Photograph Me Like One Of Your French Girls

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Every morning I walk past a pet shop selling dog tweed coats. A dog’s tuxedo in American urban speak is referring to something hip or cool, or incredibly pointless and over the top. Some dogs have better outfits than some people, including me, I don’t own a Barbour jackets while my neighbor’s spaniel must have at least couple. Those lucky pooches in their dashing tweeds relishing their dog days in Hampstead Heath… Let’s move on to people. In my research about everything in hope to come up with the next great middle-class guardian article, dog tweed jackets progressed into men tweed jackets. Being vaguely familiar with London’s elite crowd, I alway held a certain stigma against Chelsea boys and their country houses, as a writer (and a single woman), I must keep an open mind, so I gave boys a second chance. In my research, I discovered an entire catalogue of young, wealthy and successfull young men – in tweed.

I alway held a certain stigma against Chelsea boys and their country houses, as a writer (and a single woman), I must keep an open mind, so I gave boys a second chance.

The online magazine’s journal entry read ’12 Men’ (in tweed). Each of the entries tells a story of culture savvy young gentlemen wearing a garment made of elusive cloth as an alternative to the City dress code. According to the writer, City dress code is a sign of frankly declining standards within the narrow brief leading to consensual disarray, [while] the purveyors of art are allowed to express themselves within a greater, more exciting gamut’. The disarray of so called City decadent culture is no match to the mix of Japanese cotton and merino yarn used in the fine attire of those elusive creative types of high society. They are men in their late 20s, early 30s championing the field of art dealers, artists and entrepreneurs. I held on to my objectivity until I came across the profile post of a guy whom I went on a date with a couple of weeks ago, courtesy of an acquaintance who genuinely believed we were made for each other.

Suddenly I felt like a definition of disarray, as sophisticated as a table cloth from Primark.

Suddenly I felt like a definition of disarray, as sophisticated as a table cloth from Primark. There he was – the full technicolour Mr. Dashing Tweed and his full blown contempt. I skipped the article and went straight for the selfie 2.0 (a video) taken by himself exclusively about himself, exclusively for himself. Weirdly enough there was nothing weird about it. Years of professional training by the best photography mentor in Florence, Mr. Dashing Tweed was a textbook definition of affluence and cultural opulence only presumably appreciated by the best of us. Well traveled, well spoken, well dressed, well mannered – every working class women’s wet dream. Sentence after sentence of this mediocre written testament of personal success, evading few real life details, life story which would bore a tabloid reader to death. But I had my own story.

I learned that you can actually reveal your drunk side without having a single drink.

At the beginning of our first spontaneous ‘let’s-get-it-over-with’ date I learned that Mr. Dashing Tweed carried multiple shades of tweed. My investigative side was working hard to find any dirt on his picture perfect resume, but I hit the dead end. There was no way I could complete this blog post without sounding class envy. I didn’t envy, I was rather curious why this man was still single. To my relief, in the course of our 3 hour date in the pub, I learned that you can actually reveal your drunk side without having a single drink. He didn’t drink. In fact, he doesn’t drink, smoke or does drugs. He photographs precious stones and fine jewellery, restores vintage cars, and wait for this, is a self-proclaimed vagina whisperer. He had me at the vagina.

While I was getting to know him, one large glass of rose couldn’t get me drunk enough to piece this epic story together. Screw vintage cars and bling – the man makes women come as a hobby. I must have had hit some universal jackpot. This is how the conversation went:

*talking about some superficial relationships and commitment issues*

MDT: *out of nowhere* Have you had a guy making you come during sex?

Me *Mrs. Red Face* Yeah, like once or twice….WHY DO YOU ASK?

MTD *genuinely surprised* : Really?! How did it happen?

Me: *about to pass out but still intrigued by the subject*: Erm…. Oral…..I guess… ?!

Did I just say oral sex on the first date? Where is this going? Is he suggesting something? IS HE?!

MRD: I’ve been with girls who never came in their lives and they only ever came with me.

