Words: Anna Sampson
Make-up and visuals: Nina Pezeshkian
I didn’t fancy Mike. He wasn’t my type; for one he’s blonde and though he once had a rugby player-like charm back in the day, now looked shabby and slightly unwell. His best mate is called Reuben. Reuben was a boy who was so good looking when we were 15 that I thought I’d die if he looked my way. He never did because I was chubby with acne and had strange, short hair.
Since then I’ve spruced up a bit, I guess, though I still find myself in shock when men give me attention. You see, when you’re a late bloomer, it’s quite hard to shake. These days I typically feel good about myself; my skin is clear, my figure is, well … the shape is fine and my hair has grown out. Back then I would’ve never dreamed of starting up conversation with Mike, or Reuben but over the years I’ve grown fond of Mike’s music and felt it would be good to tell him I liked it. So I did, over good old Insta “DM”. I think it was less about his music and more about me having in writing, confirmation that I have evolved since those painful teenage years.
Last week I went for dinner with my best friend Isabelle. It was an early dinner, 6 pm, like some cute, old couple on a cruise ship. We ate chicken Milanese and I had a few glasses of wine and it was a very happy moment because we both felt older and wiser sitting there. Isabelle went oﬀ to the toilet and I naturally took out my phone to look busy. I had zero messages. Slightly buzzed oﬀ the glass and a half of rosé, I wanted to stir up some excitement and remembered I hadn’t replied to Mike’s message on Instagram. So I went and did so, not because I felt it would add much, the conversation had gone stale, but I needed someone to message sitting at the table alone. To my surprise, Mike replied with a picture of him and Reuben and another guy called Jason. “Come round!” he said. My God!!! Goodbye cruise ship, hello party boat in Magaluf!! I hadn’t brought any makeup with me and looked subpar with a blister-like pimple on my chin. Isabelle came back from the toilet and she could tell by my face that something had happened
“Annz, what is it?”
“Mike’s just bloody invited us round!”
And she let out a kind of “Eeeee!” in a crescendo which she only ever did when she was truly excited. Did the fact the boys lived on the other side of London deter us? Not a chance, mate, so I downed my wine and we ordered the Uber! I was already admittedly tiddly, so much so that I left my phone at the restaurant and had to run back to get it!! WhatamIlike? On the way there, I contemplated whether I would shag Mike. Maybe I could look past his rugged blonde features and focus on the positives, like his singing voice…I don’t even know if he fancied me. Who cares – the point is we were on our way to a GATHERING! With cool boys!
We rocked up to Tottenham, on a dingy street, and Mike answered the door. His hair looked a bit like a ratty mop, which he’d hidden under a baseball cap. He took us through to living room, which could have been nice – it had a Victorian archway and two sofas, but it smelt like cigarettes and testosterone. Reuben jumped up off the sofa and was eﬀusive in his greeting, “Hey Anna!” I nearly fainted. If he was good looking at 15, at 26 he was oﬀ the charts. Dark eyebrows, dark, wavy hair, a crooked smile and a denim jacket. He was like the bad boy rocker all the girls fancied in a Netflix original film. The other guy, Jason, had kept hold of his good looks, but he’d always been a bit too clean cut for me. His nature was warm … slightly camp and he flashed a manic, toothy smile on and off. Out of this group, Jason had been the one at 15 I’d interacted with the most. I never had a bone to pick with him, apart from the time he told my friend “Why is Anna here? She doesn’t add much.”
It was just Isabelle, me and the three of them. Straight away Mike asked us what we wanted to drink – me a can of beer and Isabelle a diet coke. She had recently gone oﬀ the sauce, which to her dismay made her the constant “designated driver”. I didn’t know what to expect from the guys; my pre-conceptions were that they were stoners who could be a bit rude. That was not the case.
