Yesterday afternoon, just after work, I went for drinks to celebrate one the birthday of one of my colleagues. I found myself, although not for the first time in my life, surrounded by women – as they got progressively more drunk, their conversation varied from the size of their boobs to different methods of contraception.
(At one point, one of them may have had said she hasn’t had sex since December. I didn’t quite hear, but…)
While I did my ILB Thing™ of sitting quietly in the corner making no noise, I did pitch in with a few conversations (I’m not that much of a pariah), especially when the topic turned to autism management and the different ways in which people stim. More discourse happened about the way to centre yourself when you feel overwhelmed.
“I suck my thumb,” said one colleague. “I know I shouldn’t, but I do. It helps me calm down.” “My ex used to suck her thumb,” I said without thinking. “She did it every night; I rarely saw her sleep without doing so.”
I shouldn’t have said that. Not because it wasn’t true, but because I’d forgotten it up until then.
As much as things remind me of my second girlfriend (second chronologically; I don’t have more than one girlfriend!), I do have to wonder if there’s anything that reminds her of me. I have a scarily accurate memory, so I can recall things and events from the past with some amount of detail – you’ll know this if you read my blog – but I’d forgotten about this.
I’d forgotten about this although I know so many things I shouldn’t. I know her married name and I know the name of her son. I’ve read her MA essay and even her Ph.D. thesis (I’m not acknowledged, even though we had sex on the floor while encoding some poetry readings, but then again she doesn’t mention her husband either, so…), both of which are very good. I even know where she works now and have to wonder if she is still as angry as ever.
But I’d forgotten about the thumb thing.
The seamstress used to try to justify this to me. It was a comfort thing, carried over since she was little. It happened while she was asleep and she couldn’t control it. Maybe it was a way to centre herself. It once happened when she had a cracked tooth and she couldn’t stop. Once she even told me it was because she wanted to feel like she had a cock in her mouth. The excuses kept coming, and coming, and coming…
But I didn’t care. I liked it. I thought it was cute.
In fact, I thought a lot of what she did was cute. I liked the patterns on her underwear. I liked the way she pronounced “Ph.D.”. When helping her pick a dress in the shop, I chose the one that showed off her boobs and she giggled. I liked that too. I liked how filthy her sense of humour she was and how she insisted that she used to be cool. When I noticed a chunky pair of sunglasses she had, she lent them to me and I liked that.
But I forgot about the thumb-sucking until yesterday afternoon.
Before I get into this, I want to make a couple of things clear.
Up until a few days ago I wasn’t entirely sure whether or not I would be attending Eroticon at all this year, or indeed any other year after this. Financially, I am in no position to be doing so; I also felt completely inadequate during the last one I attended and perhaps even more so during the aborted 2020 replacement. I also submitted a session idea that didn’t get taken up (which would have helped with the money… also, I was sort of planning it in my head already).
I’m not even sure I have the faith in the community that I used to, or if I do, it’s not to the same degree. There are always going to be the few that I trust and adore – and there’s one person coming this year who I know I’m going to be spending a lot of time with – but there are always those undertones that I’m not comfortable with. Specifically, there’s a streak of élitism detectable throughout the upper echelons, and that’s what makes me feel uncomfortable.
And yet here I am.
I’m coming for a number of reasons:
one, I’ve been to every ‘con since the first one back in 2012 and I really ought to keep doing so; two: I made promises to various people and I intend to keep them; three: my dear friend Robynmade a generous donation to aid my attendance and I owe her a lot; four: my therapist told me to go.
I will type that again: my therapist. told me. to go.
five: as you may have noticed, I’ve sucked at blogging this year. The intent is there, but the flesh is weak. I’m really wrestling with a creative block. Whatever else Eroticon may be, I’m hoping for it to be a way out of this.
