For arguments sake

‘I don’t fucking care,’ he yelled. I knew he didn’t care, so why did his words create such a sharp pain, that slowly spread, making me feel numb?
Maybe that was the moment that I realised. The moment when things became clear. He really didn’t care. Not what strangers thought of him, not what friends thought of him. He didn’t even care what I thought. His lack of caring was so transparent now. So evidently obvious. He didn’t care, about anything, and I, like everything else fell into that category.

A small part of me had secretly hoped that maybe, just maybe this was a mask. He had to care right? Everyone, no matter how tough, cared about something or someone.
Well, the exception perhaps being psychopaths. They are Biologically wired in such a way that it wasn’t physically possible for them to care. And these people have a breaking point, a trigger, something that pulls them away from the restraints of civilisation and the rules and laws, that keep us safe, that keep us human.

Criminal investigation units create profiles on these people. They know what they are capable of, their limits and their triggers. But without a profile these people can be time bombs.

I felt numb from head to toe, with four little words, I had created a monster in my head. The careless man before me had gone from being a major jerk to a potential mass murderer.

But I composed myself, brushed the thought to one side and looked him in the eye. ‘Well I don’t fucking care either,’ I replied, ‘just bloody pick, Macdonalds or KFC…’

So okay, perhaps the numbness had been caused by hunger but nevertheless, I’m creating a profile, just in case.

Reggae reggae, it’s so nice you say it twice.

By April, I was well and truly settled into life in Doha. I had met an amazing group of people and the lifestyle and weather was so different from Scotland that I had had the opportunities to do things I had never done before.
Male colleagues from school had started to play basketball in an organised league. When they had a game we would go and watch them play, not because we had a particularly large interest in basketball but because we, sorry I, ( as the other ladies were all marrieds and quite obviously don’t need to look) liked to check out the talent.
We began to become familiar with the basketball faces and we often bumped into players when we went out.

On the night of the Reggae Reggae beach party we bumped into one of the players. He joined us for drinks and stayed for most of the night, obviously enjoying our dynamite moves and killer wit or maybe it was our makeshift scarf limboing and shoulder rides. Whatever the reason we seemed to have a connection and I went home with him to see his villa.
His villa was very impressive. He led me outside we took off our shoes and sat by the pool, the cool water washing away the sand from the beach party as we swished our feet back and fourth.
I remember gazing at a tree whose branches swept into the pool. It was in full blossom, the pink flowers had fallen into the pool and lay scatters across the garden. I remember thinking how strange it was that a tree could be so colourful in the middle of such a bland, dry, desert.
That’s when he kissed me, I had been so lost in awe at the strange tree that I had forgotten where I was. He pulled me up and pushed me against the cool brick of the villa. Everything happened in a blur from there. We slowly worked our way upstairs. Our hands not straying far from each others bodies as we frantically undressed each other.
The next morning when we emerged from the room we found our clothes strewn across the floor. It felt like a very clich├ęd movie moment as we retraced our steps, reclaiming our clothes from the night before, which lay hung from the light shades, across picture frames and on the stairs.
Things were not strained or awkward, things were easy. We went out for breakfast and in the late afternoon he dropped me home. We swapped numbers and promised to be in touch.

As I saved Icarus into my phone book, I smiled. Maybe boys were not so bad after all… Maybe…

‘Waiter, you appear to have served us different menus…’

The rules of having a friend with benefits seem to be a little grey.
Partly because checked shirt guy wasn’t a friend, so really that makes him… Just a benefit?
On paper this concept sounds good but in actuality it didn’t play out as expected.

If my room had been a restaurant and the rules were our menus, we would have to complain to the manager. However in this scenario there is no management team, no waiters and no cashiers. In fact we are the only customers. There is no hierarchy for making a complaint about the inconsistencies in our menus.

In the beginning we seemed to have corresponding menus. The dishes being offered were delicious, filling and made with the customer in mind. They were exactly what the customers ordered.

However as time passed one of the menus seemed to have been redrafted and I certainly did not sign-off on this redraft. I did not enjoy the re-written edition of his menu. Frantically I searched my menu. Nope THAT was definitely not on the original version. The dishes were no longer fulfilling our appetites and no matter how many times I tried to like the chefs new creations, it just wasn’t doing the trick.