Mike took no time to tell me that they all loved my blog and that they loved me and Isabelle’s friendship. The whole thing felt a bit like the Make a Wish foundation had put this together! Reuben was sitting next to me, and it felt a whole lot like instant chemistry. He told me that he was moving to Portland in September, which I thought was, like, the coolest thing ever!! It was the kind of spontaneous intel that made me feel like I should up and leave. Especially because I have an American passport, and a psychic did once tell me I’d meet my soul mate in New York. Was she referring to Timotheé Chalamet? Time will only tell. The other notable thing I remember him saying, with a lot of passion, was that he had a podcast, where he discussed moral ethics. I didn’t want to open that can of worms and allow him an hour to sound self-righteous, so I played it cool. In my head I was thinking hot and smart?? Cor!
A girl and a guy suddenly came in. At this point I was pretty gone and so enamoured by Reuben that their presence didn’t add much to the room. Mike was into the new girl, I think, who had long blonde hair and that’s about all I remember. I turned to Jason to ask what the crack was with this new chick and he really turned on his camp side, getting all giddy and animated. “Jane and Mike hooked up a couple times!!!!” We all exchanged stories, conducted by me and Isabelle about our weirdest date stories. Mike said one girl asked if he ever thought of his dad during sex … Reuben said he screwed a stripper covered in scars …
From there, I gushed about how much I loved Mike’s music and as if he knew I’d be saying this, he got out a guitar and did a little live lounge type set. The weird thing was, he didn’t remember half his lyrics, so I was singing for him, which made me feel a bit weird, especially as I’m tone deaf. Reuben pulled out some strange cardboard box and was tapping on it, which in hindsight feels like a scene in High School Musical. I went oﬀ to the toilet and when I reappeared Isabelle and Jason were singing a cover of Britney’s Toxic and all we really needed to make this picture perfect was a camp fire and some marshmallows. I was so happy, Isabelle was so happy. I felt seen, like our friendship in its pure form was being commended and appreciated – by DUDES! People from my past had kept coming into my life in recent months, so this whole set-up felt like complete fate. We potentially had a new male crew!
Result. Reuben and I were sat on the sofa and our legs were touching and I felt the 15 year old me screaming inside but then saying “No, it can’t be!” Our conversation turned to love. I confessed that I’d never had amazing sex, and that I hadn’t had a good kiss in years. He was gentle, engaged, and when he said “It’s all about communication” I felt like doing cartwheels. For a man, he was surprisingly open and even expressed concern about his dating life. “How do I approach telling a girl on a date that I’m moving to America?” My answer was really well thought out and poignant, “Just tell her.”
Isabelle left and in the blink of an eye it was just Reuben and me left on the sofa, closer together now, and when he finally kissed me he said, “You are a good kisser. You have nothing to worry about.” And that there was all I had been wanting to hear for the past ten years.
As we walked up to his room I said, “Do you have a condom, because I’m trying to be good and use them.” He laughed and said, “Yes”.
He asked me if I wanted a massage!? I’d never had one in this situation, so I jumped at the chance. Reuben got out oil and everything and once again it was nice to feel seen and catered to. The last time I had sex was a year ago and it amounted to my world falling apart quite a bit. This, for the half hour, erased those memories and gave me faith I could, in fact, enjoy myself. It was, without a doubt, the best sex I’d ever had. I can’t explain why, it just felt right. Half way through, I noticed something.
“What happened to the condom?”
“Oh, it feels better without. I can put it back on.”
I was drunk. I was fucking drunk AGAIN. So although I remember it not seeming kosher, and I had watched I May Destroy You, I continued and we fell asleep with our arms around each other. It was my Dad’s birthday the next day so I woke up at 7 am. The morning after I always find so extra – not so much awkward, I just don’t want to speak. Cup of coﬀee? Cheeky Instagram scroll? Yep. Idle chit chat and morning breath? No thanks, babe. He spoke a bit, mostly the classic lines guys use the next morning : “Nooo … don’t go!” And then he asked if he was going to feature on the blog.
“Well, no. You haven’t done anything weird.”
And then, as if super obscure, he found my pink hair scrunchie and put his hair up in it.
“Is this weird enough?”
