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Posted on 01-12-2016

A few weeks ago I met some friends for brunch, and of course after a few drinks the conversation turned to affairs of the heart (and the loins). The group was a mix of married and single people, generally having a great time taking the piss out of each other. But when the spotlight turned to the single people, it was a mix of emotions. The single women complained that men were pigs and were just looking for fun. The men complained that the women were shallow and just looking for a guy’s bank account. The spotlight then naturally shifted on me, with the eventual question finally coming to light: “How come you’re still single?”

In my friends’ eyes, I’m a great catch. In my eyes, I think that too – I have a great job, my own apartment, my own car, I cook and clean by myself, and feel that I have a lot to offer someone who’d be interested in me. But it seems that when it comes to my dating life, I’ve ground to a halt.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, people are now found on apps rather than in real life. I’ve tried every conceivable app and it’s always the same guys across all of them. On those rare moments that I match with someone, I shoot across a cheerful hello and an introduction, only to be met by silence. There are days where I have long and fascinating chats with some guys, who promise to text back when they’re free for a coffee, but they never do. Some profiles are ‘looking for Mr Right’, but if you’re not even engaging in a proper conversation, how on earth are you supposed to get anywhere?

When people dumbfoundedly ask me why I’m still single, I can’t help but think that they’re fishing for some sort of problem that I’m hiding from them. My usual response is the classic ‘Oh I just haven’t met anyone to date recently‘, but the truth is I may have messaged plenty of guys that week who have all chosen to remain silent. What’s even more frustrating are the guys that you have a connection with, who in reality seem to always be searching for their ‘plan B’. They’re never in the moment with someone – their constant preoccupation is with whether or not there is someone better out there that they could be spending their time with. Or, you meet a guy, have a great time, and then he just disappears from your radar. I have to constantly monitor myself when messaging such guys, as I don’t want to come off as the ‘relentless needy one who always needs to text’ (a friend’s words, not mine). Then there are the guys who clearly can’t be bothered to put in the effort when it comes to dating. I messaged a guy to come over for drinks and a casual catch up, and he ended up driving all the way to where I lived, getting slightly lost, and then driving home in frustration instead of picking up the phone and asking me for directions. What the actual fuck?

So yes, I’m well aware that I’m single. I’m aware that I’m the all-singing, all-dancing perfect househusband that will make some guy happy one day. But I’m still figuring out why that hasn’t happened yet, so in answer to your question, no – I don’t know why I’m still single, and it honestly looks like I’ll never really find out.

Tinder: When Your Match Has PMS

Posted on 16-03-2016

A few weeks ago I was travelling and decided to fire up Tinder to pass the time in my hotel in the morning. Usually I can match up with some ~decent~ guys around for a chat or maybe even a coffee, and after a few swipes I matched up with a guy who was also visiting from NYC. I sent him a few messages to introduce myself, and later in the day he replied. We chatted a bit about what we did for work, what we thought of the city we were visiting, and generally it was a pretty much normal conversation. That is of course, until he asked me when I was free to meet for coffee and all hell broke loose. These are exact screenshots of my conversation with him before he unmatched with me, and honestly I think I dodged a serious bullet here:


When Your Work Life Invades Your Dating life

Posted on 11-03-2016

Going on a date seems like such an old-fashioned thing to do in this day and age, but I still love them. The anticipation, meeting for the first time, the initial awkward conversation – it never seems to get old. But every so often, I’m gently reminded that dates can turn into horrible things and that I’m better off locking myself in my apartment and watching reruns of Will and Grace.

To put things into perspective, the person who asked me out was no stranger – I knew him in a professional capacity, and every so often over email we’d flirt back and forth, or coyly chat each other up at events. He worked in PR, something I have a love/hate relationship with on a daily basis. It was a fun cat and mouse game – neither of us really making the first move to see if things would go anywhere, and to be honest I was quite happy with that. So it was actually a surprise when I got an email out of the blue from him, point-blank asking me out to dinner. Apparently our incessant flirting was fun, but he felt ‘there was more to me that needed exploring’. The restaurant he had chosen was fairly new, and it seemed innocent enough, so I accepted his invite graciously.