He wasn’t kidding, and I wasn’t hallucinating. Mr. Dashing Tweed actually has a list of referees to testify on his behalf. He makes women come, and all of it is due to his genuine interest in female anatomy and general biology, also his ability to listen and make women relaxed in his presence. I tried to shake his confidence by suggesting that these (proverbial) women could be lying, but again science strikes back – Mr. Dashing Tweed knows when women come. Now, I have to give credit to this guy, despite his over self confidence and expertise in his field, he already answered three of the sphinx’s riddles: he knows WHERE clitoris is, HOW it works, and WHEN woman comes. He is well ahead of most of my dates. Women would agree that men, generally, don’t approach the subject with the same level of forensic accuracy. It’s women who usually read tomes of books on how to please your man.

He already answered three of the sphinx’s riddles: he knows WHERE clitoris is, HOW it works, and WHEN woman comes.

Mr. Dashing Tweed agreed although he couldn’t take the subject of the intercourse to the existential discussion. It was still a dirty talk, but he made it sound as if he was offering the best cup of tea of my life. The more I think about it, the more he deserves to brag about it, like speaking a foreign language or play a musical instrument. As intrigued as I was at the time, I wasn’t entirely convinced I should jump the shark and straight into bed with a clit whisperer. Mr. Dashing Tweed had something else up his Barbour sleeve. Turns out he was also a nude photographer. Pause for reaction. All his fascination with Man Ray’esque play of light didn’t stop at fine bling, he also liked to play with female curves, in an arty way of course.

Damn right it is an art. The mystique of a female body baffled men for ages. Putting them in corsets, high heels, bras and pantyhose, only for a sole purpose – to undress them. Mr. Dashing Tweed skipping the middle man as in seduction and courting, offers, presumably, what every woman wants – to get naked in front of the camera. This must be a hard sell as lots of women get naked in front of a man without the promise of a nude Instagram picture. Taking clothes off for art is more daunting. Why is it so? No brainer, especially when some of the most famous women in the world are now cautionary revenge tales. As liberated as would like to think of myself, I had to draw the line. Finding the shot of your bare arse somewhere on the internet does not sound liberating to me.

The offer was there, and it stood out like a sore thumb pointing at my mundane existence that I have been experiencing lately. In fact, I was craving something or someone out of line to remind myself there is more to life than the daily commute to work,  good manners, and a pension plan. The more I thought about the proposal, the more unsure I was. No way any of this spelled relationship, but it may as well be something I could tell my grandchildren perhaps? Maybe not. I kept it to myself of course. The night carried on, and I was feeling the weight of his advances. The more he spoke about nude photography, the more I drank in vain hope he would write me off as a wasted gutter woman, but ironically, it only gave him more reason to drag me to his studio around the corner. 

The storm was forecasted that night, and I had to make my move before I heard another ground breaking revelation from Mr. Dashing Tweed. By the time I walked through the door, the storm was in full swing, somewhat ominous. I haven’t slept very well that night, mostly because I was having nightmares about this date. Mr. Dashing Tweed followed up with one more message asking if I want to come down and pose for him on Thursday. There wasn’t really a decision to be made but told him I had to think about it anyway. A couple of weeks went by until I heard from him again and we met on a random Tuesday. Although he wasn’t my cup of tea, I still felt I need to give him another shot to redeem himself.

I was already familiar with his inability of maintaining a casual conversation for too long, perhaps it was the nerves, perhaps he is just too eccentric, may be just an arsehole.

Over the course of 40 minutes of our conversation, Mr. Dashing Tweed didn’t hold his breath making a small talk. I was already familiar with his inability of maintaining a casual conversation for too long, perhaps it was the nerves, perhaps he is just too eccentric, may be just an arsehole. The suggestion of visiting his studio came up one more time, and I took up on it. Driven by sheer curiosity and imposed ignorance I followed him into his basement photography studio. I must admit there was a small sigh of relief on my part it didn’t resemble a torture chamber.

It was filled with photography paraphernalia, it smelled of incense and looked like he spent a lot of time in there doing whatever he was doing. However, the topic of nude photography didn’t come up until then. I realised that the clearer I made myself about the offer the less likely he will spend another 10minutes trying to persuade me. I announced that nude photography just wasn’t for me, providing my reasons without trying to get him to understand them. There was a distinct annoyance in his voice as he was suggesting I should be more adventurous and live a little. My eyes rolled to the back of my skull, but I didn’t feel the need to disagree. Although I should have said that owning a camera doesn’t make you Man Ray and owning a professional studio doesn’t make you a professional. Neither the refusing to bare my arse in front of him make me a prude.

