Archives for category: awkward

I know, from gigs to sexual health clinics. It’s quite the jump, yeah?
Never let it be said that I don’t like to keep you on your toes.

So, lets get our cards on the table. I’m going to tell you something, and you’re going to judge me.

I’ve never been tested for any STIs.

As I’m a big fan of context, allow me to explain.
Most of my life I’ve been in long term relationships, and when I’ve not been in said relationships, I don’t tend to sleep with lots of people, despite any impression I give off.
My thinking was that because of these things, the chances of me having anything would be slim to say the least.

I can hear the intakes of breath and the silent shaking of heads. I know, I know. I’m an idiot.

Anyhow, I realised the blindingly obvious fact that even if you’ve only been with a few people, you don’t know their histories, and it only takes one person, with something, to pass it on to you.
And that’s why I decided to get checked out.

Sexual Health Clinics are pretty much like every clinic I’ve ever been to. Looking around there are a few people, mostly looking fairly anxious, sitting on chairs.
I have to fill in a form, and I’m immediately on guard, because forms and trans people often do not mix well. Luckily, it’s relatively trans friendly, in that it has pronoun boxes, and a box to tick if you choose to identify as trans. It does still assume all male identifying people have penises and all female identifying people have vaginas though, which is a problem for me, and a post for another day.

I wait for a bit, looking around, listening to the radio that’s playing in the background. An advert comes on for a car insurance company called Drive Like a Girl. It’s probably the most patronising and offensive thing I’ve heard them play so far, and they’d just played Blurred Lines.

I get called by a nurse to come to a room, and it’s a man. I ticked a box saying I didn’t mind who saw me, but now I feel like I do mind. Suddenly I feel like my identity is under threat, as he’ll ask what bits I’ve got, and I feel uncomfortable about telling him, because he’s a man, and my experiences of men are nearly always negative.
I don’t know what to do, because if I say I’m not comfortable after all I’m going to feel like a jerk, and also, I’ve been waiting for half an hour now, and I can’t stand to wait any longer with that radio station playing its horrible songs and incessant adverts.

In the end I do what everyone would do, I go along with it. The commercial radio was the clincher if I’m honest.
We go to a room, and I start saying how I’m actually kind of nervous, and that I didn’t bring a friend, because I thought it would make for something good to write about if it was just me, but that now I regret that because I didn’t think it through, and how that is pretty standard for me.
He smiles and says it’s alright, everyone is a little nervous sometimes. He is reassuring and kind, and I feel like I let my preconceptions and past experiences get the better of me. Not for the first time I also think I’m an judgemental jerk.

He does ask me what bits I’ve got, but he does it in a way that’s so matter of fact, yet sensitive, that it’s okay.
He then asks me if I’d like to piss in a jar.

I’m very keen on this offer, as I’d been holding it in for about two hours now. He also took some blood, and did a throat swab, because well, y’know, oral?
We chat whilst this is all happening, and he tells me about how Syphilis is one of the biggest STIs affecting the area where we live. I have an overwhelming desire to tell him about how everyone thinks Henry VIII had Syphilis, but that actually there’s little evidence to prove this. I’m about to blurt it out in a oh my god I’m nervous so I’m going to say anything sort of way when he asks if I’d like a leaflet about it, and I forget all about Henry’s sti issues, and instead say it’s okay, I don’t need one, even though I’m interested in reading about it. I do this because I’m trying to be polite, and don’t want to put him out.
He gives me two Syphilis leaflets anyhow. This guy is good.

He asks me about the last couple of times I’d been with someone, and I tell him about the French woman I slept with once, and the friend I was with for a bit. For some reason I feel the need to go into detail about both these times. I have no idea why, but he seems to be happy to listen, and offer useful commentary on what I tell him.
It strikes me that I really misjudged him, and I did it entirely based on his gender. When people do that to me it really upsets me, and once again I feel like a jerk.

After all the tests are done we start to wrap things up. He tells me they’ll ring me if anything shows up, and text me if it’s all clear. I get up to go, and I want to give him a hug a say how lovely he’d been. I didn’t because boundaries but I wanted to. In the end he gave me a double hand shake, and I told him he was awesome and that I’d happily come back for more check ups if he did them. Maybe I need to work on verbal boundaries a bit more.
I leave feeling happy, and feeling that I’ve learnt something about my own preconceptions, and also about Syphilis.

A week later, as I was sitting in a cafe, being a writer, my phone buzzed. A text message from the clinic had come through with the all clear. I smile to myself, and think thought as much. Maybe I’ll hang onto those leaflets though, just in case.

