Helen One Hundred

No one told me the end of a fifteen year relationship would smell exactly like barbecue chicken. But this, as it turns out, is misery’s signature scent. It has been sixty-one days since my partner left me with the words “I’m leaving you” and with little to do but sob into well-finished floorboards.

At first, I sobbed into the floorboards beneath the sounds of Cher: Empowering Homosexual Diva.

I’m listening to Mercury Rev, now. Also, Midlake, Danger Mouse, The Boss and other emotionally constipated white men. Cher is gone but the house still smells of chicken and I cry three, possibly four times every day. Chiefly, I cry in the loo.

Should you feel mildly troubled by this disclosure: don’t. I’m doing okay. I am engaged by projects and people of extraordinary quality. Really. I am working with some of the best thinker-activists you’ll ever meet toward goals no less lofty than civic good. I have loving parents, good, good friends and two handsome cats. I exercise daily.

However, the house still smells of chicken.

Chicken purchased from a man of belligerent friendliness which recalls the 70s Australian bush-chiller Wake in Fright. Chicken eaten in bed. Naked. Chicken consumed with a near-grandiose revulsion between great sobby gulps of unsatisfying oxygen and cries of ‘I AM GOING TO DIE ALONE”.

The cats eat most of it. The cats eat the corpse of the bird with the same heedless relish they will one day visit upon mine. Yes. You will find me dead, smelling faintly of chicken grease clutching the Girls box-set in a hand that has been gnawed to the bone by a tabby named Eleven. Probably.

As you can tell from my elevated and sunny tone, I have grabbed the opportunity for personal development. Just as I have grabbed the chicken: with cruel detachment and in one slippery hand.

Oh, kids. I think I fucked up.

I did EXACTLY what the ethical person ought to in the weeks following an ugly, devastating and unexpected break-up. Viz. immediately find a perfectly wonderful human of great erudition, fuck their hot, tall body to a vulgar mash and then, just as they begin to look at you with rare love, turn into a Succubus of Selfish Hate and apportion to them the blame for all the pain from your previous shitty relationship JUST BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T ANSWER YOUR TEXT MESSAGES WITHIN FIVE MINUTES OF RECEIPT, YOU MAD WHORE, HELEN. (Dude. I’m so sorry. Forgive me. Be my friend. You can’t know how sorry I am.)

I am ashamed. I am ashamed and I am not very good at humans.

I need to get better at humans. I don’t want to do this sort of thing to a sweet person again. And, I don’t want to live in a love-vacuum with someone who loathes me again. I don’t want to cohabit at all. I don’t want to reproduce; my eggs are probably powdered, anyhow. I don’t want to consume you whole.

All I want. All I want. Well, at my age, all I want is to move from unstinting self-regard and a wan obsession with my “needs” and desserts to real friendliness; to genuine intimate and accommodating interest in my fellows.

Also, I would quite like to have sex, eventually.

To this end, I have decided to “date” persons and to do this with an attitude of minimum expectation and of maximum respect. I am aiming to date one-hundred persons by the end of the year so, naturally, I seek your help in attaining this goal.

If you are neither biologically old enough to be my parent nor young enough to be my issue, I cordially invite all comers to a low-cost assignation.

I would like to embrace all sorts of people. However. I should say that I have, ahem, an “issue” with addiction. Particularly alcoholism. I can’t be around it. And, I’ve an issue with those to whom it has not yet occurred that the material conditions of existence determine, in large part, the shape of a person’s life. Yes. I know. I am looking for a moderate drinker from the left. WHAT THE FUCK AM I THINKING?

Good luck with that unicorn, Razer.

Clearly, if you’re a racist, an essentialist or have ever uttered the sentence, “You know, that David Icke makes a lot of sense”, who the fuck even ARE you?

Of course, you should know before accepting my invitation that I (a) will blog all details of our encounter in this space and (b) am really – despite a genuine desire to be better – quite a tit. And I’m not just saying that as a sort of coy double-bluff that will have you refusing with a “No, no! You are clearly lovely.” I’m not. I’m awful. And if we are to have any hope of a second date, it’s pretty important that you are, too.

