Winter Warmers


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Yesterday I left the house wearing a coat and sunglasses. Alas, thus is the weather in London; you don’t know whether you’re going to get rained or sweated on. At this time of year, it’s difficult to approach the prospect of purchasing a coat with anything other than mild distain, you already forked out on your autumn mac and your winter woolly. With shops and fashion pages bursting with pastels and florals is it worth sweating it out in your military for a little bit longer?

Giving in and buying a new coat is kind of like admitting defeat, acknowledging that summer is never ever coming and that we’re going to be pump-full of rain for the rest of eternity.. but maybe it doesn’t have to be so bad. Consider this, we like accessories. This is a fact. You can never have enough bags, shoes or hats. It’s impossible. So consider the possibility that this dreary grey weather is Britain’s blessing in disguise (a very big disguise wearing a cloud as a moustache and dribbling with delight) they don’t call London the fashion capital of the world for nothing! Milan? Pah. Paris? Whatever! We are one accessory above the rest,  ladies I present to you… the Jacket.

I like a military parka with my pastel dress, a varsity coat over leather leggings and a smart blazer type mixed up with a great big floaty number. When you’re trying to rock the Chung look you really can’t mix it up enough, so wearing just one jacket for the entire season is definitely out of the question. There’s one small problem with all of this, it’s all well and good planning a new spring/summer wardrobe that allows for your new ‘accessory’,  and all-to-easy to get carried away with the cornucopia of mish-mashed looks the addition of this amasing little item can create, but can I afford it? Probably not. Can I afford twenty of it to go with every outfit in my wardrobe? Definitely not.

It was Thursday night (or as I like to call it ‘shopping night’) in the city, and I found myself in a crowded bar surrounded by more options than I had time to try on. I imagined how I would look with that one or how this one would look on my arm. I didn’t know what I would be going home with but I had a feeling that it was all a very bad idea, that I would wake up in the morning with my credit card on the bedroom floor, violated. Then something caught my eye, 60% off you say? Mid-season sale? Hell yes.

I left that night with a cute little sporty type, (but it wasn’t the only one!)

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Amelia xxx – Kristie Kreme part trois


 

I couldn’t work out what to write. Do I write as Kristie the slag? Amelia the anthropologist or just plain old me? But most importantly did I even want to find out who DKeats really was?

This was strange. Under any other circumstances I might even have been interested, but standing there totally naked atop a blue carpet that belonged in the 90’s, presenting himself to his phone… legs akimbo… goods on show… induced feelings that varied between amusement and nausea. I was most certainly not attracted.

Examining the photo one last time that night I tried to give it a better shot by dimming the light. I even played some Death Cab for Cutie. Nope. No good. There was no attraction. Zilch. The cute naked boy did absolutely nothing for me.

Why was that?

After the initial dry spell, Kristie’s inbox was, (as one suitor phrased) ‘tickled’ by a steady stream of messages. Every day I read through pretty much the same from the bored, lonely and shy of London’s single men. A busy hospital doctor who offered to show me his ‘bedside manner’, a curious university student who obviously didn’t want to take his interest in bondage back to his dorms and city boy who rambled on AND ON about his failed 3 year relationship and how he just ‘couldn’t connect with women right now’.

Perhaps it was the poorly constructed  red and white site that gave the messages the air of sadness, or perhaps it was the content of the messages themselves – ‘Ijizzedonyou2’ wanted to swing by to give me an orgasm and then leave,  he worked as a motorbike delivery man and he could travel just about anywhere and was free  whenever “Just sex, maybe exchange first names only.” Windrammer 77 thought I sounded ‘nice’ and a striking photographer from Poland just wanted to chat and promised to take things slow. He said he found most English women unfriendly.

Interestingly, only one of my ‘prospective suitors’ had had any success meeting women from the site. There is no other way to describe this man other than ‘Fucking Weirdo!’.

Far from a kinky underworld of 21st century empowered women and no bullshit men, I found this a kind of virtual bus stop for the lonely. Here, they waited, some hurt, curious or shy. Some downright perverted, but the one thing they had in common is that for some reason they were distancing themselves so far from the prospect of relationship that they chose to wear their no strings badge like a giant scarlet A on their profiles. I discovered it was this, more than the pictures of willies and ridiculous screen-names that was the real turn-off. Because even in the fits of an Infernos induced drunken stupor, gyrating to Tiny Tempah in the arms of a 22 year old,  there’s still a small part of me that thinks, ‘maybe he actually likes me’.

I began to feel bad about the dozens of un-replied e-mails and decided to stop toying with these people and take down my profile.  But looking back over my weeks and weeks of e mails and ‘flirts’ I came back to my original message from Keats.

