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Weak Men


Everything is relative, and in my experience, nowhere is this more true than in the realm of male-male friendships. There is something of a classic model of male relationships which classes men as either the Alpha or the Beta. Whatever you may think of this model and its applicability, I am going to be building upon it here.

You’ve been warned.

In theory, the Alpha-Beta (AB) model manifests in every male friend group; even a group of two, and it is the group of two I want to focus on. I/we can be part of many two person friendships, and our status as Alpha or Beta is subject to change depending on the friend we are hanging out with, and to a lesser extent, the specific circumstance we find ourselves in.

I have spent the last two months living with my friend, Archie, and I am the Alpha in the relationship…by a large margin (as you’ll see, it’s not as impressive as it sounds). I want to focus less on why this is and the specific details of our friendship, and more on how it (frustratingly) manifests.

Before continuing, it must be said that my expertise derives from the fact that I have been both Alpha and Beta at various times, and I have been Beta by the same wide, crippling, pathetic margin (relative to more Alpha friends) that Archie currently is relative to me. I see now how I must have been a chore for my indulgent friends to deal with.

Scarcity Mentality

I have had and lost many women….definitely more of the latter. I don’t care. That’s the point. Stop caring! Archie cares too goddamn much. He tells me so. He wants to claim women, regardless of who they are more interested in. Lately he won’t go to a local coffee shop with me anymore because I flirt with the barista and she flirts back. He admits this but justifies it by saying that he is worried about it getting awkward and not being able to go there again. I asked him if he had designs on her. He said he didn’t know, but that since I started flirting with her I didn’t give him a chance to decide.
Here’s the thing: I would love for him to make a bold move with her and catch her interest. Play on, Playa! That’s my mentality; pure abundance But he doesn’t want to do that because then he would have to reciprocate my magnanimity. And he doesn’t want to do that because of Jenny.

Jenny is….was Archie’s friend and I met her once in passing over a year ago in Berlin outside a bar I was at with Archie. They were talking. Jenny and I shared a look and a rapport, and when you know, you just know. But alas, I had a fiance (and so did Archie) and so nothing never happened [sic].  Fast forward a year to now and I have moved back to Berlin into a spare room in Archie’s flat for a temporary stay. Being newly-single, I asked Archie early on about Jenny. He clammed up and expressed doubt that I had this connection (yeah, okay…), then came out with the truth that he was into her. Recently divorced, he had designs on her and was being territorial.

Well, I had no access to her aside from him connecting us, and I didn’t even remember her name. These two facts coupled with the literal millions of fish in the sea gave me a play on, playa outlook on the whole situation, even though I was dubious about his ability to make it work.

So a few nights ago he gives me an update on Jenny (whose name I had forgotten again and which he took as further evidence of the absence of connection). He tells me he “fired her as a friend” (his exact words) due to numerous scheduling snafus (her blowing him off). He had reached a critical threshold I guess and told her he didn’t want to be her friend and then blocked her. He Scorched the Earth! He fucked it up and if he couldn’t have her, noone could (at least noone who would need him to make the introduction). I felt anger well up inside me (not sure yet if the anger is justifiable or not) but all I said was, “And nothing of value was lost.” He enthusiastically, unironically agreed.


Same aforementioned coffee shop. Last week we go out to the back patio for our (at that point, at least) daily coffee and smoke. I walked out there first and saw a cute girl, Liat, sitting with a friend. We made eye contact and when you know, you just know. Archie joined me shorly after at our table and I initiated conversation with Liat and her friend as they were seated next to us. She was really bubbly and regaled us with a story about her broken arm and the cast she was currently wearing. Liat’s friend left, then Archie left, and Liat and I walked out of the coffee shop together (which visibly intrigued and upset aforementioned barista). We walked back to mine and started playing some music in my room. Archie joined and we had a jam and sing-along. I eventually went back to Liat’s place nearby and we spent the afternoon together and made love.

Later I found out that Archie was a bit resentful about this because I had moved so quick that he hadn’t had a chance to decide of he was interested. This was doubly frustrating because the very next day he had some chick over whom I assume he didn’t introduce me to because he was worried I would, I don’t know –steal her or something.

Which brings me to Lana…


A couple nights later, me, George, Archie, and Archie’s black friend, Lana, all headed out to a local bar that had a weekly open jam. Lana seemed cold to me at first, which Archie later suggested was a possible result of my surplus multi-cam jacket with velcro flashers on the sleeves from my time in Afghanistan. In retrospect, I suspect that perhaps he had also told her unflattering things about me being a prejudiced person (more on that in the next section). In any event, I care a lot less these days about what a rando feels about me and so I just went back in the bar content to watch the jam without playing. In the dearth of a vocalist, Archie got on the mic and asked if I wanted to come up and freestyle. I enthusiastically obliged and proceeded to lyrically assassinate, dropping my trademark, “Rest in Peace, Tupac Shakur” at the end.