I have attempted to compress our mutual awfulness in short advertisement form:

Sexually ambivalent middle-aged crank seeks unusually literate hard-left nut-job for mutual distraction from suicidal ideation.

44-year-old newly divorced chicken carcass seeks fellow Marxist snob for complex hate-fucking.

Ageing poseur with unhealthy interest in spanking and the works of Jean Baudrillard seeks recently bathed human.

Baffling old woman with reasonable cans seeks more-or-less sober life-form who genuinely dislikes Coldplay.

This is who I am. I am a heartbroken heartbreaker who never learned to hold her tongue. I think I’m right but am thrilled by those who satisfactorily prove me wrong. I am full of love. I am full of revulsion. I am leaking with compassion. I am the world’s worst snob.

Oh. And I can’t eat barbecue chicken in company.

Anyhow. If you’re up for a meeting in flattering light and don’t mind being the topic of polite inquiry (which will always have ME as its central topic of derision; never you) then be in touch.

My first date is next Monday with a lady from Twitter called Bernadette, She is bringing her mum. Who is 83.

It’s part-heartsickness, part-art. It’s Kathy Acker in Sweet Valley High. It’s Co-Ed Sluts Vol 2 Look Back in Anger. Oh, I don’t know. It’s a way for me to be knee-deep in nuts masquerading as “experiment”. Whatever this thing is LET’S DO THIS THING.

Let’s do the Helen One Hundred.

101 comments for “Helen One Hundred

  1. March 1, 2013 at 8:12 am

    If my husband didn’t object and I wasn’t in the wrong hemisphere I’d be up for this. I love cats and barbecued chicken.

  2. Stacey
    March 1, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Actually Ive spent the last 6 months considering the value in monogamy too and frankly…….Im not finding a lot!
    I dont think human beings are monogomous creatures and we are fucking ourselves in the arse from the start by trying to convince eachother otherwise!
    Dumbasses setting ourselves up for failure.
    Monogomy lemmings.

  3. Stacey
    March 1, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Actually Ive spent the last 6 months considering the value in monogamy too and frankly…….Im not finding a lot!
    I dont think human beings are monogamous creatures and we are fucking ourselves in the arse from the start by trying to convince eachother otherwise!
    Dumbasses setting ourselves up for failure.

  4. Matt
    March 1, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Yes Helen, outwardly it would appear I am the full dream package, divorce, vasectomy, physical distance, emotional dissociation, an inability to say sorry, conflict avoidance and aversion to physical contact both public and private. Perhaps knowing I contracted gangrene last year would be the icing on this luke warm carcass.

    It may seem otherwise but I can assure you I am entirely genuine, no caricature. My mordant coquetry may affect an air of disinterest but it should be seen as a reflection of the jaded broken husk I have become, not an intention. I do wonder if my apparent emotional detachment is simple cliché, a subconscious defence mechanism or a choice I make through fear. My awareness and a half-arsed desire for minor change suggests the latter. Perhaps I might embark on my own copycat version of this exercise in personal growth, 10 dates in 10 years sounds more feasible though.

    The very idea of a date terrifies me, doing it in a manner that publicly opens myself to judgement or ridicule cannot be seen to be anything other than sheer madness. Confronting as it may be for me I do hope to achieve from this venture something other than serving as an entertainment.

    The misuse of discomfiting can sadly not be blamed on auto-correct. It is not a word I have used before, but one that should most definitely be part of my vernacular. Certainly I am no word smith, writing, like any human interaction is something I find entirely difficult, evidenced here in my inability to communicate succinctly. I do make an effort but perhaps try too hard often resulting in paralysing indecision and taking the easier option to simply delete all and remain silent.

    Despite living across the road from a horse agistment and equestrian facility, being in walking distance of both a pony club and saddlery, not to mention a five year stint working in the hard core pornography industry, I am unfamiliar with Master-Pony relationships. I suspect it involves some sort of trenchant servitude. Much like shoes, I expect it to be the sort of thing I prefer to see other people wearing, not myself. I can’t say it sounds rewarding, no matter the brevity.

    In any case, you now have my details. Should I make the cut I would gladly attend.