And so here I stand in front of the annual Meet & Greet, wondering if I will get what I want out of Eroticon, if anything unexpected will happen, or even if I am still welcome. I am, as always tentatively excited about this, so I cautiously dip my toe into the waters. Here’s hoping I find them clear, to some extent.
The Meet & Greet
Name (and Twitter)?
Innocent Loverboy, but usually referred to as ILB (pronounced “I’ll be” /aɪel’bi:/, not “illb” /ɪlb/). I have other names too; a few of you know my real name and I’ll answer to that. Frankly, I’m still amazed anyone talks to me at all so I’ll probably answer to anything.
I’m on Twitter as @innocentlb, but I’m not on any other social media platforms. Oh, and please don’t refer to Mastodon as “Masto”. That sounds like a supervillain.
Tell us 3 things you are most looking forward to at Eroticon 2023?
(i) I stole this from Molly wholesale, but it is “it’s finally happening”. Yes, I was a bit dubious of the whole affair as above, but I can’t deny that I am both relieved and excited that ‘con is back.
(ii) The social aspect. I’ve mentioned Robyn above, but I’m sure there will be a few there who I hadn’t realised were coming that I’ll know. There are always new people at ‘con (maybe too many, if I’m being honest, at the last one) and that might be fun. (I’ll also buy GOTN a drink. I don’t genuinely owe her one, but I always pretend I do and she hasn’t clocked this yet.)
(iii) I’m sure some of the sessions? Having looked through the running order, there are very few that move me so far, so I’ll make a choice at the time, but let’s be honest, I’ll end up at all the ones run by my mates. I am genuinely intending to rejuvenate my blog at ‘con, though, and I hope at least some of them help.
If there’s a session I’m not going to and I have no alternative I may well be in the coffee / break room, available for chats and hugs. I’m also willing to talk blogs if you struggle; I genuinely have decades of experience.
And I can do sex talk. Always can do sex talk.
Sadly with a change of venue this year for the Friday night Meet & Greet we won’t be compiling a playlist, but I know that everyone enjoys that bit, so… what is a song that always has you turning the volume up?
I actually don’t know where the Friday night is, but I’ll be going along whatever, so yeah.
At work recently we have been playing a lot of dance music (there’s a reason for that; it’s not just random) so, even though I don’t dance as well as I used to due to my increasing disability, I’ve been enjoying the rhythms. How about Don’t Stop Movin’ by S Club 7?
Don’t laugh; you like it too, don’t you?
At my wedding last year, the final dance was to SHUM by Go_A, so maybe that’s an option.
What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?
As I told my educational psychologist during my genius diagnosis (yes, really), I wanted to be a film director. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I wanted to be a cartoonist, a magazine editor, a computer programmer, a journalist, a peace campaigner, an English teacher, a campaign organiser based in Japan, a rock star and a comedian.
I am none of those.
What does your joy look like today?
A Vine compilation. I didn’t really catch the zeitgeist when Vine was a thing, but people are still making compilations on YouTube and they never fail to make me smile.
What is your favourite musical?
As anyone who’s paid attention knows, I am a massive fan of musical theatre, and it’s one of my greatest loves. It’s an unfulfilled ambition to end up on a West End stage (or any stage) and sing in a musical… and I have a fantasy about it, if that’s your sort of thing.
In any case, my favourite musical is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – it always has been – but I know all the words to Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, The Producers and several others. I’m still working on Hamilton, but I almost have that too.
If you were the captain of a pirate ship, what would be the name of your ship?
The Sea Cucumber. Yes, that’s a Monkey Island reference, but I’d steal adapt it for my ship too. At school, we once had a challenge to build a seaworthy craft out of paper, and my group’s went through several changes before we named it #4.
As soon as you have finished writing answering these questions, what are you going to do?
Oh, boy. It’s been a very long and difficult week full of unexpected challenges. This is written with the very last of my energy. I think the appropriate verb is “collapse”.