He seemed content to create a pick and mix style buffet meal where he mixed and matched his dishes. He didn’t mind that the flavours did not compliment each other.
I however am a fussy eater, I like my food to be hot, fresh and exactly what I ordered. No surprises or last minute dish alterations.

Needless to say when your restaurant only has two customers and half of the customers are not satisfied with their meals, it’s not good for business.

Within a couple of weeks the foreclosure signs had been knocked in and bags had been packed.

We both went in search of restaurants that were more finely attuned to our individual tastes. But it wasn’t a wasted dining experience. Maybe I didn’t find what I was looking for but I was now clearer on what I wasn’t looking for. Which is another step forward, right?

Checked shirt guy

One overly hot, sticky March evening I found myself amidst a small gathering of fellow British folks. We had congregated in a colleagues apartment in the vain hope that the AC and chilled beverages would serve to cool our restless souls as another work week passed almost timelessly.

Much to my horror I discovered that of all the people crammed into this apartment, there were two single people. And yup I was one of them.
Had I unintentionally stumbled upon a couples only date night? I looked around the room wondering if they were wondering why I was here. “She can’t be here, ITS COUPLES NIGHT!”

A few hours later I didn’t even notice the couples arguing over flower arrangements and china teacup patterns. I was making small talk with the only other person in the room who had also recently received the ‘plenty of fish in the sea’ speech.

But sadly there was no connection. We had two things in common:
1. We were both single and
2. We were both human.
Not exactly the material of a great love story but he took my number at the end of the night.

So unremarkable was our conversation, that the next day when we sent me a message I couldn’t even remember his name. So I saved him as checked shirt guy (because I am 50% certain that the shirt he donned that night had been checked.)(The other 50% thinks it was ow, polka dot but I totally would have remembered that, right?)

Out of politeness I text back but mentally I had already put him in the discard pile.

His personality certainly hadn’t been memorable but maybe he had other means of being memorable that I hadn’t quite experienced yet. I took him out of the discard pile and made room for him in the benefits pile.

Why had I been taking baby steps into singleton when I should have been leaping? I was slowly learning how to be single and it was going to be a steep learning curve.

A friend of a friend

At the end of March 2012 it was finally spring break. We had two weeks off to enjoy the sun. Friends and family flew over to visit their loved ones staying in Doha.
Jane and her husband Marty had a good friend visiting them. We will call him Bill. He was looking into job opportunities in the Middle East and was out for 2 weeks. I barely registered that he was there for the first 10 days. But one evening he joined Jane and I for drinks at a local bar.
Jane and Bill reminisced of stories from their University days and we laughed fondly at our younger selves and how far we had come. Before too long last orders had been called and we suddenly realised just how drunk we were. In true British fashion we decided that fast food would aid as our fool proof, preventative measures for a hangover cure.
We arrived at Janes apartment feeling merry but fairly confident that we had found the cure for the common hangover.
Jane made her sleepy good nights and made her merry way to bed. I began to walk towards the door but without even thinking and fuelled by the alcohol I turned to bill and said with a sly smile, “aren’t you coming?”
He didn’t need to be asked twice.

It turns out the fast food may provide the cure for hangovers but unfortunately it does nothing to conquer the morning after the night before awkwardness.
Luckily the awkwardness did not last long, partly because the awkwardness grabbed his clothes and left within two minutes. ( He had to get home before Jane and Marty realised he was AWOL.) It turned out that he was locked out of the apartment anyway, not exactly the next Einstein but he was a good guy.
Things weren’t really awkward between us, in fact when he went back to England we spoke everyday and by the time he finally moved out to Doha in September we were really close friends.

