I’m Just A Man Innocently Shopping For Himself In The Children’s Department.

Being short struck again this week.

I needed new trousers and after unsuccessfully buying a couple of pairs that were supposed to fit me, I was forced to do what I always end up doing – shopping in the children’s section.

I wish I could just walk into a proper shop for proper adults and walk out with something I know will fit me, but that rarely happens. What happens is that I spend most of my afternoon trying on clothes I like and getting increasingly annoyed at my limbs.

In fact, you know Tom Hanks at the end of the film ‘BIG’ when he turns back into a kid and finds himself wearing that really ill sized fitting suit? That’s me whenever I try on ANY adult clothes. I’m just stood in a changing room with the sleeves of an oversized jumper dangling near my knees and wishing I hadn’t left the house.

So this week, I did what I had to do and bought two new pairs of junior sized trousers.

If the police ever raid my house, they’re going to find a wardrobe full of clothes that are suitable for 12 year old boys. One day I’m inadvertently going to end up in a Netflix documentary.

And as a man who has both glasses and an unkempt beard, this is a situation I don’t want to find myself in. Routinely, I leave the house with the aim of purchasing new clothes and in my head I end up on the verge of going on some sort of register.

All jokes aside, that’s the part I hate the most. As a man who often shops on his own, I find myself flicking through t-shirts that are designed for humans 15 years younger than me and becoming ridiculously self-conscious of the fact that I’m a single bearded man in a place I so obviously don’t belong. I’m close to actually stealing a child to come shopping with me so people don’t actually think I’m a danger to children.

Other people think it must be great buying children’s clothes because it is cheaper. And yes, from time to time you can find a decent deal. But I’d rather spend the extra £10 to not have to scroll past thousands of Spiderman and SpongeBob Squarepants items, just to find a T-shirt that is suitable for an informal get together with other adults.

The algorithms that populate suggested items should be offering me gifts for my girlfriend or beard oil or something remotely adult appropriate. Not light up velcro trainers or the latest Fortnite backpack.

I’m also very often on the other end of some hilarious zingers. The most common one, by quite some distance, is when people inform me that there’s a sale on in Mothercare. IT’S BECAUSE THEY MAKE CLOTHES FOR BABIES AND I AM SMALL.

You’d never find people doing that to say, someone who is overweight. Nobody in their right mind would go up to someone overweight and be like, “You know where they do clothes that fit you? In another dimension you fat piece of shit.”

My loved ones are just as guilty. My mother still buys me clothes and says, “You’ll grow into it.” She has literally known me all of my life. How has she not noticed that I stopped growing at 14? I’m now 31. If anything, I’ll soon be shrinking.

And when I do incredibly find an item of clothing that fits, I usually have to get my mother to ‘take it up.’ There has been many occasion when I have had to visit my Mum to get newly bought trousers tailored. And this shouldn’t need saying, but I can confirm, there are very few things I’d rather be doing less, than making small talk about the weather while my mother has her head at crotch level.

But I have my trousers now and as a man who has next to no interest in fashion, they should do me for a while. Hopefully by the time I need some new ones, I’ll be able to avoid all unnecessary inconvenience and just have my nephews hand me downs.

I Quit My Gym Membership This Week. But I Still Want To Look Like The Rock.

I quit my gym membership this week. It wasn’t one of those significant moments that filled me with a sense of relief. I didn’t celebrate it. In fact, I quite like the gym. There are elements of it that I love. But, for me, the negative elements far outweigh the positive ones. Mostly, it’s an environment that I always feel intimated by. I mean, I even find the vending machines too agressive. Every protein shake or energy bar they sell is too full of unnecessary alpha male energy.

You walk up to the machine and are hit in the face with an array of unnecessarily intense and hyper masculine products like,’THE CARB KILLER!’ or ‘THE PROTEIN GRENADE!’ I wish they could just calm it down. I’d happily give them all of my money if they could create a more realistic post-workout drink called the, ‘Just Here To Do 5 Minutes On The Treadmill So I Don’t Develop Tits And Die Of A Heart Attack When I’m 40 Shake.’

Now generally, I’m someone who avoids advertising techniques that try and make you feel like shit so that then they can miracoulsly provide you with the product that makes you feel better again. But fitness is the one chink in my armour. I live in world where I constantly battle between exercising solely for health and trying to look like ‘The Rock.’

Just typing that sound ridiculous. There are no amount of push ups that will make a 5 foot pasty man with Irish ancestry and a lazy eye look like a 6 foot mammoth of a man with unlimited financial resources.

I know this. But yet, with all of my heart, I still try to achieve it.

I’ve actually been quite consistent with my workouts for a couple of months now and I genuinely feel proud of myself. We’ve recently set up a makeshift home gym in our house. It’s like a prison set up, but instead of sharing it with a man who wants to physically dominate me in the showers, I share it with a girlfriend who unfortunately doesn’t want to physically dominate me in the showers.

