Love, sex and interminable pop-culture references

Category: Love (Page 1 of 4)

ILB’s posts about love, crushes, limerence and suchlike

Sercia

Dear Sercia,

Hi. You may not remember me, of course, but I think you might. I certainly remember you. I learned how to spell your name, at least. Occasionally I spoke to you, although we rarely – if ever – exchanged more than pleasantries. But then, you never said much to anyone at all. You were quiet, unassuming, and impenetrable.

But then that all added to the mystique.

You never even seemed to mind that I bunked next to you on that residential. There weren’t many spaces left and I took one between you and my geeky mate. He was a friend, of course, and I just liked your general vibe. You radiated an air of calm, cool collectedness, which made me feel at ease. At that time, I wasn’t particularly enjoying life, and you helped.

The other thing that I associated with ‘the Sercia vibe’ was your air of general innocence. Because you were so quiet and somewhat detached, you seemed to carry around a certain amount of purity. You were sweet, slightly abashed and almost virginal. You were also very pretty, which helped complete the look.

What was the big thing for me, of course, was the reputation you had.

It didn’t suit you at all, and yet you seemed unfazed by it, to your immense credit. You said, in your soft, dreamy voice, that you had never kissed anyone without that leading to sex – and, since that was during I Have Never, I would assume you were telling the truth. Your closest friend, who was slightly more forthcoming with information even when not playing I Have Never, would talk about you in ways that you never contradicted.

The air around you and your general attitude didn’t really fit with the picture that was gradually painted of this hypersexual, promiscuous dynamo who would sleep with pretty much anyone at the drop of a hat basically because she could.

“Sercia,” your friend said, “had a lot more sex than me in the earlier days. Of course, she had started when she was 13, so there were a few years between us and I had to catch up…”
“That’s quite early…” someone said uncertainly.
“Ah, yes it is, but that’s Sercia; you know what she’s like.”

But did we? Did we really?

At the time, of course, I had a huge, unrequited crush on Leaf, and I didn’t need another one on you, Sercia. You were out of my league anyway, and in any case, I wasn’t going to be hooking up at any Woodcraft event, on account of the fact that… well… it’s me, isn’t it? People don’t go for me. I only ever got to kiss Leaf because she was drunk.

But my brain built up this fantasy anyway.

Scene from the classic arcade game "Time Crisis" featuring the text "Sercia".
Get into the castle and rescue Rachel!

Somehow, inexplicably, we’d end up in a relationship. On the last night, with nobody else in the room (which never happened; it was a major thoroughfare, people had sex in the smaller rooms), we’d have sex, and it would be a moment of glory given your beauty and experience (and my enthusiasm). For the next couple of years I would spend my spare time ferrying myself between Nottingham and Solihull – a much shorter journey than London to Birmingham – and we would enjoy each other’s company, and each other’s body.

Judging by what you said, it would only take a kiss. But I wasn’t going to try that.

What you don’t know, Sercia, is that I almost tried it. On the last day of the residential, I was going to ask you out. You hadn’t raised any objections to sleeping next to me for three days, you were single, and you were quiet enough to say no without anyone else finding out. Had I actually asked Leaf, I would have been so embarrassed by her rejection that I would have hesitated on going to any further events. I didn’t want to jeopardise that.

Besides, I liked your general vibe. You were fun. It would be fun.

But, of course, I didn’t. I didn’t (and still don’t) do asking people out. I wasn’t even sure what to say, or how to say it. The one and only time I did, it didn’t go too well.

So I didn’t say anything, and I didn’t do anything. Because I never did. And you never knew what was going on in my head every time you sighed in your sleep or turned up at breakfast looking perfect.

You came to a few more events, because of course you did, but you were conspicuously absent for my last few.

“What happened to Sercia?” I asked my geeky friend.
“No idea. I haven’t seen her either. Maybe she’s just busy with… Sercia stuff?”

Yes, what exactly did you do when not at Woodcraft? Nobody had heard you talking about anything but sex. Trying to imagine your life was almost impossible, like envisioning a stupid professor or a competent Tory Prime Minister.

But kindly take this letter as an indication that I did very much like you.

Because I never told you, and I think you ought to know.

