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Two Extremes

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Nexus
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Posted 01/26/13 - 8:23 PM:
Subject: Two Extremes
Two Extremes


In 'Two Extremes' we bring people together from - yes you guessed it - completely different backgrounds, to see how they manage living with each other for, not a day, not two days, but one whole week! To add to the drama they'll also be hoping to meet somebody who might just become that 'somebody special'. We aim to prove the theory that opposites attract by taking a man and a woman who, if they looked at the details of the other's life on paper, would probably turn up their nose in disgust. Last week Pam, an unemployed single mother from a Glasgow estate, tried a week living with the Conservative Party activist Jeremy Blakemore who, in the past, had done little to disguise his views on those in Pam's position. We all enjoyed watching two strong wills meeting head on but many may have been surprised at how people from such different walks of life managed to find common ground while we were all disappointed when cupid failed to fire his arrow.

Luckily she doesn't actually stay overnight - though I'm sure when they edit the thing together they'll give the impression she did. They provide a hotel room nearby, it's probably five star, she wouldn't agree to anything else, that's the life she's used to from what I gather. I will come across as some kind of freak while she will be viewed as quite sane and normal by most. I live in a mobile home - by choice - and my name is Christian. I am twenty eight years old, I have a university degree and have been living like this - jobless, roleless, single and utterly broke - completely by choice for five years.

I only really need money for fuel for the vehicle, food I get from supermarket bins mainly, I make many of my clothes or pick them up from charity stores. I sell the wooden sculptures I carve at open markets and this makes enough for essentials - I sometimes trade them with friends for things I need. I do not watch television, radio and the occasional newspaper read at the library are the closest thing I get to the collective consciousness. The producers of the show found me through a website some of my friends set up. We all live similar kinds of lives, they decided to utilise technology to share how we live with others out there who were looking for an out - to show that there is another way to live if you make efforts. I was reluctant to get involved with the programme but was persuaded by others that it would promote, well, our 'cause' I suppose. None of us seriously thought whoever was my partner for the week would be turned on by how I live; obviously the latter was going to cast a veil over who I am as a person, however much we hit it off they were not going, in all likelihood, to go for the way I live. And that woman! They really went out of their way, they really went to extremes. What the hell does she want out of this? She's minted and lives the life of a movie starlet but for some reason was persuaded to spend a week with the most dropped-out of drop-outs imaginable. I believe it is because somewhere, whether she acknowledges it or not, she is searching, there is a void beneath the veneer, the money soaked surface of her life. Consciously she's doing it out of some weird desire for publicity, she wants her friends to see her on television doing something a bit perverse, it'll make a nice conversation topic for a while. Yet something has got to be ringing hollow I think - in her slick lifestyle - and if this is the case it proves that our way of life is valid, that what we are falling away from is a way of life that rings falsely when you tap it hard enough and listen closely.

Yesterday Gina turned her nose up at eating the meal that Christian had prepared from the cast-off's he had found in Tesco's bins. He played songs for her on his guitar but this didn't seem to do the trick as the woman who is used to being treated like a princess looked ready to run back to her gold plated comforts the first chance she got. During the evening walk by the river however Christian claimed that she seemed to be letting down her defences a little. He soon grew irritated, however, when she began to quiz him about his sex life.

"She was rather taken aback when I told her I hadn't slept with anybody for five years."

"But she became rather aggressive in her attitude, she was really probing you wasn't she.."

"She gets what she wants, her life is directed by pleasure. She can't seem to understand that pleasure can take all kinds of forms. She wouldn't have had much time for Epicurus - paying attention to 'small' things like the taste of food, silence, the look of the sky. I tried to explain why I live like this to her by the river but she was just turning her nose up. She doesn't want to listen."

Thank God I get to go back to a decent room at night. It gets exhausting being watched by that fucking film crew all the time. You never know what shots they're going to use so you have to try and be reasonable even when you actually feel like screaming. I have never met such a dope. Under that beard and woolly jumper there might be a quite nice looking guy but that nonsense he comes out with all the time you just don't care anyway. I want to just come straight out with it and tell him I think the way he lives is basically disgusting. How can he touch that food? He uses a portable toilet for Christ's sake. Doesn't he get it? Technology was invented for a reason, plumbing isn't just for decoration, it carries all the shit away so you don't have to leave it sitting in a bucket near where you cook. I told him about spending a week on a friend's yacht in the Caribbean and barely anything registered. He seemed to think that puny sunset by the river was just as good, 'it's on tap' he said, 'but most people don't see it'. He drives that heap around the country looking for 'places of beauty'; fair enough, but what if everybody chose to live like that? How would he get hold of the petrol to go in his van - they'd be nobody to take it out of the ground, to ship it over and sell it. The roads wouldn't be fit to drive on, and he certainly couldn't go rooting around in supermarket bins as there wouldn't be any supermarkets. Everybody would be growing their own I suppose - he's a fucking vegetarian as well - and the food would taste like shit. And the clothes! I suppose he'd think I looked great in my peasant gear, no whites, no colours - shades of grey and dull tones, drabness everywhere.

