It’s not a failure we could help.

Now and again, we come across a situation that we find irresistible, someone or something that it’s difficult to say no to. A new job opportunity maybe, perhaps the chance of a new relationship. No real way though of telling at the start if either are going to be good for you. It’s easier to change jobs than partners, but you’ll never know if one or both will work out if you don’t try. It’s always exciting to be attracted to someone new, to something new. Depending on how your life is going, it’s cool to not want to take a chance on someone or something, it’s not always going to be ponies, rainbows and unicorns, so a leap of faith is needed. Shit or get off the pot.

Isn’t it also true that sometimes it’s hard not to like or love the people or things that will end up hurting us the most? Some of us can be attracted to people that have the ability to cause us pain. There’s fighting, hurt, a lack of trust. Frequent break-ups but lots of great make-up sex. Feelings of blame, jealousy, being undervalued, all are far too much drama for anyone to have to deal with regularly. Can you dislike or like someone at the same time? Sometimes it’s the conflict that keeps things going. You both know that you’re no good for each other, but you dance the dance, until one of you plucks up the courage to say that it’s not working any more. Just life, making choices every day, you need to be strong enough to trust yourself, right? Things are tearing you both apart, better to break than be irreparably scarred. It’s more than okay to be physically attracted to someone, but perhaps it’s not wise to have a proper relationship with them. Quit whilst you’re ahead? Wish one another well and don’t look back.

What’s the point in chasing a train when you know that it’s already left the station. You cannot outrun a ghost.

Death Cab For Cutie are in town and are playing at the Sydney Opera House. It’s sold out, but I manage to find a pair of tickets online. I arrange to meet the seller outside and one of my best friends is coming along too. Perfect. She has to decline at the last minute unfortunately, so I make the spare available online. A random girl replies first, so now it’s her ticket, and although I’ve not spoken to her, far less met her, shared interests are a good start. It’s a couple of hours, it could and should be fun, even with a stranger. We arrange to meet at the Opera Bar for a pre-show drink, it’s one of the nicest spots in the world with a knockout view, that gets even better when you snag seats facing the Harbour Bridge.

I pick up the tickets and I get to the bar first. I’m not presumptious enough to order for her before she gets here, so I get a beer and grab those wonderful seats. A few minutes later, I can smell perfume behind me, and in some way I know that my new concert buddy has arrived. We shake hands which is frankly ridiculous, I ask what she wants to drink and I head for the bar. As I wait, I glance back over and there are an insane amount of people saying hello to her. We all know that one person who seems to know everyone so I don’t think too much about it, I grab her drink and head back.

The conversation flows easily, she has the cutest inflection to her voice. We head upstairs and grab our seats. It’s more of an intimate venue than I expected, and again, she seems to know everyone. We share the same first name so every time that someone says it out loud, I look around, but of course, they’re not speaking to me, she’s the object of attention. She’s not a natural blonde, but she’s a natural beauty, so I can see why. Again though, I forget about it, the lights dim and the show begins. She knows the words to every song, pics and videos are taken, it’s an amazing couple of hours. During the interval, the conversation flows as easily as before, I know it’s going to blow when the night ends, I don’t need a map or compass to see the direction I want to be heading in.

I live in a different suburb, but she invites herself for a nightcap, so we catch the ferry. We get to a bar that is less than a hundred paces from where I live, I give her money for drinks and excuse myself. I come back and more and more people are saying hello, how popular can one girl be, weird.

The night ends, she comes back to mine and although there’s something there, neither of us are those kind of people. A quick glass of fizz follows, I give her the tour, she takes the spare room, shorts and a tee and kisses me on the cheek, thanking me for a good night. Sleep follows.

I hear the coffee machine when I wake, I smile and take the chance to grab a shave and a shower. The doorbell rings, I go downstairs to find friends that are borrowing my flatmate’s car for the weekend. They look quizzically at the girl disappearing back upstairs and then at me. I grab the keys for them, she comes back down minutes later, kisses me on the cheek and leaves with my number with a smile, we’ll see each other again. I apologise, look back at my friends and one half of the couple sees that I look confused. He asks, ‘Do you know who that is?’ I confess I don’t, I don’t even know her surname. He laughs uncontrollably and tells me that she’s nationally famous and appears regularly on TV. Spot the stupid expat.

They leave, still laughing, and although a high five is handed out, they don’t know that anything happened. I make a dick move, stick her name into an internet search engine and the penny drops.

Days, weeks and months pass, emails, phone calls, texts are exchanged. We meet up regularly and she now knows that I know who she is. It doesn’t change anything, I don’t think, things are kept private. One day, an invite drops through the postbox for a gala event and I’m the plus one. The kilt is on, we meet up, but something is different. No hands are held, there are zero hugs, don’t even start me on kisses. The red carpet belongs to her alone, I might as well make myself comfortable on the sidelines. Plenty of pictures are being taken of her but you can probably guess how many I made it into. It’s made very clear what her priority is and it’s not a guy in a kilt.

Who wants to settle for something that isn’t right? I’m a little heart heavy, but sometimes you have to close a window even when you know that you’re not going to like being on the other side of the glass.

