After being sacked off inexplicably twice in the past three months, I thought of this quote. I kept dating and dating, but nothing seemed to stick. I had stopped going home with my dates on the first night, opened up more, but still got binned. Something was just not working.Talking it through with my therapist, I suggested
“What about something purely physical?“
“This could be exactly what you need” she said.
Max came along and I thought he would be the perfect person.
By “came along” I mean we matched on Hinge. He looked kind of neanderthal like…gormless, also a bit like James Franco, but not enough to make me *catch feelings*. In the first five minutes we established two things…
1.) Screw lockdown! We wanted a cheeky kiss!
2.) What were we to do about it?
His solution was to “make out on the phone”, something I’d not done before but in this damned “new normal” I was prepared to do virtually anything to not feel so alone.
Like most things in my life, I started to overthink. I doubted my capabilities and took it to Google like a frappuccino drinking, Brandy Melville wearing, Tik Tok making sixteen year old. “How to sext well”. And sure enough, the floodgates opened; showing me screenshots of “sexy message” examples that were so cringe I had to down a tinny to forget I’d seen them. I put that to the back-burner and thought taking some kinky pics would bide me some time.
Hours were spent trying to take the fucking pictures, listening to “Juicy” by Doja Cat which resulted in hysterical crying – I never new I had so much cellulite on my ass and why my tits were so uneven!! I was fine with average sized knockers, but in the camera view they felt inadequate, more of a bodily function to feed kids than something to get your rocks off to. I thought purchasing a push up bra would help, but the underwire was uncomfortable and it made me feel a bit cheap.
When I finally managed to send a picture, (after consulting three friends) Max showed his appreciation by a “like” reaction on iMessage, where all you have to do is double tap.
After the initial hiccup, I started getting the hang of things.
I stopped caring what I was saying to him and thought about what I actually liked during sex. (Better late than never, I guess.) Around 11pm for a week straight we talked, which was the closest thing I felt to having a routine during confinement.
Max…well, he sent through some lengthy paragraphs that made him sound like he knew how to get the job done. One thing that stuck me with, however, was when I asked
“Do you have any fetishes?”
and he replied
“No… just into dirty, sexy stuff”, like something Jay from The Inbetweeners would say down the trailer park.
“An irl meet up?“
He texted me that Wednesday afternoon.
I felt sick. The veil would be open to face rejection, awkwardness – the stuff that had been stifled during lockdown. Also, considering I was used to having sex spontaneously, this felt clinical and… sordid. I had just got into this whole sexting thing, and the thought of meeting him made my stomach knot up. But I didn’t want to cave in; I’d come this far on my journey, so replied
He suggested a day, then cancelled then suggested another day and cancelled which felt like getting in line for a rollercoaster and then being kicked out the line. My nerves were through the roof and part of me prayed this whole thing would be put to bed.
Also, what was this going to be?
A quick tinny and a roll around behind a bush?
Rumpy pumpy in aisle 7 at Sainsburys?
I asked him what we’d do to put my mind at ease.
“We’ll have some beers, have some laughs!”
Seemingly innocent… lovely stuff… but I wasn’t going to take any chances. This was my “sexually empowered” debut, after all!
I shaved my vagina to resemble a plucked chicken, which took me staring at it in my mirror to reach the parts I couldn’t in the shower. It did feel cleaner and smoother, even if I did look like myself at ten years old.
Max’s location was the only personal thing I knew about him.
Shepherd’s Bush. A nice, fairly unvarnished part of town; one of my favourites, so it gave him some brownie points. With that in mind, and the fact bars and restaurants were not open yet – we arranged to meet in Holland Park.
I arrived at 8pm nicely coated with 3 vodka cranberries.
Standing there, fag in hand, shaking a little, I was filled with that dread one gets when you’re the first one to arrive on a date and you know they’re coming and you’re just standing there ready to awkwardly wave or nod at who will hopefully be a fairly similar copy to their pictures on Hinge.
There was a sign on the gates of park that read
“PARK NOW CLOSED.”
I texted him the park was shut and he replied:
“no worries, we can sit on my roof.”
“ok…where do you live?”
“I live around the corner.”
Veryyyyyyy clever mate.
This whole “park” idea had been a ruse to get me back to his! He didn’t even bother leaving his house because he KNEW the park was shut! Also, since when did living round the corner – somewhere in between Robbie William’s and David Beckham’s gaffs constitute as Shepherd’s fucking Bush???
Even though I felt blindsided, I needed the loo and “the roof” did have a nice ring to it.
Max’s place was on a road full of town houses, all identical in their grandeur (apart from their door colours).
