German construction at its best

When one thinks of Germany, one would think of a few things right off the bat: chocolate, efficiency, punctuality, beer, and the autobahns. Much of Germany’s successes are related to their infrastructure, modernisation, collective traffic, as well as general tidiness. But when I refer to German construction, I’m not talking about its roads and buildings and history of Protestantism, I’m referring to German construction workers. Let me explain.

Construction worker

I’m a teacher, and as a result on a daily basis I rarely come into contact with the trades or jobs that would be considered blue collar. Perhaps parents of kids I teacher, or the odd handyman here or there I see, but I rarely interact with people in this world in a social way. Most of the people I know are teachers, academics, doctors, or lawyers or somehow connected to those professions.

Odd as it may be that I have a semblance of a social life, I was invited to attend a cultural night in nearby city of a friend of mine. A bunch of people would be gathering at his house in the afternoon, and they were bringing their spouses and such, and then we would continue on to the downtown core. Knowing that I would have to work the following day, I figured and assumed that I would be heading home early and this was a great way of getting the chaos of work out of my head.

I arrived, and immediately was enthusiastically encouraged to contribute to the artistic collaboration of all the guests on the table. Cut out some pictures and glue them, draw what you like, or be controversial; no rules. I elected to draw a small portion to represent the harmony of nature; the joining of the four main elements: earth, air, fire, and water. A simple yet beautiful oil pastel spot on the canvas was juxtaposed by the contrasting political messages and generally offensive diagrams of sexual freedom, random penises, and general anarchy. This describes aptly the crowd I was in, and how much my rainbows and unicorns didn’t fit in.

People get to talking and getting to know each other as I have only two common connections, and a friend of a friend of a friend was attending from Germany. Drink in hand I was approached, of course while I was fixing some delicious cheesy garlic bread. Chitchat ensued and it was rather nice to talk to someone that was outside of the pedagogy world: a construction worker.

Everyone gathers on the balcony patio to play a game of Waterfall. A drinking game, so lightweight as I am, I only pepper my afternoon with a single cider, drunk indiscriminately slow. The people getting drunk around me were unable to discern my ninja ways to protect my feeble body from drunkenness.

Rule masters create rules: firstly, when you have to drink you must gently rub the leg of the person to your right. Okay, no big deal right? We are all strangers and what’s wrong with a simple rub on the leg to warm up each other? I guess that’s until the construction worker, who ironically was sitting to my left, started having to drink (in the drinking game), and I found my leg being rubbed quite a bit. The rubs seemed to linger, but I thought nothing of it. Oblivious.

Secondly, the next rule requires all people to compliment the person their right after they drink, thus compounding the rub with a compliment. No harm, no foul. Pleasantries were exchanged, and the game developer to my right was peppered with some nice compliments of their nice haircut, stylish shirt, and well proportioned ears, of course complimented with a gentle touch on their leg. I elected to touch rather than rub, as to not appear creepy.

Finally, the third rule happened but truth be told I don’t remember it. It was hard enough to keep track of all the other rules and events that were going on. Chip chop, game ends and we start migrating towards the door to head into the city centre for the festival.

I’m casually putting my shoes on when I find myself cracking a joke about something and suddenly a construction worker laughs, and then gently grazes my beard with a hand. It was so quick and subtle, I barely noticed it nor did anyone else. And yet I was confused enough to pause and think about it, laugh, and chalk it up to friendly banter and descend the stairs.

Standing outside, putting on my coat, I get a wink out of the blue. It was at this moment that I realised that maybe I was being completely oblivious to the attention I was receiving. Being approached by a stranger, the lingering leg pats, the compliments (which were attributed to the game rather than interest), the face touching, and the wink. So rare as it is, and, truth be told, coming from a drunk German didn’t make me think it was anything serious of if there was some hidden intention. However, I was confused. Was the construction worker flirting with me?

I guess I’ll never know for sure. As it turned out the group fell apart and we never found each other by the time I called it a night. Was it a fleeting connection? Was there something there I didn’t notice? I suspect it’s too late, and the dear construction worker is on the way back to Eastern Germany, bound to needs of German infrastructure and greater improvements.

A missed connection, if I’d ever seen one.

Super Happy Fun – Huh?

There has been a lot of media in my social feeds about an event that is going to happen in Boston in August. The “Straight Pride Parade” and demonstration is organised by Super Happy Fun America. When I read the headlines about a straight pride parade, I was confused and bemused. I just couldn’t really get past the fact that such a purpose was something for which needed a pride parade. So I went digging for more information.