Owning a camera doesn’t make you Man Ray and owning a professional studio doesn’t make you a professional.

There was also something else. There was a huge gap between us, not only in terms of background and social status but also in the perception of actual reality.  Mr. Dashing Tweed inhibited a parallel universe which he carefully crafted for himself. In his universe, the women were gorgeous and naked, where he was rich and famous, where his status would grant him a right to act like an imbecile without ever being accused of it. He didn’t try to seduce me, even the attempt to kiss me was devoid of any affection. How can somebody with so many resources be so unimaginative? It didn’t bother me at all. All I tried to understand was how my friend who set us up thought we were ‘made for each other.’

I got two lessons out of this. One – no amount of luxurious Japanese cotton blend tweeds can give you class, no amount of education give you common sense and certainly no amount of pleased vaginas will bring you love. The other was never allow your friends to fix you up.

 

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Photograph Me Like One Of Your French Girls

Secret Life of an Anti-Hero

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLike a good novel, the character must be multilayered with a narrative perfectly answering the needs of the new audience. Last weekend I went on a date with somebody I actually really liked. He took me to see superhero movie followed by a long walk. I haven’t heard from him since.  I am suspecting my character wasn’t superhero enough. Some women are like coming of age sci-fi thriller,  I am more like post-apocalyptic teenage novel.

The society set strict rules on personal expression and prefer idealised scenes from classical mythology to anything resembling real life. People are increasingly hard to please these days. The lack of patience and abundance of choice, men and women are on the mission to find the existential eden where every one is good looking, young and successful. Life is getting tad bit too intense, we want simpler storyline, lower budget and better actors.

Number of times while I was executing my own happily ever-after story, I asked why my character had to be in a therapy? Why is she an  academic underachiever and why does she swear so much? Slowly I became my own antagonist. But then, on the second thought, world is a tough crowd to please.  No matter how hard you try to be Carry Bradshaw, there will always be someone who prefers Samantha.

Many of people we meet, arrived in our lives by accident therefore there is every chance they would leave at any moment; it is crucial they should never be made to work hard, the more familiar the storyline and the character type, the better. My heroine realised just being isn’t dramatic enough: she needed to offer something special. I struggled to grasp the concept of special.

Should my character embark on a spiritual journey beyond the self? She should embrace her neurosis, inferiority complexes and any other non-pathologised disorders to connect to other characters. She should engage in self-destructive activities, join the sub-culture or at least become the part of any resistance movement. And all of this cleverly packaged under veneer of successful and beautiful new age empowered woman! Would that keep my date captivated for at least three dates, before I unload the really heavy stuff, like how I know lyrics to all Backstreet Boys songs? Probably, yeah….

 

Secret Life of an Anti-Hero

It’s The Loneliest Time Of The Year

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Christmas time is probably the most extreme time of the year in terms of almost non-existent self-control accessorized with even less existent self reflection. I must have read a sad statistic somewhere once, probably in one of those pseudo scientific guardian articles on Facebook that the most relationships break in December, effectively me being the best example, while my friend told me a story how she got together with her ex just so she had somebody to cuddle up with on cold December nights. The idea appeared to be tempting, however I had to be realistic and question myself, even if there was a chance in hell of me bringing somebody out of the wood work, was I willing to go through 9 circles I got away from? I didn’t think so.

The thought of being alone on Christmas, yet again, seemed more unsettling this year than any other year. Perhaps it’s due to the inevitability of my 30th birthday in January, I naturally analyse things with rigorous forensic attention to detail – I don’t cut myself any slack and I even find it especially hard to entertain the possibility of any sort of harmless one night stands, because, like everything else, it no longer serves as a thrill, but a tedious obligation to your twenties, usually fuelled by alcohol and gaps in the judgement. I would much rather prefer waking up in the comfort of my own bed and weekend newspaper, than waking up to a stranger, regret and unresponded text message. This is the hell of my own making.

