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Archive for November, 2010

Remember a time, when men ruled the world? Women made the sandwiches, men made the money, and everyone was pretty much happy.

Don’t get me wrong; the feminist movement was a blast and I appreciate being able to exert my genius somewhere outside the kitchen and bedroom. The problem is, while we were busy becoming martini-drinking, heel-wearing career-aspiring women, we didn’t notice the subsequent extinction of man.

I mean they still have all the relevant parts, but they lack any male conviction. Back in the day, if a guy wanted a girl he’d damn sure get her. Now they wait by their mobile phones, update their statuses twenty times a day and expect us to chase them. In the mean time they’ve fed us some elaborate story about it being the 21st century and women asking out men… and we’ve gone ahead and believed it.

The ugly truth of it is, they’d rather not risk the chance of rejection: why put your ego in a compromising position, when you can just train the girls to come to you. Then put them, in all the positions you like.

Now my Grandma was a hottie and a half, I’ve seen the pictures: she was a babe. My granddad on the other hand was what you’d call average. Yet when he laid eyes on her for the first time in that South London kebab shop (I kid you not that’s how they met) he didn’t wait around for her to ask him out; he just went right on over there, brought her a chicken pie and knew before she’d even finished it that she was his.

The truth is, every girl wants a guy who isn’t afraid to walk across the room, tell her to shut up, and buy her a saveloy. But somewhere between the kebab shop and the new millennium, the Alpha male died out and us girls were left to open our own pickle jars.

Around the same time girls developed attitude, guys decided we seemed a lot like hard work. Back in the day men weren’t afraid of a girl with opinions, because they knew exactly how to keep them quiet.  A gag in the kitchen is dictatorship, but a gag in the bedroom is just good fun.

Then, along came metrosexuality.

I don’t know which fool first decided imitation was a brilliant way to attract girls, but now half of them walk about in skinny jeans and long hair (a look which has never been, and will never be, attractive on a man). I’m just saying if a guys thighs look better in a pair of jeans than mine do, he should assume he’s never going to hear from me again. And by better I mean thinner of course.

As for the other half, do not be fooled by their manly exterior. They may open beer bottles with their teeth and venture into the gym every once in a while, but their main dating strategy consists of liking a girls photos on Facebook and subtly hinting that they like you.

Gentlemen take it from me: telling a girl you like her (manly) letting her drop you off home after a first date (not even a bit sexy), take a cab or learn to drive. Waiting for a girl to text you first (pathetic) actually managing to get a girl to text you first (pretty impressive actually, you must be better looking than I thought).

Now, back in the day cavemen would pick their mate, drag her to their cave and impress her with the size of his club. I’m not advising that as an approach, I’m just saying the whole dominance thing seemed to work quite well for them.

They knew the secret to dating you see. If this one doesn’t like you, the next one will. And hopefully she’ll have less opinions and bigger breasts.

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Image by Miranda Athanasiou 2010

My parents came back from Cyprus yesterday with two suitcases full of food. They seem to think you can’t buy limes and halloumi cheese in England.

It’s all part of being Cypriot you see. Sainsbury’s: culture at your doorstep, so you’d think… but no no, why buy olives when you can take a mere four hour flight to the Cypriot mountains and pick them fresh from your own trees.

Then of course comes the olive oil. With that many olives, you can’t not make olive oil.

And then once you make the olive oil you convince yourself if goes with everything. The other day my dad made me a chicken sandwich, only instead of butter he used olive oil. “Really, are we doing this now?”

He looked so proud “you can really taste the olives can’t you”. Well you would hope so George. Two days ago they were still hanging merrily on a tree.

And lets not forget the pitta bread now. Not one or two packets, but twenty. Twenty packets of pitta bread somehow stuffed into their hand luggage and flown over because this particular brand isn’t sold in the UK. And what’s better about this brand? The pitta’s are about three times the size of the ones sold over here, and heaven forbid we eat less, when we have the possibility of eating more.

I’ll give them this, when it comes to Mediterranean eccentricities, my family are top notch. Like having a son- kind of a big deal, to most men I’d assume, but to Cypriot men in particular.

While my dad has always claimed having two daughters is more than enough to deal with, the fact he calls my dog his “son” makes he feel he’s not being entirely honest with us.

