Stickman Readers' Submissions June 11th, 2016

Why I Gave up Internet Dating – Part 1

I recently received an email from an old chum, whom I met whilst working in Saudi Arabia some years back. Like myself, he too in his prime had been the inveterate expat, bouncing from job to job around the globe and although married – always on his own. Also like myself he did tend to have a wandering eye – in other words, an eye for the ladies … so had wisely left his wife of many years back home in the UK whilst on assignment. This left him free to indulge his whims when it came to women.

After many years he returned home to the UK to ostensibly retire, where he had a pleasant detached house in one of the better areas on the edge of that conurbation known as The Black Country. Remembering that he had been gone for several years, leaving his wife behind on each occasion, he was to put it mildly, somewhat nonplussed to find that she had recently absconded with the local milkman. <I wonder if the local foundry man had been chasing her at some point?Stick> Seems that the milkman's services extended beyond the delivery of 3 Pints of Red Top milk and carton of cream – shades of Benny Hills, "The Fastest Milkman in The West' spring to mind! He genuinely did not understand it … after all, hadn't she lived in a nice house, always been provided for, had a nice car, he always paid all the bills and didn't he come home every year or so?

He Clinic Bangkok

The upshot of all of this was that his wife had filed for divorce on the grounds of desertion. The ensuing divorce settlement saw his wife move the milkman into what had up until that point been his house. Fortuitously for the milkman, he was able to give up both his milk round complete with additional extra-curricular services, as he was now able to live on the handsome monthly alimony payment that her ex had been forced to pay his wayward wife.

Having now moved back in with his son and relegated to the couch, which he reckoned was akin to student living once again. After the initial shock had worn off, and he began to reason with himself once again, he realised that he now needed to 'get his life in order' and move forward. Realising that he was probably too old to obtain a mortgage again, not that he would be able to service the monthly repayments now, he opted to rent a small run-down cottage in a nearby village. Fortunately he had been reasonably astute with money and had managed to squirrel away some funds off-shore from his years of overseas work that neither his ex wife, the milkman nor the divorce lawyer knew about. He calculated that if he was careful, he could just about make ends meet – he did after all, now have a milkman to support!

After the trauma of the divorce and bewailing the fact that he would no longer be able to enjoy the cream from the top of the milk, he decided that a holiday would do him good. It was therefore no hard decision to book a ticket to that well known recuperative venue of Thailand. He was no stranger to The Land of Smiles, having visited there several times in the past. He planned to meet a few of his mates that lived there, drink copious amounts of bitterly cold Singha beer and get laid as much as his aging body would permit.

CBD bangkok

Having been a prior visitor to the LOS, he had already contracted that most incurable of all illnesses, he had 'The Sickness', or "Jasmine Fever'; a term coined by the Asian specialist author Christopher G. Moore. Simply put, this affliction is when the patient becomes obsessed with Asian women to the exclusion of any other.

The trip was evidently a great success, rejuvenating him in both body and soul, and at the same time rekindling his interest in women once again. Being the astute fellow that he was, he had dismissed the idea of importing one of his 'friends' that he had met in the LOS. After all you can take the girl out of Asia, but you can't take Asia out of the girl – irrespective of background. He realised that even if he were to meet the Thai incarnation of Wonder woman, any long-distance of 8,000 kms relationship with a Thai beauty would be fraught with problems. And although financially attractive, he did not seriously entertain the idea of moving to Thailand and retiring on his now much reduced pension there. He knew himself well, and realised that he would quickly gravitate to the naughty bar life.

So back in the UK, he did the rounds of all the local pubs in the vain hope that he might find a suitable bed-worthy partner, but sadly to no avail. He was rejected at every turn, which perhaps for him was a relief in disguise, as he still had that Jasmine Fever to contend with and the thought of being caught between 50+ years old cellulite thighs gave him nightmares. Not wishing to remain celibate for the remainder of his days, he eventually turned to internet dating. He wasn't yet desperate about being single again, but you would welcome a little more intimacy and affection in his life. As adult as a 60+ year old man could be, he was soon to learn that when it came to internet dating he was in fact still a child.

