So you tied a ribbon? Take a bow why don’t ya?

Egads, my brain is swimming after I filled up on Bulgogi stew. Too much food has made me groggy. Let’s get some good ol’ stream of consciousness going here.

I went to a Vintage Prom last night. It was a fun event, with an overabundance of good lookin’ folks and even better lookin’ clothes. Some serious style. I arbitrarily decided that I’d be Prom King by the end of the night. Turns out The Secret is wrong and I wasted a wish. I can put Prom King back on my bucket list. I did have a few drinks, and during the Prom King/Queen prize-giving, I cheered avidly for a dude who made his own costume. It was a pinstripe mobster ensemble, and while it looked a little dorky, it was pretty cool that this old dude had put it all together himself. He didn’t win, but as he walked past through the crowd I congratulated him on the effort he’d put in. By his own admission, the ribbon on his hat was the only thing he’d made, and by “made” he really meant he wrapped it around the hat. Do you ever get those moments where you immediately want someone out of your sight so you can try to forget about them? I instantly internally turned on the guy, feeling as if I’d wasted all of my cheering on a charlatan. Alas, you can’t take something like that back, so I once again congratulated him and wished him a good night. Secretly, I kinda hope he didn’t.

I walked on the subway this afternoon and heard a woman barking orders. “Someone stand up, give up your seat.” She shouted. A dude complied, and the woman pointed to an older woman and indicated for her to sit down. Again, “someone else, there are still more people who need seats.” A younger woman left her seat. It happened again, and again. She was marshalling people old and young alike, arranging them like Tetris blocks. It was intriguing to witness. I was travelling a single stop, so I was already standing by the door. It’s rare here in Toronto that people will a) take initiative, but b) care if someone asks them for a favour. The riders who were already sitting didn’t much seem to mind vacating their spots, though the standing folks in need felt almost sheepish about accepting the help. It was an unusual, but likely beneficial request.

A friend of mine last night said that one of her pals had asked if I was available/interested. It gave me pause as I considered. Did I want to be potentially set up by a friend? I’m often pretty picky, and feel kinda weird about friend based matchmaking. She continued “my friend is a guy.” Once again, I thought about it. I haven’t been on a date with a guy. I have no idea how dating other guys works. It’s something I’m definitely not closed off to, but I’m pretty clueless when it comes to knowing if I have a type, what calls to me in a male partner, etc. It’s rare that I feel sexual chemistry with dudes, but at the same time it could just be a matter of a lack of experience leading to an inability of understanding what I’m attracted to.

I get the feeling like my standards are inexplicably much higher for guys than gals. Like, past experiences have indicated that I’m more desirable to guys seeking guys than gals seeking guys. Maybe that has something to do with it, I feel like I have more cred with fellas. Does that actually translate into substantive social capital? I’ve got no fucking idea. It’s a whole new world. What kind of guys would I even want to date? I always thought it’d be neat to date a guy with similar tastes, so we could just hang out, play games, watch things and have sex. Lather, rinse, repeat. I get the sense that overall queerness is pretty rife in geeky circles. Maybe I just need to open my eyes and look around.

Even if my food coma is pushing them shut right now…

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All about the poly-tics

I feel like I post fairly often about my love of Paddington, but rarely about my love life.

Let’s be more specific. I’ve been practicing polyamory/ethical non-monogamy for maybe three years by now. It’s had its ebbs and flows. It’s not always something I’ve been enthusiastic about. I’ve had a few friends ask about it lately, and I figure that a bunch of people who read this may not have a grasp on what a moderate poly life could look like. I don’t by any means think it’s suitable for everyone. For some people, it’s very suitable. It’s been some time since I’ve talked about poly, and my relationship with it.

I started practicing poly several years back. As someone who was staunchly monogamously wired, it was more dipping my toes into the water to see how I reacted to the temperature. I was tentative, taking things one toe at a time. See, my girlfriend at the time was already poly. I was fine with her dating other people while I looked for someone to settle down with. I figured once I found a monogamous connection, we’d part ways amicably. Spoiler, didn’t happen, and we live together five years down the line. We talked a bunch about the poly framework, how it worked for her, and I considered if it was a structure that’d suit my lifestyle. For a long time, it really wasn’t. I’d get jealous when I even saw her kiss others, let alone have sex. There were a lot of tears, heavy hearts and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Then inevitably we’d talk through it each time, and learn how better to handle things when they happened. Therapy helped a bunch.