Complete the sentence:
I need… £2,500 in order to clear all my debts and have some money left over. Or, if that’s too much, maybe some cake.
Unlike pretty much all of my friends, I quite like this song. I’m honestly quite surprised that Molly remembers it. I can’t stand Daniel Bedingfield, but Unwritten by his sister is such an earworm that I’m prepared to give the whole family a pass.
I’m nice like that.
It was a Monday evening and I was headed out to band practice in an hour. By this point, everyone else had moved out of the house and I had the whole building to myself. I’d spent the whole day doing basically nothing but wandering around in circles and listening to my growing collection of MP3s – the last of which was, coincidentally, Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield.
One of my friends had written a damning indictment of the song on his blog at the time, which was probably why I downloaded it.
I also had some porn open. It wasn’t running, of course – Unwritten may be a fun song, but it doesn’t quite sync up with this scene from Virgins of Sherwood Forest – but I’d had it open for a while, the DVD valiantly whizzing in its little USB-connected device.
“Feel the rain on your skin…”
I clicked off Windows Media Player when the song had finished and turned my attention back to the porn. Forty-five minutes until I had to go to band. Maybe I had the time to enjoy myself beforehand. Or at least start myself off. I unhooked my trousers, slid my pants off, sat back, curled my fingers comfortably around my shaft, and clicked play.
Band practice went past as it always did – a collection of adequate tunes coupled with me getting almost constant low-level verbal abuse from our musical director – but it had finished. During debrief in the bar afterwards, I excused myself to use the toilet, at which point I discovered that I was still hard. Quite an achievement considering that I had just spent three hours hitting things with sticks and I had had an orgasm shortly before that.
I resolved there and then to try for another orgasm once I got home – hey, it was my house now, I could have as many as I wanted – and was distinctly uncomfortable for the ride back to my side of Nottingham. Just before I got out of the car to follow my dick back up to my bedroom, our band manager asked me to add something to the website.
“Okay I’ll do that I’ll do that tonight I promise look tomorrow okay I love you bye bye!” I said in one breath as I channelled Billy Whizz on my way to the front door. Up the stairs, with my trainers, trousers, pants and T-shirt coming off at various points. Back to my room, computer on, porn back in, same scene, let’s do it again. Again. Again.
Half an hour later and I’d finally managed to clean all the cum off my hand, belly, chest, neck and a bit of the desk that it hit. I was also considering sponging down my chair and going for a shower, but maybe that could wait. I admitted it: I love my porn.
Five minuted later and I was about to shut down my computer and actually go to bed when I realised that I hadn’t done the website update. I could do that. It would take me, what, five minutes? I could even put some music back on while I typed it up…
The first song Windows Media Player opened was the one I’d been listening to when I clicked it off a short eternity ago. Unwritten started again from the beginning, a nice accompaniment to the tappity-tappity-tap of my fingers across the keyboard. I was about to click submit on the web form when I realised that I hadn’t put a title.
What would be a good title for a general update?
“Feel the rain on your skin…” I typed carefully, reasoning that if the band manager didn’t like it (or, come to think of it, if he had an aversion to Natasha Bedingfield), he could always change it).
He never asked, and that post remained in situ for the rest of the website’s existence. The fact that I managed to hide the phrase “I have been watching porn” in the code remained so too.
I had a really weird dream last night. On account of the fact that telling other people your dream is usually quite dull (althoughIdoso), I’m going to try to make this at the very least a little entertaining for you.
The story took place a couple of years ago when I was still working in my previous job. I had an evening shift which consisted of a two-hour training session from 8pm to 10pm (I know; this never happened, although I did occasionally finish at 10!). I decided to take the scenic route and hiked down Hadrian’s Wall (or something similar), avoiding the gang of hoodlums throwing stones through battlement windows.
Since the barrage of stones was getting heavier, I decided to circumvent getting hit by taking a detour through the small village from Hot Fuzz. On the village green was a small, bedraggled kitten, on whom I took pity. Other members of the local community (including my wife) located and brought me other kittens, who we put into a little pile on the middle of the green.