Medieval torture hangovers and puffy face are just a small reminders that I can no longer party like it’s 1999 and neither can I keep up with ever changing women beauty standards, credit card bills, pay gap, brexit, men chasing skirts, men wanting casual sex, men not being able to call women any more, tinder, bumble, grindr. Fair to say, I grew tired and cynical, and festive spirit hasn’t made an appearance just yet. The Christmas party glass is never quite half empty. I no longer believe in Santa Claus, but I believe in Christmas spirits – vodka, gin and brandy. Each of them have shown me the side of myself I wish to forget. This Dickensian fantasy is no more fictional than a drunken snog with your work colleague  – it happened, but nobody speaks about it.

The confession of the day is my world is suffering from vitamin and romance deficiency. My shrink said to me couple of months ago I need to stop being naive: the dating pool is getting shallower and I am not getting any younger, if I don’t make the single men train, soon I will be making home wrecker, divorcee and midlife crisis train. But she was wrong. It’s not the pool that’s getting shallower, it’s us, who are scraping the bottom of the mulled wine bottle.We shed a tear at Christmas ad, now we go and get drunk on festive eggnog cocktail, skimming over the fact that there is no-one waiting for us at home.

Happy Holidays.

It’s The Loneliest Time Of The Year

The Earthly Comedy

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I thought I would break away from writing about dating and once again write about the absence of it. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Recently I came across an Instagram account which was solely dedicated to celebration of being a single woman in her late 20s. It’s a satyrical mash of very tongue in cheek and sometimes crude and brutally honest memes, precisely depicting the grotesque reality of single girl’s life including such delightful routines as full body shave, staying in with your BFFs, celebrating phallic symbology, and of course – a great abundance of wine. Kind of what Bridget Jones was to women in 90s, howling to All By My Self in her pyjamas with a bottle of Shiraz on Saturday night.

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I got to thinking that may be people are taking relationships (or shall I say the absence of it) tad bit to seriously. Humour is much cheaper alternative to therapy and there is no better therapy than reversal therapy, which is why I could relate to this Instagram account. While Bridget Jones was educating women of the 90s that being a 30 year old ditzy woman who wears“mini skirts when they don’t have the legs for it” (Kristin Scott Thomas) is OK, it took the pressure off the pursuit of perfection, we are only humans and effectively it made us laugh, even though, it was a laugh through the tears. If you do it long enough, it can become a very valuable life mantra. The only way to stop oneself from wallowing and dying of a chronically broken heart is to laugh at it. Wouldn’t you agree? Not that I spend my days obsessing about being single, but I recognise the blunt fact that sometimes it makes more sense to be in a couple, both emotionally and financially, when you are in your 30s. It also means you can get laid on a regular basis at the very least.

It isn’t the big troubles in life that require character. Anybody can rise to a crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty hazards of the day with a laugh – I really think that requires spirit.
It’s the kind of character that I am going to develop. I am going to pretend that all life is just a game which I must play as skillfully and fairly as I can. If I lose, I am going to shrug my shoulders and laugh – also if I win.”
― Jean Webster, Daddy Long Legs

What is even more important, the number of people who can relate this this mantra. With solid 3 million followers on Instagram, laughing at yourself pays good cash. Bachelorettes are the new generation of women who fully embrace their sexuality and freedom to make bad decisions without the fear of being accused of unlady like behaviour,  however sometimes, I think, it projects an unhealthy message. Being a bachelorette in film and media is all about embracing male traits such as excessive drinking, promiscuity, objectification of the opposite sex, public urination, and generally antisocial behaviour. In short, turning a desperate situation into hopeless. May be it’s funny but I struggle to grasp a connection between comedy and idiocy. Real bachelorette doesn’t need to deal with hollywood style hangovers, health issues and of course, lets not forget unplanned pregnancy.  I may be going back to my victorian school of good manners, but lets just say, keeping within limits is still a better judgement call. Laugh may not be panacea for a broken heart or loneliness, however, it can certainly take the pressure of being imperfect creatures we are.