Now, I have no idea what possessed me to ask him to describe his best sexual experience, or why I set him the task of writing in in the form of a poem (‘bonus points for rhyming couplets’). Maybe I wanted to test him, to make him prove that he was a tortured artist, an exception to the stagnant pool of man sewage I’d otherwise encountered. Maybe I just thought this was a sure way to get rid of him, because there was absolutely no way a guy lazy enough to use a sex site would spend time composing a poem to some clearly fake profile. I was 99.9% certain I was about to receive another unwelcome picture of his flexed appendage and there was absolutely no way I was going to meet this guy in real life, this was still… totally… completely… absolutely a joke…

The little yellow envelope flashed red. I had mail and it was from Keats. He’s written me a poem, and it was good!

Your assignment:
>
> > Two Irish beauties, long hair and trim
> > On a spread silk sheet this tale begins
> > Swift and smooth, supple and tight
> > Two young ladies that would last the night.
> > Iced champagne and nipples too
> > Hungry for each other and ready to screw.
> > Two tongues, one member, a private club
> > No holes barred, and so here’s the rub:
> > Twice over they wanted each their turn
> > And by the fourth time I felt the burn.
> > But in the shower growing stronger
> > I found the vigour to last one fifth longer.
> >
> > I really think you should reciprocate.
> >
> > DK x

Oh no, it made me smile. He made me smile. This was really bad. I appreciated the light tone, the use of ‘holes’ instead of ‘holds’ for comic effect and the fact that… I was a little bit turned on!

Suddenly the whole exercise seemed silly, kind of like going shopping without any money. What was the point of knowing Keats enough to sleep with him? He was a no strings guy, that was the whole thing! If I tried him on, I’d only have to give him back after.

Of course, there was a part of me that was imaging a happy ever after. It was the same part of me that picks my wedding dress before Imy first date outfit. The part of me who still swoons over Disney princes at the age of 29.

In my fantasies I would get him to change his ways, he would meet me, fall in love and read poetry to me on a rowing boat on some lake somewhere quaint. At one point it all got rather silly… me and him wondering round the National Portrait gallery hand in hand when we happen across a portrait of THE John Keats. “My great grandfather,” Keats would say to me and I’d gasp. “You’re descended from THE John Keats?” Funnily enough, none of my fantasies were sexual.

It took me 3 days to decide what to write…

> Never banked on a real reply
> Now feel kind of bad- kristie’s a bit of a lie.
>
> Before you’re affronted let me explain
> It wasn’t a joke, it wasn’t a game.
>
> It all begun last Saturday week
> I’d broken up with a guy and my world felt quite bleak
>
> Returning from holiday I found a surprise
> The start of a long and painful demise,
>
> it’s quite funny really, don’t care to repeat,
> who knows maybe one day… if we should meet…
>
> And so, I became Kristie – The girl I wanted to be
> But a few weeks on, just not sure that’s me.
>
> I suppose it was a lesson I had to learn,
> Still, I set you a task and I owe a return ;o)

So that’s that, the story of Keats and I. Well, the romantic part anyway.  We texted a few times, and one day arranged to meet on Skype. I waited… nervous to see if he actually looked like he did in the pictures, worried about what I would say. The idea of a date without alcohol was absurd? I waited from 7pm until 9pm  before it occurred to me that I’d been stood up. ON SKYPE!

Keats texted me a few days later but by then I’d lost interest entirely. I didn’t want some no strings dalliance, I wanted the poet in my fantasies, however I’m fairly certain he doesn’t reside on the pages of an online sex site.

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XXX part deux – Am I Really Doing This?!


 

What does the growing popularity of  ‘hookup sites’ mean for no strings sex in the digital age, and more importantly, is this the ultimate nod towards female sexual liberation?No alcohol, no seduction, no pick up lines… women setting up a profile in the light of day and declaring what they want. It definitely had a certain appeal, but could I really go through with it? (you kind of have to read part 1 first) xx Amelia

 

 

I decided that in order to conduct this strictly anthropological experiment, I was going to need to create a profile that was completely removed from who I really was. Also, I wanted to ensure maximum response so composed a profile that painted Kristie as a no bullshit, easy going kinda girl (emphasis on the ‘easy’). I wanted Kristie Kreme to be the kind of girl who could read Naomi Wolf’s new book without blushing repeatedly at the word ‘vagina’. The kind of liberated feminist who had no qualms about knowing what she wanted and taking it.  A girl who would turn a walk of shame into a march of glory.  Whether or not such a girl really existed, I wanted Kristie to be her.

“OK so I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what to expect. I work in the city (insurance, don’t ask) my friends will probably think I’m mad for doing this but dating bores me. Pick up lines bore me, I’m a busy girl with a lot to do and sometimes after a late Friday night and a few drinks out, well….
Don’t message me any boring crap, don’t message me if you’re short or fat or ugly.
Send me picture, make sure they’re good and who knows, some fun could be had.