At some point a little gaggle of fluffy ducklings came along without a mother and sat among the kittens.
I did the sensible thing, pulling my ‘phone out of hammerspace and calling the RSPCA. Of course my ‘phone never works in my dreams, and Googling “RSPCA animal rescue” took me about fifteen attempts. I gave up several times to search and locate more kittens, but eventually I called them. Then the police appeared out of nowhere and I decided to hide under some stadium seating. There was, also, a very large bomb there. I didn’t really consider this a problem.
The police found me and started trying to interrogate me; they were waylaid by the gang of hoodlums from the beginning, who had started throwing stones at them. They suspected me. I protested, pointed out who it was, and then decided to tell them about the bomb.
It then went off, at which point they decided to believe me.
I made it back to the village green just in time to get to work. An RSPCA van was there, manned by two guys I went to secondary school with (including the one who I worked with recently who mysteriously vanished in October). Since all the stricken animals had gone, and the two guys were loading up the ostrich (because of course there was an ostrich), I assumed they had taken the kittens and ducklings into their care.
With everyone gone, the animals safe, and my wife deciding to return home, I finally made it to work.
If anyone can explain why I had an orgasm in my sleep at this point of my dream, I’d be very grateful.
I blearily opened my eyes. My digital alarm clock showed a time of 02:30. That was chucking out time at the union bar plus half an hour for a kebab and possibly some more drinks. Usually I’d stay at the club until 01:45, duck out before everyone else and get chips and cheese before heading back to my room alone.
But this was the night where I’d decided to go back to my room at midnight and get some sleep. (If there was one thing I needed, I reasoned, it was sleep.)
Blam! Blam! Blam! “Oi mate, got any porn?”
Evidently, however, some people had other ideas. I was in my pyjamas – a rare occurrence, but a fortunate one. I thought, vaguely, of making no noise and pretending I didn’t exist – which would have been easy, since most people on my corridor seemed to assume I didn’t – but, since the knocking would have probably broken down my door eventually, I opened it.
“PORN!” shouted a very large, very drunk boy I had never seen before.
I blinked. There in the corridor stood an assemblage of large, drunk boys. The only one I recognised lived in room 1, which was the large room on the corner where we usually watched movies. I was in room 3, which was about the size of a matchbox.
“Hey, ILB,” said the boy I knew. “We were wondering if we could borrow your Emmanuelle porn disc.” “I have an Emmanuelle porn disc?” I said. I wasn’t fooling anyone – in fact, I had two. One of them had been fast becoming my favourite thing to watch. The other less so. (In fact, one of them had arrived while my parents had been visiting. I said it was a book and didn’t open it until much later.)
I didn’t know how he knew I had one.
“PORN!!!” shouted one of the other boys, in a voice which probably woke up most of the city. Maybe all the lights went on at the same time, like in the last scene of Diana.
“Sorry about him. Could we borrow your Emmanuelle porn disc?”
Obviously the answer was no. Last time I’d lent someone something it had come back broken. I’d even paid for a £30 flight to Germany for the guy in room 2 who brought back a different girl every night. I never got that back either.
“Uhm, no…?” I ventured. “It’s not, not, not… good,” I lied. “It’s very baaaad porn; I think I’m going to… sell it…”
And I shut the door before any of them could say anything.
“PORN!” somebody said.
I went back to bed wondering how anyone had managed to find out I owned any porn.
From my late teens, through my early twenties and maybe for a while afterwards, I had a secret crush. So secret, in fact, that I never told anyone, did anything, or even admitted it myself. I’m not even sure if I could call it a crush.
Why so vague? Because it was vague.