When I was a teenager i was kinda awkward. It was very much inevitable, i had issues that were pretty big, and there was no internet to ask for help in those dark days.
One thing I found really hard to work out was how love fitted into how i was. I knew I found people attractive, I even attempted a date or two, but it was all very confusing.
If this was love, how come it was so awkward, and messy, and how the fuck could i ever fit into this, when i’m not even sure what or who I am?
I needed some pointers.
Enter Cetera.

I brought the album Solitude/Solitaire. Maybe not the best title for an album, although it does have a level of puntasticness that was pretty sharp for the eighties, i’ll admit.
My main incentive for buying the album was The Glory of Love, from the Karate Kid 2. It’s a catchy song, it spoke of this thing called love, and i needed to know more so i saved up some money, and brought the cassette album, as CD’s hadn’t been invented yet. ( I know, the past is so backwards, it’s literally like another time )
I listened to the whole album many, many times, absorbing the lyrics, singing along, headphones clutched to my head. I discovered many things, including the awkward fact that wearing headphones does not make singing along silent to people around you.
( Honestly actual embarrassment is when your Mum comes upstairs to ask you to stop singing as everyone in the Bible Study group being held in your house can hear you singing

Like a knight in shining armor from a long time ago
Just in time I will save the day
Take you to my castle far away

Fml, as the kids say nowadays. )

Apart from learning about headphones, I also learnt
-that honor should be fought for,
-that men are often bastards,
-that they don’t make em like they used too, but that that’s okay because new is better anyhow,
-that love can be fleeting, but it can also be reoccurring, and that we should learn from it each time it happens
-and finally, that we should always do it for the glory of love.

Admittedly its a strange mix of advice regarding the complexities of love, and if you add in the complexities of identity as well it gets pretty messy pretty quickly, but for some reason this album, and the songs on it, actually got me through some tough times growing up. Go figure eh?

There’s something I do when I message someone. Its kind of irrational, and has no real purpose, but I do it anyhow.

After writing my message, I press send, and then close the webpage immediately. For some reason I can’t stand being on the website, be it OKC or POF or whatever, once the message is sent. It’s worse if I know the other person is online as well ( I’m looking at you ¬†OKcupid, lets make the awkwardness even more awkward, you dick ūüė¶ ¬†). I image their message box lighting up, and then I imagine them reading the message, and it’s all just too uncomfortable and weird.

In my little head it’s the equivalent of being caught sending messages to people in school and then being made to read them out in front of the class. I know it’s irrational, but if I’m not on the site when they read what I’ve sent it all just seems less well, awkward.

Thing is, in real life I’m way, way less awkward, ( well, mostly, I have my moments, but that’s something for another time maybe ), so I don’t know why the internets makes me feel this way. Maybe it’s just the way it is, maybe online dating, by it’s very nature, is just awkward, maybe my messaging thing is normal, yeah?

*awkward silence*

I went on a date last week. Yep, an ACTUAL DATE. For Reals. It kind of sucked. Allow me to elaborate….

You know how I may of mentioned that you should only go out with people you find attractive? It was like a rule of dating I was imposing on myself, and stuff.

Anyhow, totally broke that rule.

In my defense, my date was a man, and its been an age since that happened, so I was curious, but still, should of listened to the rule.

We met in a local pub, which seemed like a good idea, public space and all that, and it would of been ideal, if it wasn’t for the fact that the whole evening was just plain awkward. There was no chemistry at all, which to be fair, was to be expected ( see the whole thing about finding them attractive ) and as a bonus we had some lovely visits from the God of long silences, despite my ( best? ) efforts.

In the end I cut it short with the classic ” I have an early start with work tomorrow” line, and left, which I’m sort of proud of doing, as old me would of¬†probably¬†just let it spiral onwards into a self destructive heap of awkwardness, so in that¬†respect things have progressed, so yay me I guess.

Anyhow, onwards and upwards, plenty more fish, get back on the horse, and any other number of cliches you’d care you throw out there, I think a¬†valuable¬†lesson was learnt by all. I certainly learnt that you should¬†definitely¬†only go on dates with people you find attractive, and I think he¬†learnt that talking about how you’re also currently having internet sex with a woman in Missouri, whilst on a date with someone else, is maybe a bad choice for a conversation starter.

No, really.

When I look back on my first few dates, and¬†their¬†inevitable tumbles into disaster, I’m honestly amazed that I managed to actually sustain a relationship long enough to get married.¬†Admittedly¬†I¬†then didn’t manage to¬†¬†sustain the¬†marriage¬† but¬†that’s¬†another story….

The very first date I went on kind of set the standard for most of the dates¬†I’ve¬†been on since. It was borderline disaster mixed up with a large bowlful of¬†embarrassment¬†and awkwardness. Yay me.

