Monday, June 25, 2007

notes on a blue collar: flirting, demons, skin

When I said I wanted to be your dog
I wasn't coming on to you
I just wanted to lick your face
- jens lekman

SO ON THE weekends i'm a blue-collar worker. wearing a blue-collar in a hospital is interesting.

how? you say and i say like this:

part 1: flirting with, or at least in the presence of, death
FOR ONE THING, you get to flirt as much as you like. no-one's surprised when a blue-collar worker starts being flirtatious. indeeed, it's almost expected of you. this is fine with me. when i was 19, i took up flirting as a hobby. which reminds me, i wrote a song the other day. it goes like this:

you gotta have a hobby gotta have a hobby so get yourself a hobby, before you start gunning down passers-by

i walk around the house singing it. if i am being bugged the evidence against me is mounting daily. where was i again?

PAUL HARDCASTLE: Nininininininininin Nineteen, 19, Ni-nineteen 19

ah, that's right. thanks paul. anyway, i decided i needed a hobby and that it was gonna be flirting. i found it easy since back then i was both afraid of sex and naturally tactless. since i was afraid of sex i wasn't trying to get any, which frees one up remarkably when it comes to flirting i find. that is, since you're not trying to get someone into bed you're less worried about saying the wrong thing and you're more playful.

since i was naturally tactless, i just started wandering up to women in the pub, either those on their own or whole tablefuls of them at once and saying 'hi, my hobby is flirting. can i flirt with you?'

somehow, miraculously, it seemed to work pretty much every time. however, my memory of those days is just a little hazy. there may have been alcohol involved. also: by 'worked' i mean i had a fine old time. i didn't get any sex out of it but that was ok cos sex was scary back then.

this led to a funny experience once. i was flirting with this girl and all was going well and then she said, 'so, flirting's just a hobby for you, huh?'
'yeah,' i said. 'why?'
'well, cos i was thinking i could take you home and we could take our clothes off and, y'know, see what happens,' she said. reader: i was totally unprepared for this and just kind of stammered something and ran away.

what was going on? i'd been having sex for a couple of years but it'd always been weird and so i wasn't that attached to it. also, in those days i found female desire intimidating, to the degree that i couldn't control it. i liked it when it was in response to something i'd done, but when it was clearly part of someone else's agenda it freaked me out. i liked feeling in control of the situation back then. now i don't really give a fuck. i recommend the latter attitude: it's more fun.

also: back then i was waaay more interested in being an object of desire than in actually having sex. being an object of desire seemed to be about control and manipulating surfaces: clothes and hair and posture and conversation. actually having sex involved deeper forces that i just didn't trust. i felt like my skin was a cage for demons and i had to stay in control or they'd take over my body and wreak havoc on the world and i'd be locked away.

ah, demons. i think the fear of demons is itself demonic. that is, the fear of deep forces acted to control me, and to recruit me into controlling myself and trying to control the people around me, though never with all that much success. now i feel more like a planet: i have oceans and lava and atmospheres and vegetation and species and societies. the oceans are full of flows of measurable speed and intensity and so are the volcanoes and so are the atmospheres. the oceans are also full of fish, fish all the colours of the rainbow.

part 2: you said interesting 'things'. is there anything else?
THE OTHER INTERESTING thing is that it makes you look like you work for the hospital, even though i don't. as a consequence people in beds keep asking me to help them, like this: 'heeeeeeeelp!'

what to do? or they ask me if they can go to the toilet. 'it's ok with me,' i say. or they tell me they've shat themselves: 'i've shat meself!' what to do? what to do?

sometimes in dementia wards patients think i'm someone else altogether. and sometimes this happens with odd men in the toilets. but that, as jack palance says, is another story.



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