My Ideal Person: I like blondes, I like six packs, I’m not into kinky or fifty shades of kinky. I don’t do sleepovers and I don’t do cuddles.”

And there it was. The profile was complete, and comforted by the fact I hadn’t paid anything (so  wasn’t doing it for real), I waited.

A day later no messages.

Two days later, despite my profile being viewed 32 times, still no messages.

I couldn’t help but feel slighted. Was Kristie too intimidating? Was she too full on? Do you seriously need to ‘play it cool’ when serving up no strings sex on a digital plate?!  I wondered if I should have gone for the demure approach, a shy timid creature who writes ‘hehe’ a lot. Maybe it was the picture of the Russian beauty I’d downloaded that seemed unbelievable, but I was far too ‘girl next door’ to pull off being Kristie Kreme myself.

Then it happened, I had a message, and nothing could have prepared me for what I found. Yes, obviously he’d sent a picture of his penis but that wasn’t the surprising part.

‘DKeats’ (28/Islington) had blonde boyband hair, a face that reminded me of Pre-Heroin Kurt Cobain and even though the picture was taken on a camera phone and I could see an extremely unappealing studenty looking bed in the background (and a discarded pair of socks) there was no denying that he was very cute and worse still, he sounded… smart!

I like your blunt sexual avarice.
I share your sensibilities.

I do expect photographic reciprocation. Your profile is somewhat light in that regard.

DK x

 

I had to look up the meaning of avarice (def. insatiable greed for riches; inordinate, miserly desire to gain and hoard wealth)… I don’t get it.

He was cute, AND he knew how to use words I didn’t in contexts I don’t understand!

Was I actually a little nervous to message back? Uh oh. This is bad.

To be continued….

Xx Amelia

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XXX


 

“You did what?” I said, gawping at newly single GBF (Gay Best Friend) as he recounted his Friday night activities.

We’d finished our tame night of local drinks at a reasonable 1am and he’d waved me off at the corner of my road. However, in the time it took for me to brush my teeth, peel off my mascara and fall into bed, GBF had managed to meet, suitably vet and later partake in a threesome with two men he’d never met before; one of which being a well known TV presenter with a Notting Hill postcode (the holy grail of gay hook-ups.)

“Manhunt.com.” He replied. “You just log in when you fancy a shag and it tells you who’s around and up for it.” A quick picture exchange later and hey presto, the nights entertainment was secured with very little fuss.

I should probably point out that GBF is a hopeless romantic, but when boyfriend standards are high the single gay man need not resort to the 3am scramble round the sticky floors of inferno’s on a Saturday night to satisfy his… ahm ‘carnal needs’. The idea, in theory seemed interesting; just imagine, a world without being asked for the n’th time what you do for a living, where you come from or worst or the worst if you ‘come here often’ (yes that’s still done).

‘But surely that’s just internet dating?’ you say. Well yes and no, in the Gay man’s world, internet dating is simple and divided into two very clear cut categories – boys you date, and boys you fuck while for  straights, online dating carries at least the appearance of, well, a date!

That online dating isn’t taboo anymore is something of an understatement.  With adverts for soulmate finding sites littering every billboard and magazine this could well be the next logical step! Or was it? I mean, it’s one thing to end up in a regrettable one night stand after a few too many Sambuccas but surely another thing entirely to actively admit you’re after no strings sex when sober enough to set up and pay for a profile. As I pondered whether or not my antiquated views belonged in the dark ages with the kind of people who read ‘the rules’ (or the kind who de-eroticise their table legs with tiny skirts) I decided to take a look online and it wasn’t long before I stumbled across a site that professed itself to be the ‘world’s largest sex and dating site’ and the curiosity set in.

Do ‘normal people actually do this?! If internet dating is no longer for girl-shy geeks and geographically challenged divorcees then maybe behind the bright red login page lurked a cornucopia of Christian Greys and liberated successful Samantha Joneses. I had to admit that I couldn’t picture either of these characters sitting at a computer feverishly trying to think of a suitable screen name, yet here I was a click away from discovering what could indeed be the future of no strings, no bullshit sex. The doorway to twenty first century copulation.

One click later, I was in.

Her name was Kristie Kreme….

To Be Continued

Message from the Universe


It was the evening of The Date; the social institution whereby two complete strangers sit opposite each other and talk about themselves with the aim of deciding whether or not they are suitable for partnership.  When you think about it, dating is such an odd ritual and for me personally, well, I’ve never had a good ‘date’. Sure I’ve gone out for a drink with the guy I snogged at our work pub quiz (the snog that incidentally began the saga of Golf Boy) I’ve spent all day in the pub playing scrabble with my ‘friend’ (henceforth known as the saga of Number Six) and gone for dinner with Mr. Date- AKA Prince Charming  but as far as full blown never-really-spoken-to-you before dates go, they have all been pretty disastrous.