Tonight Christian has brought Gina to a gathering of friends. When they can, Christian and the others get together to exchange gifts, sing, eat and generally enjoy not being like everybody else. The food looks great but when Gina discovers it is sourced from supermarket bins rather than the most choice retail establishments she pulls a grimace Christian seems to be getting used to now. She accepts a Mars bar on discovering the sell by date is still valid and confesses she hasn't eaten one since she was a child.

"He did sing really well actually, I'll give him that. The kids were really polite, most of them don't even go to school, I was expected them to be quite wild. As I don't share their beliefs I found it hard to really get in tune with what was going on though."

"But was that necessary? Why do you have to 'believe' in what was basically just an evening of fun?"

"Well I didn't have much fun. It isn't my scene, I suppose I've got used to a certain standard of living and it is almost impossible to, well, you know..."

"Do you find him attractive?"

"I must admit, I've been at such a loose end I have found myself wondering what he would look like without that beard and with some decent clothes on. The outdoors lifestyle has kept him in shape at least. Not that I'm interested in seeing him naked or anything..."

What substance is there in this life she lives at the end of the day? I saw some kind of recognition, even a glimmer of joy, when Ben's kids gave her the figurine they'd made but it soon flickered out. Everybody was really welcoming and interested in her glamorous lifestyle but she answered politely and tried to disappear from view, probably dreaming about a bath with oils in that expensive hotel. When the kids had disappeared she let her hair down a bit I suppose but it was in this self-satisfied way. It was curious, really, her version of free love. No regular lover at the moment but plenty of 'fuck buddies' who she can call up when the urge takes her. Jesus, we're hippies, we invented all that, nobody was shocked when she said it. Sometimes I wonder if I'd been around in the sixties I'd be that kind of hippy but I doubt it. Among my friends most women are already with partners or... I don't know, I think unless it's serious then I wouldn't want to be involved sexually. I haven't met any young, vital women who want to live like this and so it never gets that far. They want their boring repetitive jobs and boring repetitive lives because they can dress up and go to night clubs at weekends or sit in nice restaurants and talk about superficial things with friends they don't really pay much attention to. Plug into the television feed, find illusory security in being part of the herd, surf the web and create an identity for the week, never feel too deeply because there you begin to grow uneasy - one day you will grow older and the fancy fashions won't hide it, you'll look at the guy you shacked up with and wonder if you ever loved him. All that dross papered over the very simple fact you didn't love him. Not that she lives like normal girls. With her it's all exaggerated to the nth degree. She is the walking talking embodiment of a civilisation that has lost its way.

Gina has brought Christian to London where she is determined to show him how he could be living. We followed them around on his first full day in the city and his partner for the week is pleasantly surprised when he accepts the challenge to remove his beard and allows her to choose some designer clothes for him. Tonight they'll be having dinner in one of London's most fashionable restaurants when she will be introducing him to some of her friends.

"I'd completely given up on him after he made me pick up trash with him. It is unbelievable, these people actually look for places where there is a lot of trash around and do clean ups! He made me wade in the mud near this stream to pick up a crisp packet!"

"Didn't you feel it made you feel better to do it, less selfish perhaps?"

"No. Let's not go there, it's over now. I'll admit that now he's looking alright I don't mind being with him so much. He scrubs up okay."

"Any romantic feelings yet?"

"If I'd seen a picture of Chris looking like that before and didn't know anything about him then maybe there'd have been some interest."

I could tell when I was trying that underwear on and they made him watch while I was parading in front of the mirror that the guy is sex starved. He's like some creature from a different century - doesn't he know those Medieval monks fooled around? He doesn't even believe in anything substantial, just vague notions about how out of touch with nature we all are. For those brief moments when he was staring at my ass and wondering what it would be like to fuck me I felt like I was with a man, but otherwise... He is looking fairly handsome now I've done some work on him. I know he's sensitive, it has occurred to me that perhaps there is something there that has been missing with the men that have been in my life. I've had problems, addictions, I've blown ridiculous sums on expensive therapy. I know he isn't addicted to anything, luxury included - I suppose you could say that makes him 'free'. But his extremism I cannot accept.