I think a fairly common dynamic occurs when monogamous folks open up their relationship. Generalising, but a ton of hetero men tend to think it’s gonna be just getting laid all the time. Then dating disparities come in and they find their female partners are getting more dates/success. Then resentment sets in, and regret at opening a door they can’t close. Relationships end. It’s not all of them, of course, but poly life can cause rifts that may not have occurred otherwise. What people don’t realise, is that opening up a relationship or moving towards non-monogamy isn’t a) an easy fix for a relationship or b) easy at all. It’s communication, communication, communication. Endless hours talking about feelings, owning feelings, understanding how your actions affect partners. Knowing that instead of trying to find compromise and solutions with one partner, each new partner adds exponentially more communication. Don’t forget, new poly partners often have partners of their own, and it’s morally shitty to ignore them totally in deference to your desires. It’s like juggling while fucking. Chances are, there’s gonna be a mess somewhere.

Poly stuff takes up a lot of time, and a bunch of scheduling. My first poly relationship was wonderful, with another first time partnered poly person. We both navigated how to be fair and compassionate to our metas (our partner’s partners). I think we learned a ton, and it definitely led to some difficult and emotional conversations with my primary partner (sometimes known as “anchor” partner, so as not to imply any partners are more important than others). This woman and I dated for a while, until I found I didn’t have the time management skills to keep dating while doing my other personal projects. We broke up, and I went back to my projects. I considered dating from time to time, but ultimately the desire wasn’t there. I was too busy to add more intimate connections, and satisfied with the fullness of my life. Then I got kind of scared that I didn’t have the capacity to give partners enough of myself, and that I’d be wasting their time. Felt like a dick move, so I just didn’t date. For a while. Maybe I’d kiss someone at a party occasionally or something, but that was about the extent of it. Then I got depressed off and on for so long that I no longer felt capable of dating. This went for some time.

More recently, I’ve found myself dating again. I’ve begun steering towards more of a Relationship Anarchy model. The basics of which are that each connection you have is at the level you both agree on. Some partners may be looking for long term relationships. Others may just want casual intimacy or limited hook ups. For most of my poly dating experience, I haven’t been entirely sure on what I wanted. Relationship Anarchy has been taking shape almost organically.

Aside from my anchor partner (sometimes known as “nesting” partner, if you live together), I have a couple of assorted connections. There’s an occasional partner I’ve connected with a few times. If the mood strikes us, we’ll hang out and sometimes have sex. Though we also hang out without sex too. It’s an option, rather than a necessity. Neither of us would consider it a “relationship”, but more of an intimate friendship. I’ve reconnected with the aforementioned ex. We’d kept hanging out for the past few years in a non-sexual capacity. Lately we decided that it’d be nice to keep the door of intimacy open, that there was still a bunch of affection there, and it’d be nice to share that physically sometimes. I’ve also been seeing someone else after a friend set us up. She came out of a long term relationship and was looking for some fun, but also didn’t want to be out there screwing randos. My friend was (is) seeing her, and suggested I’d be a fine chap for her to connect with. It was a weird, almost unreal conversation, but I guess this is the world I live in now. Turns out, she’s lovely. We’re having fun, while also offering emotional support. Then there’s someone I quite like, who I’ve been on a few dates with. Her schedule means we don’t often get to hang out, but it’s not a point of contention. If time allows, we’ll do some more dating. If not, no harm done. That’s not to mention the overall poly community, a few of whom I’ve had connections of varying intimacy with. Friends/partners of friends, it’s all quite incestuous.

Ultimately, a few years down the line, non-monogamy has started to solidify into a model that suits me. It’s pushed me away from a scarcity mindset, and allowed me to be open to connections instead of obsessing that they’re not happening. It’s taught me that there’s no set structure for what a relationship has to resemble. It’s allowed me to understand that quality of emotional and physical connection is far more important than frequency. I can have deep connections with people I see rarely, but whenever I see them there’s a lot of affection and compassion. It’s not always sexual, and poly has made it easier for me to share emotional intimacy with non-sexual friends. Expectations matter when they’re agreed upon by all parties involved, but there’s no sense in forcing a level of connection if you’re not both into it. Everyone’s needs are different, and provided you can meet said needs, the quantity of partners is irrelevant. Respect and understanding go a long way.