I did wonder as I groomed, plucked and preened why I was putting myself through it all over again and if I was even ready. But before I get to the crux of this tale let’s rewind two weeks… I need to tell you about The Wish.

It was the eve of my fateful breakup with E and Jess and I found ourselves in the very strange scenario of having both broken up with our boyfriends a the exact same time. I’m not even talking days… I’m talking MINUTES. Moments after E left mine I called up Jess to find her boyfriend of one year was… as we were speaking, gathering his belongings. It was probably a time for Ben & Jerry’s, crying and watching of the Notebook.. but we decided to break out  the champagne instead. Two glasses later and we were philosophising about the ridiculousness of monogamy, lifelong partnerships, everlasting love and how essentially we really only had our friends. We talked about how our parents f*cked us up and how I was eternally doomed to favour unavailable men while she would never settle for anything less than perfect.

Jess was distracting herself with an E-mail she had just received from  a renowned documentary filmmaker

“He has such amazing energy” she cooed. Jess’s celebrity penpal (let’s call him BP) had been courting her since she met him in Ibiza 6 years ago. He had been hinting for her to come back and visit him but had never actually given her an invitation. “And you know what?” she said… “You should totally try doing ‘The Wish'”

The what?

“So,” She began, “just last week I was thinking about how I want BP to properly invite me out there. I put all my positive thoughts into it and blew the wish out into the universe” it’s a bit happy clappy but we’ll let her off… she’s a yoga teacher. “Anyway… now look! He totally invited me to come out there and stay as long as I want! So… that’s what you should do! You should think about what you want and send it out into the universe”

Was it really that easy?

Fastforward two weeks and I’m face to chest with a tall cute Australian called Ryan. He was funny, well funny enough for me not to stay talking to him longer than a second which was pretty rare for a random encounter at a warehouse party where everyone looked about 18 and dressed like (post midlife crisis) Madonna. I gave him my number not expecting him to call after all, surfers who live in Marylebone and are also into classical music and modern ballet are too good to be true right? But then, I did make that wish.

The universe it seems, was listening, because that Wednesday I had a bona-fide date on my hands.

He’d picked an Italian wine bar on the corner of Portabello and Westbourne Grove after just the right amount of texts, so far so good. I should have been over the moon, but instead I found myself knotted in fear and nerves. I ran through the conversation over and over in my head… thought of all the clever things I could say and pictured how I would look when I swagger into the bar

“Heloooo. So this is a nice place.” “Hi again, so how ARE you?” or something more saucy “Well helloo stranger, how’s it hanging?” (how’s it hanging?!) It was no use, I was bound to get as drunk as possible and be at least 80% weird and awkward. I mean just in the last hour I’d missed my stop on the tube, ripped my last pair of tights trying to wash and blowdry them in the sink… cut a massive gash into my leg dry-shaving and was running around trying to tame my hair with a sanitary towel stuck to my calf because I didn’t have any plasters. Who was I kidding? The Ryans of this world didn’t date girls like me! How am I supposed to even handle the social complexity of a date? And where would I even start anyway? What part of myself will I be today? The broken self conscious me that cried in her therapist’s chair? the drunk confident me that picks up 21 year olds in Infernos in Clapham? or the serious academic me?

It was all just too confusing. Who came up with the concept of a date anyway? Who decided that sitting two strangers in front of each other and doing the whole “soooo now tell me about you….” was in any way conducive to actually getting to know someone?

A massive glass of rum downed, my leg suitably patched up and a slightly holey pair of tights donned, I was ready for my big ‘date’.

As soon as I walked into the bar confident me came out. Confident me is like one of those Rottweilers, it can smell fear on others and balancing on that barstool, Ryan looked even more nervous and awkward than I felt. It also probably helped that I was so taken aback by the pair of bright blue snakesin pointy shiny shoes that I could barely stop myself from laughing. What was before me, far from the perfect Ryan I’d envisaged was a slightly nervous overly muscular badly dressed guy with hair that was halfway Russell Brand.

Oh boy.

He told me he was a music lawyer spoke French and Italian, played piano and liked drawing. Our hobbies , he said, were like a venn diagram. It was probably at the point of him trying to explain what a venn diagram was that I completely lost interest. When he got all Italian ordering pancetta I wanted to hit him with the menu and when he got his phone out to show me where his Marylebone house was on Google maps I was really quite ready to leave.

For all his faults, he did pick up a pretty hefty tab of champagne and really good food, I gave him a peck on the lips before I jumped into the cab. As soon as the door was closed and the relief of leaving had time to subside, I felt a little annoyed with the world.