She was a little older than me – one, maybe two, years; it doesn’t really make a huge amount of difference in the long run, but when you’re 19 and she’s 21 it seems like it does. Time, of course, moves on in its own way, and like so many of my friends, she is now married with children. The few times we communicate, she is always kind to me, unaware as she is that I once dreamed of railing her on the sofa.
The problem I had at the time, of course, is that I didn’t know much about her at all. I knew that she was very pretty (that was the first thing I noticed), was doing a science degree (and later graduated with a 2:1, which was also my grade, even though I was doing an arts degree), and that she wasn’t a big fan of cats. She liked the Beatles and had once fancied Phillip Schofield.
At one point, she wrote something quite candid about sex, and I offered some advice. She took it. Years later, I noticed she had a book on her wishlist which I had. I sent it to her. The same with a CD. I stopped short of buying her the £3,000 dress she also had on her wishlist (but I thought about what I would say if I could have!)
But I didn’t know why I was attracted.
I mean, you never really know; that’s how love works. But there was certainly something there – something behind the pretty, friendly girl with a cute smile, long red hair and a science degree. I never quite worked out what it is, and then decided it didn’t matter as I ended up freewheeling through multiple more “official” crushes and weekly heartbreak.
Every now and again, I saw her, and each time I felt the pull; then again, out of sight, out of mind. Things came to a head when I had a strange dream in which I had three different girlfriends; she was, of course, one of them, and the one I was trying my hardest to invite over because she was the one I wanted to sleep with the most.
[I woke up that morning with the realisation that I didn’t even have one. Dreamy ILB just got too greedy.]
And that was it. I didn’t really have the crush after that. In my dream (and in real life…), her sexiness came from the fact that she was so sophisticated – she had a job in the city for which she wore a suit; she carried a handbag with a pen in it; she basically had her life together. Compared to that, I felt totally inadequate. And young. I felt young.
But here is my admission, for what it’s worth:
Hey there, friend. I had a crush on you for a while. I hope you are enjoying your life.
She’s never going to read this, but it makes me feel better.
Q: What is Twilight Entertainment? A: Surrender Cinema. Q: What is Surrender Cinema? A: Full Moon Features. Q: What is Full Moon Features? A: Charles Band’s company. Q: Knowing this, is Charles Band then indirectly responsible for many of your orgasms? A: … Q: … A: I feel so dirty!
Appearance:Phantom Love (2000) Characters: Judith & Chauncie*
[*Pronounced “Chancey” /tʃɑ:nsi:/. I originally had this in my head as “Chauncey”; if you’ve played the first Luigi’s Mansion you may understand why.]
To start with, Phantom Love is a little misleading insofar as there aren’t any phantoms. It’s one of Surrender’s later offerings (earlier ones are labelled “Torchlight Entertainment” with a logo that looks like the Pixar lamp moonlighting), and although it has some familiar faces, I can’t in all honesty say I’m overly familiar with too many of them.
I know a couple. The frame narrative of this is fairly simple: Marie (Sandy Wasko, who I mainly know from Emmanuelle 2000 and Passion Cove, although apparently she’s also in Beverley Hills 90210…) is a struggling romance writer trying to think of a new angle. On the advice of her agent (David Christensen, who I do know… he’s the dean in Co-Ed Confidential!), she does the sensible thing of going all the way to Italy, checking into a hotel she arrives at by accident, and accepting a centuries-old journal from the creepy woman in charge, which she then reads and orgasms to.
The actual story is in the journal. Judith (Griffin Drew, who’s in Elke and Andromina: The Pleasure Planet but also appears in Baywatch!) is the last surviving heir of a rich Italian family, but she’s been studying in America for a while. (Quite why she’s doing a British accent isn’t really explained. It’s also not really explained why this isn’t in Italian.) Her wicked stepmother nasty aunt archetype wants her to marry the local vapid Baron, but Judith is a free spirit and prefers to go her own way.