And hey, the more people I date, the more people I can share Paddington with.

Home, a loner

I’m phoning it in again today.

Don’t worry, I didn’t give myself a stern lecture yesterday only to turn around and ignore all of it. I’m lazy, but I’m not a dummy. I’m planning on working when I get home, but I want to save my focus for it. This is more of a post work, post gym, pre dinner deal. I was just too busy at work today working to find writing time. So you get the joy of a weird intermediary stop gap. Let’s just hope that post workout endorphins will make this slightly less of a snooze fest.

After spending the entire weekend alone, confined to home, I finally shared space with another human being last night. I’m not being cryptic. A friend came over, I made dinner and we watched a bunch of TV. A week or two back I wrote about living alone, how much I treasured having my own space in which I had total dominion. Just me, myself and I hanging out, doing what we all wanted. No bending to the whims of others, heavy books or teachers’ dirty looks. I also mentioned that I had no doubts (in defiance of the URL) that I’d come to miss my girlfriend and the space we carved out together. I was right. About both, really. I’m still very happy on my own. ALSO after a self-imposed exile, eschewing social contact for social networks, I realised I was pretty fucking lonely. Having my friend over mitigated it well. Chatting idly with someone, sharing a simple meal with someone. Watching TV while being in each other’s presence. I didn’t quite realise how much I’d missed that effortless socialising. And I don’t mean to frame these people as interchangeable, ’cause they’re anything but. I was also very happy to hang out with my friend because she’s awesome, we don’t get to see each other nearly enough, and I missed her.

You know what I miss about my girlfriend? She’s a fucking weirdo. This isn’t some glib euphemism like Instagram basics use for their bland boyfriends. She’s a strange cupcake. But I am too, and that’s why we work so well. It means she’s down to try new stuff, and she does it with glee. We avidly pick each other’s ingrown hairs and check each other’s arseholes if we’re concerned about them for some reason. She doesn’t have one foot out the door the moment I start talking in an odd cartoony accent for no reason, or come into the kitchen naked, dancing to the Chili’s Baby Back Ribs jingle. She goes along with it, or adds her own flair. We don’t have to spend time together just because we’re both home, but it’s always on the table, which is a comfort I think I’ve grown to take for granted. I honestly like spending time with her, and that counts for a lot. This “ball and chain” mentality has always seemed like pathetic rhetoric, and she backs up what idiocy it is. I can’t imagine someone putting up with my bullshit for long, but we’ve gotten pretty great at reciprocating and supporting one another’s dumb hang ups and excessive frivolities. I think we’d both be so fucking bored if we were stuck in some milquetoast smooth sailing nightmare.

Also intimacy. I miss intimacy something fierce. After all these years, we still know how to touch each other. To be considerate of what kind of touch and intimacy we’re seeking. Understanding give and take, and to not take it personal if it’s not actually desired right then. I wasn’t even meaning in a sexual way. Cuddles and closeness count for a lot, and it’s probably what I miss the most. Her smell and warmth, all softness and fantastic curves. But like, in a sexual way too. Anyone implying that’s not super important in a relationship can go fuck themselves. Nigh on five years together, I don’t know that either of us have wavered in the slightest. It’s reaffirming, and also brings home that this is all temporary. She’ll probably be back before I know it, and I’ll forget she ever wasn’t here.

Welp, guess it turned into a snooze fest for anyone but us. Sorry not sorry.

Or rather, well cum?

When you’re in a long term relationship, you get used to a lot of things.

I’m in the bizarre situation (well, bizarre and new for me) where, for the first time in my life, I’ve been in a relationship for so long that all of my condoms expired. All of them. I don’t say “all” with limited candor either. I had a healthy amount of condoms. I didn’t get an exact count, but it would’ve been at least 60 or so. Thing was, they were expired, so I had a healthy amount of unhealthy condoms. I’m talking in past tense, because I threw them all out. Maybe this was a waste. Maybe I could’ve rented a tank of helium, invited a bunch of friends over and had a fun, safe, inflatable rave.

Well I fucked that one up.