Why was the universe doing this to me? I’d wished for a smart, driven, caring, lovely guy and I got a sensitive wet cloth of a man with bad dress sense. Should I have been more specific? ‘Dear universe, can I have a sweet caring lovely man who would never wear shiny pointy snakeskin shoes, is generous but doesn’t show off, cares about such things as music and paining but not to the point where I’d question his sexuality. Also he really needs to  make me laugh and be attractive but I’m not into muscles per say. Goddit?’

I jumped out the cab, paying the £30 fare for an evening I could have happily done without and with my head full of bubbles stumbled up the stairs. My room. My attic. Alone. It actually wasn’t so bad.

Peeling off my makeup in the mirror I looked at myself, like really looked at myself. We were doing OK, me and I. I didn’t need Ryan, in fact, I didn’t need anyone. The me of yesteryear would have shoehorned the idea of the music lawyer into her head out of sheer desperation to be part of a pair. He was better than nothing right? Well, I guess I’ve changed.

Maybe the universe did send me what I needed after all.

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The Case of the Disappearing Dog


Out in the jungle of dating there exists a little known species known as the ‘disappearing dog’. Now you see him, now you don’t!  One day he’s there, hanging with your friends, making plans for holidays, mentioning the parents and then… *poof* gone without so much as an ‘it’s not you it’s me’ text. Where do they go? It’s a mystery, to doggie heaven perhaps!

Ladies beware, side-effects of the sting include all the usual marks of a Dog encounter (insomnia, depression, unusual attachment to Facebook) but this particular mutation can induce side effects ranging from mild hysteria to extreme obsession.

Yesterday I was sent a text conversation that was uploaded onto the internet entitled “this is what crazy looks like via text messaging” http://soundcloud.com/vaughan-1-1/this-is-what-crazy-looks-like . In a nut-shell (no pun intended) a girl called JJ goes gaga after her one night stand blows her out. Now while this is all very amusing and the girl in this case is clearly insane, I’m going to use this extreme case as evidence of the effect of the ‘disappearing dog’ phenomenon. When a guy just vanishes without any explanation, the need for closure, and answer, an explanation… anything! Can drive otherwise sane self- respecting women into fits of feverish text frenzies.

“I just wanted my stuff back!” Said my friend,  as she recounted the story of a guy she’d been seeing for several months.

“He told me he was going for a drink with an ex, texted me from the bar telling me how bored he was and how he can’t wait to see me later, then nothing! I texted once, tried calling and assumed he got back with the ex. He still had a lot of my stuff at his so I called his mobile from my friend’s phone and got as far as ‘oh hey it’s….’ When I heard him gasp and he slammed the phone down!”

My friend never did get her stuff back, and to this day she wonders what really happened that night.

When a dog just disappears, he leaves a great big question-mark that wouldn’t otherwise be there. With a question mark that big, the need to figure out why can become all-consuming; sending you spiraling off to Sherlock Holmes his Facebook for evidence of something (you’ll know what it is when you find it) or e-mailing his work account (just in case he lost his phone). One friend was so confused by a sudden disappearance that she texted the guy’s friend to see if he was still alive and OK. He was.

More-so than just closure, the reason why a disappearing dog has such an effect, is the utter non response to contact. It’s the digital equivalent of someone sticking their fingers in their ears and going “I CANT HEAR YOU!” Take JJ-loco above, the lack of reply from her Kevin was the catalyst to crazy-town. Could that really be any of us?

In the Ye Olde dating times you communicated on the phone or in person, but now it’s so easy to delete from Facebook, so simple to ignore a message that the need to actually step up and be honest is diminishing.

The recent launch of a website helping dumpees communicate with their dumpers has unsurprisingly been a success. Only two weeks after it launched, www.wotwentwrong.com received over 28,000 hits. That’s 28,000 people who would happily pay to have a site message their ex and have them fill out a questionnaire on why they ended the relationship. The figures smell suspiciously like disappearing dog. When a relationship ends, there is always ‘the chat’…right? Or is the phenomenon of the D-dog more widespread than any of us feared? Has the rise of digital communication created a monster?

I’m going to stray from the point a little and recount the events of last night, when my very own disappearing dog, non- other than Prince Charming (remember him?) wagged back into my life. I knew he would be at the club so it wasn’t a shock to see him there, all dazzling and chatting to some girl he’d no doubt just met. My phone vibrated and I had a moment of utter confusion when the name flashed up, because how he could be calling and standing in front of me at the same time? Then came the realisation that the guy busy charming every poor girl in the club was his identical twin.

Yes there are two of them. Two sets of chiseled cheekbones, two sets of piercing blue eyes, two heartless bastards. Could this be any more Dynasty? Apart from the whole warehouse in north west London, overflowing toilets and lack of toilet paper… so maybe more Dysentery than Dynasty but anyway, awkward encounter with Prince Charming’s equally evil twin averted, I turned my attention back to my phone where a message just appeared. PC wanted to know if I fancied coming round to his to ‘hook up’.

