I’m not going to lie, sometimes I pick these titles just to make myself laugh. But last month was a vast spectrum for my ego that ranged from male modelling (yes, really) to no longer owning a toilet. Originally, this month’s blog post was going to be about hazard warning labels and branding, but screw that, let’s talk about taking a dump in the garden and my fake marriage to an underage instagram model.
It feels like my dad has spent half a lifetime warning of the benefits of a downstairs toilet, and I had spent almost as long mocking his obsession. But his words of wisdom finally came to fruition last month when we removed and replaced our entire bathroom. Shower and sink were manageable, but the toilet was a show-stopper. We could go to my parents to wash, sure, but driving there each time my bowels rang the doorbell wasn’t going to work. After all, sometimes your bowels push that doorbell real hard, and don’t give you much time to answer before they leave your package with a neighbour. Luckily, we’d braced for this situation, and bought a bucket with a toilet seat on. We’re all about glamour in this house.
It was quickly and unanimously decided (by my wife) that I would be chief flusher. This was a thankless job that involved lifting drainage covers and wielding a garden hose. After a brief test to confirm we wouldn’t be sending travelling turds upstream or towards our neighbours, we were ready for our new life of luxury. As far as open air outhouses go, it was actually pretty good. Our garden is private, and the weather was nice. After five days, we got our new toilet fitted and could return to civilisation.
I’m going to use this phrase quite literally and say that’s quite enough of that shit, let’s move on to my juicy fake marriage. My friend creates bespoke wedding dresses, and called me in a bit of panic. She’d got a photoshoot booked; a collaboration with a few others in her industry, and the groom had cancelled last minute. Since they didn’t have time to get another professional lined up, could I step in to fill his shoes? Well… you can probably imagine I’m not exactly swamped with phone calls like this. I’m 32 and blogging on reddit. The GQ double-page spread isn’t exactly looming on the horizon.
They say ‘flattery won’t get you anywhere’, but whoever said that clearly got flattered all the time, because I don’t and I’ll drive you wherever you like on a bus powered by compliments and lovely words. Plus, I get to help out a friend. Plus, I get a decent story out of it. Plus professional photos where I’m probably going to look good.
“Yes!” I roar. “I’ll do it! I can do that for you! I can be that guy!”
With my head eight times larger than it was previously, I put on my suit, shaved off my lockdown-fuzz (My lawyers inform me I can’t legally use the word ‘beard’) and set off to parts unknown. For some unfathomable reason, my wife didn’t want to watch me get married again, but bid me good riddance as she ran herself a bubble bath.
A male model. I’m going to be a male model.
Turns out I was fourth choice, after my best mate, my friend’s husband, and an instagram post asking for “literally anyone” in capital letters. Still, I was here to help, so where they pointed, I would pout. I hadn’t practised my ‘blue steel’ in the car for nothing.
I met the photographer, the venue hostess, hairstylist and the bride. Everyone was really nice actually, and we had a good laugh at the situation. Because of Covid, we had to use lots of hand steriliser and pretend to hold hands in a perspective illusion that would look convincing. You know, just like my teenage years. There was a picnic, with a very real pork pie that sang to my soul, and a bit of bubbly to wash it down. I could definitely get used to this extravagant lifestyle. The views were amazing too; the venue itself had a lovely little brook and looked out onto a picturesque field of rolling hills and meandering sheep. That did mean dodging a lot of sheep poo, and as daylight faded, both me and my friend managed to slip up at least once (in her case quite literally). Later we went to a local beauty spot, and people whistled at our group as we walked up. Obviously the bulk of the attention was on the bride in her wedding dress, and when it first happened, I thought to myself “hah, they think she’s getting married…” before realising they thought I was getting married too and I was a bit of a dingus.
Whilst I was worried it would be awkward, I actually think I did alright, and am eagerly awaiting my phone call from (it speaks volumes that I can’t think of a second men’s fashion reference) Calvin Klein. There were definitely awkward moments though, and it’s probably a tie, between:
1) having to make eye contact with a stranger for five to ten minute intervals, whilst you pretty to look at each other lovingly
2) repeatedly remarking how awkward it is and making it more awkward, but you’ll still do it next time because you get chatty when you’re uncomfortable and you can’t stop yourself.
Our fake marriage was brief and filled with flies. For some reason they loved the wedding dress, and swarmed around my new bride like she’d upset some ancient Pharaoh. I’d guessed she was in her early twenties, but halfway through found out she was seventeen and like a magic trick, I instantly turned into an old man. I think at one point I asked her how her studies were going. What I was a bit jealous about is she gets free clothes from various companies, and whilst I’ve always been vaguely aware of influencers, being able to chat about it and put a face to it was kind of cool. Our final shot was in darkness, on a rope swing, with me faintly ‘fake-pushing’ her. It was slowly morphing into a horror movie and the honeymoon period was over. Just as I was leaving, my friend caught me releasing a wee I’d been holding for five hours. My male modelling career was put on pause (for now), and my friend gave me a bottle of prosecco for helping her out, which my real wife drank.
It’s been a busy month with bathrooms, weddings and outdoor relief. I broke a rule I’d set myself at the start of the month, and uploaded a story to NoSleep before showing it to my newsletter followers. I was hoping to amend that by writing another one before I send it off on Wednesday. Time will tell if I get chance to finish it, but it’s a big ask. I also wanted to write a short story for Fantasy Magazine, not related to Floor Fifty-Four, but I think it’s a cool story and when I saw they were asking for submissions, it came to mind and seemed a perfect fit. Unfortunately that’s going to have to wait until next time. One final change I’m making is that I’m going to release stories and containment reports at the same time, so readers can instantly follow on from one to the other. I think it’s more interesting that way, and people seemed to enjoy my last NoSleep (even if the mods did delete half the comments with the words “SCP” and “Magnus Files” in them…)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just need to make a small amendment to my email signature.
Engineer, Author, Male Model.