I’d finally, after about 4 months of procrastination, decided to ask this person out. I say ask, but what I actually mean to say is manipulate the situation so that I get what I want without having to actually say it. We’d been chatting about what films we wanted to go and see, and I suggested we go together to see The Karate Kid 2¬†( I know, excellent choice of date movie, BOOM! and all that ). They responded with ” how do you feel about going on a date to see it?” which of course was the plan all along. ¬†( More BOOM! )

At this point in the story dear reader, you’ll be forgiven for thinking to yourself well this doesn’t sound so bad, she’s got the person she wanted to ask out to actually ask her out instead, it was smoothly done ( well for a 13 year old anyhow ) and things are looking good…….well, don’t worry normal service will resume shortly.

We meet at the cinema. I am excited. Fizzy pop ( cherry cola ) and sweets (Jelly Babies ) are smuggled in, and we sit down. We sit on the end of a row, cause I like to stretch my legs out ( I am abnormally tall for my age ). This means that every 30 seconds we have to stand up to let people into the row of  surprisingly popular seats. Not the best start.

The cinema goes dark, and the¬†film¬†starts. I sit there thinking about how I really want to see this film, but also want to make out. I realise the fatal flaw in going to the cinema for a date and choosing a film you actually want to see. I start weighing up the options¬†available¬†to me. I’m focused. I need to make a decision, and then….she touches my hand……and I jump and let out an awkward half squeal, sending Jelly Babies and Cherry Coke everywhere.

People look round and tut. I go red.¬†Thankfully¬†it’s dark so this doesn’t matter so much. I look round and my date is looking directly ahead at the film with a mortified expression on her face. I get the impression that I may of fucked up a little. We watch the rest of the film in silence, not touching, not looking at each other, as if we were sitting at opposite sides of the cinema, and then, to ice the metaphorical cake, ¬†Peter Cetera’s “The glory of love” comes on. It is the theme song for the film. I die a little more.

We still saw each other after the date, but we never spoke to each other about The Karate Kid 2 and what happened on that unfortunate afternoon again…….

There’s something¬†I’m¬†not that good at doing. It’s something¬†integral¬†to meeting other people, and it’s something everyone else seems really good at.

I can’t really tell if someone is interested in me, or just being friendly.

It’s a stumbling block, that’s for sure. For instance I’ll be out having a drink with friends, and the person behind the bar smiles at me as¬†I¬†order new drinks for everyone. I smile back, but inside¬†I’m¬†thinking is she being friendly? Is she smiling at me because she wants to sleep with me? ¬†Is she smiling at me because¬†I’m¬†buying stuff from her? And then it’s all she’s making eye contact, is that pay me eye contact, or you’re quite hot eye contact? If it happens every time¬†I¬†go up to the bar is that a sign? Or am¬†I¬†reading way too much into nothing at all?

How do you know people? how do you know? It’s all terribly confusing.

I guess I should elaborate,¬†I¬†have little experience in this aspect of singledom,¬†I’ve¬†always been ‘chased’ so to speak, so haven’t really had to do this whole working out who’s interested thing, as the people who have been interested have made it pretty clear ( using poems, ( yes¬†I¬†had a poem written about me, an awesome poem,¬†I¬†was a fucking muse for someone! Seriously, it doesn’t get better than that ) and kissing and such ).

A friend said her tactic is to give a compliment to the potential person, and if they give one back you’re¬†probably¬†got a shot. I can see the logic in this, but I don’t want to get into a feedback loop of compliments, which is a very real possibility with me as¬†I’d¬†want to be sure they actually were interested…..

Me:”oh hai, I love your dress! ”

Them:”why thankyou, I love your hair!”

*awkward silence*

Me:”also, love your erm….hands”

Them:”uh, thanks,¬†I¬†think? I need to go over there now”

Me:*sad face*

I guess you have to practice, and get knocked back ¬†a bit when you get it wrong, and then pick yourself up and try again. I can do this,¬†I¬†know,¬†I’ve¬†done way tougher things than trying to find out if someone is interested or not, and yet I still can’t help but think… why is it so tricky to tell what someone else is thinking?

Last time I was single I used an internet dating site to try and meet people. It was exciting, weird and fun, and also often awkward.

There was a guy who¬†I¬†was messaging on and off for quite a while. He seemed really nice, into the same things as me,¬†definitely ( or so I thought )¬†a possible candidate. He seemed quite sweet, which¬†I¬†like, and he’d shared some fairly personal stuff with me ( not that sort of personal stuff,¬†I¬†never open emails with photographic attachments from¬†people¬†I’ve¬†met on t’internets, obvs ), which endeared me to him.