  5. G_Harry
    March 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    This thread constitutes dating and prelim dating – in that sense I (& y’all) already dated Helen. The Helen 100’s on its way!

  6. Seaman Hornblower
    March 1, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Good luck, Helen. Nine years ago I left my abusive husband and came back to Australia because my ex-boyfriend (with whom I was still in love) had cancer (to condense a long and complicated tale). He died six months later, and I thought I’d never recover from the grief or find anyone again. But I have, and I did — and the great thing about being a little, ahem, mature and ‘dating’ other mature types is that people (including oneself) tend to have grown out of the crazy. No more screaming, door-slamming fights over the sound their fork makes when it scrapes against their teeth!

    Nothing wrong with discomforting, BTW. Check your Fowler’s :-)

  7. Seaman Hornblower
    March 1, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    It might be wise to give yourself time and space to grieve, though. Are you sure you really wanna do this right now?

  8. Major_J
    March 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Just putting it out there, but you might want to expand your political expectations to include Libertarians. You may not agree with them on some topics, but we really make for great conversations over coffee or better yet, a decent bottle of almost cheep wine…

  9. Chuckles McTruck
    March 1, 2013 at 6:09 pm


    I’m not quite sure I have a comment about this article, or should. It’s the sort of thing that quietly, surreptitiously has the structure and delivery of begging for advice, without actually wanting any. It makes me feel sorry about you, but want to say utterly horrible things to you, or perhaps vice versa. Possibly that’s the sort of thing you expect and even desire. Possibly it’s all an immense trolling yuk-yuk for blog fodder. Possibly you don’t delineate between the two, or can’t, or do and don’t care. It’s almost certainly a terrible idea if it’s sincere, but I’m hard pressed to find anything on this page that I’d remotely label “sincere”, with the exception of the part about wanting to eventually have sex; I’m certain that’s legitimate, and may be the only relevancy here.

    I’ve never read your column prior to this article. A few questions:

    – Why one hundred? Just seemed like a good round number?

    – How many cats do you have? Is the number in double digits? Triple? It’s not “one hundred”, is it? It’s not the reason you picked “one hundred” in the previous question, is it?

    – Schopenhauer’s argument against a purely mechanistic universe; that is to say, that the question of objectivity cannot be asked without subjectivity, therefore self-destructing the question in the first place — brilliant or crap?

    – Does the rampant vacillation between Sweden’s ever-imploding socialism and the United States’ ever-exploding capitalism, viewed as poles on a global commerce magnet, fill you with utter dread or excitement over the possibilities of economic model renovation?

    – Did I use the plural apostrophe correctly both times in the previous sentence? I’m terribly insecure about that sort of thing.

    – His eyes cold, forged as steel for purpose, solid as a shield against her under a waving banner of hair, full of emblems and house sigils against the greying, autumnal skies; and her own countenance just as audacious and unrelenting in its battering gaze, a constant ramming against the unyielding metal wall, ramming, ramming, that age-old philosophical puzzle of immovable forces against unstoppable objects rendered close in anger and gaze and sweat. Battering and bruises and real, genuine harm, just as genuinely meant with genuine spite. Would that she were a bird, that she could fly away over this field of battle, an uncaring, natural eye above a field of swaying, human trees, their limbs locked and ripping one another in the winds of a violent hurricane; and she would be above it all, drifting lazily inside an eddy of warm, soft air, protected from the whipping leaves and splinters. She was no bird. She was a hungry, dire porcupine, and he was a skunk. A calamitous pairing of spikes and scents. A rodent and a carnivore. Was it really worth her time and her heart to do this again?

    – Really, Coldplay is not that good; they are outright crap. (I realize that’s technically not a question, but I thought you could use some cheering up.)

    Good luck with your endeavors,

  10. Jackie
    March 1, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I’m a lefty, moderate-drinking daughter of alcoholic parents, and according to my family, insufferable with I start talking cultural theory (first person in the family to get myself edumacated). I’m just wondering if it would be creepy to wear the Revlon Vixen lipstick I bought in the 90s because I was a fangirl and it was you colour?

