Sam The Turtle’s Complete Guide To Romance, Part 1: Soulmates and Self Help


I am a judgmental man with strong opinions and very few solutions; the human equivalent of a check engine light: quick to alarm, short on details, and of no real use in a crisis. It’s not that I don’t want to help, but my broad sense of superiority is undercut by my narrow range of expertise. This has no effect on my confidence, or willingness to give advice on any subject, but the end result often borders on negligence. There are three categorical exceptions: Lifting stuff, Night Hammocking, and Adult Romance.

What qualifies me to give romantic advice? Nothing, and everything. I’ve been happily married for a decade, but I mostly lucked into that. When was single I did okay, but I suspect that was passable looks propping up unsound game theory. On the surface my romantic expertise seems another empty boast, until you consider my profession; I am a personal trainer. Ninety percent of my job is identifying correctable patterns and repairing flawed decision making; that is the whole of human behaviour and I have been cheating the world by not sharing my findings in a public fashion. That changes today.

Sam The Turtle’s Complete Guide To Romance

Sort yourself out first


If you go fishing with an unstrung line, in a boat with a hole in it, it doesn’t matter if the fish are biting, you are unlikely to catch any and drowning is a distinct possibility. Now you might argue “ What if I bail furiously the whole time and jab at the fish with my rod? If I find the right spot on the lake it might work”. It might, but you also might want to consider that an empty line is the least of your deficiencies. Continue reading

OT_AWA Tourism


I may be developing some misanthropic tendencies. Outside the window of my workplace there is a giant Ottawa sign, only it’s missing a “T”. OT_AWA. If you stand between the T and A you can extend your arms and become the missing T. I was against it immediately and time and repetition have only hardened my heart. It’s like I’m being waterboarded by a lazy sight gag. I spend my day glaring out the window, wishing sunburns and sandal blisters at this ceaseless caravan of Letter People.

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The Wrong Lesson


A contemporaneous photo from the era in question


I used to keep folded print outs of poems I had written in my back pocket, so I could accidentally discover them while talking to women at parties. This was before the proper internet and everything was harder then. The idea was bad and the poems were worse, but I was handsome so women slept with me in spite of it. I learned the wrong lesson from this. I was a late bloomer with terrible instincts so I attributed my success to my newly discovered art form[1]. My personality was intense, or rather, I was intense in lieu of having a personality, and my writing reflected this.

A broken thought just trundled by

A twisted thing that once was mine

And now it’s cast adrift within my madness

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Old Man Valliant


I can’t tell if I’m having a midlife crisis. I am not acting out, but I find myself needlessly confessing my age at the start of conversations; my name is A.J. and I am forty one years old. I don’t know if it’s a nervous tic, or a means to extract qualified praise for my appearance, but I present my age as if I expect to be challenged on the point and persuaded otherwise. I think about the fact that I’m forty one more than I think about sex, and when I think about sex I think about the fact that I am forty one.

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The Company You Keep

free candy

If the city announced an new law that barred unaccompanied adult males from public parks I can see myself getting a tad riled up. The unfairness might even drive me to attend a protest at a nearby park, where I could air my grievance around like minded citizens. But once I arrived, were I to notice that the parking lot contained an unusual amount of sleeper vans with the window blacked out, and several greasy creeps were unfurling a king sized NAMBLA banner, I would quickly realize things had gone terribly wrong…and by the time the “The slides are made for ookie hugs, let us fuck your children” chants began, I would be ten blocks away and fully aware that I had momentarily been on the wrong side of history.

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