Now I know what you’re thinking, you¬†cynical internet¬†people, you. You’re thinking, classic seduction move,¬†what’s¬†wrong with you! He’s only sharing supposedly personal stuff because he thinks¬†that’s¬†what chicks dig. To which I reply ‘uh dur, I know.’ and then ‘also,”what chicks dig” ? hate to tell you this but we’re not in 1955 any more Marty‘ ¬†

But anyhow,¬†I¬†know its all part of the dance, so I went with it. We made plans, and decided to meet up. I followed the rules, public place (pub), tell someone where you’re going (flatmate), pack a weapon ( fork¬†cellotaped¬†to inside thigh ). We both arrived at the same time, sat down, had a drink, went to the ‘toilet’ to let our friends know we weren’t dead/kidnapped and then, just as things were going reasonably it happened.

Hotel Yorba by The White Stripes came on.

We were mid conversation when it started playing, and he held up his hand. He held up his hand dear reader, in my face. I’d like to imagine that the pub fell silent as he did this, like in a western, and then¬†I¬†kicked his ass ( with my fork ). It didn’t. I didn’t. Things got worse.

¬†“you know”¬† he said “they were so much more real, more like proper musicians before they sold out to the man” ¬†He paused¬†dramatically. “Of course¬†I¬†was into them years before that happened¬†, when they were raw and untouched by commercialism, it’s such a shame everyone started liking them”

Now, the hand thing was bad enough, but a music snob as well? Suddenly my future did not include him in it.

I¬†expect you’re thinking that¬†I¬†came up with some witty and clever put down about how it must be awful for Jack and Meg to have millions of people loving¬†their¬†music, and how he’s ( the date ) just a prick, but life of course doesn’t go like that. My hilarious and genius reply?

“erm, I kinda like them, Hotel Yorba makes me happy” ¬†

Needless to say the date didn’t go on much further, and we didn’t see each other again. And yes, Hotel Yorba still makes me happy.

There have been many, many awkward love moments in my life, some more so than others and I feel, in order to prevent others from making the same mistakes, I should share some of mine.

This particular moment happened when¬†I¬†was sixteen, sweet, dumb, naive sixteen. ¬†I’d plucked up the courage to ask a girl out that¬†I’d¬†‘liked’ for ages, and she’d said yes! How my little heart raced! I may well of done a little dance but it was a while a go so don’t quote me.

Nowadays we live in the future. Arranging a date is easy, we text, we phone, we email, we get our robot butlers to deliver messages to our love interests in¬†their¬†flying cars. Life is simple, organising dates is simple. But in the old days it wasn’t like now. We didn’t have mobile phones, we didn’t have home computers and robot butlers were just a twinkle in a scientists eye. Oh the early 1990’s were dark days indeed, it was a technological wilderness where people still believed CD’s were¬†indestructible and Microwaves were the future of¬†cuisine.

So, anyhow in order to arrange a date, it was either phones ( as in telephone boxes if you wanted any sort of privacy from parents/siblings/pets ) or writing letters.  I decided letters were the way forwards for arranging dates, and duly wrote to arrange a date for 2 days time. I think you can see where this is going.

After waiting at the ‘pre-arranged’ location for three hours the penny did drop that maybe letters were not the best way to arrange to meet someone.

As you can imagine this was pretty awkward, but stick around, it gets worse.

For the second attempt at a date it was decided the phone was¬†definitely¬†the way forward. The whole instant-ness of it seemed to work better for arranging stuff involving a time,date and location and so things seemed to be back on track. The day comes,¬†I¬†wait at the¬†officially¬†pre-arranged location and she turns up. Things are looking up. She asks what should we do. I hadn’t thought this far ahead. Things take a nose dive.

My brain whirs. Think! What would The Fresh Prince do? A walk! That’s what Will Smith would do, he’d suggest a walk! ( Nope, I have no idea why I thought this. ) It’s a hit, Walks are good, we start walking. She even suggests a place to walk to. A lovely secluded spot, by a stream, in a little wood. Oh yeah! I love streams in woods!

We get to the stream, in the wood, and sit down against at tree. There’s some silence. I feel I should be doing something. There’s more silence. There’s a tension in the air. It’s not so much sexual tension, more OHMYFUCKINGGODIDONTKNOWWHATTODOFUCKSHITCOCK tension. If I could speak to myself then, as I am now, of course¬†I’d¬†say ‘ Hi,¬†I’m¬†from the future, kiss her you idiot’. Sadly though this didn’t happen. Instead we just sat there for about an hour¬†punctuating¬†the overwhelming¬†silence with occasional painful¬†small talk. Then we got up and went home.

A few days later¬†I¬†got a letter from her. I think you can guess what it said regarding the future of our relationship……

 

 

Freiya Benson

Writer & Photographer.

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