Kaf AF

Back in my youth, I had a friend who I’ll call Kaf. He was a good friend, actually – I knew him at primary school and kept seeing him all the way through secondary. I have bumped into him since (of course, since his family home is just around the corner). He’s now a research chemist working on air purification and the reduction of atmospheric NOx – needless to say, we couldn’t tell you this in year 6.

Kaf was, for a while, my most reliable friend, and I always saw him as quite mature: he kept a fiver in his pocket at all times; he walked around the area on his own and had been doing so since the age of ten; he knew how to re-wire a plug as long as he had the fuse for it; he wore a puffa jacket and affected a deeper voice than he naturally had. He also enjoyed a huge degree of personal liberty: ask him what he was doing, and he’d be free.

At the time I also wrote a paper diary. It wasn’t the most thrilling piece of literature in the world – although I’d always let people read it – but it was, at the very least, relatively chaste and safe for all to read. The first time I ever wrote something which I thought was a little dodgy came when I added

Kaf was free and we went into town and talked about girls

which I then justified with

(it’s the only thing he’ll talk about).

This wasn’t an unusual subject. Kaf was very interested in “girls”. At the age of 14, I also was, and in fact I’d already had crushes, but Kaf was limerent on a whole different level. He would constantly talk about the girls from the local Catholic girls’ school, with whom he apparently flirted with relentlessly every day (“phwoar!” was his description of one of them). He would occasionally look at someone our age in own and say “she’s fit” far too loud. Daringly, he had posters of Melinda Messenger on his wall and wondered if there was something wrong with me for not wanting one too. After playing Worms 2 I taught him how to use IRC once and he immediately started an online relationship with a Swedish girl we had never heard of before.

I, however, was much less talkative around the subject. I had a little sister and a fair amount of female friends, but I knew very little about “girls”. It happened that I certainly didn’t know that they were the reason for the puffa jacket and affected deeper voice. He wasn’t an unattractive guy, either: he was Greek Cypriot, had well-kept dark hair and a physique built from all the football he played. He was also a little taller than me at about 6’1″. I was considering myself average-looking and non-descript, so was much less likely to talk about, as I put it, “girls”.

The conversation wasn’t all that stimulating, either. We were a little too young to talk about sex, but a little too old to send a Valentine to a friend merely because of her gender. I mainly walked along in silence, listening to Kaf talking at great length about his patented ways to “pull”, despite having never seen him with a girl.

But that is why I added

(it’s the only thing he’ll talk about).

to my journal. I was a little nervy, but I did want to assert the fact that I could discuss my awareness of, and attraction to, the opposite sex. Shifting the blame for the topic of our conversation onto Kaf was a good way of assuaging any guilt I may have felt.

Not that I should have. But then I felt guilt for a lot of stuff.

But that was the first time I mentioned “girls” in my diary. They made infrequent re-appearances since, but less and less so as the years went on until I finally asked someone out. I wrote a very heartfelt entry that day, and even then it was still unusual for me to be so gushing (pantomime fairies notwithstanding). When she turned me down, it began the constant flow of “veil of tears” entries, and when I finally moved to LiveJournal a year later, pretty much all my posts were about “girls” (young women, really; we were in the sixth form by then).

Even then, though, I kept feeling like I had to justify the things I was saying. If I had a crush on you, of course I’d write about you. That’s what journalling was for, right? But I had to be respectful. Kaf took it a bit far. I could keep my integrity…

…as long as I didn’t start writing about sex.That would be ALL SORTS OF WRONG.

It Getter

As a teenager, I was convinced that I had the innate gift or being able to tell if a romantically involved couple had what I originally termed “it”. Now, in my late thirties, I’m fairly confident in saying I don’t and did not exactly have a definition of what “it” was – just that I could identify it. Case in point: the Floof and her boyfriend had “it” and they got back together about a week after breaking up because God told them to do so.

They’re now married, so I was 100% correct. Of course I was. I was also becoming something of an expert, I told myself, in telling if somebody fancied somebody else. I knew the signs and I knew how to respond. It was never going to happen to me – naturally – but I was absolutely certain that I was born a relationship expert and would be able to use my limerence virtuosity to help any and all others.

Because it wasn’t going to happen to me.

Seven years later…

I’d just been to an audition with my hot single friend who I kissed on stage. Neither of us were particularly keen on the play or knew who the playwright was, but an audition’s an audition, and the rationale was that if we’d played lovers before, we could do so again.