The reason for the story is this, first of all to exemplify the fact that if a dog disappears he’s probably not the kind of dog you’d have wanted around anyway, secondly that if there was no explanation given, perhaps instead of resorting to sending a questionnaire out (www.how-to-lose-your-dignity-in-one-easy-step.com) you can come to terms with the fact that finding out why, will not make the disappearance any easier. Had Prince Charming sat me down over a drink and explained that he didn’t actually want to go out with me because he only picks up girls for sport, maybe even elaborated that he has mother issues or a complex about being just a little bit fatter and shorter than his twin, would that have made any difference at all?

Back to the text, I was surprised at how keen he was to meet up especially considering the fact that every time I’d seen him previously he’d been quite happy to parade his gaggle of blondes right under my nose. Had things really got that bad? Or had he just slept with and not called every girl in Essex?

Even more curious was my realisation that not replying to him was actually getting a reaction! We’re not talking JJ-Loco but it was something!

“I give up!” he texted despondently. Then shortly after, “Kind of thought we were more grown up than this.”

I could have done one of two things. The first was to give him a taste of his own medicine, the guy stood me up twice, embarrassed me and hurt me he deserved to be ignored, but then would that be any better than a disappearing dog? It’s so easy to ignore a text message, to leave the words and the question dangling in space, forever echoing and never answered. I’m sure that it didn’t matter to him anyway whether I replied or didn’t, but in a world where common courtesy can so easily be forgotten, I decided to reply.

“I’m sorry… it’s just that that ship has sailed… and I’m not really the booty call type… Friends? Xx”

It was hardly a drink flung in his face, but to me it felt like closure, and that was antidote enough.

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Curse of the D’Urbervilles


The start of every relationships offers its fair share of trials and tribulations and it’s no secret that the start of my adventure with E had been a rocky one. I’ve failed to mention that when we’d first got together, I was living with his ex and he was living with mine. Mostly because the entire thing was like a bad episode of Eastenders.

There was the weekend when things went weird, just after we’d decided to make it official and the few days over Christmas when things went weird again, and I’d almost decided to call the entire thing off. All of this is very dull and boring and now quite irrelevant as the last few weeks have been, well, what the start if a relationship should be; like a bubble of frosted glass with just me and him in it. Goodbye world, I bid you adieu for now I am in love!

Was it 8pm already? Had we really spent all day in bed? Surely it can’t be Sunday…. Just another hour before leaving the door, just another kiss before I go, it never seemed to be enough. I floated to Stockwell tube on a small cloud and had I burst into sudden song I’m certain birds and small forest creatures would have followed me onto the tube and right into work.

Yup, there was no denying I was well and truly in over my head and it was around the moment I realised I really did love him, that a little secret began to nibble at my conscience. I ignored it at first, pushing it aside; some truths are best not spoken and everyone has skeletons in their closet, right? How I’d shouted at the TV when Tess of the D’Urbervilles confessed to Angel, No you silly girl! Of course he won’t forgive your bastard child, it’s the 1800’s! All this should have kept my tongue firmly still, but sitting opposite my E in an overpriced Japanese restaurant, watching him berate the waiter for there not being an adequate variety of noodles on the menu, I realised that if I loved a man this irritating, faults and all, then he really deserved to know the truth about me too.

“E…..” I said and noticed his expression change immediately as if he already knew what was coming.

“What is it sweetie?”

“I feel guilty.” I couldn’t look up from my knees and there was a long expectant silence. Finally, I pinched my eyes shut and blurted out; “I kissed a guy on New Years. It was horrible. I felt totally guilty immediately after and I love you, and I thought we were going to break up, and you were so mean to me over Christmas!”

“Just kissed? Nothing else?”

“Nothing else I promise.”

“Phew.” He said, sitting back. “I thought it was going to be a lot worse.”

He was taking it well. Surprisingly well. The waiter’s tray of cutlery beside us was jingling along to the alarm bells in my head.

I gulped. “Have you… ever, you know… with someone?”

“No!” he said, but his voice came out a little too high pitched and his eyes shot up to the right. Perhaps I knew him much better than I thought, or perhaps he was just a bad liar because something smelt fishier than the plate of uneaten sushi on the table.

“You’re lying.” I said, slowly. “I can tell.”

He bit his lip and shook his head in his hands, then sat back and ran his hand through his hair nervously. “Argh!” he said, “you’re going to make more of this than it is!”

“Just tell me!”

“It was that first weekend things were weird. It was some girl, it meant nothing.”