It appears to me that this organisation feels like they are a victim of straight suppression and need to assert themselves on behalf of their straight brethren. On their official website, it states:

“Straight people are an oppressed majority. We will fight for the right of straights everywhere to express pride in themselves without fear of judgement and hate. The day will come when straights will finally be included as equals among all of the other orientations.” – John Hugo, President of Super Happy Fun America

“Super Happy Fun America advocates on behalf of the straight community in order to foster respect and awareness with people from all walks of life.”

https://superhappyfunamerica.com/home/about/

The more I learned about the people involved, the media attention they were gathering just screamed negativity. Sponsoring organisations denouncing them and threating lawsuits for suggesting support pop up and they write about it on their site. I just don’t get why a majority population, whos executive is basically straight white males, who have never experienced marginalisation or discrimination, feel the need to assert their straightness. Do they feel so strongly that the lives of LGBT people who are discriminated against are so powerful and widespread that it causes them distress and oppression? How are they oppressed? What rights are they denied?

When have these people been fired on the basis of being heterosexual? When have these people walked down a street and had anti-heterosexual slurs shouted at them? When have they been denied access to services based on their heterosexuality?

Maybe you agree with what they promote, in theory, or on the basis of equal treatment, but it just seems to be a huge joke. Are they actually serious? Are they that hurt? I would have thought that they already have their pride parades every time they step foot out onto the street. And then I realised what it all comes down to: toxic masculinity.

The last time I checked, the majority population of any country hasn’ t been denied any rights as outlined above, and if they did they have the right to challenge them in the judicial and legislative avenues available to them.

In the meantime, get over yourselves, and snap out of it. Bye, Felicia!

Secrets… dirty secrets

Some people have stamps, others that are more fabulous have shoes, and probably more people, who wouldn’t like to admit it, have sexual partners. But none of these come anything close to the most fabulous of all: socks.

If you haven’t already guessed it and wondered what I am talking about, it’s of course collections. It’s a hoarder’s dream to collect things, and although genetics peg me with a bit of a hoarder problem, I try to restrict it to a few things and thankfully one of them is digital so it doesn’t actually take up physical space.

My late father was a hoarder, and I remember thinking this when I clandestinely went into his office as a child. The odd times I made it in, I was always amazed at how packed it was. There was always dust on one bookshelf or another, but I never could have imagined what was lurking inside the closets, or the filing cabinets, or in the closet, or in the attic.

Sock collection

In some ways it irks me to think that I’m anything similar, but alas fighting genetics is impossible and I yield. I hoard, or rather I like to say I collect, socks. I’ve joked about it over the years and people have mocked me for the huge variety of colours and shapes and sizes, and it’s weird to say but I have an entire dresser dedicated to the storage of them, but yes it’s true.

I counted them and alas here are the totals:

110x ankle socks
14x above-ankle ‘normal’ socks, including ski-socks and leg warmers
21x ‘invisible’ socks, the ones you wear with flats or ‘sail’ shoes
13x leftovers without partners
Total shoes: 158

What worries me most about this is how I could lose the partners of 13 of my pairs. It hurts, like really hurts deep down. But alas, I’m coming clean and setting the record straight. This collection will, of course, add more than subtract due to attrition. Socks, it was only socks, and no I’m most certainly not a man-whore or giggilo.

Ace symbols, intended or otherwise

Many can attest to the fact that asexuality is not mainstream and many people are quite ignorant about it, but when observant people like myself notice things, it makes me wonder.

Belgium’s Eliot Vassamillet singing in Eurovision Song Contest 2019

On Thursday last, Belgium’s Eliot Vassamillet competed in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 Semi-Final 🇧🇪, and in his act I took keen notice to something he was wearing on his hand. On his left middle finger, a black band ring wrapped itself around the finger. This intrigued me for several reasons.

Firstly, in the ace community a black ring on the middle finger of the right hand is generally a symbol of someone being asexual. I have two rings myself and occasionally wear them when out in public, so I was struck with a bit of shock that maybe a symbol I recognised made a public appearance on a huge stage.

Secondly, some might point out that a black band worn on the left hand middle finger might be the sign of a swinger. I did notice the hand on which the ring sat, but it was a bit hard for me to believe that a 19 year old Belgian man would be involved in swingers communities. Thus I assumed it was either a fashion statement, or a sign of asexuality rather than a sign of adult extracurricular activities.

Black ace ring

And so I’m led to believe that either this was an intentional action to bring awareness to asexuality, or rather a fashion choice to go along with the outfit, and thus his styling team being ignorant of the niche symbol.

The latter is more likely, but it did make me think for a minute. It’s rare to encounter people like myself, so when a chance pops up we jump on it. Who knows what the choice was and what he was trying to communicate, but if you’ve got any intel; let me know!

By the way, Belgium, you song was okay! 😋

Games are afoot

It’s as good a time as any to have a story time, so here it goes. Once upon a time there was this guy who was trying to meet someone, and living in Sweden means that it’s nearly impossible to do it in person so he went online. He came into contact with someone, a few weeks after he had a very traumatic experience with someone else that left him shaken and unwilling to jump in head first.

It started out basic enough, nice conversation and similar interests in films. The chatting went on for a few weeks here and there, and then moved to Snapchat where the tempo increased and it was clear that both liked each other.

