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Now Boarding At Gate 11

Posted on 12-05-2017

It all was so nonchalant to begin with. I landed on an expectedly cloudy Tuesday morning, swiftly got through immigration, and headed for the exit. The chilly air had already made its presence felt in the arrivals hall, and I was looking forward to welcoming even the slightest bit of warmth that I could find on the Underground. Yet there he was, just as I rounded the corner towards the trains. We hadn’t arranged to meet when I arrived, at least not until much later in the week, but there he stood, hands in his jacket pockets, not smiling or giving anything away – though I knew already that his mind was trying to decide if this had been a mistake. I walked up to him, to the face that I had only known through late-night Skype conversations and blurry WhatsApp images.

“This is a nice surprise”

His mouth breaks into a smile, his body relaxes, and he pulls me forward into an embrace I’ve waited months to feel. I smell the musky leather from his jacket, entwined delicately with a distinct fragrance that dances on my nose with soft floral accents. I breathe it in deeply like some sort of drug, finally pulling away to return his smile. The ride into the city is interrupted by the only occasional question or two – the silence envelops us in a comforting manner, as the drizzle outside kisses the car windows.

The apartment exudes an expectedly strong, masculine vibe. Large furnishings, dark and distressed, dominate the rooms as I walk through. I glance at the lamp with some football team’s banner draped over it and I resist the urge to roll my eyes slightly. He catches my gaze and laughs gently, leading me into the master bedroom. A beautiful four-poster bed sits powerfully in the center of the room, while a short corridor leads to the immaculately arranged walk-in closet and bathroom. I run my hands gently over the neatly pressed shirts and look over the furiously polished shoes, all exactly where they need to be. I wonder to myself if this is the future I would be walking into – a future where I am cataloged and filed away into a little hobby hole for his occasional amusement.

“Shall we head out to dinner?”

He cleans up so well. It’s something that I’ve loved about him. His refusal to acknowledge his boyish handsomeness is endearing, though occasionally tiring.  He is dressed in a soft grey suit and matching trousers, with a dark blue cashmere sweater underneath. It’s a somewhat safe look to pull off, were it not for the bright bundle of fabric peeking out of his jacket pocket. This in fact was not a pocket square, but actually a pair of my underwear that I had bunched up and challenged him to flaunt for the rest of the evening. Not one to walk away from a challenge, he obeyed, and I can’t help but be slightly disappointed at how easy it all was. Our meal is immaculate, and hours later we are entwined on his bed, tipsy on wine but drunk on each other’s passions.

“Final call at Gate 11”

The humidity greets me like an old friend, wrapping itself around me and covering every inch of my skin. I feel myself slipping back into my routine – the same people, the same drives around the city, the same places to see. I stop by a department store and comb through the men’s fragrances, my fingers dancing over each bottle like some invisible scented concerto. I spray each one gingerly into the air and take a gentle sniff, repeating this over and over until finally a familiar scent returns and my fingers wrap around the precious bottle as if my life depended on it. “This is a good selection, sir”, the checkout girl says as she packs it away.

“I know,” I reply as if on cue. “It reminds me of home”

The Ten Dicks Of Dating Apps

Posted on 03-03-2017

I feel that in my vast landscape of dating experience, the most entertaining stories have come from using dating apps. Whether it’s Tinder, Bumble, Happn, Lavender, Grindr, OkCupid or whatever else you fancy, the men all seem to look and sound the same. What’s hilarious is that you may end up blocking a total douche on one app only to find him resurfacing on another one. It’s an endless cycle of browsing through the same shitty dating pool over and over again.

So you’ve decided that you want to plunge into those murky waters and try your hand at some of these newfangled apps. After all, you can spot a troll a mile away, so how bad could it be? Trust me – it’s pretty fucking bad. Like I’m-joining-a-convent bad. Combing through my conversations with various guys, I can say that there are some pretty straightforward categories that these men fall into. And if you’d like to avoid heartbreak or any really awkward conversations with these kind of guys, I’d advise you to stay clear of them. Because at the end of the day, they’re all dicks.

The Married but Single Dick: it’s bad that I have to start off with this dick, but it’s one of the important ones to look out for. The MBS Dick believes very much in window shopping, so is merely on these apps to ‘grow my circle of friends’. In his search for an expanding friend circle, he is sometimes known to ‘accidentally’ slip his wedding ring off his finger. Just like the time he ‘accidentally’ tripped and fell…inside you. You may think you have an amazing connection with the MBS Dick, and he’s still got his charm, but please don’t think he’s about to drop everything in his world (including his marriage) and run off into the sunset with you.