Date night rolls around and I meet him at the restaurant a few minutes behind schedule. The venue is nice – a bit garishly decorated for my tastes, but still cozy. I sit down and attempt to flag down a waiter so I can place a drinks order, but he shoos my hand away. “Don’t worry – I’ve already ordered our drinks and food…you’re going to love it”. I shoot him a puzzled and slightly annoyed look, but he doesn’t seem to pick up on it. I decide to let it slide and we carry on our conversation, pausing only when the drinks and food arrive at our table. I gawk slightly at the amount of food he’s ordered for just the two of us, but he doesn’t seem to be concerned. “Don’t forget to Instagram everything!” he adds with a laugh. Hilarious.

For the most part, dinner itself is an amicable affair, and just when I think that perhaps this dinner date wasn’t so bad after all, the shit hits the fan. The bill arrives and I promptly reach for my wallet to split the bill, but he happily adds “Oh don’t worry about that – your food is free tonight!” I expect he means that he’s paying with an Entertainer voucher or something, and by my puzzled look he works out that I don’t quite understand. “This is a new client I’m taking on board, so I wanted to bring you down to review it and let me know what you think. Did you like it?”

So my much-looked forward-to date night turned out to be none other than a sham for more stupid PR drivel. Yes ladies and gentlemen, it appears that even in my dating life, I can’t escape the clutches of PR.

Tinder: This Is Why I’m Swiping Left

Posted on 18-02-2016

I have to admit I was sort of late to jump onto the Tinder bandwagon. The thought of another dating-type app on my phone sort of filled me with dread, but a good while after it launched I decided to check it out. Over the past year or so I’ve met a total of three guys in real life, even though I’ve matched with a lot more. The general flavor for Tinder is that you get caught up in that initial rush of “OMG THE LIKED ME TOO” which quickly descends into boredom once you start chatting with the person and they don’t really have much to say. Sure, it’s a refreshing change from the “got dick?” messages I’d probably get on other apps, but truth be told Tinder isn’t doing much for me at the moment.

But what it is doing for me is making me realize that I’ve swiped left on a TON of guys, all with very valid reasons. My friends who’ve seen my Tinder-ing in action keep saying that I’m picky or that I have too many expectations (when did that become a bad thing?), but I disagree. There are just some things that if I see on a profile, I’m immediately swiping left.

  1. You’re in a group photo: to reiterate this, you’re supposed to put a photo of YOURSELF up. Not a family photo. Not posing with a group of six friends on a night out. No. Just a photo of yourself. I don’t want to be playing ‘sexy guy roulette’ to try and figure out which one you are, only to be disappointed when I check out your other photos and you’re not the stupidly attractive person that I zeroed in on from your group pic.
  2. You’ve uploaded the same photo: This one kills me every time. Oh it’s a nice photo of your face. Oh it’s a nice photo of your face with a filter applied. Oh it’s a nice photo of your face in black and white. Oh look I’ve just swiped left.
  3. You think Tinder is a political platform: Seriously – the number of times a person’s profile photo has has some sort of political or social agenda to it is mind-boggling. You’re on Tinder mate – if you want solidarity with a group of people, this isn’t the right place to be barking on about it.
  4. You think Tinder is Instagram: Keep your lame-ass inspirational quotes for Instagram – no one has time for that bullshit when they’re trying to find someone’s G-spot.
  5. You’re posing with an exotic animal: If I see one more person posing with a tiger with a massive thumbs up, I’m going to break my phone. Why hasn’t nature weeded out these freaks yet?
  6. You’re posing with a child: I don’t care if the child in question is related to you in any way or not, it’s an immediate swipe left. WHY WOULD YOU UPLOAD THIS WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU
  7. You’re posing with a wine glass and/or are clearly drunk: Maybe leave some of the alcoholic mystery to our second date?
  8. You have no profile text: While I agree a good picture is a must-have, profile text is just as important. And don’t be stupid and write your ‘stats’ in your profile text. I want to know deep your personality is, not how many inches it is.

Got any more Tinder hangups? Let me know in the comments!

Why ‘Fag Hags’ Are The Worst Kind Of Women

Posted on 13-02-2016

fag hag (noun, informal / derogatory)
noun: fag hag; plural noun: fag hags
  1. a heterosexual woman who spends much of her time with homosexual men.