Do I need to tell you that she then has sex with a number of different men, including the Baron, before inexplicably hitting on a plan to save the whole estate? Or had you worked that bit out? Yeah, you worked it out. I see you, gentle reader.
Judith is a British-sounding Italian lady raised in the good ol’ US of A, which didn’t actually exist in the early 18th century so I have all sorts of questions. She’s been told to save the estate, so obviously isn’t going to do that.
Chauncie (Jesse Johnson) is a gardener. He’s working-class, and isn’t even able to afford a comedy accent, but presumably he has a big cock. In any case, Judith has sex with him basically because she can. I mean, there’s the rest of the movie too, but most of the budget presumably went on this.
Sex? What Sex?
What I didn’t realise, when I started watching Phantom Love, is that (like Femalien: Cosmic Crush, which was admittedly a decade later!) there’s very little sex in this sex film. There are sex scenes – of course there are, this is Surrender – but they’re not the longest or the most arousing. In 2000 Surrender was making things like Lolida 2000, Pleasurecraft and Virgins of Sherwood Forest, so maybe this was made on an off-day or something.
The reason I chose this scene with Judith and Chauncie was that it was basically a surprise. I was so used to the frame narrative that I wasn’t entirely sure if Griffin Drew was going to get her kit off at all. There’s a lesbian sex scene featuring her before this, but this is her first straight sex scene. It doesn’t have much preamble, either. He’s there, she kisses him, then they shag.
The first thing you notice is the music, which I suppose is going for the ‘aristocrat has sex’ thing, but is actually code for ‘keyboard player found the harpsichord voice’. There’s a repeated line (possibly a loop?) underlying an increasing number of string parts (maybe it’s a real string quartet. Nope, that would be a bit too BBC.) and the occasional roll on a ride cymbal. Drums playing a breakbeat come in halfway through and basically made me feel like I should be fighting a video game boss to this. It’s all very odd, and very loud, but I can’t deny that it is unique.
There may be limited amounts of sex, but there’s certainly a lot of kissing. For the first 70 seconds of this, Judith and Chauncie do very little but snog. Every now and again you will get a shot of his hands undoing her corset from the back, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. In real life, of course, I’m perfectly happy to kiss for more than a minute, but this is softcore – so get on with it!
Anyway, after a minute and a bit, we are rewarded with Griffin Drew’s boobs, which Jesse goes on to kiss a few times, her legs which he also kisses, and his penis.
That is to say that you can see Jesse’s penis if you slow down the playback and hit the pause button at exactly the right time. I’m not exactly emasculated by this, but it took me a while, so here’s the screenshot.
We get a standard softcore cunnilingus scene with Chauncie consisting mostly of hair and Judith making a face (which actually goes on for a while; Judith appears to have an orgasm at one point!), until eventually, at 02:04 into the scene, we mix to what is unmistakably, genuinely sex.
Huzzah, actual simulated sex!
Something else I need to point out is that most of the sex in Phantom Love happens in the astride position, and this is no exception. We get Judith demurely riding Chauncie, although it’s mostly just her hair and back at first; there are also some nice shots of her face, boobs and even her bum at points.
That’s it, then it’s all over. It all finishes relatively quickly, and even then, most of it is filmed in close-up so all we really get is their faces. Judith finishes with
I’m going to see about getting you a raise!
which is… I don’t know? Is that funny? Is it meant to be? Polite blinking from me there.
Conclusion & Evaluation
Phantom Love is a strange beast. It promises at points to be something that it isn’t, and in any case there aren’t any phantoms so it’s very much a misnomer. I wasn’t even aware of its existence until last week, and the main plot did keep me interested (to an extent), so I enjoyed it for what it is.
But then the sex scenes are all like this. Sex happens but it’s over very quickly, characters do get naked but that takes a while, and it does feel like more effort went into the music than the cinematography. There are several, all on a similar theme, and one does have to wonder why. Surrender sex scenes are longer than this. They’re better than this.
