Wednesday, 30 May 2012

"Show me a twenty-year-old who's NOT in love..."

(I nicked the title quote from an episode of House - Season 3, Episode 5; I think it turned out they were brother and sister.)

Before I get stuck in, there are yet more things that need to go on what shall now be referred to simply as The List. And they are:

"Dominant" noses. Apparently. Actually, now I think about it, Adrien Brody has a certain something. (That something being, mainly, a sizeable conk.)

Beards - facial hair is a divisive one. I'm not a fan of the fully-fledged beard, I have to say, but that’s just me. And of course there's almost universal agreement that on the right jawline, stubble - to varying degrees - is all kinds of hot.

It was also emphatically explained to me, by several ladies, that guys with a bit of meat on their bones were infinitely preferable to skinny types. This makes sense on more than one level - it's nice to have someone who can pick you up without you fretting that you'll break them, and who'll give you a piggy-back home from the pub when the quantity of wine consumed has somewhat diminished your tolerance for high heels. It's also lovely to have someone who'll cook for you enthusiastically, and give you funny, "you're weird, wench" looks when you have a tizzy about your thighs and declare you're going to exist solely on salad for a fortnight.

But enough! As I've said, this could turn into a book. Albeit one of those funny little ones you find in Urban Outfitters. And also, someone could tick all/some/none of these boxes and be absolutely, totally, bang-on perfect.

And so to what I actually planned on saying here. 

The last eighteen months or so have seen an increasing amount of "X is engaged to Y" statuses appear on Facebook. Apparently I'm now at that age where friends and acquaintances are starting to make the really big and scary life decisions. 

(I should say before this goes any further that I am not here to criticise anyone's choices. I am absolutely not trying to do that. So stick with me, folks.)

First things first, to all you lovely people who've done any/all of the above, congratulations.I mean that. Being a closet romantic, the idea of making an official and public commitment to one person is something I really respect.

I guess it's just made me think, when I've heard about former schoolfriends doing things like getting engaged and married, "Good lord, that's an awfully adult thing to do. Would I be confident in making that commitment right now, at this age? Even if I knew I was with the right person?"

No, I wouldn't. I'm 22. I don't want to be making those kinds of decisions until I'm at least the other side of 25. I've got shit to do between now and then. Like growing up a little bit, learning to be less emo, ditching a few insecurities, bidding farewell to that inferiority complex that likes to show up from time to time, forming a response to new situations that's better than "I can't!" (Damn, I've got quite a bit to do, it seems.) And while I can confidently say that as far as my love life is concerned, I am really happy and don't want anyone to go anywhere anytime soon, I know we are both still growing up - or trying to. I haven't quite made it out of education yet, so who's to say that when I do finally get to the real world, I won't become even more cynical and skittish than I am now? (Perish the thought.)

And I know that a lot of our parents and grandparents were marrying and starting families in their late teens and early twenties. My attitude is largely a product of the times we live in - it's simply more common to stay in education longer, sometimes until well into your twenties. People are generally a lot more career-driven now. (FYI I'm not getting into statistics, religious perspectives, gender roles or sociology here.  I don't have the space, and you and I both lack the patience, so forgive any sweeping generalisations. I'm just trying to be fair and give the appropriate context.)

If you're around this age, and you've been with your significant other for a good long while, and you are damn sure you don't - and won't - want to be with anybody else, then good for you. Make it official and celebrate it. I'm not anti-marriage - though I would be quite nervous about being the centre of attention for a whole day, and the pressure to look good in all the photos would be hideous. And I am fairly sure that if some poor fool ever does decide he wants to make an honest woman of me, my first response will be, "Have you thought this one through? I can be pretty indecisive, and the rest-of-our-lives is ample time for that shit to get annoying."

But what's the hurry? (And also, if you're fresh out of university, all credit to you for being able to afford to get married. I can barely justify spending money on a haircut right now.) Life gets serious soon enough, and personally I'd like to spend my early twenties doing only the necessary serious stuff. I don't want to get married until I have a bit more "life experience", to use an irritatingly airy-fairy term, so that I can treat it with the seriousness and commitment that it deserves. We all know divorce rates are still rising, which suggests that people don't treat marriage as a "for the rest of our lives" thing as much as they used to. Yes, part of the story does involve divorce being more socially acceptable now, but still. 

Deciding to share your life with someone at this age is, unarguably, a big step. That's years' worth of life and space-sharing you're setting yourself up for.  Personally, I still enjoy that "Ooh, I have my own space back" feeling I get after a weekend with the Boy. It's often short-lived (OK, not that often), and it doesn't mean I don't enjoy his company, it simply means I like my own space. I like being able to faff about for ages getting ready in the morning, I like being unnecessarily tidy, I like being able to sing loudly to whatever I happen to be listening to, I like being able to relax in t-shirts I've stolen off various male associates and generally look dishevelled. Without fear of judgement. Hurrah for living in different cities!