I spend about 4 or 5 hours a week in there. Nothing crazy. A typical routine consists of push ups, pull ups, squats and some weights. And at the end of every session, I chug down a vegan protein shake and convince myself I’m one step closer to being a Greek God.

Very often I’ll stride topless into my living room and tense my muscles at my startled girlfriend. It doesn’t matter if she’s busy, I’ll insist that she stops whatever she’s doing and assess my biceps for growth.

It’s very showing that she often looks straight through me and continues to watch ‘Antiques Roadshow.’

Apparently, I can’t even compete with a vase some dead bloke passed on to his deluded middle aged daughter.

During these phases, I become obsessed. I have to consciously fight off the urge to compare myself to others. And by others, I mean celebrities.

My Google search history looks a lot like this.

What workout will make me look like Zac Efron?
Brad Pitt. Fight Club. Abs.
Does pain from a mole suggest that it’s NOT cancerous?

The guys at Google should be allowed to contact you directly after a certain number of searches on the same subject and ban you from ever asking it again.

At this stage, Zac Efron’s diet plan would be my specialist subject on ‘Mastermind.’

When I’m not doing that, I go to the other extreme. This morning I spent 35 minutes researching on the benefits of sea moss. Fucking sea moss. I followed this with articles on meditation and how not to turn into an unbearable prick.

Ultimately, I suppose, everything is about balance.

This could be the perfect opportunity to discuss philosophy or Buddhism or make a deep connection with whoever reads this. Delve deeper into the idea of living in the moment and not attaching results to actions.

However, it’s been 4 hours since I did some squats and I haven’t got time for that nonsense.

Go find your own connections.

Knock Knock? Who’s There? Oh Only An Alpha Male Who Does Alpha Male Shit.

I recently became a man. And by ‘become a man’, I don’t mean that I lost my virginity. No, that happened MONTHS ago. I did, however, do something much more impressive than that – I knocked at my next door neighbour’s house and asked them to turn down their music.

It all started about three weeks ago when out of nowhere a blast of noise suddenly made its way into our living room and drowned out the audio to ‘George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.’ There are very few things in life that make me lose my temper, but when I struggle to hear the reasons why a middle aged man from Skegness would want to sell his house and live in a converted van, it’s safe to say that I lose my shit. And please, when I say a ‘blast of noise’, I can’t stress how loud it was. It was ridiculous. We were essentially now at a party we had not been invited to or had the intention of being at. We were hostages to what appeared to be eastern European dance music. A genre that doesn’t speak to me.

The next three hours were hell. If any innocent by passer was to walk past our two houses they would hear a mix of Lithuanian dubstep and a man at the end of his tether screaming sanctimonious sentences like, “It’s not the noise I’m most offended by, it’s the SELFISHNESS!” Now despite the obvious internal breakdown that was happening in our sacred space, we decided not to knock, because…

“This is the first time it has happened and it probably won’t happen again…..”

Oh how we now laugh at our young naïve selves.

A mere two days later at ‘Rock and Roll Mansions’, myself and my girlfriend were watching a documentary titled, ’10 Reasons Why The Titanic Sank’ when again the music struck. This time, if anything, it was louder. Instantly, I jumped off the sofa and in as much as an alpha male in Marvel pyjama bottoms and an oversized hoody bought by his mother in a charity shop can look like an alpha male, I screamed, “That’s it, I’m knocking!” My girlfriend, reeling from this clearly out of character move by me, responded simply and tragically with two words, “What? You?” I could have easily been offended by this obvious insult at my masculinity, but she was right. As a child of divorce I do my utmost to avoid confrontation. What may appear to outsiders as cowardice is really a 10 year old boy trapped in a 30 year old man screaming, “STOP SHOUTING AT MUMMY!”

Anyway, after momentarily debating wheter I should send my girlfriend around, I found myself bravely walking up their path and knocking on their door like a proper adult male should. A few moments after my attempt at an intimidating knock a small boy answered. I took a deep breath and with my deepest voice asked if I could possibly speak to his parents? He just looked through me. Not a single word left his mouth. In fairness, he was probably wondering why someone who was only slightly taller than him and in superhero pyjamas had been sent around by his parents to do an adult task.

After a few moments of awkward contemplation I saw a figure approaching from behind him. Walking towards me was a man who looked like he could play a villain in a James Bond film. He was the type of guy who wears vests just so he can show off his tattoos – tattoos he probably gets to commemorate every neighbour he murders for asking him to turn down his music. Now I’d love to say that I was just as confident talking to this human as I was mere seconds before when I was confronting a child. But I wasn’t. All of a sudden my voice broke and what should have been an assertive statement sounded like every awkward encounter a teenage boy has when speaking to his friend’s parents.

“If you, will you, the music. I mean, it’s great, but loud. I just, you know, music and that.”

