* 200 articles. Two years. Whelk. The best of Upsideclown. Might be reprinted.

Rights Management

20 November 2003
Dan has intellectual property issues.

The smile I have just given the woman I slept with last night is a slight variation on a smile I first used in 1992. As a smile, it is intended to convey a degree of trustworthiness in combination with a slightly melancholic recognition of the imperfection of those parts of the world not intimately associated with the current companion and the current situation. It is a knowing smile with the suggestion of having known too much.

The first and perhaps most successful use of this smile occurred outside a school sports hall, in which a party was going on, and was used to interrupt a story I was telling about my parent's divorce, which was suitably traumatic and involved. The smile had been preceded by the manly choking back of a sob, which had lain fallow as a mannerism since the early teens, and was followed by what was intended to be a knowing, what-can-you-do shrug but actually came out more like a twitch or shudder. I've worked a lot on this movement since, and I have no idea what went wrong that time; possibly I was just trying to do too much. I was at the time trying to impress with my manly and stoic acceptance of suffering a girl, also 15, who was from a respectable Christian family and frankly boggle-eyed at the whole sordid tale. The realisation that telling people about my baroque home life was only going to get me sex with goths was released in its first iteration two years later, followed by a modification to the effect that, actually, having sex with goths was indoor work without too much heavy lifting and so should not necessarily be sniffed at.

But to return. The success of this smile at the first time of asking is debatable. At the time, it got me a concerned look and a brief hand-squeeze. Fortunately, being 15 and at a single-sex school, I was able to spin this off into weeks of tortuous and at times torturous self-abuse. Unfortunately, it also marked the beginnings of an utterly unsuitable crush based purely on the perceived likelihood of any other female getting through the barbed wire at the top of the gates.

On the whole, not a great success, ending as it did in mumbling confession of love, response of utter incomprehension and threats of violence from older brother. Hers, not mine.

Still, the process of development always requires a few hits and a lot of misses. Did Microsoft give up just because their first two or three dozen operating systems were puddles of shiny wank? They did not, and now we have Windows XP. So that's all right. A lengthy process of tweaking and examination ensued, eventually producing a versatile and powerful tool with a number of applications.

The recipient of this smile is tousled, half-asleep and has pillow marks on her face. Her name, of course, I recall, along with her stated preference for black coffee in the morning (already percolating - the vision of metropolitan perfection painted here need be moderated only by the fact that my kitchen is only slightly larger than I am, and has mice only slightly smaller than it is). She reminds me slightly, in fact, of the first person to whom I addressed this smile and also in a different way, based primarily around the way she wears her hair, of the fifth, by which time it had worked (in a limited and I now acknowledge entirely unsatisfactory sense) twice, once on a gothette and once on the proud owner of an equally disrupted and unhappy home life who shortly thereafter invited me to a musical celebration of self-harm and generally confirmed many prejudices about girls from Rodean that I had always held.

In five minutes or so, she will spill coffee over the shirt of mine that she is wearing in perhaps the most cliched possible device to express the fact that we had sex the previous night. I will struggle to suppress my irritation, and will have to explain in a stilted fashion on a stilted second evening that the shirt in question was a gift from my mother and, although it seems ridiculous, one of a fairly small number of things I have to remember her by. After a much less stilted third meeting, I will admit that, possessing though it does great sentimental value, it is perhaps one of the ugliest shirts on God's clean Earth. Later, I will try very hard not to associate her decision to sleep with me again with my mother.

But right now there she is, on the receiving end as she gets out of bed of approximately the same smile that signalled the desire to get her into bed in the first place. As mentioned, versatile and powerful.

Last night it meant something like look at that ridiculous crowd of fools. We are different. We are like each other. We will like each other.

Today, this morning, it means that we retain that understanding. We can share an exhausted but brilliant rejection of the conditions that less able minds might expect. Conversation. Conversation. Completion. Completeness. But we are too clever to ask for anything like that. We know better. We will know each other better.

In two months' time the same smile will mean we never promised each other fidelity.

In a year it will mean that I have no idea how it happened, but it happened. I love you, and there is no part of me that could ever not love you.

In five years it will at best be bitter, one of those coping mechanisms, a way to transfer feeling shitty by voodoo. I don't know who will cheat. If you do, please for God's sake tell me now.

Ten years and we only want the best for the kid. The smile is recognition that neither of us planned this. Neither of us planned this. And we both understand just how badly that fails as reason or excuse.

Smile. Smile. The same smile, and as I made love last night in a manner drawing from but not limited to similar incidences in 1991, 1992, most of 1993-1997 and some of the less recondite parts of 2002, what made me close my eyes and think about 1999 was the same smile, glinting back in the low mood lighting.


This is the fucking archive

Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
30 October 2003. Dan writes: My only goal
9 October 2003. Dan writes: The Knot
18 September 2003. Dan writes: The Engelbart Elephant
28 August 2003. Dan writes: The Amity Index
7 August 2003. Dan writes: This Sporting Life
17 July 2003. Dan writes: Touch
26 June 2003. Dan writes: Metadata
5 June 2003. Dan writes: Street Mate
15 May 2003. Dan writes: Usher's Well
24 April 2003. Dan writes: Medicamenta
3 April 2003. Dan writes: Weapons of Mass Construction
13 March 2003. Dan writes: David Sneddon, Bukake Secret Agent
20 February 2003. Dan writes: Mary Sue
30 January 2003. Dan writes: Bait and Switch
9 January 2003. Dan writes: What Never Happened
19 December 2002. Dan writes: Sermon on the Mount the Face
28 November 2002. Dan writes: Ballroom Blitz
7 November 2002. Dan writes: The Photographer
17 October 2002. Dan writes: Diaphragmatic
26 September 2002. Dan writes: A life in the day
5 September 2002. Dan writes: Different Class
15 August 2002. Dan writes: Story and sequel
25 July 2002. Dan writes: Fellatious
4 July 2002. Dan writes: Skin Mag
10 June 2002. Dan writes: The Ibizan book of the Dead
16 May 2002. Dan writes: The Sissons Situation
22 April 2002. Dan writes: UpsideClown and Out in Hollywood
28 March 2002. Dan writes: Nereus' Daughters
4 March 2002. Dan writes: Diomedes
7 February 2002. Dan writes: Text Only
14 January 2002. Dan writes: Civil Engineering
20 December 2001. Dan writes: Nativity
26 November 2001. Dan writes: The Wedding Band
1 November 2001. Dan writes: what dreans mecum?
8 October 2001. Dan writes: Stop me if you've heard this one before
13 September 2001. Dan writes: Mother of the Muses
20 August 2001. Dan writes: I say I say I say
26 July 2001. Dan writes: Bigger, Better, Brother
2 July 2001. Dan writes: Hecatomb
7 June 2001. Dan writes: Dispassionate Leave
14 May 2001. Dan writes: Small Town Boy
19 April 2001. Dan writes: Maintaining the Driving Line
26 March 2001. Dan writes: Cut and Paste
1 March 2001. Dan writes: Redemption
5 February 2001. Dan writes: Blyton the Face of the Earth
8 January 2001. Dan writes: Smoke Signals
18 December 2000. Dan writes: The Loa Depths
23 November 2000. Dan writes: The Limits of Melissa Joan Hart
30 October 2000. Dan writes: Shiftwork
5 October 2000. Dan writes: Dawson
11 September 2000. Dan writes: Testing Times
17 August 2000. Dan writes: Onanova
3 July 2000. Dan writes: Roboto il Diavolo

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