I also don't want to have children until I've crossed a few things off my life-list too. Because that's going to be at least 18 years of full-time worry and commitment and then a further bajillion years of fretting about them. And I want to be able to bring some wisdom to my child-rearing, if I do have kids. One thing you can't be when you're responsible for another human being is selfish, and you know what? If I can't be a little bit selfish from time to time when I'm 22, then it's going to have to wait until I'm retirement-age. And I'm very impatient, so that's not an option.

A piece of wisdom was shared with me recently, and it's too good to keep to myself: "At this age, you should be getting drunk and at it like animals." (I'd like to add "and going to lots of gigs too" to this.)

That's not going to fly forever, of course it's not. But right now? Well, why not?

Those of you doing exams, have something chilled-out: 

And this has been on repeat in my life for the last couple of days:

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A few more boxes to tick...

...or, "Weird Things People Find  Hot: Part Two".

The last post could very easily have turned into an e-book, to be honest with you. And it got such a lovely response - everyone who read it was ludicrously complimentary, and a lot of people had more things to add to the list. Nothing I've written has provoked such a reaction since I wrote a song that was inspired by a former friend (we'd fallen out rather spectacularly, as teenage girls have a tendency of doing) and performed it at a school gig. The person in question decided - correctly - it was about her, and spent the next few weeks quoting lines from it whenever I was within earshot. So, y'know, don't piss me off.

But also, thanks for all your lovely comments. They're totally undeserved - I'm simply giving what goes on in my head free rein, and making you all read it  - but awww, you guys!!

So then. The things that I forgot/didn't have room for/have been told should go on the list... have some more inexplicably hot stuff to distract yourselves with.

Guys who read. Proper novels. Be the guy in the park/coffee shop/airport with a Penguin Classic and I'll be trying very hard not to come over and ask if you're enjoying it, and why or why not specifically. Read something controversial, like Lolita, and have an intelligent conversation about it. Recommend me books, and let me tell you about my favourites. Let me spend ages in any bookshop we happen to come across, and if I find something good, let me ignore you while I get a little bit lost in it. A former flame "didn't really see the point in reading fiction". I really should have read the signs, shouldn't I?

Smoking. Controversial, and not one of mine. I learnt the hard way - I once made out with a pipe smoker and unsurprisingly, it was a more than bit tobacco-y. He was in his twenties, before you ask.

But it can look kind of hot - and double points if you can roll your own. I had a moment a few weeks ago when I was walking along behind this hipster-looking guy. I didn't notice he was smoking until he took a drag on his cigarette, and threw a bit of a sneer over his shoulder as he exhaled. It was like James Dean and Marlon Brando and, I don't know, Ryan Atwood, all in the space of about four seconds.

Tattoos and piercings. Again, not really one of mine - apparently I like my men to at least appear clean-cut - but I can see why they're hot. Something discreet and meaningful can look pretty cool, I think.

Profiles. I love this one - it was suggested to me over the weekend and it was exactly the kind of thing I hoped would come up, because it's not something I'd ever thought about but it's something someone else finds really hot. Maybe a chiselled, almost regal profile, or maybe something more quirky... My own profile annoys me no end - my nose seems to point out like a carrot on the face of a snowman. No side-on photos will ever be made public.

Leather bracelets and necklaces. I'm not really a fan of men wearing jewellery as a rule, but the odd leather bracelet/wristband/necklace is definitely more than acceptable. Ditto the wrist sweatbands - not in a 70's tennis-player way, more a rockstar way.

Geekery. Most people have some kind of nerdy obsession, or a bit of a geeky side to them, and it should be embraced. Personally, I'm an English language geek (Scrabble is not a game I ever take lightly, even against my eleven-year-old sister, and I never met a crossword puzzle I didn't love); I'm a little bit obsessed with the life of Marie Antoinette, and I have a ridiculous memory for music trivia. Who sang what, what line comes next - they really should have a non-famous-people version of Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I'd ace that. So revel in your nerdiness! (And if I come running to you when my iPod throws a tantrum or my laptop does something weird, be flattered. And fix it for me. There's a drink in it for you if you do.)

It's also important that anyone I'm interested in likes animals. It probably shouldn't be a deal-breaker, but really, who doesn't like animals?! Yeeeaahh, only suspicious types. There's a reason I went to the zoo as part of the celebrations for my 22nd birthday. I also crushed for way too long on a guy who was smart, funny, fair-haired and cocky, but the main attraction was that he wanted to be a vet. That is a hot career choice. (He wasn't into music though, so it never would have worked. Again, really, who isn't into music?! No one normal, that's quite certain.)

At some point in my life, I plan on owning at least two of the following: a Labrador, a golden retriever, a King Charles spaniel, a tabby cat and a pair of pygmy goats. In short, only animal-lovers need apply.

That's enough for now, so I'll leave you with this. I saw these guys on Sunday night, and hearing this, one of my absolute favourites by them, live, was pure joy:

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Ticking the boxes...

As all the best conversations do, this started in the pub, in a post-presentation haze of relief. (And yes, to nobody's surprise but my own, said presentation was fine.) 