Yesterday I was winding down the night with some people celebrating a friend’s birthday at his house. The night was going quite well, furiously fuelled by drinks and the occasional drunken singing. I of course was composing my sober self in a corner, chatting with a few people I had struck up a conversation with. Among them was a couple, quite chatty and seemingly harmless, and clearly into each other. I’ve been speaking to this people for no more than twenty minutes, when during a lull in the conversation the woman pipes up and says “Don’t be offended, but can I ask you about your sexual orientation?

Now I’ve had this question thrown at me by strangers a number of times before, and whether not it’s in their right to ask such a thing is a whole other story. But I entertained the request and professed my love for ‘man parts’, much to the group’s intoxicated amusement. That would have been the end of it, except it seemed that I had unintentionally become the topic of conversation for the next half hour. “Are you dating anyone yet?” came next, which I swiftly shot down with a polite “No”, and a brief explanation of the ‘No fems, no fats, no Asians’ dating policy that seemed to often apply to me.

The new discovery of my singlehood seemed to excite my female admirer, who then caught me completely off guard with “OMG I have this amazing friend I should set you up with? He’s a TOTAL power top! Like a SERIOUS power top. Like he’s always fucking bears. Like BEARS! OMG! You would love him!

If I was one to drink, I don’t think there was enough alcohol on that table to save me from this woman. After I politely declined her very generous offer, she insisted that I give it a thought and see her friend. I changed the topic quickly, moving on to talking about work and the possibility of visiting London, to which she chimed in with “OMG if we’re in London together and you’re going clubbing, you HAVE to take me with you – I am SUCH A FAG HAG!

And there it was, bright as day, the two words that I loathed hearing. The ‘fag hag’ concept is not new to me, fuelled by disillusioned women who love being showered with attention by their gaggle of gays. It’s one thing to have a group of friends who are predominantly gay men, but when you crown yourself as their ‘queen’ and therefore proudly label yourself a ‘fag hag’, you’re seriously making an absolute shitshow of yourself. I remember some years ago going to a club in London with a friend, and while the night had started with just the two of us, mere hours later she had rounded up pretty much every gay man in the building and brought them to our table. They were of course fawning over her, and she was eating it up. One of the guys exclaimed “Fag hag in the building!” which brought out whoops and cheers from her and the rest of the men she had corralled, but not from me. The very term repels me, and I would never stoop to describing any of my female friends as such. I have plenty of women that I have strong friendships with, and it’s a special and treasured dynamic that isn’t based around my sexuality, or my magical powers to give them makeovers at the drop of a hat. There are plenty of women and gay men who love this ‘fag hag’ attitude, and it really is a bit of a shame sometimes. There are plenty of reasons why a gay man and straight woman should be friends, but her invisibile ability to attract every gay man within a 1km radius should not be one of them.

What #UAEJournos Say And What They Really Mean

Posted on 13-12-2015

This blog post was submitted anonymously and with little editorial correction. 

In my several years in PR, I’ve learned to correctly navigate the perils of working with journalists. You get some amazing people who are quick to bounce around ideas for a story with you, or graciously decline your story pitch and explain why it wouldn’t work for them. Then of course I moved to Dubai and everything I thought I knew about journalists went up in smoke.

The #UAEJournos are a special brand of people – I think by now I’ve met everyone I’ve ever needed to meet, so it’s safe to say that this list of observations covers everything you need to know. It’s certainly not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great starting ground for anyone who’s floundering in the bowels of #UAEPR and needs some guidance. Print it out, share it with colleagues, get it tattooed on your arm if you have to – hopefully it will save you time, energy, effort, and sanity.

So here is a handy list of what #UAEJornos say to you and what they really mean:

I can’t make it for your event = I’ve found a better event to go to.

I’m not sure if I can make it for your event = Will you be sending an Uber/limo (real request) to pick me?

I have another event to attend at the same time = I’m going to another event where the probability of me walking away with better freebies is higher. Soz.

Sounds good, can you send it to our editorial inbox and we’ll check it out? = This story is crap and I just want to get back to work, so send it to an email address that we basically use as a junk box for annoying PR.

I’m not covering stories like this, but can you send it to my other editor XXXX = Neither of us are interested in this story, but at least you can bug someone else besides me?

What time is the event? = that’s the time I will leave the office.

The event’s in the evening? = is it really worth my while to come to an event after work hours?