Was I in your way, when the cameras turned to face you? No room in frame for two.

@TheSamMcLeod
@YouMeMusicLife

Call me Superman.

Most people probably have a day of the year that we enjoy and like best. Our birthday? New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Australia Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, All Saints’ Day, Liberation Day, there are way too many to mention.

How about Lupercalia? If you’re not Italian, it’s understandable if you’ve never heard of it or have no idea what it is. Shit, even if you are, it’s perfectly understandable to have zero clue about the origin of it. Just an ancient Roman festival held every year between February 13 and February 15 celebrating fertility and health, who doesn’t want to be have both of those things? Spotted the day that falls in the middle yet?

Valentine’s Day, what an absolute minefield, even if you’re in a relationship. Do you celebrate it, what do you buy your significant other, do you cook, do you have reservations about even doing anything at all? Fuck it, go all in or don’t bother at all, reservations are for restaurants, aren’t they?

A lot of the days mentioned have become commercialised but that’s not to say that they mean anything less to any of us. The fourteenth day of the shortest month of the year can be a tough one if you’re on your own. It’s too easy for thoughts to turn to the last boy or girl that you can’t stop thinking about. Maybe you told them how you feel, maybe you didn’t, but you still think about them, don’t you? If they said yes or no, then things go one way or the other. You get together or you don’t. If you didn’t ask, then how will you ever know, especially if you can’t stop thinking about them? Is it worse if they know and they don’t do anything about it?

The person that whenever they decide to be in touch with you has the ability to make you doubt yourself beyond reason. Emotions and feelings, it would be nice sometimes if they just fucked off. Who wants to second guess themself, to be anxious, to ask if this is something that you really want to pursue or that you should simply let go of. Isn’t the first step is to figure it out for yourself, and then take a deep breath and choose which way you’re headed? Identifying the emotions that you can’t stand feeling about someone is super important.

Sounds easy when you say it, but you know they’re your emotional kryptonite.

It’s easy for that someone to make you feel rejected or worthless but deep down you know that you’re not. Feelings again, do they really help though? Just when you think you’ve moved on from what you had or what it is that you think you wanted, an email drops into your inbox. The ping of your cell lets you know that you have a new text. Some people even go old school and write you a letter or send you a card, the sound of the letterbox means you have mail, always exciting to see what’s come for you. Except when it’s not.

By their very nature, emotions that we can’t tolerate feeling, overwhelm us. Do you respond? How many times have you gone to try and send an email or a text message and then read it back and delete it before sending? Should you even reply in the first place? You were doing okay and now they’ve made the first move and you need to make a choice. Reply or delete, the ball is in your court now. Doubt though. It’s important to remember that it’s just a feeling, it’s not going to kill you. Carry on with the way things are going or take a chance and type out some words that might change everything for you, how do you choose?

Maybe it’s a new dilemma for you, difficult not to feel like you stumbled in and bumped your head.

I’m in a hotel for a week and everyone knows that they can be a pretty lonely place. Still, it is what it is, so you try and make the best of it. When you’re in a strange city and you don’t know anyone, it can be difficult to meet people. Nothing new, we’ve all been there. A day off comes up, but you’re always awake at the same time, so I get up, throw on the running gear and head out. As I’m pasing through reception, I spot a fellow guest, she catches my eye too and we smile at each other. It’s not even 6am and she looks immaculate, clearly out of my league, so I think no more of it, other than it’s a nice start to the day.

I bump into her the next day, and the next and the next one after that. She’s super shy, but friendly and we talk when we see each other. If you can make someone laugh, make someone smile, then regardless of anything else, isn’t that a cool thing? The aforementioned loneliness is sorted by spending time together, chatting, sharing wine and talking about different places and things that we’ve done. Could it ever be something? For once, my head and my heart align and I think not, but it’s still cool to spend time with someone that you have fun with. I don’t ask the question because I know that she’ll say no and I don’t want to hear that word, I just enjoy the moment. Let’s face it, It would be like if I glued my head to a railroad track and then waited for a train to come along. We’re inseparable for the next week and the other people that have shared our time, told me to go for it but I can’t, no is not a nice word. I can see in her face that she knows what I think but the week ends and we both go our separate ways.

We see each other again more than once, but it’s friendly, nothing more, but I know that she knows, that I know. Time to distance myself, there is no contact for what seems like an eternity but I’m cool with it.

Lupercalia, the middle day comes along, and there’s a card that drops through the letterbox, and a message that pings into my phone. ‘Happy Valentine’s Day.” Just ignore them and wait for my stomach to stop bouncing around? It’s hard to decide.

Call me Superman.

@TheSamMcLeod
@YouMeMusicLife

Pretending.

Omertà. Among the Mafia, it’s the code of silence about criminal activity and a refusal to give evidence to the police. It’s a slight variation of the Italian word, umiltà, which means humility. It’s about having rules and solidarity with the people that you’re closest to.

Maybe all of us in our lives have an internal code of conduct. A way of how we want to live, how we want to behave every day, how we want to be perceived by others. Is it just morality? Perhaps it’s intrinsic inside you, something that you know that you have to stick to at all times, no matter what, no questions asked.