“I don’t know about you,” she said as we made our way through the very dark streets of suburban North London, “but I’m not sure that play is very realistic about relationships. I mean, he’s with her for his whole life, but he’s not happy about it.”
“It happens.”
“I know, but it wouldn’t to people who know better. I mean, not to me. I’ve had a few… well, they’re not really relationships but they’re…”

There was a pause in which we looked at each other and both realised what she meant.

“…I mean, they’re with people who aren’t my age and I’m 27 and that makes things…”

Another pause.

“How old are you?”
“I’m 22,” I answered truthfully. “It’s my birthday next month. When we did The Cherry Orchard I was 21. I turned 22 just before the first dress.”
“That’s the sort of guy I’d go for, really, someone who’s 22. Maybe an actor with messy dark hair. Someone tall and funny, you know? Someone who’s got ‘it’?”
“Ah, well, I hope you find one!” I said cheerily.

Relationship expert right here.

Two months later…

I’d just been to an audition with my hot single friend who I kissed on stage. Our director chose a play which could, in no way at all, be done on the shoestring budget our company has. We all liked it, but I knew in my head that it couldn’t be done. I would have wanted to play the dinosaur, however, had we gone for it.

“I don’t know about you,” she said as we made our way through the very dark streets of suburban North London, “but I’m not sure Monty’s giving us anything to read for that doesn’t end up with us being cast as lovers.”
“It worked in The Cherry Orchard,” I pointed out as we got onto the night bus.
“I know, and it’s good we got to kiss. Maybe we’ve got…”
“…it?”
“Yes. I don’t know, maybe they’ll accelerate and the next show will have us having sex live on stage or something!”
“Well, wouldn’t that be something?” I marvelled.

Last month I finally hit upon the fact that I should have come out with something like

Well, I’d be down for doing that, but of course I’d want to rehearse a fair few times with you first. Just to make sure we get the dialogue right.

something I didn’t say

but instead I came out with

Well, wouldn’t that be something?

something I actually did say

which didn’t quite have the same gravitas.

Neither of us got cast in either play; we didn’t go to the reading for The Comedy of Errors the following week. I ended up being in the first one anyway, but only went to rehearsal twice due to the fact that I had two lines.

We later got recruited into another company. During our performance of The Marriage of Figaro, we held hands while waiting on the bench. We sat together in the dressing room during the interminably long Plautus “realisation” our director Gareth put on. We hugged, we kissed. H, the stalwart, came to every show. I got hugs from her too.

My friend suggested we met for drinks again soon. I said that would be nice. I sill don’t know what “drinks” meant.

One year later…

I was completely blind to the beautiful woman who was laughing at my terrible jokes while I served her at Waterstone’s. I also didn’t really do anything about the pretty blonde who kept following me around during the entire Danish youth camp. One particularly randy friend told me that we were flirting and had “it”, but I didn’t know what “it” was.

My ‘phone pinged when I was just finishing off some shopping in town. It was her, inviting me to her thirtieth birthday party. I said I’d go, but in the end couldn’t. This time, I suggested we met for drinks.

We didn’t. We sent each other playful, suggestive messages on Facebook. I asked her outright once on MSN what it was like to have sex on one’s period. She gave an answer and then said it would be fun for me to find out.

“Yes, it’d be interesting!” I said.

Ladies and gentlemen, your relationship expert.

Spirit of the Wood!!!!!!!

Yesterday I went through what appears to be something of an annual tradition: attending a Christmas pantomime, and then trying to explain to my Belgian expat wife what a pantomime is. The closest approximation I can get to is “it’s a cross between Disney and commedia dell’arte“, but even that isn’t quite right. There’s no real explanation for what pantomime is.

The one pantomime they saw with me had Tim Vine playing Buttons and being Tim Vine all the way through, so I’m not sure it was wholly representative. Mind you, the one I saw yesterday had Star-Lord in it, and I’m fairly certain he wasn’t in any version of Sleeping Beauty I’m aware of.

It is an art form in itself, and while some love it, some hate it, and some are ambivalent. I’m thoroughly in the latter camp…

…except for that one time.

When I was in my late teens, and beginning to grow out of going to pantomimes (although I later went back to them, and ended up being in one, even singing too), my grandparents booked four tickets for them to take my sister and I to the same theatre we went to every year to see the annual pantomime featuring the same cast. This year’s was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs featuring some forgettable Hollyoaks idiot playing Prince Charming and the generic principal girl as Snow White.