We started talking about the weird and obscure things we find attractive, and it proved to be a stimulating topic - here's the list, scrawled on the back of a class hand-out:

The first example would be one of my own 'things' - I cannot explain it for the life of me, but I like it when guys layer short-sleeved t-shirts over long-sleeved t-shirts. To a certain extent I think you have to have the right build for it - long lanky arms and broad shoulders, but it is inexplicably a little bit cute.

Same goes for wearers of Converse. They make you about 8 or 9 % hotter than you would be. Don't ask me why, 'cause I don't know.

RP accents - oh God yes. Bonus points if you can lean over, say something positively 18-rated in my ear and still sound like you're heir to a title and a sizeable country estate. (There's a reason Made in Chelsea is my televisual guilty pleasure, and it's not Spencer's attitude to women. Though I do also like a touch of arrogance, but more on that later.)

Cricketers. Yes, rugby players too, but I think that's more general, what with their shoulders and whatnot. But show me a guy in cricket whites with a nice bowling action and I will be quite distracted for a few minutes. (I ran this one by my housemate and he said "That's such a Surrey thing to say." Pointing out I'm from Sussex seemed beside the point, really.)

Hats. Beanies make me want to pull them off you and mess up your hair. Trilbies or better yet, fedoras, make me want to engage you in witticisms for an hour or two.

And on that note, long hair. Not too long though - just long enough to provoke the urge to rake my hands through it. While drafting this last week - and I had fun doing that, I can tell you, especially as I took a notepad to Costa and sat there "getting ideas" - I got a text saying that the Boy was off to get his hair cut. I responded with a panicked, "No, don't do it." Fortunately, I'm sarcastic enough that he can't always tell when I'm being serious and when I'm not. My first-ever crush was on a guy whose fringe constantly fell into his eyes, so he was constantly flicking it out of them with a shake of his head. So good. 

Angular faces. Bone structure I could bruise myself on. This may come from having hamster-esque features myself, with no cheekbones to speak of. I know someone who likes prominent Adam's apples - which even the internet says is pretty niche. Finding out the little things people notice is fascinating and at times, really quite funny.

Scars - not personally one of mine, but I see the logic. The kind of scar with a good story: "That? Oh, that's from when I had an encounter with a particularly agitated bear." Or: "Oh, I got that when I had to step in and stop some guy from hassling my ex/best female friend/grandmother."

Fair-haired guys. I seem to be in a slight minority here - most of my female friends prefer dark-haired guys, if pushed to choose a preference. I'm also a little worried it's my own biology saying "breed, you must breed!" That would at least explain why very recently I've started to get a little bit mushy over children. Calm down, I really don't want my own for a long, long time; it's just that most of them are all cute and funny and inspire a protective urge. But that's also how I feel about puppies, so I don't know...

Accents - some of the more interesting choices were Scottish, South African, Austrian, Swiss, Australian (on girls), New Zealand, and a Southern drawl (that one's mine. Drawl something mildly chauvinistic at me in your best Texas accent and I'll probably go a little bit silly).

Nice hands and arms. OK, it's not a weird thing as such but I couldn't tell you what I mean by "nice". I just know it when I see it. If your sleeves are rolled up and you have good hands and arms, I will imagine you doing things with them. Like playing the piano, or guitar, or skilfully making dinner.

Insomnia. Wait, come back. While I realise it's a hugely inconvenient and draining condition - trust me, I know - if a guy tells me he's lucky to average 3 hours' sleep a night, I will wonder what he does while most other people are asleep and he isn't. It often seems to be the curse of the creative and interesting types. Getting a solid 8 hours between 12 and 8 shows a lack of imagination, somehow. Of course, in reality, if you're anything like me when you haven't had enough sleep - grumpy, emotional and in need of all the carbohydrates, ever - then you can keep your distance.

Glasses. I wasn't going to put this on, because it depends so much on the combination of the right glasses on the right face. But when the frames are black and rectangular, and the face is suitably angular (unintentional rhyme for you right there), then all I'm going to be doing is wondering what happens when you take them off.

Arrogance. Not to the point of being a twat, but if you're just a little bit full of yourself and I'm having to raise my game and verbally spar with you, then I'm going to be enjoying myself thoroughly. Act like you deserve to be the centre of my attention and you probably will be. Plus, there's nothing I like better than telling people they're wrong, so don't say I didn't warn you.

Army boots. Not one of mine, but again I can see the appeal. I really didn't get the uniform thing until very recently, then I saw a couple of guys in the Royal Navy uniform, and suddenly I understood. And how.

Relentless teasing. Push the boundaries of what's appropriate. If I like you, I will take the piss out of you, to the point of verbal abuse. This is why I need it done back to me - keep me on my toes.

There are so many more things on my list - they would fill a book. Albeit a short one. Maybe one day... Damn, doing the "research" for that would be lovely. So if you think of anything you find hot but have no idea why, let me know. 'Cause I'm nosy, and everyone's got something.

On that note, I'm going to leave you with this. It seems apt.