My Brother. Image: Athanasiou 2010

So fair enough, he lavishes a little attention on the dog; he treats him like an addition to the family. He makes him eat salad with his barbequed chicken so he stays a ‘healthy boy’; it doesn’t bother me. And I’ll give it to him, Patchy is the better behaved of his three children.

Though I did feel using my £40 shampoo and conditioners to bath my four-legged brother was a step too far. What can I say; nothing is too good for a Cypriot man’s son.

Of course this is all just the tip of the very Greek iceberg.

We talk about seven times louder than other people. Not because we have a problem with our hearing but because we like to talk over each other. Why wait your turn to talk when you can just go right ahead and speak over the person who’s already talking? That’s just wasting valuable eating time.

Don’t get me wrong, I think being Cypriot is kind of fun. It’s helped me master the art of competitive eating (when Sunday lunch consists of 30 people you eat fast or you don’t eat at all). Not to mention the money I’ve managed to con out of my uncles who are always up for a bet: “if I eat these 5 hot chilli’s you give me £40 each”.

Fine so I had my tongue on ice for the rest of that week, but baby I was rich.

Marriage is another biggie. I think my grandma is trying to set me up with a cousin; a second or third cousin, but a cousin all the same. Getting married, having Greek babies, learning to make little filo-pastry pies: all very important on a Cypriot girl’s agenda.

I hope it doesn’t break their hearts when I announce the idea of marriage before I’m 30 (pretty damn scary) and as for babies, we’ll I’ve never been a fan.

Perhaps I should break it to them over a nice spinach and olive pie. You know, to ease the blow.


My Big Fat Greek Wedding: another insight into Cypriot culture.

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Him: S’cuse me, I wondered if you could help me.
Me: Yes?
Him: I have a lactose intolerance… got milk? *stares blatantly at my breasts*
Me: *unimpressed*

There is not enough Jack Daniels in the world to make a line like that work. It’s not that I have anything against chat up lines; but perhaps in the 30 seconds it takes you to walk from your end of the bar to mine, you can think of something to talk about which doesn’t involve my bra.

The problem is any fool with a half-baked line he read on google thinks he can pull it off and I’m here to set the record straight.

Just because a few vodka-ed up girls with self-esteem issues have thrown themselves at you after you reel off some line about her dress looking great on your bedroom floor, doesn’t mean it’s going to work on me. Or in fact on anyone with an IQ above 40.

“Do you believe in love at first sight … or should I walk past again?”
For goodness sake go back to the drawing board and come back with something I haven’t heard twenty times before. There’s this thing called originality, why don’t you shock me to death and try it once in a while.

“There are 256 bones in your body! Would you like another?”
Pretty damn funny but you’re still going home alone. While I love a confident guy as much as the next girl, you don’t have to make it quite so clear that you think I look easier than a Sunday morning.

In fact this goes hand in hand with the guys that pester you to text them pictures of yourself a week after you’ve met them. “Please babe send me a picture of you in that sexy outfit” – calm down mate, you bought me a £3.99 glass of wine from Weatherspoons and now you expect a peep show? Heaven forbid you paid for a cinema ticket, who knows what you would expect from me then.

“I’m not saying this 2 impress you but, I’m batman!!!”
I’m not lying; I’d probably take this one home. What can I say; I’m a sucker for a man with a good sense of humour.

I mean there are guys who think they’re funny. Guys who look funny, guys who try so hard to be funny. But a guy who can actually string a sentence together and produce something that elicits a genuine laugh? Well ladies, if you’re reading, send that guy all the pictures he wants. He’s a dying breed and it’s our duty to do what we can to keep the species alive.

And for the gentlemen who aren’t comically inclined? Well I have a tip for you too: hit the gym. If you can’t make me laugh, then at the very least provide a Danny Cipriani-esque body to distract me from that fact.

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A first date is like roast dinner, if you follow the recipe you can’t go wrong. So call me Martha Stewart and take note.

Firstly, coming from a girl who has a naturally sultry (fine moody) looking face, believe me, a smile goes a long way. Spinach teeth syndrome aside – brush, floss, rinse please – it’s always nice to give your date a little indication you’re not inwardly singing along to Rupert Holmes Pina Colada song.