That evening Christian looked quite awkward when being introduced to Gina's friends. The questioning about his lifestyle and beliefs seemed to go on for some time and Mr Nature appeared increasingly on guard and out of his element.

So self-satisfied, all of them. This has all descended into some great big televised joke at my expense. Do they think somebody goes to such lengths to be different for the sake of it? I'm not going to start telling them about what I've suffered, the miserable foster homes, how I managed to pass my exams at those awful schools despite it all. In the end it was impossible for me to live a 'normal' life. I had a nervous collapse in my early twenties and when I started to recover went to a retreat and it was the first time I'd known real silence my whole life and I could not go back to a crushing routine. Through meditation I've discovered action is a poor thing held against the immense background that we exist within at all times. When you've really tasted the purity, the simplicity of it, you don't want to be distracted anymore.

It did feel a few twinges of pity when Jeremy was ripping into him but I must admit I was also enjoying myself. He started to get fed up with defending himself and tried to change the conversation, discussing the food and how he wasn't used to such luxury. He even tried to sound as if he'd enjoyed it all, the expensive hotel, the clothes, driving around in an open top Porsche. He's got these, well, gentlemanly qualities. Then he started to get a bit weird - well, even weirder than normal. It may have been due the fact I got Sandra to spike his drink. He doesn't drink, the film crew weren't in on it but, well, who gives a fuck what they thought, this thing is going to be on late night when nobody's watching anyway.

Christian: "Don't you ever feel pain? Do you people never talk honestly about yourselves?"

Jeremy: "Oh come on Christian, do you really have to get so melodramatic.. I would accuse you of watching the wrong imported American television shows but of course you don't watch television do you..."

Christian: "Only American actors on television have 'real' emotions, is that it?"

Jeremy: "No. It's just a little much to start asking such questions at a polite dinner party that Gina has kindly organised. And from what I gather you've had such a nice day together.."

Christian: "Yes, I feel like a new man.."

Sandra: "Now you're being sarcastic Chris. Honestly, I think Gina is really going for you with your new look. She hasn't had a long term relationship in three years you know..."

Christian: "No, she has other ways of satisfying her needs.."

Jeremy: "Oh, so he knows about your little arrangements Gina. We have been being candid now haven't we?"

Gina: "I just didn't want the hassle, I'm tired of the same old cycle, passion then disillusionment. Keep it simple I say."

Christian: "How can you be disillusioned when your life is an illusion!"

Jeremy: "Oh here we go again. Let's all go and live in a hut without running water, that would sort everything out. Let's all become little Buddha's without desires or needs and...."

Christian: "That isn't what the Buddha taught. Denial of desire was just the first step in a process of..

Gina: "Please Christian. I've been hearing this for the last few days and I'm bored stiff. Now you're in my world can't you just chill?"

After three days of nightclubs, shopping, restaurants and parties the couple still don't seem to be hitting if off. Christian claims he is dying to get back to his mobile home in South Wales while Gina is probably itching to call up one of her special 'buddies' - if she hasn't already! They look, as the week draws to a close, like two strangers that have been forced to spend time together rather than two enthralled singles on the verge of a breakthrough - a sight we seldom see on 'Two Extremes' but hope for all the same.

"Well, thanks for showing me how you live. It was enlightening."

"'Enlightening'. Do you realise how superior you sound when you say that?"

"Sorry."

"You're so mild. Where's your fire?"

"Is that the way? Go around feeling on fire all the time, consuming yourself..."

"There you go again. Pity there's no outlet for your preaching. You'd do a great sermon. Nobody wants to listen to people like you."

"You people always get heard. If you've got money you always get heard if you want to be. It's just you've nothing to say; more of the same, what is human is all too obvious, so self-explanatory, tradition - with all its bloodshed, all its impossible injustices - should be observed no matter what.."

"Oh shut up.."

"You do want something more don't you... You wouldn't be doing this otherwise.."

"Actually I have a friend on the board of the broadcaster and I'm doing them a favour.."

"Ah, money again."

"No, friendship actually."

"So, not settling down on the horizon for you then?"

"No, you?"

"Doesn't look like it. It can be hard how I live but it's worth it. Waking up without the prospect of a job that imprisons, clean air when I walk outside, a beautiful view, I've inherited the Earth. Everybody has but very few live like they know it."

"You can keep your inheritance."

"Thanks."

"You're never going to get laid again to you realise that?"

"I suppose it's a possibility. I can live with that prospect. You're never going to be really happy again, do you realise that?"

To the camera. "That's it yeah? You've got enough now? I've got somewhere I have to be."

"I haven't."


































Edited by Nexus on 01/26/13 - 8:28 PM
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