And so begins our sad tale of internet dating, which he told me over a whole day's beer drinking session on one of my regular trips to London, as we crawled from pub to pub around Paddington.

wonderland clinic

This prompted me to recall a similar conversation I had a few years previously with a South African chum on the same topic. After finalising his second divorce at 60 something, and being anxious to avoid a lifetime membership of the SOT (Sad Old Tossers) Club, he too was anxious to find a suitable mate. Having gone down a similar road to failure as my UK chum, he was beginning to feel at his wits end. He had heard others speak of this new phenomenon, internet dating and quickly latched onto the idea that this was an excellent place to start his search for new female partner.

Given the foregoing and the tales that they regaled me with, I felt their stories and experiences would make for an amusing and educational series. I have therefore combined them both into one to pen the following serial missive of, "Why I gave up Internet Dating".

To position our tale, I do need to provide some further background information of our two protagonists. There is however one common denominator to both of them … they both lay heavy blame on the L'Oreal advert tagline of, "because you're worth it". They are of the belief that western women are sold this diet of feminism, thus having an overly inflated and high opinion of themselves.

I can readily attest to this from my time in Saudi Arabia, where extraordinarily there were many single European women, albeit that they were probably outnumbered by the Filipinas.

These lasses were either very single and therefore looking for a husband, or had left the husband at home, whilst they came out to the desert to earn the bucks and shopped for a better option. Then there was the most dangerous of all, the psychopaths, of which there were many. (And let's face it one does have to be a bit psychotic to even consider working in what I eventually referred to as La-La Land) Words from Graham Greene's novel, 'The End of The Affair', sprung to mind, when Bendrix his leading character sets the scene for the book on Page 1 by saying, "This is a record of hate far more than love". I was phoned late one night by a colleague who had just been stabbed by his drunk psychopathic bed mate, when he told her that the affair was over, and required a lift to the local A & E room.

There were several similar scenes of bunny boiling during my years there. One could see the train wreck beginning to take shape fairly early on, with decent chaps merely trying to make pleasant conversation, or offering an sympathetic shoulder to cry on for these poor lonely females. As the relationship sped up and escalated, several of these poor unfortunate guys ended up having their pet bunny boiled for supper!

Also the drunkenness was extraordinary … not only of the men, but the women as well. Although Saudi Arabia is dry, I don't think I've ever seen so much drunkenness in my life – before or since. The problem was that the most affordable booze was of the moonshine variety, pure ethanol and unless one was careful, would make you blind and mad. One of the problems, was that the ensuing hangover after a session of drinking 'Sid' (Siddique in Arabic meaning 'Friend', so – "meet my friend Sid, who always gives us all a nice warm relaxed feeling") was horrendous, leaving large blanks in one's memory of the previous nights activities.

One of the South African guys I knew took a nice young Irish lass out for supper one evening, followed by joint attendance at a party and then back to her apartment for a post coital coffee. The very next morning she announced that she had booked them both on the next Aer Lingus flight to Dublin, to meet her parents, check out the house etc … Those girls closed the deal quicker than a whore's handbag after she's been paid. Another work colleague of mine went out to sand land to earn some decent cash, made the mistake of having a one night stand with an Irish lass and was soon hauled off back to Ireland like some sort of trophy to be mounted over the mantelpiece.

A point has just struck me, why were they invariably all from Ireland? There was of course the odd looker of other nationalities, but they knew their self worth, as the guys were around them like bees to a honey pot.

There was however a common denominator to them all. Back home or in Asia most of them were pretty ordinary looking and would most probably be considered extremely mediocre, rating no more than a 6/10 or so in normal decent society. However out in the sand wastes of the desert, where the men outnumbered them by at least 5 to 1, they all, without exception, had a hugely inflated idea of their own self-worth. There was one girl I remember who we used to call, 'Liewe Heksie'; the term used in popular Afrikaans culture for "an ugly witch". The character comes from an early 80's children's TV series and has subsequently been used to describe somebody who is ugly, not very bright and is definitely no David Copperfield in the realms of magic. Even this 'Liewe Heksi' in the pussy-barren sand lands of Saudi Arabian expat society managed to get a man … the poor sod must indeed have been particular desperate! But as they say – needs must ….

The other side of the coin was equally interesting; I recall chatting one evening to one of the more sensible bunny boilers, when I asked the question, "Why don't you ever ask the guys if they're married". Her response made so much sense to me: "You know that virtually all the men here are married, but you don't really want to know the truth, even though you know it to be true … we all have needs, and we are all looking for a husband, or at least somebody that will be able to offer us a better lifestyle. So you turn a blind eye to that and accept it as a norm, not expecting anything different. And if perchance he is actually single, then you shag him into the submission of marriage, by fair means or foul". This was indeed a classic case of cognitive dissonance whilst proving beyond doubt the deviousness of women.