I put on my clothes. He didn’t ask for my number and I left in an Uber. Something felt diﬀerent this time around. The usual icky, dirty feeling after sex didn’t enter my mind and I felt satisfied. As evening approached, I felt a pang of sadness that we didn’t exchange details, because I wanted to see him again –especially in my new gaﬀ, to christen my four poster bed! After some deliberation, I put on my big boy pants and followed him on Instagram. For the next few days we spoke, he seemed genuine and interested, and since he was going to Portland I knew that this would only amount to, at the very most, a summer fling. Suddenly, he went silent. It was one of those moments when you’re expecting a reply so you check your phone, and when they haven’t replied you check it again. And when you’ve checked more times than you care to admit, you know they’re not going to reply at all. The bolt of rejection hit me hard, but unlike before I didn’t wonder what I had done wrong. It was more disappointing than anything else, as I was, well … horny! After a few beers that Friday, I messaged him asking what he was doing. It was 10:30 pm so I thought it didn’t make me look needy. No reply. I told the friends I was with about the night and I found myself bringing up that he took the condom oﬀ.
“Is that bad?” I said to them.
“Well, he could have HIV.”
Fabulous. Hopefully he didn’t. I hated myself a bit for thinking this, but I desperately wanted to overlook what he did, so when my friends asked, “Did you know he was taking it oﬀ?” I said, “I’m not sure”, even though I was sure – he hadn’t asked. The sex had been so good that I was willing to cling on to it without thinking clearly.
He replied to my message the next morning with the token “Only just seen this, sorry”, before asking to reschedule to Sunday. Sunday rolled around quickly and I woke up with a stomach in knots, wondering how to host someone at my flat who I was going to sleep with. I had never done it before, and, unlike my friends, I didn’t have a “sexy playlist” or good flirting tekkers. Luckily, I had the pub booked during the day with a bunch of friends to take my mind oﬀ things. The pub was great – I saw people from uni that I hadn’t seen in ages and my mouth hurt so much from smiling. Around 3 pm Reuben texted asking to rain check. He referred to me as “Annz” which was nice, but, also, I don’t know you like that bro! It was frankly water oﬀ a duck’s back, and I said, “Sure.”
The next time he messaged me was when I was at the pub, again. Listen, things had just reopened so don’t judge me. It was his birthday. I knew that because Mike had posted a picture of Reuben saying “Happy Birthday”, which was strange because in the picture he had a thick moustache and he’d been clean shaven when I’d seen him. Anyway, Reuben messaged to say he was excited to read my next blog post, and I asked when his birthday party was! Gotta get it in whilst I’m young! He said the party was on Sunday and asked whether I was coming! Although the thought of going back to that smokey hole wasn’t ideal, it would take the pressure oﬀ me hosting him at mine. Isabelle planned on coming with me to the party, and despite not hearing anything more about it, she had “manifested” that it would happen. I clung onto her unflinching optimism and decided to get into a nice outfit on Sunday evening. 8 pm came and I couldn’t deal with not knowing what the crack was, so I fucking messaged Reuben like a mug, asking if the party was still happening. 9 pm rolled around, nothing. 9:30 pm and Isabelle called Jason, no reply. 10 pm … nothing. 11 pm and I ordered a Five Guys burger and went to bed. I woke up to a reply that he had sent at 1 am. “Shit, sorry, yeah it’s appnin.”
After that bullshit I decided to put him in the bin. I definitely didn’t feel seen any longer and, frankly, the momentum had gone. I practically forgot what he looked like. With this new view of things, I told another group of people that I had fucked someone who took the condom oﬀ.
“Anna, are you ok?” my friend said.
“Well, that’s not consensual. That’s just not ok.”
And to hear Luke say that when he’s such a happy-go-lucky person was when the penny dropped. It wasn’t ok. The act of him doing that was in parenthesis saying, “I don’t care if you get pregnant or an STD.” It’s also technically against the law in the UK. It took me two weeks to come to this conclusion.
I felt guilty when I understood how wrong his actions were. Why did I get drunk again? I should’ve known better! I asked for it. The thing is, I didn’t ask for it. Well, I did ask him to use a condom, but he couldn’t be bothered to follow through.
When Reuben had asked me to be in my blog, I’d laughed it off. But here we are … he got what he asked for.
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