I saw him through his window and waved. He was wearing a dark blue t-shirt and black track pants and grey socks with white flowers on them. The ensemble looked like something dug out the lost and found bin at school. His skin was tanned, with pink-pinched cheeks and he had brown eyes that sat under bushy eyebrows, that made him almost look foreign, and his hair was messy; not intentionally VO5d, but the look of someone who had smoked a joint and taken a nap. Despite the complete slobbery, there he was, in real life, looking like a solid nine.
- Was it the huge door from which he stood under?
- Was it in fact his get up, which both offended me but also reeked of arrogance (something I was a sucker for)?
Inside there were photography prints and the kitchen was a huge island that lead into a massive living room and I had to keep my mouth from gawking. This was the kind of place a rich person spent half their time in, so it had that pseudo lived in feel, but still cozy enough to feel comfortable.
“What do you reckon this is?” The fridge door swung open, and he was holding something mouldy, that kind of resembled
I said, finding it hard to believe these were the first proper words coming out my mouth.
A portable speaker was playing light jazz music, which he grabbed along with two Asahi beers and said
“Let’s go up to the roof.”
So I did. I followed him and his speaker up the stairs. Then more stairs. Then – oh for fuck sakes buddy how many floors are there? On floor three I was out of breath and peeled off to the bathroom which had turquoise walls and an impressive collection of Diptyque and…no mirror. Did the rich no longer care what they looked like?
Got upstairs, to a a loft room (fairly nondescript) and outside there he sat, on one end of a wooden table with a chair opposite for me. When I sat down my nerves flooded back and I felt the armour of the vodka cranberries disintegrate. Now, it was just me face to face with the guy I had told to –
“So, Max, what do you do?”
“I’m studying acting in New York.”
Acting? New York?
I know I didn’t know Max but I couldn’t imagine him doing theatrical warm ups or auditioning or being in a film. Maybe that’s mean of me…maybe he came alive on the stage…
What role would he even play? Probably one of the stoners who has two lines in “The Duff” or “The Kissing Booth.” Cogs turned round in my head…acting…actors…Timothee Chalamet!
“What’s your view on Timothee Chalamet?”
“Apparently he’s hard to work with. He’s a brat.”
My body seized up and I couldn’t go to the loo so soon to be sick so I just gulped and said
Max was slouched back with his flowery socks propped up on the edge of the balcony, and I was upright in my red jacket, wondering whether I was smiling enough and whether I had sweat patches. I tried to hold eye contact with him which was exhausting – they were absent – looking here and there and often down the balcony to the garden, where his sister was having a
I felt stiff. I hated when this happened. Like, you shoulda seen me last night with my friends! Boy, was I fun!! And now, here I am, feeling about as charismatic as a veruca. Damn it!
Was this his fault, or mine, or both??
It started to rain and he got up and came back in a dark blue hoodie, looking very off duty actor (was this intentional?) and there I was, Asahi firmly in hand, getting drizzled on, feeling like the knight come to see the squire for a shilling.
Maybe it was the seduction of the mansion, the jazz playing or maybe I was just flat out desperate, because I started clinging onto anything we had in common. Was a love for Ben Stiller and Spinal Tap enough to go on? Then I remembered why I was here – to smash and dash, but we were talking and drinking! Without so much as a game of footsie under the table!
Could this be more than a smash?
but could it?
He changed the topic (explaining the difference between DC and Marvel comics) by talking about his folks… how they owned a house in Arizona, where they now spent a lot of time.
“I really wanna do a documentary about the people there.”
And his flowery socks moved from the ledge to the floor and he sat upright for the first time in his chair that evening.
“Wellllll, we have a neighbour there called Rutlip, who runs a Brewery. He was convinced his farmer, Johnny, is a paedo. So, when I was there he got out his gun and was threatening the guy.”
“Put em up, Jawny” he said, in a southern accent.
And the paedo said “Not a chance in hey-ll, Rutlip, you piece-a sheet.”
“So, the next time I went to visit, Johnny was gone, and I asked Rutlip
“Rutlip, did you kill him? and he just stared blankly at me.”
“Wowww, what a story.”
“Yeah – can I have a drag? Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty wild. There are also Mexican cowboys who are like, toothless.”
Half an hour later, it was midnight and I decided
“Right.Time for me to go!“
We went down the four flights of steps to stand by his (Mum and Dad’s) front door.
“Wow! Yew have a beeg dooura!” delivered in an Australian accent.
“Why are you doing an accent? Maybe you should be an actor.”
“Well my uncle does tell me I have a star like quality.”
Then we stood there for a bit, door now opened, where he said
“See ya! Wouldn’t want to be ya… I mean, I wouldn’t not want to be you. I’m sure it would be great.”
Then he hugged me and his lips came in contact with mine and it was a kiss that makes you forgot your surroundings, your hang ups and… I hadn’t had a kiss like this in a year. We kissed against the wall, the door still ajar, my bag still flung over my shoulder with his hand trying to cup my ass through the underwear.