Plans were made to hang out, go for drinks, and watch films together. The only thing that kept them apart was 30km and the Christmas holidays. However, something interesting had happened in this elapsed time. Photos were sent on a daily basis and chats went on every day, and what might be considered flirting ensued.

This new person was asking all sorts of questions, like if it was okay that they lived at home and didn’t have a good job and was a bit messed up from a past relationship with a girl. This didn’t perturb the hero, because at this point he knew what he wanted and the good that was inside, at least what he thought was good.

And so our hero left for the United Arab Emirates for Christmas to meet a a dear friend, but during this time a Snapchat achievement was made…

Photo courtesy of Snapchat

The evil red heart achievement came into the picture, and undoubtedly was noticed by both. No reaction was made, but it was something that was on the mind of our hero for many weeks.

Days went on, and every day while in the UAE they chatted and looked forward to meeting upon return to Stockholm. More plans were made, and even our hero made a comment about the queue of films, and hangouts in the works. This new person acknowledge and was happy about that, and continued to send flirty messages, emojis, and photos.

The return back to Stockholm was a stress filled flight; one of anticipation and fatigue with no entertainment. Our hero returned back and slept for the morning, planning to wake up in the afternoon and hang out as arranged. Time was getting later and later, and the plans became more delayed.

Eventually nerve was built up, and upon a train this new person boarded. Our hero decided to be polite and meet at the train station upon arrival, that way there would be no confusion about where to go even thought the building was across the street.

Polite greetings occurred and they proceeded back for some tea and chat. The guest decided that beer was the beverage of choice, likely due to nerves and shyness. This was evident with the amount of smoking that was needed; normally this would put someone off, but sometimes people have to look past imperfections for the greater good.

Interesting chat ensued and a passing comment was made about our hero’s hair; what a surprise that it was longer. Well what about the Bitmoji which clearly showed long hair? It was not something hidden in the snaps before, so a bit perplexing.

The guest became curious about some tarot cards that were spotted on the bookshelf. A request for a reading arose, and our hero obliged. Almost immediately our hero realised what the query was and what it concerned. It was clearly a question about a new male person in their life and their unwillingness to let go of the past. In order to seek resolution of the conflict, the querent needed to let go and move on.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Without spilling the beans and speaking a bit vaguely, the hero sensed that it was in direct relation to the current situation. He decided not to say anything, as it would have been very presumptuous. Panic ensued as the time was noticed; it had barely been one hour, but the last train was departing in the next 10 minutes and the guest needed to go. Quick preparations for leaving took place and pleasantries were made while leaving. “We should hang out tomorrow, is that okay?” the guest asked.

Of course this was okay, and the run to the train resulted in making it with two minutes to spare. During the 20 minute journey flirty conversation continued, and when the new person arrived home again a Video Call was made. Much to the hero’s surprise, already being in bed, he answered. This call continued for another 20 minutes before sleep, and all was good in the world.

The next day came up, and our hero slept in and came awake to the world at about noon, having been jet-lagged as well. A daily greeting snap was sent, and it went unopened and unanswered for several hours. Dinner time came, and finally a reply. Negatory on hanging out, after all. No worries, more sleep.

For the next few days, the same question came up about going for a drink, going to see a movie as planned, or having coffee. Negative, negative, negative. Our hero became suspicious and slightly irritated as clearly the tone of the messages had changed. The day before New Years Eve approached and the hero inquired the plan; few options, no decision made. Our hero usually spends New Years Eve alone eating cheese fondue and watching the Muppets, so he invited the other over to join in the tradition. No answer.

Several hours later, our hero received some snaps clearly indicating that other options were chosen. He went to bed, disappointed in the fact that once again he was left alone to celebrate a new year. He knew something was afoot but didn’t dare say anything.

And so a few days passed, and radio silence. It was at this point that our hero sent a message inquiring what was going on. Up until this point it had been mixed signals: we should hang out, we should watch movies, we should go for a drink. However at every instance of asking to do one of those things, it was met with a no.

Then the truth came out. “I stopped messaging you because you seemed more attached than I was.” Stunned and taken aback. How could this be for our hero? It was the the other one that was doing the flirting and had been leading him on to believe that he was liked. “I am not ready to have any serious relationships, I’m only looking for friends.”

Fine, sure. It’s not like the hero had done anything other than to suggest hanging out. After all it was the flirting of the new person that was defining the relationship. This angered the hero because nothing he had said suggested that hanging out would mean anything serious. Isn’t that what friends do? Don’t friends hang out and enjoy each others company?

Our hero was left to ponder this and came to the conclusion that either he’s crazy, or there is something wrong with other people. And so whatever it was that was going on was dead. Another one hits the dust, however promising the previous month had been. And so he’s left to wonder what went wrong and what was it. Then it all came into focus and there could only one logical explanation.

It’s all about the hair…

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