The Ghost Dick: you get a message from a guy and he’s actually got some nice photos in his profile. Sharp, slightly witty profile text, no photos of him posing with wild animals – this guy seems like the real deal! You message back, a bit flirty at first, and before you know it you’ve both unravelled your life stories before each other. Your heart does a little skip at the thought that you’ve actually found someone you could possibly date, and you can’t wait to tell all of your friends about him. Then suddenly, he stops messaging back. You wait a few days and message him again, but no reply. You can see that the stupid cunt is online but he refuses to send a reply. You scroll through your past messages, looking for some hidden context where you may have said something that turned him off. You sit and wonder what in the hell you might have said or done for him to ignore you like this, but unlike Casper, this is not a friendly ghost. Block and move on, dahlink.

The Personal Trainer Dick: the PT Dick is a weird one. Why on earth would you be on a dating app trying to promote yourself? I thought whoring yourself out was for Instagram, but clearly there’s a new market for PT Dicks who have profiles where they’re flexing in the gym, and profile text that goes something like “Looking to get fit? Flexible packages and timings for interested people – message me and we’ll chat!” The PT Dick also sometimes masquerades as a ‘certified masseur’, so clearly the PT sessions aren’t quite paying the bills after all.

The Soulmate Dick: anyone who says they’re looking for their soulmate on a dating app needs to have their head examined. There are so many profiles saying “Looking for someone special – hope to find them here”, but it’s just a Prince Charming cover-up for some quick wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am action. Avoid.

The Travelling Dick: the Travelling Dick is a dick because a lot of time they seem like recruiting travel agents. They pop into your city, charm you with their stories of lands far away, and somehow entrap you into booking a ticket to visit them over the summer. Their profiles go something like ‘Hi! Visiting your beautiful city and would love for someone to show me around!’ Then you show them around, fall in love with their accent, and then proceed to cry yourself to sleep when you realize they’re leaving you next week. Not a fun sight.

The Photo Collecting Dick: “Pics?” – nuf said.

The Peacock Dick: Peacock Dicks are one of the worst – period. Their profile has photos of them at brunches surrounded by equally happy, gorgeous people, or posing with a random wild animal, or a hundred selfies with some landmark in the background. The Peacock Dick wants you to know that their life is amazing, and that you would be honored to even briefly be a part of it. They describe themselves as ‘intelligent yet well-grounded’, and would love nothing more than to make you their temporary charity project.

The Discreet/Discrete Dick: you never quite know where you stand with a Discreet Dick.  Are you guys an item? Is he going to want to hang out in public? Can you text him from your regular phone number? The problem with a Discreet Dick is that every so often, it’s actually good. So you end up pining for someone who clearly isn’t going to mention to anyone that you exist, let alone hang out somewhere public for fear of exposing them to the world. Also, please decide if you’re ‘discrete’ or ‘discreet’ – there is an actual fucking difference.

The Perfect Dick: if you ever stumble across a Perfect Dick, take a screenshot. They have a perfectly written profile, nice photos, and are quick to respond to your messages. But if you think you’re the ‘special one’ that they’ve connected with, think again. A Perfect Dick is such a rare sighting, that within a few days their inboxes are going to be flooded with messages from hundreds of other eager people. So you’re going to be lost in a sea of eager-beavers all trying to get the attention of the same person. Over the course of a few weeks, the messaging becomes less frequent, and ultimately the Perfect Dick morphs into a Ghost Dick. Soz.

The Racist Dick: a fairly new phenomenon, the Racist Dick shows you that we don’t quite live in such a modern world after all. ‘It’s not racism – it’s just a preference!’ Yea, fuck you too. It’s commonplace to see a Racist Dick rattling off what skin colors they don’t want to get messages from, so your cheerful “Hello there!” will be greeted with stony silence or an instant block. You deserve better than this, so leave a Racist Dick alone to wallow in their mediocrity, and go celebrate your diversity.

Are there any Dicks that were missed out? Let me know in the comments!

OMG HOW ARE YOU STILL SINGLE?

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:

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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:

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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.

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

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

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Federico summed up the situation perfectly:

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Jordan was clearly ecstatic:

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

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

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Which was quickly followed by this scathing comment from Katie:

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Charles straight up said what we were all thinking:

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While Steve tried to lighten the mood a bit:

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

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

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