  11. Doofus
    March 1, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Whoever made up that “it takes half the length of your previous relationship to be ready for the next” rule doesn’t know what they are talking about. I was ready to date within days of getting out of an abusive relationship that dragged on for 6 years, but it took me about 2 years to get over someone I only “dated” (if you can call it that) for about 2 weeks (4 if you start counting from when they first answered my ad).

  12. March 2, 2013 at 12:14 am


  13. HRH JPW
    March 2, 2013 at 12:14 am

    I once looked at a girl at the pool when I was nine and I’ve thought about her every day since, to the grand old age of 35. She got the last of the Hava Harts from the tuckshop.

  14. March 2, 2013 at 12:16 am

    It was Chanel’s rouge noir as worn by Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction and it was nail and not lip colour. CALL YOURSELF A FANGRRL! X

  15. Deb
    March 2, 2013 at 12:49 am

    Helen, I do love you (ever since JJJ). I love cats . Don’t even know any Cold Play songs , I’m sure that’s cos I don’t like them. I can introduce you to my Burmese, Boo. She may let you pat her.

  16. March 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Helen, you’ve given me my mission for the year. Between me and all your other hundreds of followers, we’ll potentially get you way more dates than you can handle.

    Just make sure you live-tweet them. ;)

  17. Jackie
    March 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Damn! I was so sure I heard that on the radio! I can’t believe 18 year old me wore the wrong lipstick! My femme license may be revoked!

  18. Will, DSW
    March 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Helen, let’s not exactly call it a “date” because my wife of 11 years will get ideas of that this is something which it isn’t. I do admire your strength, your fortitude, and your desire not to let the past stand in your way to allow you to get on with the next stage of your life. But I’m always here for you, as a shoulder to cry on. Is it possible for me to always be your friend, and yet extend my love and appreciation for what you’re going through?

  19. March 3, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Helen, that person you hurt? Don’t just mention it here. Reach out personally and apologize. Nobody deserves to be used. Not you, and not they.

    • March 3, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      The person is not identified, was not “used” and is a friend who has been approached personally and sincerely; but thanks for your advice.

  20. That_Margot
    March 3, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Seriously. I’m getting cats.

  21. Rob
    March 6, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I’ve missed your wise words, Helen. Good to have you back. Oh, and as much as I adore you, I’m a hermit-in-training and even worse than you are at people so I’ll not be looking for an assignation. Thanks anyway! (If only you’d asked me 20 years ago!) X=

  22. Jodie
    March 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    I don’t eat chicken thanks to a salmonella incident some years ago, and I live with a lovely, lovely man. So, I come to offer a platonic date. Want to come to see a circus with us? I am thinking perhaps March 15:


    It’s my birthday present to me. :) They have big pussies there!

  23. Jodie
    March 9, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    So that’s a no then? Doh :(

  24. March 11, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Oh wait, I’m 24 aren’t I.


  25. Lynn
    March 15, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Hi Helen,
    Enjoyed your eloquent and humorous style in “Everything’s Fucked”, as I have with your writing here on some of life’s cold hard realities. Priceless! Thank you.

  26. Surly
    March 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Couldn’t we just “go out” rather than “date”? which is a bit too Happy Days for me, I am just a bit too old and cranky for modern parlance. As to Chicken, I prefer chicken parmas to the full roast. The olny problem is that my wife my get the wrong idea, and I may be a bit too old for you…. never mind, it was just a thought.

  27. Dermott Banana
    April 15, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Oh Helen, if only you weren’t in Melbourne. :)

    – Dermott Banana

  28. Bron
    April 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Are you, by any means taking applications for dates from straight, slightly disenfranchised 30 year old females who enjoy the odd bottle of Sav Blanc, St kilda football club and buying discounted BBQ chicken from Collingwood Woolworths?

  29. Norgasbord
    April 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Nothing beats sharing a chicken carcass with a handsome cat…as long as you get to eat the skin with a lavish unhealthy/healthy sprinkle of Trocamare

  30. Bron
    April 15, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Count me in as a potential then. I’ll even supply the BBQ chicken.

  31. Matt
    June 27, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    16 months later and I just had my first date yesterday.
    Full speed ahead.

    • July 2, 2014 at 1:44 am

      Well, go you. I am presuming it was not with me?

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