The Dependent Magazine is a Vancouver-based publication of daring and creative works of journalism and entertainment.
Want to get involved?
Send text, pictures, videos, and crude drawings to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure why I called him.
Perhaps it was desperation.
Perhaps it was the guilt of unfinished business.
Perhaps it was because I had absolutely no idea what else to do.
In any event, those weeks following the camping trip were a time of intense reflection. I remained in social isolation, choosing to write, work in the garden, and reminisce on the whirlwind of events that had been the past few months. My experience with Alexis had taught me a number of useful lessons, and reminded me of why I’d made my Heroic Vow in the first place. I’d returned from the Canada Day weekend with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment, ready to begin again, and to dedicate myself to overcoming my social anxieties.
Unfortunately, I had absolutely no idea how to proceed.
I no longer went out at night.
I spent my workdays sequestered in my office.
I didn’t touch another person for weeks.
And, in an unfortunate and nausea-inducing development, my jeans were ripping.
My $350 jeans, apparently no longer able to withstand the pressure of my unchecked masculinity, had begun to tear around the ever-so-hip fraying at the knee. It felt as if everything was falling apart, and like it or not, I was essentially starting all over again. And, as much as I fought, as much as I resisted, I knew there was only one man who could help me.
It took me a solid week of phone calls and emails to set it up. We agreed to meet at Guu on Robson, (one of those wonderfully authentic Japanese restaurants where they bellow salutations at you as you walk through the door), and when I arrived, DJ StrangeLove was already sitting on the patio, halfway through a pitcher of Sapporo. He looked a trifle worse for wear as he lounged, feet resting obnoxiously on the chair beside him; greasy hair, several days’ growth, his normally conspicuous belt-buckle concealed beneath a ratty t-shirt which read: “I Heart Dichotomy”.
Nervously, I waved, and sat down across the table, heart thudding against my ribcage.
“Hey,” I said.
He raised his glass and nodded, aloof, distant.
“How are you?” I asked.
“Few troubles with the lady. But, it’s all under control.”
For a moment, neither of us spoke.
Finally, I picked up a glass and reached for the pitcher.
“This one’s mine,” he snapped, corralling it to his side of the table.
“All under control” indeed.
A moment later our waitress, a perky Japanese girl named Ayumi, arrived to take our order. Naturally, DJ Strangelove’s demeanor instantly changed: suddenly he was all smiles and knuckle-pounds, at least, until it was time to order. Now, DJ StrangeLove and I are — and I’m sure that science has made some definite conclusions to back me up here– the two whitest people in the history of Christian civilization and, as a result, when we opened our menus, we had absolutely no idea what we were looking at. It was a remarkably sobering moment, as well as, no doubt, a milestone in the history of intercultural relations, and we spent a good sixty seconds guffawing and clearing our throats, and otherwise attempting to pretend we were experts. Finally, just as it appeared hope was lost, DJ StrangeLove shrugged and said: “Uh, can you just bring us your six favourite things?”
Ayumi looked distressed.
“What kind of things?”
“Whatever you want, man. Just the six menu-items you like best.”
“I don’t know…”
“Hey. We trust you.”
Ayumi forced a nervous laugh, and then wandered off, presumably in search of a blunt instrument with which to bludgeon us to death.
If nothing else, our mutual confusion and shame was a great icebreaker. After a moment, DJ StrangeLove sat back in his chair, thoughtfully slugged back the remainder of his Sapporo, and said:
There was a lengthy silence. We locked eyes.
“I want back in,” I sighed, defeated, “I want back in and I need your help.”
He raised an eyebrow.
“And, I’m sorry,” I added quickly.
He sat forward.
“I put a lot of work into you, Ian. I took you shopping, brought you out to clubs. Hell, I even developed a goddamn lesson plan to keep you moving forward. And then you threw it in my face.”
I sat back, startled.
“You made a lesson plan?”
“Well, yeah,” he exclaimed, “it’s not like there’s a fucking textbook for this shit. You can’t just go and take it out of the library. The System was pulled from dozens of sources over almost five years. You think that compiling that doesn’t take time? But I sat down and did it because, believe it or not, I wanted you to do well. I still do.”
I sat back in my chair, ashamed.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it mattered so much to you. I honestly didn’t think you’d even really care. You… you really don’t seem like the kind of guy who would give a shit.”
“Like I said when we started,” he said softly, “the purpose of this isn’t to make a person comfortable or confident. It’s to figure out what comfortable and confident look like, and learn to do it.”
For an instant, his eyes betrayed a flicker of vulnerability.
Then, he smiled, punched me in the shoulder, and exclaimed:
“Let’s eat, homo!”
As it turned out, Ayumi’s Mystery Dishes weren’t a monumental clusterfuck of an idea after all; each plate was more delicious than the last, and within a half-hour we were thoroughly stuffed. That, combined with the three pitchers of Sapporo we’d consumed, seemed to put DJ StrangeLove in a much more charitable mood.
“So, how’s it been going?” he asked, clapping a hand on my shoulder.
“Not great,” I replied. “My jeans are ripping.”
“Yeah. Right along the knee.”
He pushed his chair back and inspected.
“Jesus Christ, man. What the hell have you been doing?”
“How often do you wear them?”
“Uh… three or four days a week.”
“For how long?”
“… all day. I mean, they’re pretty tight, so they’re not all that comfortable when I’m riding my bike, but-”
“You wear them on your bike?!”
Suddenly, DJ StrangeLove’s voice jumped about four octaves. “Never wear these on your bike!”
“Why not?” I retorted. “They’re pants! You’re supposed to wear them. I mean, they cost half as much as my car. They should be able to withstand a little wear and tear. I’m not going to change every time I need to ride somewhere!”
He put his head in his hands.
“Ian, you don’t wear $300 jeans on a bike. You wear $300 jeans for one thing and one thing only: picking up girls.”
He sat straight up in his chair and, with questionable sobriety, slammed his fist on the table.
“Okay, man. Okay,” he said, “Let’s do this. But I’ve got one condition.”
My mouth went dry.
“Pickup is all about getting people to say ‘yes’. And you can’t expect it from others if you’re not willing to do it yourself. Compliance is infectious. And, it’s habit-forming. So, I need your assurance that, from now on, you won’t say no to any reasonable directive I give you. Ever.”
His eyes were focused on mine, piercing.
I swallowed hard.
Nightmarish visions played through my head, but what other choice did I have? Without his help I’d be right back to days spent in quiet desperation, and nights surfing the ‘net, bitterly wanking myself to sleep. So, finally, and with considerable trepidation, I opened my mouth.
“Uh, yeah. Okay. Sure.”
“Great,” he beamed. “How do you feel about Speed-Dating Monday night?”
DJ StrangeLove raised an eyebrow.
“… yes.” I sighed, attempting to keep the grimace from my face.
“Good,” he grinned, “because I already signed you up.”