There was also nothing particularly special about Muddles (the jovial “Buttons” character who held things together), although he had a certain level of infectious energy to him. What I was interested in, in that particular performance, was the fairy character… or the Spirit of the Woods.

Because she was celestially beautiful.

I wrote feverishly in my diary that evening. “The Spirit of the Woods was played by the most pretty girl I have ever seen!” teenage ILB enthused, and then – for emphasis – I filled the rest of the row with seven exclamation marks.

And then spent the rest of the night with her face in my head and a rapidly stiffening cock. Christmas morning was quite sleepy as a result.

I could have left it at that, of course. But I didn’t. I enthused, at great lengths, to my parents about the beautiful woman playing a fairy at the local panto they hadn’t yet seen. They didn’t take the hint about going to see it themselves and taking me along to sit at the front this time and squirm, nor did they think much of it besides the fact that it was cute how enamoured I was. I was still talking about it by the time I got back to school in January (having seen the panto itself on Christmas Eve), and the following year when I scripted my own one, I wrote her in.

For no real reason. She was just in it. It was Cinderella and she wasn’t the Fairy Godmother. Just a random, absolutely stunning fairy.

Normalise this, please.

The following year I was absolutely chomping at the bit to go, and was taken, but she was nowhere to be seen. I had to sit through another forgettable Hollyoaks hunk doing Peter Pan and was less than thrilled by the whole experience.

*

I took a few minutes yesterday to see if there was any information in the theatre about the pantomime they did in the nineties which I could barely remember. As it turns out, there was… amongst a catalogue of posters put up to celebrate their rich history of entertaining gullible children. She wasn’t in the poster, but maybe at least her name would be on it.

It wasn’t. Hollyoaks guy was all over it, but radiant fairy girl may as well not have existed. She wasn’t in the official theatre literature either. My pretty fairy was an unperson. Disappointing as this was, it was more creepy than anything else.

Maybe she existed just to give me a little jolt.

That would be nice. Thanks, universe.

Mothman

The first Nite Owl runs an autorepair shop. The first Silk Spectre is dying in a California rest resort. Dollar Bill got his cape stuck in a revolving door where he got gunned down. Silhouette… murdered. Mothman is in an asylum in Maine.

rorschach’s journal

It’s after nine in the evening and pizza has just been delivered. Apparently, this was a big part of the university lifestyle that I never got to lead. Three years up in Nottingham and pizza delivery only occurred to me once or twice. Here in Oxford, it happened after every essay was completed.

But they wrote more essays than I did, so.

This is the last communal pizza they will share in this flat. I’m an extra piece – an additional complication that they hadn’t factored in. To whit, although I’m sharing in the pizza, I’m trying to prove myself useful by getting a moth out of the window. The moth is winning this epic struggle.

“How much longer are you staying here, anyway?” I ask as I attempt an arabesque in order to find the moth behind a cupboard. She flies away and I injure my leg.
“We have to stay for a certain amount of time,” says E, “or we don’t graduate. Very few of us actually do that time, but we have to stay for…”

At which point the girl who nobody likes walks in. She exchanges a sour look with E, the Seamstress and the moth. I may as well not exist at this point.

There is a very long pause. Without a word, she crosses the floor, exits into her room and closes the door.

Everyone breathes out. I attempt to cup the moth in my hands; she escapes and I only succeed in slamming my hand against the wall.

“What was all that about?”
“We don’t know what to do with her,” says the Seamstress darkly. “It’s been long enough and I’ve no idea exactly how to repay her for…”

I don’t exactly know what they need to repay her for. It remains unsaid. I notice the moth hovering around a light; I try to vault over a pouffe to get some leverage, but I trip over it and fall. I continue the conversation as if I’m styling it out.

“I’m not a fan of the concept of revenge,” I say, finally taking a bit of pizza. “But there are things you can do to make her feel a little uncomfortable.”
“Play music,” suggested E, “really loud. Something she doesn’t like.”
“Maybe just leave the moth in here,” said the Seamstress, “seeing as how ILB can’t get her out.”
“Go into your rooms,” I said, “and pretend to have really loud sex. and she’ll get jealous.”

