Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Boyfriend

Awwww, look at you in your knitted sweater. It is lovely to be dating, isn’t it?

You’re still out in the wild. At the same time, you’ve got someone with soft flesh to agree you’re great. You get sexy sex on tap while your sad married mates are dealing with dishwasher hate notes. You can stop checking out who winked at you on Match.com. Those cute little messages on Facebook about ‘my gorgeous girl’– they’re yours.

You even get to keep simultaneous contact with two of your own shirts while walking hand-in-hand down Guildford High Street, ’cause she’s wearing one of them.

You’re in love, not domestic bondage. And it’s adorable; I don’t want to upset you.

So run along now- she wants a foot rub/ milky drink/ reassurance.

Because the news is- bummer- you’re unpopular. With everyone. Even her. Especially her.

Your bachelor friends hate you, because you don’t want to throw up with them anymore. Ditto your married friends, for the reasons you think you’re happy. Other boyfriends feel uncomfortable around you, like maybe you met before in group therapy.

Your boss used to think you were a creep. Now he thinks you’re a smug creep.

To her older brother you’re a cad; to the younger a sicko, for liking girls. You’re a source of ridicule for her older sis; in the younger you stir adolescent pangs.

Half her friends don’t think you’re good enough. The other half do and and want to know why you’re not with them.

Her mother’s eaten up you don’t fancy her. Or maybe you do, in which case The Bible hates you too.

Her Dad knows you’re using his little girl as a notch in the bedpost (he was a boyfriend once.) Or you’re a bad smell and not making an honest woman of her. Or destined to become the husband and he’ll have to spend the rest of his life giving you man hugs at Christmas.

Your Dad resents you playing the field. And your mother, oh boy, your mother.

Cousins are ambivalent because you spread the coverage of grandparent interaction at family occasions. Grandparents too, because they’re senile.

Well they can all go to hell, says you, because your gal’s head over, lying on your bed in lace underwear, waiting to breathe your air.

Possibly.

Or could it be that you don’t do that thing her ex did with Skittles?

Do you laugh enough at tarty girls? Bitch collaboratively? Put the right number of kisses at the end of texts?

When you last had a cold, why could you hear her gay friend laughing so much at the end of the phone?

And you know when she said she doesn’t need a piece of paper for you to prove your love to one another? She was lying.

She was lying so hard the words tasted acrid in her post-pleasuring mouth when she said them. (And believe me, it WAS the words).

Is it because you’re too cheap to buy a ring? Are you looking for a cheap ring? OMG, do you think she’s cheap?

The saddest thing of all is that one day you’ll realise you hate yourself.

It won’t be snuggled up on the sofa watching a Meryl Streep-Alec Baldwin movie. Or smiling at a panda in Clinton’s on Valentine’s Day.

It won’t even be when you’re watching porn and thinking about Vicky Pryce.

It’ll be when you’re in Zara or Top Shop or Whistles.

You’ll be standing waiting at the changing rooms entrance- waiting. Like you’ve forgotten how to kill a bear or barbeque spare ribs or watch the beginning of Up without crying.

You’ll be illuminated from the front by a glow of strip lighting- an overgrown, beleaguered version of Elliott in E.T, searching in vain for signs you haven’t been castrated or mistakenly cast in an ad for tampons.

And instead of your Beloved popping out in an LBD she’s popping out of, you’ll catch sight of your own mush in the mirror: stripped of sarcasm, boy band drippy, accessorized by a woman’s handbag and expectations.

And you’re gonna f.r.e.a.k o.u.t, drop everything and dump her.

But…

Six months later she’ll have a new boyfriend who cheats on her and races cars, while you’re moping around being a miserable bastard.

And one by one, all your friends and family and work colleagues will start to remember your boyfriend time as golden, while all her friends and family and the family dog will spend entire evenings hunched over chicken kievs saying, ‘God, we loved him, he was perfect‘..

Before you know where you are Meryl’s back on, in Mama Mia, and nailing it.

Promise just one thing?

Never, EVER revisit the shopping thing.

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Art for Life’s Sake

This piece has been doing the rounds on Facebook:

[Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.

At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, where she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened…]

The way it taps into the pain of love is its immediate appeal, when there are no words that can salve the disappointment of a deep connection rent.

If an artist is someone creating (as opposed, for this purpose, to the naturalist who allows) then artists who make themselves the substance of their art somehow represent the apotheosis of artifice.

Meaning, that I think of the act of art as presenting an idea or a combination of ideas in such a way that a new perspective is offered, on some or any thing in this thing we call life.

To then live this out with deliberate focus- to invest in it personal integrity and have the impulse to share it- is special, and appeals to me in its total re-interpretation or re-imagination of the mundane.

The very idea of sharing a moment’s silence with strangers is compelling; to do it with a loved one intense; to do it with an estranged loved one- wow. (This may not have been Abramovic’s intention but she embraced it.)

Shortly afterwards I came across this prequel, which I really enjoyed on a number of levels:

I love the simplicity and grandiosity of the Great Wall of China project.

I love the nature of their artistic relationship, so perilously close to self-parody.

And I love that it backed up all the non-verbal cues communicated in its sequel, namely that when they parted he (at least nominally) held the power.

(Funny, though, how he does not resist the urge to let slip his grading of the gravity of her betrayal with a friend, even in the context of his own more lasting transgression.)

I experienced many feelings when I watched these two short clips but what I’d like to share is a fantasy.

I would have liked to be the translator who was to become Ulay’s bride- the demon minx who tore apart the Art World’s collaborative darlings, trudging around with a bulging belly just as Abramovic shrank into desolation.

Imagining for a sweet second that all the timings were right, after The Artist is Present I would have installed two gigantic photographs and a pedestal; the first, a photograph of Abravomovic and Ulay in their heyday; the second, a photograph of a pregnant me; and lastly, a real life pregnant me sitting on the pedestal.

In front of them all would be a paint splurter.

And all the people who had spent a silent minute with Abramovic would be invited to take a splurgy shot at one of the two photographs or at the pregnant me.

It would have been a comment on judgment and cathartic anger and honesty, all in one.

I think I would have felt more a part of their Art Thing and maybe a bit less guilty when I had the Ulay baby.

And I would have felt sorry for the people who felt justified at having a pop at the real me and the babe.

Because you can love the idea of something (an image of the happy couple) and hate the idea of something (an image of the one who tore them apart) but if you hate real people that’s sad, even if mediated through art.

And I would have felt scared of the people who would have liked to have a pop at the real me and the babe but thought it would look bad, because they would be sad but cowardly too, and outside of the gallery walls those people might be dangerous.

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