Leaving the desert wastes of Saudi Arabia behind, we move swiftly on to the background of my South African acquaintance.

He did the usual and responsible thing of meeting a nice girl, completing his compulsory Military Service, and was fortunate not to see too much action up on the border. On his return and in his mid twenties, he duly married said nice girl, got a good job as an accountant with one of the larger South African companies and settled down to what he perceived to be a life of domestic bliss and they would grow old together. After a year of so, and under pressure from his nice girl and her parents, he took out a mortgage to purchase the obligatory and typical South African house of the day – 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, double garage and swimming pool.

Of course, after a couple of years her biological time clock had kicked in. The overwhelming desire for children is a genetic predetermination in women over which men have, or indeed the female, have no influence. The ideal couple produced a boy and a girl within a few short years. Sadly at this point he slowly came to the realisation that the idyllic dream is now beginning to develop cracks. As a young man anxious to be a good father, he becomes exhausted and is permanently smelling of vomit and excrement to the point where his mates no longer invite him to the Saturday afternoon braai (BBQ) or to watch the rugby. But worse still, he now realises that once his nice girl has the offspring she so desperately desired, he now has little purpose in her life. Once the seed had been planted she threw away the packet it came in. To him it seemed that his only purpose in her life that he served was to mow the lawn, put up yet another set of shelves and be her personal ATM.

As the years passed and his kids grew older, he became ever more conscious of the fact that his real role in this happy family was one of merely supplying cash, redecorating the house, the two week annual beach holiday and a nice car. Not forgetting of course the need to maintain the lawn and purchase a larger house in a more salubrious neighbourhood. All of this sadly did not result in what he felt was the commensurate attention, affection or God forbid, sex, as was his marital due.

Of course against this background the inevitable happened. The new bright young secretary (this was a time when we still had secretaries, rather than today's PAs) at the office was blonde, shapely, wore trendy modern clothes revealing a tantalising and ample cleavage. She was young, sexy, alluring and flirty, showing him some much needed attention … all the things that he was not getting at home.

After a Friday evening drinks session at the office, her car wouldn't start, so being the gentleman that he was, he offered to take her home. I will not bore the reader with the obvious and inevitable end to that evening … as they say, the rest is history!

Without going into the details of the sordid and ruinous divorce that ensued, it did predictably wipe him out financially. His kids were now at university, rarely spent time with him, even though he had negotiated reasonable custody and visitation rights, albeit at a large financial cost. All of this courtesy of the horrendously expensive lawyer that he had been forced to engage in an attempt to salvage at least something from the train wreck that had been his marriage and his life. Unlike his British counterpart, he did not sadly have access to hidden off-shore assets.

In the end he walked away with his clothes, at least those that his wife had not burned, the dog, the duvet and the tent. He had always hated camping so the tent was sold for a pittance that went straight to his avarice lawyer. The upside of all of this was that the bright young blonde (let's call her Poppie) and he were now a 'couple', albeit that they were forced to live in a small, but cosy flat. Sadly it was too small to keep the dog, which his ex wife had always referred to as 'his dog', so that had to go to the local animal shelter. Poppie refused to sleep under the same duvet that "that bitch" had, so that went to the local charity shop and is now probably doing service for the homeless. He reflected that after so many years of 'doing the right thing', his entire marriage had now been disposed of like a bag of unwanted clothes. It was all a very far cry from his 4-bedroomed house, with family room, a large pool and tennis court. That had gone to his ex, who had by now moved in a much younger partner.

Poppie's very Afrikaans's accent, he thought of as 'cute' and they both agreed that the nearly 20 year age gap was not a major concern to either of them. He did however find her taste in music a little tiresome, he was more used to the music of the 60's and 70's, rather than her preferred rap or hip-hop. But all in all, they settled down and enjoyed a life of domestic bliss.