We never became anything more than friends but it was good to have someone from the guys team to help decode the mixed signals given out by the selection of ‘men’ I dated once I arrived. He did, after all, have the inside perspective and sometimes his advice was valuable. But don’t tell him I said that…

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Never trust a man who packs his skateboard

It’s a rule of thumb that when you are in a relationship all of your friends are single and when you are single all of your friends will be in a relationship. So you guessed it, newly single and absolutely everyone I knew was married. Well almost everyone. I had one amazingly, awesome, single friend. (I will call her Tilly.)
On Thursday nights, because in Doha the weekend is Friday/Saturday, we would dress up ( and I mean dress up) and we would find somewhere noisy to drink our cocktails.
On one particular Thursday night, we decided we were going to pretend we were in a band. A very cliched band. We wore skin tight leather pants, grunge tops and fake glasses. I was naturally the singer and Tilly was the drummer.
After very blustery drinks at the sky view bar we made our way to Paloma Nightclub. We strolled, because people in bands stroll, over to the bar and before we had even reached the bar half a dozen people had asked to buy us a drink. But it wasn’t until we got to the bar that we acknowledged our pursuers.
That night we made friends with guys from South Africa. There were two of them but I only really have a recollection of one of them. He told us his ‘skateboard name’ was Booby Scooby. Clearly made up, but then again, so were our aliases. We spent the night dancing with our new friends and at the end of the night we didn’t want the night to end. However it’s not what you might think.
Yes we went back to their room, but we went to see their skateboard. I swear!

Turns out that not everyone has a fake name and identify because they did indeed have a skateboard in their room and as you can imagine hotel rooms do not offer you the freedom of movement that one requires when performing skateboard tricks. I’m almost certain that the deal was ‘we will do some skateboard tricks if you sing us one of your bands songs…’ (Challenge accepted.)
On the insistence of Booby Scooby we left put shoes in their room ( you cant ride a skateboard in heels) and we all stumbled downstairs to the pool/ beach area were there was less bedroom furniture and more skateboard appropriate materials. The tricks were mediocre at best. Who goes on a business trip and packs their skateboard when they aren’t even pro?

Feeling disappointed, sandy and tired we dragged ourselves back to the hotel room to fulfil our end of the bargain. Booby Scooby declared that we couldn’t possibly sing with sandy feet. So he led me to the bathroom, sat me in the side of the bath and proceeded to wash my feet. Yes he washed my feet but it wasn’t until Tilly burst into the room and demanded to know what was going on that it crossed my mind that this perhaps was a little strange. She made a Jesus type reference which ensured that I grabbed my feet back, I jumped out of the bath slid out of the room and we hot tailed it from the Skateboarding, foot fetished, South African hotel room.

In our haste we forgot to grab our shoes, just perfect. I’m sure that was his plan all along. If you can’t have feet have the next best thing… Shoes which feet have been in.
To this day whenever I look at my feet I still feel a little violated and I still do not like people touching my feet.

So unfortunately due to one bad experience I have drawn a line through the rock pool of South Africa and I will no longer be pursuing a career in music.

Neapolitan isn’t an icecream with 3 flavours anymore…

My first few months in Doha required a slight adjustment. A new place, new faces and a whole new culture. It was definitely eye opening. Coming from Scotland I thought I was pretty culturally diverse. After secondary school I’d moved from our close knit little fishing town to the big, city lights of Glasgow.
I went from being a country bumpkin, with nothing but good old fashioned Scottish farmer friends, to a city chick who had friends with controversial views from all different types of economic and ethnic backgrounds.
I walked through shopping malls and I thought I was super cosmopolitan, with my British friends who had family from different parts of the world. But the key word here is British. They had lived in Britain their whole lives, they dressed British, thought British and ate British. They maintained some of their culture but inevitably, like me were British.
Only since moving to Doha have I met people who are actually from different cultures. They grew up in different counties and they have absorbed their local heritage. And they definitely think different, act different and even dress differently to people I had previously met. Meeting people who do not fit into your mould of the world really makes you challenge everything you have ever known.
But just because they don’t have the same ideals, knowledge and rules that we do, does not mean that what they do is wrong. It just makes things different. I have had to adapt.
But every time you meet someone new everything is challenged again.
This is why my dating life has been a source of hilarity for my close friends as I try to, at least pretend to, know what I’m doing.
I have been a yes man, no discrimination from my end. I have now dated a variety of men from different cultures and countries and when two people try to do things that are socially acceptable in their country but not in others… Things get messy!