I had a conundrum. I didn’t really know how to get condoms. Look, it wasn’t that stark. I understand that capitalism exists. I know that I can accrue moneys, visit a store and hand over my moneys in exchange for penis shaped balloons. I get this. I just didn’t know how to go about it on a conceptual and efficient level. The stumbling block is that I’m unwaveringly cheap, but I also enjoy nice things. Wait, that’s uncharitable. I’m thrifty. T H R I F T Y. I don’t like paying more for things than I think that they’re worth, but my notion of what things are worth is stuck back in the 90s. My relationship to capitalism hasn’t grown with inflation. That was only mildly meant to be a condom pun.

So no, I couldn’t just have gone out to one of the ten Shoppers at Bloor/Ossington and bought some Durex, because they’re shitty condoms. My standards are higher than that. A few years ago I spent a lot more time in sex positive spaces, so free condoms were abundant. I’m not hanging around those spaces as much these days. Back in NZ I’d just go to the sexual health clinic and pick up a ton. There are definitely a couple of clinics here, but it’s different. I feel like I’d need to make an appointment (which honestly isn’t a dumb thing to do. Better safe than… unsafe?). I know Hassle Free is around, but I’ve got this feeling that I don’t want to take time away from the usual clientelle who need that kind of safe space.

I have a condom I like. Kimono makes great ones that feel barely there. I just think they’re neat. They’re also expensive. If you go to a nice sex store you’re paying something like $20 for a 12 pack. I’m not trying to put a dollar value on a sexual experience, but that’s a lot. Or at least, I feel like there are more economically efficient ways to go about the whole thing. Amazon.com has a ton of bulk packs at a great price. Thing is, most of those places don’t ship to Canada. Amazon.ca has terrible prices, or rather they have similar prices to most places that probably have reasonable prices, but I have unreasonable expectations. So that was a no-go.

So I did what any capable snake person would do and hit up Google. I searched for a bunch of Canadian sex stores and condom specific outlets. It took a while. Most places had the same Amazon.ca prices, which as I said were no-go. Finally finally finally, I found a decent store. Good prices, free shipping, and I only recently got on paypal, so it made the whole transaction even easier. In short, this whole entry was an ad for Top Condoms Canada. If you’re in the very specific situation of requiring condoms because 60+ of yours have expired and you’re too cheap thrifty to pay full retail (or don’t have one of those fancy US mailbox things for Amazon.com purchases). Oh, and you’re living in Canada, then go to Top Condoms Canada for all of your condom needs.

But in saying that, I only checked out the Kimono, so I don’t know about their other brands.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

Thank you ex, why and thee

It’s a Valentines Day.

I feel like that’s the kind of thing worth presenting as a neutral statement. Look, I like Valentines Day. At least, I do this year. I don’t every year. Some years it makes me want to invest in a pair of concrete boots. Oddly, in The Year Of Our Lord 2019, when my partner is halfway across the world and I’ve spent most of the past three weeks at home, alone, without physical touch, I’m into it. I don’t know how I work, and I don’t expect y’all to either.

Is it ’cause the day’s pretty performative? I’m not sure it’s that. If I was with someone who expected big performative things on V-Day… well I probably wouldn’t be with them for long. I think Valentines Day is a stupid Hallmark holiday that places an everyday occurrence on an unnecessary pedestal. It creates a massive amount of stress and anxiety for a lot of people. It wouldn’t surprise me if Feb 14th was a tentpole suicide day each year. I don’t know what the fuck roses have to do with love. Flowers don’t even fuck. The heart is an unsexy organ, so I don’t fully get why it’s become symbolic of l’amour. At the same time, it helps pump blood to penises and labia alike, so maybe there’s something there. I digress. I like celebrating things for the sake of celebration. That’s about it.

I was thinking yesterday about an ex. Not because I have anything approaching interest in her anymore (of course I’ll Facebook stalk her maybe once annually to check if she’s up to cool stuff), but more that I have this bathrobe that I wear all the fucking time and every once in a while I remember that she gave it to me for Valentines Day. It was a lovely gift. It’s been maybe eight or nine years and I still treasure it. This morning I was thinking about my ex, and thinking of how strong my feelings for her were at the time, and how they’ve dwindled down to the occasional thought. Except, when I really cast my mind back, it makes me realise that I still love her to some extent, even if it’s just affectionate respect for the times we shared and lingering memories. She was a good person, even if our relationship had an expiration point. I’ve been very fortunate to date a bunch of good people. So in true IHMD fashion (and I Have My Doubts that I haven’t done this before), I feel like navel gazing back at some things I took from past relationships.