The Earthly Comedy

Gone In 60 Seconds

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Back in January, I found myself sitting in the cafe in a vain hope to cure my hangover with a litre of coffee and medium sized bowl of French fries. I was traveling solo to Paris for my birthday again. It was rainy Sunday morning and nothing was wrong about it. This year I spent my birthday in a rented AirBnb apartment hugging a bottle of champagne and listening to chansons. Getting old is a traumatic experience and that’s precisely why I celebrated my last birthday as a 20 something by hiding from the world in the attic in Pigalle. I could, on the other hand, stay in London and get drunk in the bar but I’ve been doing it through out my early 20s. It got old, just as me.

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It wasn’t entirely my choice to spend my birthday solo in the foreign country. Sometimes the force of circumstance can make you reconsider your plans, especially when they clash with other peoples plans.One thing I learned to appreciate with age however is optimism. Instead of mourning the last year of my twenties, I chose to venture out on my own and see what surprises the universe will throw at me. Any thing could happen. Who knows, Paris is a city of love.

I was supposed to catch a train back to London the same night. I love Paris and leaving it feels like leaving a warm bed on cold Monday mornings, however I am always intrigued by a possibility of a random romantic rendez-vous with a destiny in a form of a handsome single guy. That serendipitous moment when you realise that your entire life could transform forever, simply because, you were at the right place at the right time for a change. Like on that one night when I met a finance guy on the train from Camden to Waterloo. We were both drunk and he offered me a french fry from the box he found on the seat next to me, it was hardly romantic, yet I appreciated the momentum and remained appreciative until he stood me up on the third date. My life didn’t transform, yet I had one less frog to kiss.

f52d897a60419fa2568432e0b5756368On my way back to London, against all odds, I learned that I was sat next to rather handsome guy in his early 30s. He was half french half English and residing between Paris and London. I had to pinch myself. The whole encounter was exciting. We developed fondness of each other within seconds. It was a match made in heaven. Ten minutes into the journey we found out we both like same books, unfulfilled love stories, existentialism and festivals. Twenty minutes into the journey, we were drinking champagne and toasting to my birthday.

The rest of the journey was filled with deep meaningful conversations. Instead of feeling like the first date it felt like we’ve known each other for years. All this time however, I had a nagging thought which sounded pretty standard – this all seems to good to be true. I tried really hard to shake it off. To be fair, it’s not that all women are crazy and paranoid, usually it’s symptomatic of their past dating experiences, not their personality. And while everyone around me is slowly transitioning into the coupled up life, I couldn’t help but hope that may be it’s my time, may be, for once I will be able to come to a party and stop being looked at like I ‘m after literally everyone’s boyfriends, because, apparently, so many single women are…..

So there it was. After 2 months of casual dating something happened. The romantic french guy I met on Eurostar disappeared into the ether. Of course, in my mind, there could be only two reasons – either he died or lost his phone. Neither of these theories proved to be true. He’s well and sound, still glued to his phone and I still got no validation explaining 2 weeks of silence. Naturally, it’s not the first time a guy pulls Houdini on me, I already know that any attempt to get any closure would be in vain. I  may never be able to explain such mercurial change of his heart, neither I know how to be noble or wise about it so I went ahead and wrote this whole experience off as cosmic fuck up. Moving on dot com.

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Note: A month later a doomed text message came though and against the general opinion it carried no sign of remorse, regret or explanation of the unprecedented absence, instead it carried a nonchalant tone and a candid invitation for “Netflix and chill” or to be even more precise “Mubi and chill” because he is a classy guy, just like his actions. Of course, being as classy as I am myself,  I used this god sent opportunity to invite him to piss off (in a much classier choice of words of course) and get my much needed closure, which in an ideal scenario would have followed by a hand gesture. Since emoticon version of the hand gesture wasn’t robust enough to my liking, I decided not to spoil my revenge fantasy and left it to his imagination. Also, against the popular opinion, I also decided not to follow up and left it for better of for worse. The shift in power itself was a validation worth thousand word anyway. I can now put this tragic story to bed and look forward to my next trip to Paris in May! 