Lana gave me props when I rejoined them on the couch and seemed to have warmed up to me. Classic black chick!

On the walk home, I ushered George away toward our direction to give Archie a chance to close with Lana. He did not and instead rejoined me and George. Soon after George split off in his direction and me and Archie headed back the flat we were sharing. I asked him, “So what’s the deal with you and Lana?” -Big mistake.

“What do you mean by that?” he asked, suspiciously.

“Um, are into her? How’s it going?”

“Damn, man, do I gotta worry that you’re trying to go after her?”

Jesus Christ! This is the kind of insecurity I was living with. I explained that I wasn’t interested, but the damage was already done.

Ugh, it makes me mad just remembering it.


I don’t know if I’m racist. I don’t know if Archie is. All I know is that if I say a slur, I’ll say it with deliberate intention or not at all. If I say a slur, there will be an elaborate, oblique set-up, well-wrought build, and an emphatic delivery for the purpose of shock and humour. Otherwise there is no point and I feel like a dishonest coward. My whole thing goes back to the Patrice O’Neal school of “Say it with belief!”
Archie does not subscribe to this school of thought and says slurs frivolously because he feels he can vent his latent racism to me while maintaining the outward appearance of being progressive. He has admittedly gotten better about this (saying things with belief or not at all), but at the outset…Jesus Christ. He would say some slur and then immediately laugh and and look at me to gauge my response. I felt put upon to laugh or respond in a very awkward, cringey way.
At one point early on in our two months of living together I called him out for this, encouraging him to make offensive jokes, but to mean it; not just to do it seeking my validation (because that’s fucked and bespeaks pretty shittily of me). He got so offended and said some shit like “I thought I could make jokes with you without you getting offended” (which is more fucked up the more you think about it), and I simply explained that I wasn’t offended, but I felt embarrassed for him.
Looking back, this conversation was a line in the sand that I drew early on, and I feel like I have been paying for it ever since. Thankfully, all things come to an end.


Thanks for indulging my venting. Since writing this post a few weeks ago I have moved on to Portugal and found a happy place. My closest male friend here is a young kid from the UK named Charlie. With him, its how it should be: We big each other up and don’t let trifling shit like women get between us. Ditto for my other close male friend here Ricardo, but he’s a big, gay Portuguese body-builder so competition for women really isn’t so much of a thing. I was very frustrated when I wrote this post, and looking back brough up some of the old feelings, but the further it is in my rear-view, ther easier it gets.


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Thinking on my Sins


I quit smoking. I left Berlin, hotbed for smoking anywhere and everywhere that it is. I came to Lisboa to finish my third and final month before submitting….succumbing to the yoke.

I will get myself clean before going back to Canada. I will get myself clean before putting my head down and shutting up. I will get myself clean before I go pay back all that good karma of living so recklessly and “finding myself” these last post-Chelsea years.

And that’s what it is -post-Chelsea, not post-Marijo. Not post-Anne. I lost Chelsea,  who loved me unconditionally. I have been so fixated on Marijo but she never loved me unconditionally. Marijo was too wise for that, even though she got start-struck by me and my sole purpose and intentional focus. She wised up real quick when that focus and drive she fell in love with became disproportionately fixated on her.

God how I sinned against her.

And then spurned by her I attached myself to Anne like a parasite. A weak man attaching himself to a strong woman’s vain twilight hopes of having a family. I look back at my weakness and willingness to use those weaker than me and I feel disgust. I never want to be so weak again.


I think I am still willing to use people again if need be. I just want to make sure I use that malevolence and ….charm, in a more intentional way. I don’t want to use it against women. Or men. I want to use it against people who know we are in contest. And then only as a last resort. I competence rather than artifice and the naivete of others to be how I make my way in the world. I want my cunning and wiles (such as they are) to be the fruits reaped by contenders who will appreciate the artfulness and not be left stunned and in disarray at how their best –their pearls– were spit upon for selfish egoistic self advancement.

I look back and see human wreckage. I’ve taken what I want from women. From those women gullible, naive and/or idealistic enough to be duped at least.

No more. I will make sure their eyes are open. If I can’t open them then I will walk away.

And of course I realize wryly that it’s all well and good for me to repent and rehabilitate now that my ‘victims’ have endured/are enduring the brunt of wasted hopes and wasted years. I used to take pride at how I was on good terms with all of my exes. I can’t do that anymore. I look at the last few women in my life and I see indifference/getting on with life at best, and….something else at worst.

I sinned against Marijo. I have known this for a long time. A spiritual sin against someone so perfectly matched to my soul that I felt I might have to pay penance for several lifetimes before I might have her essence welcome me again.