Pathetic. I had gone to bits and turned into a blabbering wreck. The obvious neighbour murdering man looked back at me and in his stereotypical Eastern European accent replied, “Yes. Will do. Sorry mate.” The bastard. How dare he politely converse with me and sincerely apologise?! I wanted my moment and he had stolen it from me. Now I had to go back and pretend to my girlfriend that I’d had to threaten him and throw a punch or two. Not only was this man incredibly selfish with his music choices but he had turned me into a liar. Unforgivable.

Moments later I was back on my sofa and balls deep into that documentary about The Titanic. I had done it. I felt a wave of adrenaline wash over me. This was my equivalent to jumping out of a plane while simultaneously snorting cocaine and roaring, “I’M NEVER GOING TO DIE BABYYYY!”

I mean, despite this, I do have to admit that since then, the music has returned and I’ve now ran out of excuses not to knock again. But I will always have that night and if it does get any worse I can always order a converted van off that bloke from Skegness.





It’s Time I Admitted Something…

I’ve harboured a secret for at least a decade.

My feet are smaller than I actually tell people they are.

Now I understand that you might think that this is quite a dramatic sentence to open with for something so incredibly tame. You probably thought that I was going to reveal that I have a liking for nipple clamps or I secretly enjoy sniffing people on public transport. But no. It’s my feet. My miniscule feet. However, the fact that I lie about something as insignificant and pathetic as the size of my feet is the reason I feel I need to get it off my chest.

You see, size six is the smallest size of footwear for adult males and anything under that is considered appropriate for children, so since about the age of 18 that’s the size of shoe I have decided to wear. It’s been a constant source of embarrassment whenever it’s been brought up in conversation and on a regular basis I’ve refused to honestly answer that I am in fact a size five. The reluctance to answer honestly probably comes from the usual mocking that I receive whenever I lie about my shoe size.

It’s usually quite an aggressive confrontation and the conversation usually follows a little like this…

“Size 6. Oooh. You know what they say about a man with small feet…”

“Yes. Yes I do Sharon. But I also know what they say about the link between three ‘Greggs’ sausage rolls on your dinner break and type 2 diabetes, but some opinions are best kept to themselves you intrusive bitch.”

I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve found myself awkwardly arguing with a stranger/acquaintance about the implied size of my penis.

Anyway, it’s safe to say that I try to avoid the topic at all costs and up until recently my denial was so successful that I had even forgotten my true shoe size. And by forgotten, I mean dementia level forgetfulness. It had completely, categorically vanished from memory and as far as I was concerned, I was a size six. However, as often is the case with denial, it can only last so long before it comes back to haunt you and my haunting happened a couple of years ago when buying a suit for a friends wedding.

I was 28 at the time and like all 28 year old men I had decided to go suit shopping with my Mum. Surprisingly, the suit purchasing went swimmingly and we were done and dusted within one hour. It was upon attempting to buy some formal shoes to match that I encountered my problem. We spent a total of about three hours stumbling from shoe store to shoe store as I was forcibly marched down the catwalk of shame in shoes that were so clearly too big for me. As the third hour creeped into the fourth and fatigue was getting the better of me, I genuinely questioned whether it would be acceptable to just turn up barefoot to a wedding like some sort of hippy Hobbit. I was now at breaking point and it was at this stage that my Mother took control and ordered me to visit a store she knew would be perfect for me. 

I reluctantly entered the shop and instantly the shop assistant asked if I needed any help. My Mum obviously did all the talking because after all I was only 28. Before I knew it, I was sat down with my shoes off and a shop assistant with hands as cold as ice had my foot in her hand. Things had taken a turn for the worse.

My foot was now in some sort of metal contraption and the woman with the cold hands looked through me and offered some words up to my mother.

“Size 5 he is.”

Confused at what was happening, I mouthed the sentence, “I’m an actual adult in the middle of a mortgage application.”

My mother, ignoring my obvious breakdown, asked the lady if she had anything in the back that would be suitable for me.

The lady with the cold hands nodded in approval and vanished.

As she went to fetch the shoes, I looked at the wall behind me and noticed a massive sign. The massive sign simply read, “BACK TO SCHOOL RANGE.” To either side of me were two boys who could be no more than the age of twelve, and like me, because I had only just turned 28, they too were also accompanied by their mothers and were getting their feet measured in similar contraptions to the one my foot was in mere moments ago.

It was at this point that I remembered my life was a lie and I was the owner of a pair of child-like feet. I had hit rock bottom.

Now I’m sure we’ve all felt humiliated at some point in our lives. No biggie. But being humiliated in the childrens section of a shoe store surrounded by flashing Spiderman trainers and a shop assistant who clearly thinks you’ve brought your mother along because she must be getting some sort of carers allowance adds an extra sting to it all.

I was mortified.

After what appeared to be a lifetime, the cold handed lady came out with two pairs. A pair that would do, and unbelievably, a pair of fucking Velcro ones. VELCRO!  I politely declined the Velcro pair, asked my mother to tie my laces and left as quickly as I could.

A couple of years have passed since this traumatic day, but if it has taught me anything, it has taught me to be comfortable with who I am.

And who I am is a man with size 5.5 feet!*

*Still working on it.