves into thinking he’s worth staying with, the more flaws we notice. It might be something as insignificant as a loud, embarrassing laugh or bad table manners. But small flaws are soon magnified and they stomp over our hopes and dreams like an elephant in a rage. So we part ways. It’s what we do. And the search continues. But how many people find their own Mr. Darcy or even their own Hugh Grant (in Notting Hill mind you, not Bridget Jones)?

We’ve seen too many chick flicks. Our kisses aren’t accompanied by an Oscar-nominated musical score and our sex scenes don’t end with the morning-after euphoria of breakfast in bed – at least most of us don’t get that lucky. Our kisses are more of a ”what the hell is he doing” and we awake the next morning thinking; where did he go? And love at first sight, that most dangerous myth of all, exists only in fiction. We tell ourselves the men we go out with share our hopes and fears, but do they? When all is said and done, how can we separate the perverts from the princes? How do we know they don’t just want to get in our pants? We talk to them. And then there’s the smooth ones. The ones who’ve had the most practise – the masters of seduction. At least Casanova was interesting. Most of his successors shouldn’t even be allowed to stand in his shadow.

Fan-favourite Spike: the suitor we face in real life. 

And still….we don’t give up. Why? Because we’ve been fed the myth of romance since childood. How did it get started? With Barbie (an anatomically perfect blonde babe) and Ken (a sexually challenged surfer dude). And then there’s the inescapably sweet Disney classics. So in retrospect, there’s only one thing we can do to forget about our singleton woes: we should sue Disney and hit the town with our girlfriends. It’s time for a good rant
Until our next victim stops by that is. Love is pain. Even more so when we realise the love we felt was a fantasy. They say chocolate causes the same effect in the brain as an orgasm. So perhaps we should stock up on sweets until Mr. Right sweeps us off our feet.

>Regency Scene – Past Indiscretions

3 Jan


A continuation of:

“That’s settled, then. We will send out invitations later this week. There is no fixed date as of yet for the ball but I hope to secure the Crown Inn. They have a ball room that is divine. Naturally, Harley Manor was my first choice but with our extensive guest list, I fear we would be unable to accommodate everyone.”

In Audrey’s opinion, this was no great compliment to Harley Manor but her mother was quite ignorant of these matters. Her father, a very wealthy landowner, was better suited to supervise such delicate situations but business called him away so Josephine was in charge until his return a week from now. Mr. Sharpe took his leave, wished them the very best and expressed his delight at the prospective ball. As the door closed behind him, Mrs. Hamilton ordered some fresh tea and announced her plans for the blissful event.

“You must have new gowns, of course! You cannot stand up with such a man dressed like a farmer’s daughter,” she exclaimed. The critique was aimed at Audrey’s evening dress; creamy silk with a plunging neckline and puff sleeves with ribbon trimmings – purchased only the month before and still considered the height of fashion. But objections were fruitless; no one could reason with such a creature as her mother. “You shall look your very best. All past indiscretions shall be forgotten. All it takes is one dance with that gentleman. A smile and a few words of kindness should do the trick,” she continued

Audrey rarely danced. Not due to some inaptitude on her part but because there were few gentlemen whose company she could tolerate, let alone appreciate or enjoy. Most young men adjourned to London at the commencement of the season, leaving her locked away in the country with old fogies, clergymen and bores. At the beginning of her career as an adult and woman in search of a husband, she had been dispatched to London for a proper coming-out. But after a dozen balls, they had been forced to admit that her admirers, though loyal and clever, applied to her for friendship rather than courtship.

One marriage proposal was received by an elderly gentleman, a second son of a duke. The gentleman professed his love after a cup of tea, biscuit still in hand. But due to his lack of fortune and connections, not to mention the perfect indifference on her side, he was refused. Spiteful and hurt, he spoke of his rejection amongst friends and Audrey’s conduct towards him was pronounced misleading and deceitful. Wherever she went, this supposed error in judgement haunted her and she soon quit London entirely, never to return.

“If all goes well, we may even relocate to London. Should you not like to visit Town? It has been too long, I declare. Surely, your past vices have long been forgotten. It is many years since you were last there. They will have new scandals to speak of.” But on this point Audrey would not surrender.

“I have not the slightest intention of revisiting the place of my only failure.” Though she considered her punishment disproportionate to the crime, the fault was hers; through her youthful enthusiasm and unguarded nature, she had allowed him to believe an attachment had formed between them.

“You are too hard on yourself, my dear. Think of how much you have grown since then. It would be perfectly safe for us to sojourn there. I will not let you jeopardise your future. Your fear is understandable but with all you have to offer to the world, it must be overcome.”