You notice the occasional dramatic pause at the end of every few sentences? He’s not waiting for you to input your opinion; he just tried to make a funny, and is waiting for your reaction. Insert smile here, or if you really like him, go all out and fake a laugh. And if the laugh is genuine? Well then lady he’s a keeper.

Physical contact is always a hard one to master. One of the most exciting parts of a first date is the sexual electricity that comes from never having touched before. In these moments, every ‘accidental’ graze of the knee and soft brush of the arm is like foreplay. Men are like little children and you are their toy; it’s not of much interest until someone tells them they’re not allowed to play with it. So in this case, less is more.

My next tip: seamless underwear. At one point in the date, you will go to the restroom. Partly because it’s nice to check your lipstick hadn’t got smeared onto your teeth from all the earlier smiling, but mostly because you want him to watch as you walk away. Work on your walk if you have to: storming off to the ladies with a walk last seen on Jurassic Park will probably mean his plans for a hot dessert, now involve something available on the menu.

For numerous reasons I will be stating shortly, I feel heels on a first date and the toilet-trip-saunter go hand in hand. A nice pair of six inchers will lift your butt, lengthen your legs and give you something to measure him by. I feel I can say this without generating offence, as I too am vertically challenged: if a man is shorter than you in heels, dump him. That’s my professional opinion and I’m sticking to it. There are exceptions I’m sure, but life’s too short for me to list them.

If your first date involves eating, I have two words for you… small bites. You’re mouth is supposed to be a desirable and sensual haven; chewing like a hyena and talking with your mouthful are qualities you want to hide from him as long as possible.

And lets be adults about this now, whether you like it or not, through the eyes of a man, your mouth is a pleasure portal. Honestly, if you allow yours to resemble a mousetrap, I assure you, his desire to run away will overpower his need for cheese.

Now time for a little mathematics: also known as, the first kiss. Not all first dates end with a kiss, sometimes the guy wants to leave you with the illusion that he respects you, other times he’s just shy. Now I don’t care if you’ve been staring lustfully at his lips all night and feel you may implode if he doesn’t press them against yours imminently.

You give him 20% – no more. That is the furthest you can lean forward without it seeming like you’re going to kiss him. You close the distance, and if he wants to kiss you, he’ll do the rest. But be careful, if he does start closing in on you, don’t jump straight for his mouth, as there’s a chance he’s just going for the cheek. I speak from experience. Poor boy seemed to think I just got lost on the way to his lips.

Infallible flirting tips aside; there is one aspect I cannot help you with. I can give you the wood to start a fire; I can give you the gasoline to douse it with, but if you don’t have a match to start the spark, don’t expect your world to catch alight. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes you need a little more than physical attraction; unfortunately great arms and a sexy smile can only get you so far.

Now when it comes to all this ‘true love’ malarkey, I’m the first to admit I’m a bit of a cynic. However, I’m ready to throw a bone to the romantics of the world and acknowledge that when you meet someone worthwhile, it feels like November 5th every day.

After all, every girl knows deep down when a guy’s worth shaving her legs for.

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How To Be Happy.

I took an online optimism quiz the other day which informed me I am a pessimist (as if I needed a quiz to tell me that).

What threw me off was the little encouraging note at the bottom of the page saying “don’t worry you can change!” Never a good sign when you’re computer starts giving you life advice is it? I am only left to wonder if the subsequent pop up I received 30 seconds later entitled “stress management” was a coincidence.

I remembered someone once told me, if you smile for one minute every morning, it tricks your body into releasing happy endorphins into your body and in turn makes you happier.

Having been struck down with a momentary bout of optimism (and wanting to put my computer in its place) I decided to attempt a one-week trial. And it seemed to work well enough until one morning I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, un-brushed teeth, frizzy hair, pink fluffy bathrobe and a Cheshire cat smile. I looked insane (a look I’ll admit I’m not totally unfamiliar with, but not one I’d ever want to be optionally submitted to again).

In fact I’m convinced the person who came up with this theory worked as a secret spy for crème-de-la-mer or Olay and whose job is to provoke the production of deep-set wrinkles. The only thing better than unhappy women, are unhappy women wanting to spend a fortune in eradicating their new smile lines.