My first relationship was gentle, but also a total dead bedroom situation. We were friends who became something more, but not a lot more. There was emotional support and companionship, but we just didn’t click in bed. We really didn’t. I was incredibly nervous, and I don’t know how experienced she was either. If she hadn’t pulled the plug and broke up the band, I know I would’ve clung on desperately to any shred of affection. There’s no way I would’ve been brave enough to do it. But she did, and that was mercy incarnate. I guess I’m thankful that she taught me it was okay to end things if they weren’t working. Not every love story ends in a fairytale, and undertanding that takes a certain kind of compassion.

Another ex taught me that I actually liked sex. After the aforementioned nonexistent sex life, I truthfully wasn’t sure. Maybe it was all a sham, and I just thought I wanted to get down and dirty because everyone said it was the bee’s knees. It turns out, I’m actually into it. What a shocker (but not that kind of shocker). Moreso, she was patient and I think we really learned together. I’m sure that all sounds trite, but it really wasn’t. It set me up for most of my adult relationships, which is fucking huge.

Another ex taught me that sometimes you’ve gotta listen to what people are saying between the lines. She was pretty big on “keeping it casual”, but that didn’t mean she didn’t want to go on dates and stuff. What I’d thought was just hanging out wasn’t quite enough for her. I was very interested in more, but thought she didn’t want that. Turns out she did, and I was reading signals incredibly incorrectly. Funnily enough, once we started going on dates it turned out that we weren’t as compatible as we’d thought. Still, lesson learned.

Another ex taught me how to remain friends. That if there was enough to bring you together in the first place, maybe there was enough to keep you together afterwards. We don’t see each other that often anymore, but it’s pretty damn special when we do.

Another ex taught me the beginnings of how to navigate poly. I really liked being able to spend time with her outside of my anchor partnership, to get to know her anchor partner and learn about how much time I have to give. She’s still someone who I hold a ton of affection for, and consider her one of my favourite people.

However, time’s up. Gotta love you and leave you.

Straight dude has hot take “for once”

I never really “got” the concept of hating all your exes. If everyone you dated in the past was a piece of shit, maybe the unifying factor is that you have terrible taste.

Or, like, stop dating men?

I intended the above statement as a joke, or maybe an intro/segue to some kind of stand up bit. I posted it on Facebook to gauge a reaction and, well, it got reactions. Mostly I think it was received in the spirit it was intended. Also friends chimed in with super valid comments on the complications abuse/trauma bring to the table in relationships. A friend mentioned the cycle of abuse and how it changes the way people see their own boundaries/what’s acceptable from someone you date. It can colour patterns of partner choice and cloud self-awareness. There are definitely shitty exes out there who take advantage of vulnerable people in frighteningly vampiric capacity.

Also many people are shit at dating.

I’m not saying I’m an expert by any means. I’ve done a bit and learned a lot. I’m extremely fortunate not to have dated any abusive, irreparably terrible people. For the most part, my past relationships have ended because of the realisation that we just weren’t truly compatible where it mattered. It sucked to breakup, but it was exceedingly better for both of us in the long term. We weren’t bad eggs by any means, we just weren’t good for one another. I’d wager that a lot of angry ex-haters probably fall under a similar boat without understanding it.

First and foremost, if you were dating someone in the first place, wouldn’t it be because you liked them? Who is out there dating people they don’t actually like on a fundamental level? If you don’t share interests or values, why would you be surprised and/or hurt when it doesn’t work out? I’m not knocking sharing consensual sexual engagements based on mutual attraction, but where in “we fuck good but don’t share values” is the part about realistic long term dating prospects? I don’t believe every relationship needs to be a forever one.

It’s 100% understandable to have shitty relationships that help you learn boundaries. Isn’t that the point of dating? It also makes sense that there have been some really raw past relationships that’ve burned bridges beyond the point of collapse. That said, if you point blank hate every single one of the people you’ve dated, perhaps that also says something about how you filter and choose the people you date? At some point there’s a responsibility on you to make decisions about whether or not a relationship gels with your needs/wants. If you’ve broken up with a bunch of people and learned nothing from them, it’s not entirely a potential shitty ex’s fault that you’re not considering who you are in a relationship.