“Let’s go downstairs.”
and my bag fell off my shoulders onto the floor and the front door was no longer ajar.
I knew more than he thought I did.
I knew downstairs meant there was another sprawling space that was probably designated for the child the parent favoured the most. Their “den” it would be dubbed, like a lab that creates a Fiat-driving, sushi-eating, Marvel-watching, never- has- to-work- to- get-a- job son of a bitch who wears track pants on a first date.
Downstairs, sure enough was sprawling and had dark wooden furniture and huge red sofas and soft orange lighting. An architectural Aperol Spritz. Speakers were onto The Big Lebowski soundtrack which made the whole thing sexier than it probably was.
After a straddling / make out situation on the leather sofa, (which felt 60% good and 40% like two robots learning how to demonstrate passion for the first time), Max took us to another room. It was dark in there so I couldn’t see much, apart from the bed which we climbed up on to.
“You gonna take this off?” I asked,
referring to his hoodie and he followed orders (see what I mean by robotic?) and then he moved his way down to my lower region. Despite what he had said he’d do to me via text, he just went straight down there… no build up, no nothing!
I lay there seized up, wondering whether if all the pineapple I had eaten had worked… whether I had shaved everything properly…whether this was going to get any better and was he waiting for me to finish? AHHH! With a few unconvincing wails, I motioned him off me.
We lay there in silence until I said
“Are we going to have sex then?”
“Yeah, I’m just taking a break,” he scoffed, as if he deserved a break.
And as he finally motioned on top of me, I said
“Hereeee we go!” I said, as if we were a plane about to take off.
It hurt a bit going in, as usual, but once it got itself inside, there wasn’t that initial relief, that “It’s lit!”, the “THIS is what I’ve missed for 4 months.” It didn’t feel good at all… it felt like a workout without the endorphins, an injection without the vaccine. It felt like sandpaper.
A few more hopeful pumps passed and it still hurt and I shouted
“I need the loo!”
In the red walled toilet, I was pacing around a bit, hair now out its scrunchie, all dishevelled, looking more like Jedward than Brigitte Bardot and I wished this bathroom didn’t have a mirror.
It’d never hurt like this before…what was I going to do?
Maybe I still had Timothee Chalamet on my mind?
Or the fact I could be fucking someone with Coronavirus?
I thought of my therapist and how we’d discussed communication. So as I re-entered the dimly lit room, head hanging down, I said:
“I’m… pretty… sore.”
“Oh! I’m so sorry.”
“Yeah, it’s never happened to me before. Guess I haven’t had sex in four months.” Nervous laughter.
“I don’t… want to hurt you. We can do… other stuff?”
And I said, “No no!” putting my scrunchie back on,
“You’re great, it’s not that, it’s just… I should leave. I, uh, I liked my ass hole being fingered!”
“Have you done anal before?”
Woah, steady on squire!!
“No, I haven’t. It hurts for us girls…”
“Nahhhh, just stick some olive oil in there.”
Feeling like a Burrata escaping being seasoned, I started fumbling around for my underwear, my jeans, my top, and whilst putting stuff on I started mumbling
in a posh British accent, like BoJo leaving the whore house. (Should probably call a spade a spade and become an actress. I have such range!)
Leaving the mansion I felt like a poor excuse for a woman. All of this and I couldn’t even fuck? What was wrong with me?
I’d tried so hard… maybe that was the problem.
The next day I felt the all too familiar prang of the morning after. The “will I get a text?”, the rehash of the night over and over… the worry I may have caught Corona.
So I sat, squished in my wardrobe, (I guess for dramatic effect) sniffling and wiping phlegm on my dress sleeve, when I decided to google “Rutlip, Arizona”, the bandit Max had told me about. He came up straight away.
Rutlip did have a brewery, yes, that checked out. But…hold on a minute… he wasn’t American. He was a plummy-voiced, old Brit, making videos of himself in his brewery wearing silk neckerchiefs.
I had had an inkling that Max’s story may have been just a posh boy jacking off over “real America”, but at the time, nodded and acted shocked in the appropriate parts. I didn’t think to challenge him and now, here I am, right about it. Regret, regret, regret.
Another thing I was right about too.
I had a UTI.
After getting on the blower to my GP, I picked my drugs up from Superdrug and walked home with them, wondering whether sex would ever be good, whether it’d ever be with someone worthwhile, whether I’d ever stop going for complete fuck heads… wondering when I’d learn?!
Now it’s hit me.
Einstein was right – trying something over and over and expecting different results was insane. This was never about sexting, or shagging someone, or having a “WAP”, it was about owning the fact I deserved someone who could look me in the eye, ask me a question, treat me with respect – even if for just the night.
Oh, wait a minute, my hand… something’s missing! Oh no. Oh fuck.
I’ve left my ring at Max’s.