They both laugh at this, although there’s something in the laughter which shows they’re aware that we have, in fact, spent quite a large chunk of the day doing just that. To save my blushes, I hop across the room to open a large window on which the moth is now resting. I even try to coax her out. She’s having none of my bullshit.

The evening is filled quite pleasantly with pizza, graduation discussion and free-flowing conversation. This, clearly, was the university experience I missed out on; I may have done some interesting things in my time, but here I feel much more comfortable.

E eventually says she has to go to bed, but we all know she’s just wanting to leave us alone. With an empty pizza box discarded on the side table, we stand there in silence, looking at each other, for a few very heavy seconds.

The moth flies in between us at one point.

We retreat into her room. Clothes end up on the floor. A condom wrapper joins them soon enough.

The rest of the night is full of kisses and orgasms.

But I’m aware, at the back of my mind, that we are never truly alone.

THE MOTH IS ALWAYS WATCHING.

Crush-hhhhhh!

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.

Mouth of Emma Whispers with her finger over her lips, indicating a secret.
Emma says, “shhhhhhh, it’s a secret!”

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.

Celebrity, crushed

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?

Remi Himekawa from the eroge game True Love. Possibly my true love.
I adore that little plait. That, and her eyes, and the rest of her.

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 crushes at school 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?”

And I already had a list in my head.

I didn’t sleep easily that night.

Come (together)

Are you okay?
“Yeah, I’m okay.”
“You don’t sound okay.”

I struggled to get myself into a better position to talk. These days I almost always tend to hit the speakerphone button to have my conversations, as I’m less and less able to hold things to my ear with these arms.

“I’m okay. Really. I’m just having a lie down. Tired, so very tired.”
“Oh. Yeah. Yeah, me too. I’m sorry to interrupt you.”
“You didn’t interrupt me doing anything. I was just lying down.”
“Well, I’m sorry to interrupt you lying down!”

I sat up to try and pull the duvet over myself. The duvet fell, with a soft flump, onto the floor instead. Not a great success.

“It’s probably a good thing you didn’t call fifteen minutes ago. Because at that point, you see, I was still cleaning up after the huge orgasm I had. I’ve been exhausted all day, as you know, and on the way home, I bypassed ‘about to crash’ in favour of ‘really need to come’. First thing I did after I got home was to have a long, stress-relieving, horny wank.”

Except I didn’t say that.

“In fact, I was still cleaning up five minutes ago. I’ve been needing to come for a few days, but wasn’t able to do so. I came very hard, and I was still finding jizz in various curves and contours of my body for quite a while afterwards. There’s probably still more in places I didn’t even know I had. It’ll dry off if I lie here for a while.”

Except I didn’t say that either.

I’m saying it here, though.

Tien Jaar

It didn’t seem like the right time – not really. Ten years ago I was still relatively newly single, having broken up with my third girlfriend a month prior (officially, at least; we had sort of been breaking up for a while before that). I hadn’t been ready for that relationship, either, as I was still hurting from being jettisoned from my second without prior warning.

Twitter makes people do strange things.

The one who is now my wife was there for me, though. Neither of us were in a particularly good place – Life had not been too kind to either of us – but, at the end of the day, we were there for each other. We had the same interests, laughed at the same things. Innocent Loverboy and Jillian Boyd may have been vibing for a while, but as we spent more time together, our “offline” personas seemed to click.

Things went from one stage to another, and then another. We ended up in their bed, I almost evolved, and that was the day Sylvia Kristel died. I raised a glass in her honour, and then other things raised. Back to bed for us.

Perhaps predictably (because it’s me), I realised that we were falling in love in the middle of sex. I asked them out, officially, with my UNUSUALLY LARGE PENIS buried deep inside them. Our first real date was to a fried chicken shop. I don’t even eat chicken.

[Pause while ILB takes a sip of 7up, the drink he had on that first date.]

That was ten years ago to the day. We have been together now for a whole decade, married for just over two months.

In those years, much has changed. Everything had, and so have we, as people. The fact that I still write a sex blog is one of the very few things that have remained constant throughout the roller-coaster explosion that has been our love. It hasn’t all been good, but then it certainly hasn’t been bad. I fall in love too easily – this is true – but, this time, I’ve learned a lot more about love than I’d ever have thought possible.