We can publish that if it’s exclusive to us = I probably won’t publish that story but I don’t want any of our competitors to run it either.

I don’t think I got that email = I got the email, I just deleted it anyway.

I can’t see that press release – can you send it again? = Send it again so I can re-live the joy of deleting it without opening it.

Sure, I think we could maybe do a story with that = We’re not going to do a story on that.

Sorry, I couldn’t include that product in our guide = you didn’t send me a freebie like everyone else did. Soz.

How soon can you send that over? = I really only need it by next week, but please drop what you’re doing and send it to me immediately anyway.


Not Into Asians

Posted on 07-10-2015

It’s the same story every day. Boy meets boy, boy chats with boy, boy likes boy, boy says ‘sorry, not into Indians‘.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a chat with a guy that didn’t begin with “Hi, from?” The moment I tell someone that I’m Indian (or Asian as per the various apps), I’m either blocked or get the swift “Sorry, not my type” response.

What’s even more infuriating are the guys who write in their profiles “Love all guys, hit me up with a msg!” followed by “No offense, but not into Asians“.

Seriously, you can’t make this shit up.

I went on a drinks date last night to a bar, following a great online coversation I was having with a guy. He was nearby, we were bored, so drinks were settled on. We met, sat down, chatted for a while longer, and then after about 15 minutes with me, he straight up said to my face “I’m sorry dude, but this isn’t going to work out – not attracted to Indian guys, sorry should have said earlier“.

It honestly felt like a slap to the face – dealing with this sort of response in real life is totally different from hearing it online. I just sat stupidly afterwards drinking by myself before heading home to bed. I’ve often wondered (wrongly) if my nationality really is such a big deal when it comes to dating. Are guys that closed off that they only date guys based on what passport they hold? It honestly is the worst feeling to have – that you’re not worth speaking to or even meeting for a drink just because you’re from a certain country.

Welcome to the cesspool that is my dating life, ladies and gentlemen.

This Is What Happens When A PR CC’s 400 Journalists On An Email

Posted on 26-08-2015

Ah PR.

It’s often a thankless job, especially when you’re at the mercy of journalists (shout out to #UAEPR). But every so often, you have to stop what you’re doing an educate someone in how not to work in PR.

Every day journalists are sent press releases – some good, some bad, some irrelevant to what they cover. Which is sort of expected really, so it’s just a simple matter of deleting the rubbish ones that come through. But this morning was a total riot, as one PR person decided to do a double whammy.

To put things in context first, the press release was about a product that a pregnant mother had dreamt up while she was in bed nursing a broken foot. “The Holding Cell” is a little bit of plastic that slides under your mattress and holds your cell phone while you sleep. Because of course, the idea of a bedside table is dumb as fuck. It’s currently on Kickstarter trying to raise $22,000 to make this plastic dream a reality:


But this blog post isn’t about shitty Kickstarter ideas, but rather about the PR that sent it. Because in their infinite wisdom (or lack thereof), they decided to send this press release to 400+ journalists. All in the ‘CC’.

Yup, I’m not kidding around, all of us were in CC as plain as could be.


And that’s of course when everything went to shit. The first blow was dealt by lovely Noreen:


Owen pitches in with a gif (the first of many)


Federico summed up the situation perfectly:


Jordan was clearly ecstatic:


By this time the poor PR having realized their mistake, decided to try and make the best out of a terrible situation:


Full points for effort, but Brock was quickly dethroned by Cody:


Which was quickly followed by this scathing comment from Katie:


Charles straight up said what we were all thinking:


While Steve tried to lighten the mood a bit:


But Shanley was having none of this bullshit in their inbox:


Bur thankfully Noreen and Anne were not impressed by this outburst:


And that, is what happens when you cc 400+ journalists on a terrible press release.

The Date

Posted on 16-08-2015

I’m late.

I hate being late. It’s a sign that you haven’t thought things through. That you haven’t planned ahead. But today work was threatening to engulf me completely, and I wasn’t about to spend yet another evening staring at my computer screen. I check my phone for messages and then remember there’s no phone reception down here. I stuff my phone back in my pocket and vault up the stairs, politely escaping the hoards of tourists trying to navigate their way. I’m twenty minutes late already, and within minutes I’m back on the street, the cool evening air whipping around me. I zip my coat up higher and walk up the street, fingers digging deep into my pockets for warmth. I glance at my reflection in a shop window and notice to my dismay that my once elegantly styled hair is now a messy mop of haphazard streaks, blowing in the wind. I reach the restaurant door and quickly compose myself, before running my hands through my hair to make it look as presentable as possible.