Someone else once informed me eating a chocolate bar a day helps with inner happiness. Their explanation involved something or other about neurotransmitters and mood levels influenced by chocolate, I phased out almost immediately, they’d sold me at ‘chocolate’. Come on now, using chocolate as a mood elevator, yes please, what next, fudge cake for toothache? Because you can sign me up for that trial too.

And while the Mars bar solution to life made me happy for a while, the subsequent £100 gym fee I had to pay so I could fit into my jeans again did not make me happy at all. In fact the opposite, I wanted to find the person whose great idea this was and ram an airport sized Toblerone down their throat. Somehow, I refrained.

Then, upon my quest for permanent happiness, I stumbled upon this thing called optimism; rumour has it, it does wonders for the heart. So if you happen to be a glass half empty kind of person, take note:

If someone knocks off your wing mirror on the way to work, the world isn’t against you, you just happened to cross the path of moron. You go on a bad date… you’re not going to end up a spinster and this isn’t a sign that you should stop wearing makeup and shaving your legs- you simply need to think of it as one frog closer to your prince. You’re best friend hasn’t returned your call in three days and your convinced he’s found someone less mentally imbalanced to watch Match of the Day with? No, he just has the memory of a goldfish.

Why none of this had ever occurred to me before, I’m not quite sure. Forget mood elevators and Jack Daniels, the solution to all of life’s problems is a lot of optimism with a pinch of denial.

However before we get too ahead of ourselves with all this glass-half-full business, I’d like to make a point that a little cynicism never did go completely amiss. Floating away on a little bubble of optimism just sets you up for disappointment: and that if you ask me (which I think you should), is the worst kind of unhappiness.

The best way to live is with a lot of ambition, and not too many expectations. And while apparently money can’t buy you happiness, as a lover of high shoes and fast cars, I’d tend to disagree. But for those less materialistic seekers of joy I suggest you wake up every day, and aim to do at least one thing that is guaranteed to make you happy; be it eating 4 custard doughnuts in a row or listening to David Guetta’s new tune twenty times in row – because everyone knows butchering is a song is the only way to show your love for it.

But whatever it is you do that makes you happy, for goodness sake don’t smile too much, because those wrinkle creams do not work at all.

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Number one: do not insert your penis into any other area of any other woman. It does not matter how substantial your excuse may be, forgiveness is out of the question. Some women are insecure enough to stand by you despite your penal misdirection, but they’ll never truly forgive you.

I mean feel free to give it your best shot, and get real creative with the excuses; but it still won’t be good enough. Someone spiked your orange juice with Viagra and then you tripped over your pants and fell into her? Yawn. Better yet, you had an incurable disease and she was the only cure. I’m just not interested, and neither will she be.

Number two: Don’t always give her what she wants. Didn’t expect that one did you? Well I’m admitting that us women can be a bit of a handful, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put us back in our place (and no I’m not referring to the kitchen). Someone telling me to sit down and stop being so bloody annoying: kind of a turn on. After all, if I wanted a doormat I’d go to B&Q.

Alternatively some ladies demand a lot of presents (usually an after effect of the daddy’s girl syndrome) and while there’s nothing wrong with wanting, they should also become familiarised with the word ‘no’.  Eventually you’re going to have to decipher whom she’s planning on getting serious with: you or your credit card. And if it is the credit card, then you need to tell her to unhand the Prada and get a Saturday job.

Other girls demand a lot of time. Remember those guys you used to watch Top Gear with, the ones who used to kick your butt at Call of Duty, the ones who you’d watch every Spurs match of the season with? You know… your friends. Well they are unimpressed with the fact that every Friday night you now abandon them to be with your subsequent lover, feeding each other grapes, or whatever it is people in relationships do these days. And they will remain unimpressed four months down the line when you’ve broken up with your ball and chain and want someone to drown your sorrows with.

Number three: Don’t tell her you love her, unless you happen to mean it. Not being fully acquainted with the emotion myself, I’ll keep the advice giving at a minimum. Every girl wants to be told they’re loved. No girl wants to be told she’s loved only to find out three weeks later that what you actually loved was the fact she makes a killer hot-pot and bends like a pretzel.

Print this out if you have to, tattoo it to your foot, anything you like: stick to this guide and the chances of your past lovers torturing a miniature-voodoo-you on a weekly basis in hopes you’ll fall down the stairs and break both your arms will be significantly reduced. As the meerkat would say… simples.

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