Eventually they married and all was well for some years. Fortuitously they had agreed early on that neither wanted children. As he approached his 60th birthday he began to have misgivings about the amount of time the she spent out with her friends of an evening – every evening, with her mobile turned off. Being the resourceful fellow that he is, he decided that whilst he probably really didn't want to know or have his suspicions confirmed, he did engage the services of a discrete private detective. It transpired that her 'friends' was a singular male, a young burly tattooed fellow, who was her personal trainer at the local gym, where she spent an inordinate amount of time each day.

He told me afterwards that he nearly cried when he saw the photos that would have ruined a politician's career. So in his late 50's he found himself once again divorced and alone.

Considering himself quite a lady's man and determined to be proactive in getting his life back on-track, like his UK-based counterpart, out of loneliness he too visited pubs, bars and clubs in an attempt to find companionship and with the intention of pulling a slim young sexual goddess. However he quickly realised that his Saturday Night Fever John Travolta shiny white suit and chunky faux gold neck chain were no longer in vogue and that he was running the very serious and likely risk of actually looking like a sad old tosser. It was one night in one of these establishments when he was turned down by a hooker with an unduly offensive, "Piss off you old tosser". It was then that he realised that perhaps he was not quite the lady's man that he had thought.

He tells me that after a couple of Friday nights of being treated like the visiting comedy act at these clubs, he had a ceremonial burning of his shiny white suit, gave the neck chain to the dustman and his dancing shoes to the next door gardener, completing the transformation with a visit to the hairdresser where his comb-over hairstyle was cut and the 70's style moustache shaved off.

It was at this time that his few remaining friends fearing for his sanity, began hiding sharp pointed objects from him and suggesting that he shave his newly bare upper lip with an electric razor. Some months of depression followed, which the tablets did help, together with his self-analysis of asking himself how he had sunk to such levels of patheticness. He came to the realisation that unless he did something drastic he was going to end up totally alone and attending regular SOT Anonymous meetings. Or maybe at best, with somebody that looked like his Great Aunt Edith. Whilst he was still invited to join his mates on a Saturday afternoon to watch the rugby, the dinner party invitations became less and less, due he supposed to that few of his still married friends wanted a lone sad old tosser present. The risk of him bursting into tears over the entre were an obvious concern that few wanted to explore.

There was the odd and inevitable invitation, normally initiated by the wives of his mates, to, "Come for dinner, there is this wonderful lady friend of mine, who has just lost her husband, who I would love you to meet – I know the two of you would get on like a house on fire". Of course this 'wonderful lady friend' would invariably be far from enticing, large (curvaceous is not a word to be used lightly in suburban society) had little or no conversation, apart from reiterating endlessly all evening to all present how wonderful her ex husband had been. The climax normally occurring over dessert, when she would break down in tears when her continued diatribe became too much for even her.

After several of these boring and traumatic dinner parties, he decided that relying on his friends to set him up with a suitable companion was simply not going to work. He, like our other UK-based friend, was thus persuaded to turn to Internet Dating, bringing us back to the beginning of our tale.

So having examined the backgrounds of these two sad old bastards, whose experience of matrimony and life thereafter are remarkably similar we can move on with our tale. It will come as no surprise the learn that our two protagonists and their perspective, sentiments and experiences towards finding another 'Dream Woman' were similar.

Both alone and in their early 60's. Fortunately both were realists and accepted that fact that they were perhaps no longer George Clooney lookalikes, nor did they have the wealth of a Russian Oligarch or an African despot dictator with a Finchley Road Post Office savings account. I suspect that several options ran through their minds during this time, a) castration, which as it would not have been covered under either the UK NHS, or the South African Medical Aid schemes, was dismissed as being too expensive, b) become a priest; but as neither of them were turned on by little boys this was quickly discarded, c) become gay, but as in South Africa most public toilets had by now been closed and one had to pay 20p for entry in the UK, this was probably not overly viable, d) commit suicide, but as neither had funeral insurance, this too was discarded as their parents would have had to pay the cost involved, or e) marry their Great Aunt Edith, which in itself was indeed the thing of nightmares.

At this stage and in advance dear reader I beg your indulgence. I apologise for the switch of persons, from 3rd to 1st person. However for literacy purposes this now becomes necessary, also our story imperatively demands it, and which is, at least technically, will perhaps hopefully lead to a more successful tale. Also the change to the first person, just makes for easier writing – I therefore beg the readers indulgence for my laziness!

And so begins the tale of, Why I Gave up Internet Dating…

To be continued …

nana plaza