A week later a drunken chat and another bad attempt to lie to me revealed there were two girls, two kisses, both meant nothing. It was ‘fine’ of course,  I mean we’d barely been together two weeks, I’d pushed him into it and he wasn’t ready… and…

I listened to myself reel off excuses to my best friends Claude and Jess over E-mails on the Monday morning.

“But,” Claude said. “Aren’t you mad at him for not telling you? That you confessed but he didn’t?”

“No….. It’s fine! If he really wanted to lie he could have done it convincingly. No, what happened was that he actually WANTED to get found out.”

I knew it was bullshit, Claude knew it was bullshit and even E knew it was bullshit when he first suggested the ridiculous excuse.

Honesty, it appears, was overrated and with all the cards out on the table, all I could see was the joker.

A gloomy January morning greeted me from outside the window and without my fluffy cloud, I stumbled through a puddle, cursing as water splashed up my leg. I tried to forget the whole thing but the image of E, my E, running round some club sticking his tongue in any willing face refused to leave me alone.

I can think of 100 cliché lines with which to end this piece – love is blind, ignorance is bliss, blessed are the forgetful, but as much as it would be nice to turn back time to that night, if I had the chance, I’m not sure I would. The relationship may no longer feel like a fairy-tale, but without the mirrors and smokescreens I can see it for what it is. Why then, am I still here?

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It was a scene the teenage me would have had in a nightmare; my boyfriend sprawled out on the sofa watching football, me frantically juggling crushing garlic in the kitchen behind him simultaneously timing a roasting butternut squash and cleaning tomato juice off the printed recipe page.

Shuffling over, E (AKA Number Six) seemed to consider helping me out but instead offered me an olive, picked at the salad and proceeded to f*rt loudly.

I slapped his hand away and kicked him out before pausing for a moment, knife in one hand, and some sort of herb in the other before stopping and looking around at the scene of domestic hell  before me.

What was I doing?!

Somehow, I’d swapped my devil-may-care singledom and become, I would say, a domestic goddess, if not for the counter-full of confused looking ingredients. Left to my own devices, dinner consisted of Uncle Ben’s microwave rice, cleaning was left to the cleaner and laundry, well, let’s just say I stay away from buying anything white or delicate.

But I had a boyfriend now, and as weekly dates turned into consecutive visits, keeping up appearances was becoming increasingly difficult. To make matters worse, E was something of a traditionalist; a man’s man. He likes his  (usually blonde and dainty) girls  in heels and skirts, refused to entertain the idea that women do their ‘business’ just like men and had even stopped one girl he dated from drinking pints around him.

“What was that?” He would reply to her requests for cider “I’ll get you a Smirnoff Ice.”

Having been his ‘mate’ for five years, I was well aware of the fact I wasn’t his type. I didn’t possess that ‘feminine mystique’ that made men open doors and stand up on the tube and now that I was on the receiving end, his eccentric ‘notions’, far from amusing were becoming a benchmark I wasn’t sure I measured up to.

Wincing at my badly out of tune rendition of “living On a Prayer” he remarked that it was really unattractive when girls couldn’t sing.

“Sorry,” I snapped back, “I didn’t realise it was 1812.” But I was hurt, I didn’t want him to find me unattractive. I realised that if I wanted to be up on a pedestal with the other pretty girls, I was going to have to learn to climb.

That was pretty much how I ended up groomed to perfection and cooking dinner while my boyfriend broke wind on the couch. The feminist inside me might have been screaming; “What the hell are you doing?!” But there was a part of me that was proud of my trickery and so, disguised by makeup, nail-varnish and the aroma of cooking veg, the tomboy was supressed.

.

“I like that you have table manners,” He said to me over the weekend as I daintily sipped my soup the way I’d seen Emma do in the BBC adaptation, by dipping the spoon into the middle so it fills up instead of shovelling the still dripping utensil into my mouth.

“Oh really?” I replied; making sure I didn’t slouch and that my elbows were off the table. It was another win, but the charade was exhausting, and it was only a matter of time before my carefully positioned mask of female perfection was stripped and the real me would be revealed- messy, sloppy, grumpy me. The me he’d known and didn’t love.

Tired, I left the food in the oven and snuck off to redo my makeup before returning fresh faced into the living room and settling on the couch next to him. My flatmate had come back and was cooking his spag bol behind us. E turned to look at me and I smiled. I’d spent a good part of the evening pondering feminism, my identity and my feelings so when I mouthed a silent “I love you,” my face looked more serious than I’d intended, making the gesture appear comical. He chuckled, mimicking my serious expression and signalled “You complete me.”

I caught his Austin Powers reference and laughing, responded with a Dr Evil impression;

“Mini me, you complete me.”

“You know, Jerry Maguire?” he replied, also doing a Dr. Evil

“You had me at hello. ‘Tear.’”

He burst out laughing.

I fell back on the couch, snorting.

My flatmate rolled his eyes behind us.