Ten years completed. And so the next ten begins.

Berrie

“Hey,” I said to my mother. “Some of the girls at my school are saying Berrie fancies me.”
“Well, you’re going to have to get used to this,” she answered. “Throughout your life, there are going to be lots of girls that fancy you,” she lied smoothly.
“What? Why?”
“Because you’re tall and you’re handsome and you’re clever,” she continued to lie, “and girls like all those…”
“Mum, I’m not handsome!” I moaned, rolling my eyes. “And everyone at school hates me because I’m clever! And being tall isn’t an advantage; it’s much more difficult to hide from adversaries!”
“…”
“…”
“…so tell me about Berrie?”

But there wasn’t much to tell her. I didn’t know her very well. I knew her name and that she was in a different class from me. If I strained my memory, I could picture her in my head. That was about it.

“And she’s in love with you,” added my mother.
“Mum! She’s not in love with me!” I yelped.
“So she likes you,” she steamrollered on, “and do you like her?”
“What? That’s GROSS! I don’t want a girlfriend! I’m not into that!” (Eleven-year-old ILB was convinced that he was immune to the burgeoning feelings everyone else was talking about. A year or so later, previously asexual ILB started getting unexpected and intense crushes, but that was a bad time for all involved.)
“So you’re not even interested a little? Is she pretty?”
“Aaaaaaaaargh!”

I put it out of my head, as best I could, for the rest of the year. Every now and again, one of the bolder girls who giggled a lot would sidle up to me in the playground and whisper “Berrie fancies you” before evaporating into the ether before I could respond. I went to the school leavers’ disco (for some reason) and spent the entire time by the buffet table; a gaggle of girls swept over to me and asked me to dance with Berrie, which I politely but firmly declined.

Throughout this whole debacle, however, there was one crucial variable missing from the equation: Berrie. As above, I didn’t know her particularly well, and as far as I was aware at this point, neither of us had ever said a single word to the other. She remained both distant and unclear, and since we had no point of contact, that wasn’t entirely unforeseen. If it was her sending the missives, she wasn’t making too much of an effort.

On the last day of school, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her taking a picture of me. I pretended not to notice.

*

“I had a dream last night about my new school. Berrie was in it and she kept pulling me around corridors by my sleeve.”
“Berrie? Is she still madly in love with you?”
“Muuuuuuuuuuuuum!”

And just like that, she was a constant presence in my life. Whether in the classroom in a distant corner, sitting near me in the lunch hall (near enough to exchange pleasantries, not right next to me), getting touched up by my bully in year 8 Maths (“yes, I am, and I’m enjoyin’ it”), or eventually appearing in my life four times a week since we went to the same church and Christian youth group, there she was. Four years after hardly being aware of her presence, here we were as friends.

I hugged her once in the swimming pool, which made her turn bright red. At once, the questions started again, although from her best friend this time.

“Why did you want a hug from her?”
“I… I like hugs?”
“But from her, specifically?”
“I hugged Mark too…?”
“He doesn’t count. Why her? Do you fancy her?”
“No! I don’t! Just because she fancied me when we were in year 6 doesn’t mean that…”
“…wait, what?”

Whoops. I wasn’t supposed to know, clearly.

But now we had a line of communication. The best friend made a few inquiries and took great pains to assure me, while not looking me in the eye or speaking particularly loudly, that what had happened in primary school hadn’t happened: Berrie had not fancied me, the five or six girls who all told me the same thing were having a laugh, and that she didn’t have a single picture of me anywhere in her house.

She couldn’t explain the missive asking me to dance. It all seemed a little suspect to me, to be honest. But, due to the fact that I was dying a thousand deaths from the crush I had at the time on the silver girl who bore the same name as Berrie, she was more interested in that.

I thought it best to drop the subject.

*

Lightsinthesky somehow found out that Berrie had recently become single the week after I did. As far as I was aware, this was private information and I had no clue whatsoever how he found out. Of course, he made no secret of the fact that he considered her fair game pretty soon afterwards.

“Hey, do you know if she has another boyfriend yet?”
“Well, no,” I admitted, “but from what I’ve heard she goes through boyfriends pretty quickly…”
“Right. But, I mean, does she have a crush on anyone? Anyone you know? It’s difficult to tell if a girl fancies you, right?”

I didn’t say a word.

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