Gone In 60 Seconds

How the Modern Approach to Dating Has Come Back to Bite Everyone in the Ass

Modern dating rituals are heavily saturated with social media. It’s not a surprise for anyone. In fact tinder and Match.com soon will become synonyms for finding love (or at least a date for the night). Something like google did with word “search” – we are no longer searching words online, we google them. Rules of dating have changed, and unfortunately for me, a dating dinosaur, I was kicked out of the dating game a long time ago and if anything comes along on my horizon, it would only be a learning experience, not an actual manifestation of love. I thought I’d share an event. Almost as rare as a solar eclipse, a supermoon, and a spring equinox – all happening on one day. I was asked on a date. And I said no.

I thought I’d share an event. Almost as rare as a solar eclipse, a supermoon, and a spring equinox – all happening on the same day. I was asked on a date. And I said no.

Long gone are the days of Victorian chivalry. It’s a statement. Not a sigh. Despite the romanticized version of 19th century, belle epoch and Anna Karenina, it’s very unlikely any modern woman would like to take a trip down the timeline to meet Mr. Darcy for a cup of tea. Regardless of how noble notion of love may appear in classical literature, woman’s life was wasn’t exactly a romantic novel. To cut to the chase without going into too much detail on history, let me say this – there was a good reason for feminists of the 20th century to break down the walls imposed by society and although it still may feel like we are fighting windmills, dear ladies, we have made a progress.

A young woman of today virtually have no boundaries when it comes to dating. We no longer have to wait for a guy to make the first move. We are strong independent ladies who have a right to go after anything we want, without anyone’s permission. No more waiting by the phone for the text to come through – if I need it I can send it first. Female emancipation has brought many positive changes to modern woman’s life but where does it leave men? Taking power into our hands just because we don’t like waiting for anything and because we *think* we have more courage than guys, doesn’t exactly spell success. If it’s so easy, then are there so many single women waiting for a guy to ask them out and guys never do? I had my answer last week. With women being so proactive and forward thinking, it never even occurred to me that there are young guys in their early twenties out there who literally have never asked a girl out – girls would always do it first.

Female emancipation has brought many positive changes to modern woman’s life but where does it leave men?

I’m not suggesting that women should suppress our fundamental right to practice our free will, I am saying that by taking away the pleasure of pursuit from men, we are training a generation of guys who need to go through 9 circles of hell when being faced with a reality of asking a girl out. And it’s not because guys aren’t brave. They are! Just some of them have no idea how it’s done. I mean if the antelope is coming straight into your pawns, why bother hunting? And I wish I was making this up.

Last week I witnessed the most heartbreaking attempt of asking me out ever. A guy, who’s name I won’t name for privacy reasons, nearly had a stroke trying to put words in his mouth which sounded pretty much like that – Yuna, will you go out with me? The guy looked in physical pain and it was almost just as painful to watch as it was for him to say it. What’s my problem you may ask? A guy asked me out, I should be flattered not horrified.

The problem was the following. For a handsome and fairly successful lad in his early twenties getting a girl is not a brainer. Sometimes I am really surprised by the audacity of younger guys approaching me in the most nonchalant manner, but this guy, as opposed to the latter, never had to do it. As I mentioned before, women are so unorthodox in the matters of the heart, it leaves no room for pursuit, for game playing or any proverbial mystery for that matter, and it’s not a good thing. I have said it before. I am old fashioned and I believe in gender role play. Despite adopting a feminist point of view, I am still a firm believer in pursuit. I also think that a guy should never be experiencing THIS amount stress when asking a girl out.

But may be I’m too conservative. May be I’m resisting the change, I mean I’m not even sure how this works in gay relationships. All I know, there is a whole new generation of young guys and girls who are inventing new relationship rules and I am just having hard time understanding it because I was born in 80s, who knows. The bottom line is, men and women roles in the society became blended and sometimes it hard to tell who’s supposed to do what. However I think it would still be nice if a guy asked me out in a way that does not give him a panic attack. Or may be… let’s just scrap the whole blog post because Katherine Hepburn put it much better in a fewer words… Who cares about rules anyway! In love – there are no rules.

Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.

– Katherine Hepburn

How the Modern Approach to Dating Has Come Back to Bite Everyone in the Ass