Maybe I wasn’t E’s ‘type’. I wasn’t well groomed or polite, I said what I thought and sometimes after a big meal I might even burp, but I had something the other girls didn’t, I made him laugh.

“Er, is that your food in the oven?” My flatmate said, opening the oven door and filling the room with the smell of charred squash.

At the very least I could rest assured E wasn’t with me for my cooking.

 http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/../../amelia-brightside/the-feminine-charade_b_1214443.html < Article on Huffington Post

The Feminine Charade

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I Love You. See? it’s easy!


Love. It really is a nice little word that rolls off the tongue, but to a girl dating a guy for a grand total of two months and two weeks it can stick, trapped somewhere between the teeth, stubbornly refusing to come out. You might easily tell him that you LOVE that meal he took you to, or that you LOVE his jumper. Casually telling him how you love spending time with him? Easy peas. But actually saying that you love him is, well, sometimes impossible.

Spoilt by a childhood of Disney films, teenage dreams of Dawson and an adulthood of Austen (and OK….I admit it Twilight,) the big declaration represents a moment of validation; you’ve made it to the finish line, you’ve won. Getting there becomes something like a challenge, and there is little to do but wait, because a girl has to wait for it. Right?

Even the most rules sceptic girl would agree that saying it first is never an option. It’s just not the done thing but more so, half the fun is the delivery and like reading the last page of a book, you risk missing out on the entire plot.

Still. If I felt it, if I really felt it, there should be no problem saying it. And therein lay the problem; how do I know if this is the real thing?

After the very first night I spent with Number Six, I marched into my best friend’s flat, threw my arms up and declared; “That’s it, I’m in Love.”

“You’re not in love.” She replied, rolling her eyes.
I have a habit of being ‘in love’ with anything; shoes, miso dishes, but more dangerously, men.  Let’s not forget the incident with Prince Charming; it took me a whole 48 hours of knowing him to go from mild interest to full blown passionate delusions.

Could it be that I was in love? So soon?

The Oxford Illustrated dictionary defines love as “A virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection; and “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”.
I’m not sure I entirely agree.

If love is in essence a challenge, there has to be an element of selfishness; a need that leads to that hook, be it sexual or emotional dependence.

Anthropologically speaking, the study of ‘love’ is divided into categories – biological, psychological and evolutionary.  Within these, the general consensus is that love has three stages; (because as a rule of thumb academics feel the need to divide everything into three…)

• Biologist Helen E. Fisher, categorised love into lust, attraction and attachment
• Psychologist Robert Steinberg, came up with the ‘triangular theory of love’ which divides love into intimacy, commitment and passion

A linear timeline for falling in love which begins with animal chemistry and ends with a sibling- like dependence, implies that not only are the two mutually exclusive but that the term ‘love’ is valid for even the basest of animal magnetisms. Ergo qualifying my ‘love’ for Number Six, Robert Pattinson and the guy I had a crush on in year 7.

If falling in love is really that easy, when then is the right time to say ‘I love you’?
My first boyfriend told me he loved me by writing 143 on a piece of paper (something about the number of letters in the word ‘I love you’.) He did it about two weeks in, and I later discovered he’d declared his love in the exact same way to his ex.

Golf Boy waited an excruciatingly long amount of time. But when he said it, I felt the entire world fell away like a smashed snow globe leaving just us in the middle.

Number four (or the one I never really talk about) said it at just the right time, and I don’t remember feeling anything at all, but then, I never felt much for him anyway.

And then there was Number Six. I’ve been telling him I love him silently in my head for about a month. He told me he likes me, that he really likes me, that he really really likes me.  And then, it happened.

“I really like you.” He said.
“Me too.” I replied for the hundredth time
“No, I REALLY like you.” He said again
I smiled.
“I would even say, maybe falling in love with you?”
Say it you coward. Just say it.

Then he paused. “How…do you feel?”
Seriously? You’re making ME do it?! I’ve never been a very patient person, and it was clear it needed a nudge. I rolled my eyes “You know I love you, you idiot!” I replied.

I’ll admit it was a bit of an anti-climax. I was expecting him to have thought of the right time, the right place, I wasn’t expecting an epic Notebook style declaration, but I wanted to at least be sure he meant it. Now that it was said, now that it was out in the open, I felt the words sit uncomfortably on my lips.

“Well, I’m glad that’s out the way,” he said, sighing “It’s like a weight’s been lifted. Wow so we’ve gone through another relationship landmark.”

I suppose we had, but we rushed through it so quickly I didn’t have time to stop and enjoy the view. Maybe hearing the words ‘I love you’ isn’t about winning at all.

And so I carry my ‘love trophy’ awkwardly, and return the words with  embarrassment because it feels like we’d jumped the queue into a club where we didn’t quite belong… yet.

 

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