I step through and the warmth inside rushes towards me, warming up my alarmingly cold fingers. I mumble a feeble “I’m meeting someone” to the waitress who greets me, and I scan the busy tables for him. In the least-crowded corner I spot him sitting at a table, a bottle of red in front of him and his glass in hand. Fuck, I mentally say to myself, and move over to join him. He instantly brightens up and sets down his glass, standing up to give me a hug. His breath is warm against my neck for the brief moment we embrace, and his shirt has a slightly earthy, wooden scent to it. I was beginning to think you weren’t coming, he adds playfully as we sit down. I smile sheepishly and apologise for my lateness, but he dismisses it almost instantly. You’re here now, so don’t worry about it.

A drink appears in front of me – a tall martini glass with a frosted rim and a light pink concoction. I’m about to ask the waitress what it is when he interrupts me. It’s virgin, don’t worry – I think you’ll like it. I lift the glass to my lips and my tongue savours a light and slightly sweet drink with hints of strawberry and ginger. He watches me take a sip and raises his glass to do the same. Cheers, I say confidently, meeting his gaze and clinking our glasses together. I got you something, he adds, reaching into his pocket. He places on the table a bright white and red coloured ball on a stick, loosely wrapped in cellophane with a small red bow at the bottom – a cake pop. You were talking about Red Velvet some time ago, so I thought you’d like a sweet treat, he adds craftily.

It’s adorable and cheesy at the same time, but I smile at him and pick up the delicate confection. We lock our gazes again, and I can feel his urge to reach over the table and kiss me. I wonder what that would look like here – what other people who say or if anyone would really care at all. I would just have to lean over the already diminutive table and kiss him, smelling that familiar woody scent once again. I shut the moment out of my head and snap back to reality rather abruptly. Thank you, I say as he smiles for another sip of wine.

We’ve played it safe tonight with Italian, though I know we could have certainly found a less popular place to have a more intimate evening. But above the din and clinking of glasses we talk about work, travel, families, relationships, and food. The conversation is now effortless between us – the wine certainly helping things along – and the more I talk the more at ease I become. I look at him again – really look at him, and take in his many details. A slight scar near his left eye, round glasses that he keeps pushing back, light and wispy hair that would look better cut short, a smart shirt with the top button unbuttoned, and a playful and slightly boyish smile that comes to light every so often. In that moment I realise that I don’t want the evening to end, as cliched as that sounds. Because that would mean having to wait for a text or call the next day or the day after, to see if we should meet again. Or we continue to meet and start to like each other even more. I drag him halfway around the world to a friend’s wedding, and we have the best night of our lives. We grab last minute tickets to a show and don’t care that they’re terrible seats because he’s sitting next to me and laughing along. He attempts to coerce me into loving the great outdoors, which is a terrible, terrible idea, but he is stubborn and refuses to give up. We throw a dinner party and friends comment how perfect we look together. We travel to see families at Christmas, and spend New Year’s Eve on the rooftop freezing in the cold but keeping each other company before running back indoors. He asks me to move in, and suddenly it is as real as it’s ever been for me. No games, no drama, no second-guessing, no lies, no bullshit. Just him and I and our many years ahead.

No – this evening, this night, this date, is all I will care to remember.

Why Digital Influencers Are The Worst

Posted on 15-07-2015

It’s a new epidemic sweeping across brands and PR agencies – the undying and unfathomable love for ‘digital influencers’.

I noticed this trend back in 2012 when certain people on my Twitter feed were raving about a new coffee machine they had been sent to try out. Sprawled right across the top of the box was the person’s Twitter handle, and the big bold words “DIGITAL INFLUENCER”. After about a week of listening to these people rave about how the coffee from this machine was literally “the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in Dubai!!!!”, I wisely unfollowed them.