My guess – and it has to be a guess at this point – is that the studio suddenly realised that they had a fairly competent story in there somewhere. The frame narrative doesn’t do anything, but it bulks up the time a bit, and the main bit with Judith in her family’s estate actually had me hooked. I was wondering how it was going to end at some points, and considering how some Surrender films don’t have an ending, the fact that they got one in there was impressive in itself.
So watch this one if you want. But don’t expect too much from the sex. And beware! Beware the phaaaaantoms!
I wasn’t even aware the evening would be even hotter than the middle of the day. But, then again, this would have been more of a surprise had I not chosen to abandon all shock and awe. By this point I was just going along with it.
In any case, the evening was incredibly hot. All the windows were open, and the door to the back garden too. The distant rumble of the city could be heard, but the sound of the insects enjoying the summer heat was something I felt much more calming.
I could barely move. My own heartbeat was throbbing in my ears and, if I took a steady breath in, I could swear I felt the planet rotating.
Everything was sticky. Hot. Untidy. Heavy, almost. I lay there, eyes closed, sweat beading on my forehead.
Naked, of course.
“I’m assuming you don’t want any more coffee?” “Mmmmmm…” was all I managed. I hadn’t even been aware she had entered the room until then. (I would have jumped in surprise, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to jump.) “No more coffee, though. Maybe a cold drink.” “Lemonade, then.” She crossed the room, pulled a couple of glasses out of somewhere and pulled a couple of lemonades.
“It’s good, thanks.” “Very good?” “Yes, very good.” “So you’re up for another round before you fall asleep?” “What?!”
“Do you want to go again? I could do with one more, if you feel me?” “Really? But it’s boiling hot! And I’m exhausted!” “Your penis says otherwise,” she pointed out, indicating it with a finger. In all fairness, she wasn’t wrong. “Yeah, well, my penis says a lot of stuff,” I demurred. “It’s had a lot of fun today, but now it just wants to…”
I didn’t say anything else, because by that point I was already inside her.
“Not fair,” I whimpered alongside her gleeful bounces. “It’s too hot to resist.” “Nobody resists me,” she laughed. “Hot or not.” “Hot,” I moaned. “Definitely hot.” “Uhhhhhhhh…” “Mmmmmm…”
Ten minutes later, as we lay entwined, a very welcome breeze blew in through the French windows.
“That feels nice,” I said. “Doesn’t it always feel nice?” “I mean… the breeze.” “That’s what I meant!” “Oh.”
And with that (and a shimmy I wouldn’t have been able to manage, even if I hadn’t been so hot), she slid from the bed, a mixture of our juices leaving a glistening trail across the floor.
“Where are you going?” “More lemonade, of course, silly,” she grinned as she collected our glasses. “I could do with one more, if you feel me?” “One… more?” “One more lemonade?” “Oh. Yeah, yeah. That’s what I meant.”
Because it was, as I may have indicated, very hot.
It was my birthday yesterday, and as a result, I’m now officially in my late thirties. I’m feeling very old.
Last night I had a nice meal with my parents; tomorrow, there is a family thing in the afternoon. I got a book from my wife and I’m assuming there are more presents forthcoming.
Is what I assume. What I’m also assuming is that I’m a relatively difficult person to buy for, insofar as I never really know what I want. Younger ILB never had this problem, as every Christmas and birthday was an opportunity to get a new Nintendo game. This is still a nice thing to get, but when one considers that I have five unfinished Switch games on the go and there are many more being added to the retro console emulator thingies, it’s more or less apparent that I don’t really need one right now.
I sometimes get things that I might use, but more often than not they become little more than ephemera. I’m more likely to use a stick of glue than I am my Stylophone, but then I like the fact that I own a Stylophone. I am a contrary boy.
I’ve decided, in these calm moments, that what I want the most is some quiet time. Time like this, with no distractions, no noise and no other responsibilities. The time to sit in silence and write my blog, or read a book, chatter on Twitter or play the aforementioned Switch.