The unpopular/unspoken truth of relationships is that a big part is being able to tolerate each other’s shit. Whether it’s being perennially late, dominating emotional labour, not doing their fair share of tasks, failing to consider their partner when making decisions that affect them, or whatever else it may be. We’re all flawed, we all have some modicum of baggage. We’re all just a little bit shitty; we’re human. I feel like part of a successful relationship is when people understand their partners flaws, their own baggage and accept them. They do the work of trying to find compromise while attempting to get better as time goes on.

Yes, there are 1000% shitty abusive behaviours that go beyond mere “flaws” or “baggage”. I do feel like a lot of us have blind spots, whether willingly or not, where we fail to recognise our responsibility in the degradation of a relationship and straight up don’t own our shit. Then when there’s a breakup it’s all the ex’s fault and personal culpability flies out the window.

I’m not saying it’s everyone all the time (and I feel like I know many, many considerate people who probably kick this concept in the arse), but I do think that a large proportion of people put everything on the other partner and when the ship sinks, put that blame in only one direction.

TL;DR – Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

And to think I woke up with no opinion on this song whatsoever

I was thinking about “The Girl from Ipanema” this morning. It’s basically just an unremarkable dude writing a song about feeling entitled to a gal he was oogling.

Thing is, he must have a bunch of albums. ‘Cause the kind of dude who gets so bent out of shape by a woman ignoring him probably gets ignored by a ton of women.

I expressed the above on Facebook today and one of my friends chimed in. He said, rightfully so, that there’s a lot of problematic stuff in past pop music, but as far as he’s concerned this song gets a pass. Who hasn’t felt the pangs of unrequited infatuation? Of wanting to talk to someone you take a fancy to, but being too afraid to say a word. This is undeniably true.

That said, the song still kinda felt a bit iffy to me and I started to think why. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with checking someone out in public. We all do it and anyone who says otherwise is probably lying. Checking someone out, in my mind, is a cursory glance or two. It’s not quite staring so intently at them you look through them and into the void. It’s not lingering unnecessarily enough that you gauge how similar the rhythm of their walk is to a musical genre. If you’re glowering at them day by day and you never make eye contact, maybe there’s a reason. People have a decent amount of peripheral cataloguing. I have no doubt that this girl- nay, woman- knows that dudes are watching her. It even says in the song that when she passes by, they go “ah!” The fact that they’re making actual exultations does not sit well with me. She knows where she’s sashaying (to the sea) and she’s pointedly staring straight ahead. This further underscores that she understands she’s being watched. She sounds single-mindedly focused, which may imply she’s had bad experiences in the past and just wants to get where she’s going. Then there’s this dude pining in the background studying her every movement thinking “how can I tell her I love her?” Love her? You’ve never met her, let alone loved her. You don’t know a thing about her, but you’re in love with her? You’re not in love with her, you’re attracted to her or infatuated by her. You’re not in love.

To be entirely honest, I have a ton of issues with the way love is represented in a wider sense. In so many movies (and not just romcoms, but especially romcoms), people “fall in love” for the sake of a plot. What they term as “love” I feel is closer to just infatuation. Maybe I have commitment issues, but love means a lot more to me than being attracted to someone pretty. I can like being around someone, be attracted to them and enjoy the chemistry, but that’s not love. Your mileage may vary, but love to me feels earned. Love is something that kind of takes hold when you realise that person is a large part of your life. Love is knowingly embracing the fact that your significant other has shortcomings. It’s not seeing the rosy ideal of how that person fulfils your needs. Love is when you want to go out of your way to take care of someone because them feeling better makes you happy. Love is picking ingrown hairs or shitting with the door open. Love is having the hard conversations without taking shots or one-upping each other. It’s understanding that there’s the option to cut and run, but there’s something larger worth preserving and working on that as a team. That seems like love to me.

Shoehorning romance into a plot or song as a way to make it easily palatable feels lazy and uninspiring. Stop using romance as a seasoning when it’s a veritable meal on its own.

ALSO after doing a bit of research and math, the “girl” in question was 17 at the time. The songwriters were 35 and 49.

Fuck this song. That girl dodged a bullet.