Audrey was silent. Her mother meant well – supported and comforted her when disappointments crossed her path. Though Audrey had always been her favourite, after her scandal her hopes were transferred to Audrey’s younger sister, Catherine, who was recently married to a Duke.

“Besides, with your sister’s recent successes, your reputation will have increased. Only imagine how eager all those fine young men will be to be seen with you.”

Against such sound arguments, even Audrey could not but yield. “Very well. We shall go to London. But we have scarcely any acquaintance in Town. Who shall we call on during our stay?” It worried her. Her friends and relations were not such as possessed townhouses. Instead, they remained in the country, just as they had done for so many years.

“That isn’t true. Mr. Beckham will be in Town. He informed me of the fact only a fortnight ago at Mrs. Berry’s picnic. Apparently, he owns a large townhouse near Grosvenor Square.”

This was no great inducement for Audrey to go to London; Mr. Beckham purchased a big estate in the neighbourhood some weeks ago. Once settled in the community, he called on his neighbours to introduce himself as was the custom. However, when he was expected at Harley Manor, he sent word that he was unable to favour them with a visit and excused himself to join a hunting party up north. Hunting! How could it take precedence over his neighbourly duties? As of yet, all she has learned of his character has been through mutual friends, who were fortunate enough to be granted an audience with His Pompousness.

Mrs. Hamilton was kinder in her assessment of his person; the general opinion of his character was so favourable that it had impressed upon her the belief that all had been some mysterious misunderstanding that he sought to rectify as soon as possible. As such, she spoke very highly of him with unrelenting speeches about his intentions to visit them for an introduction.

Perhaps if it had not been for these many tedious remarks on the subject, Audrey would have forgiven his folly and reserved her judgement until in company with him. But, as it was, the many accounts of his generous nature and good breeding only made his ill treatment of them more strongly-felt. A gentleman so easily swayed from his responsibilities could not in essence be a good man.

>The Isle of Man

31 Dec


                                                                                                Man in all its Da Vinci splendour

When you read the title of my blog, it probably brings back memories of exotic holiday destinations, islands, cocktails (a word whose origin I’ve always been curious about), etc. But I do not refer to the small isle you may have learned to associate with The Isle of Man. In my mind, it is Men Planet. Men Headquarters from which all secret operations are discussed and executed. You see, the way dogs mark their territory with a golden surprise, the territory of a man too can be easily recognised. There are certain similarities that should make an alarm of suspicion blare in your head. When comparing bacherlors’ apartments, they all seem alike.

The greyness of their walls and coldness of their interior is a familiar sight for any woman lured to the predator’s nest. A porn tape may be stashed away in a distant closet no female hand is allowed to touch (unless of course the high-quality work of filmmaking is to be enjoyed together), but small signs of perversion aside, all bachelor pads seem designed by the same person. There is a high availability of high-fi technological devices such as flatscreens, stereos and computers, which by the way, is a topic of conversation best left untouched if you do not wish to be bored to death by a lengthy speech on the subject (their inner nerd is shy, but when provoked, strangely enthusiastic).

When it comes to cultural miracles such as art, books and soothing, instrumental music, a man’s apartment is oft completely devoid of these things. Men are more interested in a comfortable, practical home so they can lie on the sofa after a long day of work and watch TV (meaning sports, porn or action flicks).

These modern day bachelors are an odd breed altogether. Most consider a woman won the second her foot steps over the threshold of their front door. All ambition to seduce a woman properly and lead her down the sinful path of temptation is stifled once she agrees to have a cup of coffee at his place or however you wish to phrase it. As if agreeing to such a thing means consensual sex is a sure thing. For a man, showing a woman his home is the last step. And once a woman is seduced into his bed, what is next? Most relationships do not survive a night of passion – or five minutes of frustration in some cases.

So when you are brought to such an apartment, what does that say about you? After all, should a home not reflect the personality of its owner? Indeed, are women secretly attracted to the kind of man who would want to inhabit such a place? Do they want cheap thrills? We tell ourselves we don’t. Yet the macho man in leather jacket often lures us to his trap. Opposites attract, but the macho man can only be bed, not wed.

With a one-night stand, we have no standards. But what do we look for, for a long-term relationship? Our expectations are unrealistic perhaps. That a dashing young man will approach us in slow-motion like in commercials and whisper some intellectually stimulating pick-up line such as: “You’re hot. Are you new?” An image that does not correspond with our imaginary future boyfriend encounters. We romanticise men. Why? It makes reality a bit more bearable. Some of them must be decent. Surely. But they’re all taken…Are they?