Some rules are nowhere near as important as morality, but if you make rules, you have to stick to them. No possibility at all of deviating from them, no matter how much you might want to. Some rules are meant to be broken, but there are also rules that you can’t break. Omertà.

Ladies have a code, right? You can be damn sure that some boys have one too, although, clearly, they all vary between groups of friends, mine included. Some of the rules are serious, some are ridiculous but they’re all adhered to.

If you’re introducing a friend to a girl that you know that he likes, he automatically becomes the best guy on the planet. You talk him up in every single way that you can. It’s always your job to be a good wingman.

It’s unacceptable to try and hit on your friend’s girl, during, or after their relationship. You’re also forbidden from asking her if she has any friends that she can set you up with. Not cool.

It’s your responsibility to tell your friend if you ever discover that his girl is being unfaithful.

If your friend has a girl, you’re always super nice to her every time that you’re in her company. If he asks for your honest opinion on her though, then that’s what he gets. No bullshit, no sugarcoating, no pretence. If we see that girl messing you about and expecting you to do whatever she wants you to, all of the time, a serious conversation will be had.

If your friend is out with a new girl for the first time, and within the first ten minutes he’s not feeling it, you will answer his cry for help text with a call, giving him an excuse to slip away. 100% of the time.

No man hug takes place without a handshake first.

No selfies, even if a pretty girl asks you to take one with her. It’s not happening, they’re strictly forbidden.

If the girl wears sunglasses on top of her head, she’s given a wide berth. Just take them off ladies, we want to see all of you.

A girl with a double-barrelled surname is probably best avoided. There’s history and it isn’t good.

Food is never shared, under any circumstances. None of the friends can ever have a sip of anyone else’s beer, but we will buy you your own one.

Neither hamburgers or pizza are ever eaten with any form of cutlery. Ever. Ever ever.

You always offer up the last beer and last slice of pizza, even if you want both.

If two of you walk into a public bathroom at the same time, and there are only three urinals that are free, it’s immediately understood that neither of you takes the middle one. Conversation is a no-no until you both leave.

You do not touch anyone’s laptop or phone to send prank emails or messages. No bueno.

If you go on holiday, definitely do not send us postcards. Offers of duty free are expected though.

Rock, paper, scissors will be used to settle any disagreements about who is right.

If any of us are hanging out and regardless of whether or not the DVD is present, if Die Hard is on TV, it’s getting watched. Best Christmas movie ever.

It’s okay for some or all of us to have that same crush, but we all know the rules. If two or more of us happen to like the same girl, whoever calls dibs first, has dibs.

My best friend is in town for work and we arrange to meet at his hotel for drinks before heading out. I get there just as a message comes through that he’s stuck in a meeting and will be late. No problem, a drink at the bar by myself it is. A beer in hand and football on the TV, things could be worse. Things are about to get a whole lot better. A girl walks out of the lift, orders a drink and sits down at the bar too. We lock eyes, smile at each other and then I get back to the football. It turns out that she’s into the game as well and also begins to watch. Truth be told, she’s more vocal than I am, which makes me smile and we get chatting. Her friend is running late too, so we spend over an hour talking all sorts of random nonsense to each other. She makes me laugh and smile to the point that I’m not even chasing my friend to see how much longer he’ll be. She’s fantastic company and it doesn’t hurt that she’s super cute. Her friend finally rocks up, so we smile and say our goodbyes with lingering glances. Only then do I realise that I didn’t ask for her number. All I have is her first name and the hotel that she’s staying in, but no one wants to be that creepy guy hanging about all night waiting for her to return.

Shortly after, my friend arrives, apologises, and gets changed quickly. We hug, handshake first though, remember, and we head out. It’s always good to see an old friend and we catch up about everything. We talk shit about sports, what our mutual friends have been getting up to and he tells me about this girl that he’s met. She sounds amazing, but if I ever meet her, she could be subjected to some of the rules. I tell him about the pretty much perfect hour that I just spent with a girl waiting for him and he reminds me of the rules too. It’s just how it is, any of our other friends would think the same. As I don’t have her number, the possibility that anything will happen is highly unlikely though. Drinks go on, long into the night and we leave at closing time. A plan is made, hotel for a quick nightcap and then a taxi for me once we’re done catching up.

We get there and the bar is empty, apart from two girls, sat chatting to the barman. Upon hearing the night porter let us in, they turn round and my friend’s face breaks into a massive smile, at just about the same time as mine. There’s the girl from earlier, how lucky am I? There’s the girl I was telling you about, he says to me. I’m no longer smiling, I’m hoping that she’s not the same girl but I know in my heart that she is.

We get drinks and start talking, but I’m not a big part of the conversation. She looks at me quizzically and you can tell that she’s wondering what’s changed in the space of a few hours, but I can’t tell her. I’m just trying to play it cool now, but that’s not what I want to do. You don’t have to be a genius to figure that there is something between us. He doesn’t click, but then she does as he’s talking to her, she knows. She smiles at me wistfully and I gently shrug. Dibs.

Crushed. I guess that’s why it’s called a crush.

Some things have to remain a secret though. Omertà.

@TheSamMcLeod