Time, in short, to just be.
And, since you can’t package that and hand it over as a present, I’m having to find it for myself.
It was mid-spring last year and I was at my parents’ house with a pad of sketching paper and a bold marker pen. On the other side of the table was my sister – our erstwhile maid of honour – with a handwritten list of questions.
“It’s very simple,” she had explained. “I’ve got a list of questions here about them. You write down what your answer would be. Since they’re about to be your wife, you should know them all.” “Why don’t you just ask them?” I had queried. “Because it’s a quiz,” she had replied. “I don’t know the answers and neither do any of the bridesmaids. We all give an answer, and so do you, and then they tell us what the real answer would be.” “But I’m not going to be at the hen party.” “That’s why you write your answers down. I’ll take pictures of each.” “You are a very strange person; did you know that?”
And so we had begun. What seemed like a daunting task at first was turning out to be quite fun. As it turned out, I knew a lot off the top of my head – favourite food, favourite film, favourite book – and some I could confidently guess. We decided to skip the question about the first thing they did in the morning since my answer was “cry”.
The next question threw me.
“Who’s their celebrity crush?”
A milieu of names flew through my head. Oscar Isaac, Pedro Pascal, Mads Mikkelsen, and Jason Statham. And that’s just the men. Having a queer pansexual enby for a fiancée meant that they could fancy basically anyone of any gender. And I don’t deal too well with that.
What’s the point?
I appear to be totally immune to celebrity crushes. I’ve never even had one. There are, of course, people who are attractive; none of them I’d ever have a chance with. They are either too young (Greta Thunberg), too attractive (Rita Ora), fictional (Remi Himekawa), hella problematic (Rachel Riley), or all four (Hermione Granger).
But I can’t, hand on heart, say I’ve ever actually been attracted to anyone famous. I grew up around famous people (having an actor dad makes this happen), with Kiera being a childhood friend and Paul Whitehouse wandering around my mum’s piano teacher’s house, signing things for me at random. My crushesatschool were all on civilians – people in my year who I was still never going to get.
I never saw the point in fancying someone famous. Nothing’s ever going to happen between you two anyway, and I saw how dangerous obsession could be, girls wasting away thinking of nothing but Mark Owen and boys putting down Britney as their main interest in life.
It didn’t affect me, and while unrequited love was fairly traumatic, at least that was realistic.
Celebrity crushes hurt
And then there’s the other thing.
Celebrity crushes have made it very difficult to trust anyone I’ve ever been in a relationship with. I don’t do ‘compersion’ particularly well, and even then it hasn’t been intentional. Couple that with my crippling self-doubt and tendency towards self-destruction as a coping mechanism, and you get a few reasons why I felt that way.
I remember my first girlfriend hollering at squashy-faced Sum41 frontman Deryck Whibley to fuck her and then ignoring me crying afterwards. My second girlfriend being openly sexual about comedian Jon Richardson, and how much sex she wanted to have with him, failing to notice the fork I was jabbing myself in the thigh with. I even still have the scars from all the self-harming I did throughout my late teens: one for every time she cheated, one for every celebrity crush she had.
Unlovable as I’ve always believed myself to be, I’ve gone through every relationship with the constant fear that they are going to end given any viable alternative. One word from [insert random celebrity here] and they would be out the door. I didn’t have a job, a car, a house, or the fame, so I clearly didn’t compare. Any interest from [insert random celebrity here] and I wouldn’t even be a factor any more. They’d be gone.
So how did I answer the question?
“They… they don’t have one,” I lied (at least, I think it was a lie). “We… we don’t talk about it. I don’t have one…” “Well, you don’t do them, do you?” “No, not at all. Can we skip this one?”
My sister gave me a Knowing Look™ and kindly skipped to the next question.
“Okay. If they were to have a dinner party, who would be all the guests?”