The notorious rise of the DI is something that is hard to pinpoint. Brands are always on the lookout for cool, hip, and trendy people who can bark about their brand day and night with little to no effort required on their part. Also keep in mind that brands love DIs because there’s practically zero cost involved – wave something free in their faces and chances are they’ll be eating out of your hands. Of course the actual process within dealing with a DI is probably more complicated – meetings, agreements, etc. but we never hear or see any of that. All we see is one person suddenly in love with a particular brand, plastering it across every single platform they’re on.


The endless quest for likes, tweets, instas, and what not is something that won’t leave the digital space any time soon. And our DIs thrive on this – it’s their lifeblood. What’s actually disturbing is just how ineffective these people actually can be at times. Brands and agencies hope that by pairing up with person X, that instantly all of their followers and social fans will jump on the bandwagon and become loyal customers as well. That’s not necessarily untrue – celebs do this all the time, and fans flock to try out new perfumes, clothes, and eateries if it’s anything remotely related to their idol. But for DIs it’s a slightly different prospect – just because someone appears to have a mass following doesn’t necessarily mean they have any real influence over them.  Being popular does not make you an influencer. An influencer would also never refer to themselves as being one either – that would defeat the purpose.

I’ve been tagged as a DI through no fault of my own, so pretty much every month or so I have agencies reaching out to me to pair up with some brand or the other. Here’s one that I got early this year:

I’m emailing you on behalf of ____________, who are launching a new influencer program that we would like for you to be a part of.

As part of the influencer program, you will be amongst a select few regional social media influencers that will have the opportunity to attend local, regional as well as global brand events and you will receive the latest products to use and hopefully integrate into your life. We believe your influence comes from the great content you create and that the credibility of your work depends on honest feedback to your followers and while we are confident our products will have a great added value to your life, we look forward to be hearing your opinion.

What puzzles me the most is that I don’t actually keep track of what my digital footprint/following is. I don’t count my tweets, don’t celebrate when I hit 10k followers, and certainly don’t give away stuff on my Instagram account. And the best part is trying to figure out what ‘great content’ they’re talking about – in the past agencies have said “We love your blog and the content you publish on it” and I think to myself “Are they talking about this blog?” Another great thing I did some time ago was to ‘audit’ a so-called DI, and on their Twitter account alone, over 90% of their followers were fake. What sort of influence are you hoping to get when your primary audience is going to be bots?


Of course the real pickle when dealing with DIs is how agencies and brands voluntarily pay to have these people on board. And let me tell you something – if you see some of the rates these so called DIs charge, you’ll want to quit your job and become a DI too. Almost as demanding as a blagger blogger, DIs can be divas all on their own, often asking for outrageous things just because…well, they can. A typical DI’s day goes something like this:

8:00am Wakes up, Tweets/Instagrams flawless photo #stayinbed #gottawork #blessed

8:05am Scroll through list of notifications, RT all the lovely supportive messages, block trolls

8:10am Tweet to a brand that the online order they made four days ago still hasn’t arrived #deliveryfail #customersupport #shopping #wtf

9:00am “Can’t wait to use my [beauty brand] to fix my looks up before I head out! #facial #skincare

10:00am Breakfast as some hipster cafe, top-down Instagram photo of their breakfast, optional newspaper or magazine nearby to show people they can read. Don’t forget to tag the restaurant!

11:00am Checks email for brand opportunities from PR agencies, replies with “Would love to take part!”

12:00pm Outfit Of The Day post, at least 17 photos taken to choose the best one

You kinda get the idea.

In my opinion, DIs add very little actual value – they make a bit of fuss and noise for a while, but after it dies down there’s no actual way to track if anyone was even listening to them to begin with. Sure you can look at boring numbers like their likes and retweets, but neither of these translate into something a brand would find valuable. The word “influencer” in itself is misleading – in my journeys across the Interwebs I’ve seen plenty of people bark on and on about various brands (and free things), but reading these hardly made me want to jump out of my seat and buy them as well. If brands want to use DIs as a kind of ‘brand megaphone’, then that’s exactly what they’re going to get. When it comes to something of actual value, that’s where the debate begins. What fuels things forward is that no one seems to grasp this point. People put so much of weight and faith in DIs that it goes straight to their heads, and that’s where it needs to stop. There’s nothing more irritating than seeing a post on your timeline that has been carefully crafted to look genuine, but you know is part of some elaborate scheme for a product plug.

Got some examples of truly terrible influencers? Drop a few lines in the comments!