In these days of the internet and personalised everything, we often forget about what is real and what is fake. We spend all this time and money to experience life and new experiences, but when we take it all away we are left with reality.

But what happens when you stick out like a sore thumb, and you’re still invisible? I often find this to be case when it comes to my fashion choices, or general individuality. I walk down the street or stand in a commuter train and I turn heads; people agape at my choice of scarf, or pants, or cardigan, or even a nice wool sweater that suits the autumn weather.

Why is it that you can turn so many heads, whether negative or positive, but when it comes to moments when you actually do want to turn heads, you’re invisible? Is it one of those opposites situations where things always appear most when we least expect them? Oh wait, that can’t be right. In order for that to be appropriate the attention you get would have to be positive.

At any rate, being invisible can be somewhat hurtful. I suppose when some people are wrapped up in their own worlds, they forget how their actions or inactions might affect others. No matter, they are unlikely to read this, thus will never really understand.

I’m the weird one, that awkward one that people sort of notice but then fades into the background. How do I know this? Because I feel it and I can see it. I went out to a club for the first time in at least 6 months, all with the goal to see one of my favourite bands perform. Finally they perform, and I wiggle my way to the front. I felt like I was there, but painfully on the outside. Others peering in looking at the awkward one, the only one without a beer in hand and the one that knows all the lyrics for all the songs.

And that’s where it hit me. I stood there bouncing gently up and down, smiling and singing with them and I felt the burning eyes of both judgment and indifference. Peripheral vision can be very hurtful sometimes. And that’s where it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been at this club for 4 hours, dancing away and have a good time with my friend. Little did I know, but I was completely disconnected from everything and everyone. I was the invisible man. Irrelevant, abnormal, and even worse… not noticeable.

I won’t go out of my way to stand out, I just do me. I won’t change how I present myself, because I like what I wear and how I look. Just because others don’t, doesn’t mean I have to conform to them.

So back to being me, the invisible man.

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.

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.”

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!

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.

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! 😋