And if that weren’t bad enough, my penance to her was at the “altar” of my relationship with Anne. I saw Anne as the fitting punishment for earlier transgressions. I spent a year self-flagellating with her, trying to conform my heart and soul to a new life that wasn’t my own and my health suffered. I felt like I couldn’t even stand up straight and I was scared that I was going to cripple myself by continuing down this road.

And then there’s the elephant in the room, Annie.

Annie, who loved me so purely and so dearly while I pined after Marijo, missing the latter with the vain goal of co-mingling my weakness and inadequacy with her optimism and idealism. I haven’t even addressed Annie. I have kept her compartmentalized out of a sense of respect. She loved me so dearly, so purely, and all I could think about was another woman.

Marijo. Annie. Anne. They all have names. They are all lives touched by my brutish, unrefined demands. Sodomized by my insecurities, they allowed themselves to be victimized by my emotional rapefulness [sic] because they didn’t know better; because as they were struggling to keep their own heads above water they only saw the polished tip of my iceberg and not what floated me -not the generational pain, narcissism, hurt and legacy of past impetuous, rash and calculated actions.

There’s an idea that I don’t like per se, but which is nonetheless salvational: “None of us get away with anything.”

I realized this when I cheated on Anne. Even though we might lay cuddled, there was always something between our tightly intertwined bodies which prevented ultimate closeness, and the only thing which ameliorated that distance was coming clean about my infidelity. Poor girl. Poor lovely, unassuming young girl who was five years my senior. She wanted so badly to believe that her investment in me would pay off that she forgave me.

No. That’s not true. Forgiveness implies an even playing field. She was DESPERATE. I knew this. I knew I could act a fool and get away with it. And still, when I came clean it was only because I found my conscience -atrophied, jelly-like invalid that it was- irksome. I wanted to hold her closer for my own selfish indulgence, and the last good thing in me was screaming at me in its weakened state, “NO!”

I told her. She forgave me…not like she had a choice and my cuddles were as close after that as I needed them to be, no longer impeded by that thing I had been neglecting to feed and nurture.

If we can shut a yappy creature up and get ourself some respite, very often we will settle for that instead of a proper solution.

What a horrible state of affairs if that yappy creature whom we wish to toss only the merest sustenance to is our conscience.

Oh ladies who have loved me, I am so so sorry. I have wronged you so egregiously. I took what you freely gave at your most idealistic, and demanded more with no recompense. I am disgusted with myself.

I am haunted too. I am haunted by a selfish thought. The thought that is haunting me is this idea of 3. Three. Three women in your life. Three loves. That’s all you get. That’s all anyone gets. I look back on the women in my life trying to piece together who I loved, and who I didn’t actually love but who I just saw as an idealized projection of what I wanted. I hope to God the count is less than three. I hope I meet the love that will be so redefining in its depth that it will shift the goal-post and make me realize that everything I experienced before was just a shadow of the immaculate now where I find myself in union with a hopeful, unjaded feminine sweetness that loves me like Chelsea loved me, unconditionally.

That future is uncertain. I have thought about becoming a priest or turning to homosexuality over the last year because honestly, what do I have to offer the women I want; the sweet young women that I want, aside from rapaciousness and plunder?

And so I have become a man of faith. Perhaps all men of faith are motivated by a self-awareness of the transcendental nature of their error. I see my transgressions -for better or worse- as arithmetic figures to be punched into the perpetually tabulating equation of human suffering and misery. My act of faith is to absorb as much of that suffering as I can without letting it pass to the weaker around me who fall in love with me because of token, gestural demonstrations of strength and poise.

No, from now on I will shoulder the burden instread of passing it to them; not because anyone is watching and I am trying to get laid, but because I have learned experientially that the only way to redeem my suffering, to redeem the hurt I have inherited, is to minimize the suffering around me. And I so dearly need that respite so that I can become.

And here is the faith: If I do this, I trust that whatever happens will be the right thing. If it turns out that it is three strikes and I am out for women to love me, then I will take satisfaction that this is but one life and there will be another to get where I’m going.

If it turns out -God willing- that it has only been two, then I swear by everything that is holy that I will have the wide open eyes to recognize that beauty and not take it for granted like I was wont to do in the past. I won’t coast, but will work every day to make it better until it kills me.

If it is three I have already had then there might be another way…

My wandering vagabond lifestyle up to this point has been a blessing and a curse, but whatever I can say about it, it has made me choosy and refined in how I go about suffering. I want so badly to suffer for something with my enlightened perspective of how deeply meaningful suffering can be and how to shoulder it for the benefit of myself and everyone around me. I want to have my back against the wall and have people depend on me.

And I will get it…if I’m meant to in this life.

Again, faith.

I have difficult years ahead of me. Lots of credit I have been living on that has to be paid back. I am going to pay it back with a smile on my face. And if I have to buy a pack of tobacco to bolster me now and then, then I burn away my health and beauty gladly.



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