The Forget-me-not

The Forget-me-not

To celebrate my blog’s fourth birthday, I decided to give everyone a rest from my prattling and instead hand over to a guest contributor – and not just any guest poster, oh no. This wonderful, funny tale of a brief encounter, which I knew I had to have for the blog as soon as I heard it, comes from none other than my wonderful, funny boyfriend. Take it away, handsome…

It’s Friday night, and “the girls” are on the town. I’m with my friend James and his mate Chris, who I’ve not met before, and the scene could not be more like the start of Grease if a load of girls in pink jackets appeared and started singing Summer Nights.

Chris, you see, is in love. He’s just met Dan, and he’s keen to tell us more, tell us more.

“He’s just perfect,” he sighs. “HOT. Amazing body. Perfect kisser. Great sex. And he’s so into me. I think we might have a real future together. I just can’t believe my luck!”

James and I, painfully single, each raise an eyebrow. Frankly, we can’t believe his bloody luck either. And to put the tin lid on it, this God of a gay is on his way to join us, so we’ll have to watch them getting off with each other all night.

A couple of drinks later and Chris perks up even more when his beloved arrives.

As he walks towards us, we see that Dan is indeed HOT, with an amazing body. And I realise that I know exactly  how perfect a kisser he is, because I had been suctioned to that oh-so-beautiful face mere months earlier.

“You know who that is, don’t you?” I whisper to James.

He nods wearily, having been one of the unfortunate witnesses on the night Dan and I had made quite the spectacle of ourselves on the dance floor before vanishing into the night.

When Dan sits down beside me, it becomes clear that his memory is not quite as vivid. As we’re introduced, he regards me with suspicion.

“Have we met before?” he asks.

“I’m sure I would remember if we had,” I reply, icily.

Eventually, Chris and Dan head to the bar.

“Bloody hell,” I say to James. “He’s the last person I wanted to see.”

James smirks. “Really?” he says. “Didn’t you say he was the best sex you’d had in your life?”.

I scowl. “Well, yes. But I’m obviously the only one who thought so. He doesn’t remember me!”.

Dan returns, plonks himself back down and peers at me intently. “You look so familiar. Do you ever go out in Clapham?” he asks.

“I’ve only been there once,” I reply.

Dan will not be placated, and an hour of gentle interrogation follows. Eventually, he loses patience. “I’ve definitely met you before,” he says, just a bit too loudly. “Are you sure you don’t go to the Two Brewers?”.

It’s obvious I’m going to have to spell it out, so I lean in to remind him about the cold January night when he dragged me back to his Clapham lair and administered the best sex I’d had in my life.

Suddenly, Dan can remember our encounter only too clearly – right down to the phone call he made the following afternoon, not quite accusing me of stealing his Vue Cinema unlimited pass.

“I’m sorry I never called you,” he tells me. “It was a big mistake. Can I see you again?”

A-well-a-well-a-well-a-HUH?

I glance at Chris, who gazes adoringly at his new love, even as he puts the moves on me. Do I really want to be him? Looking on while my beautiful boyfriend blatantly chats up other men?

I consider this for a moment and, remembering the best sex I’d had in my life, decide that yes, I absolutely want to be him.

Last orders are called. James and Chris head off to the cloakroom, leaving Dan and I alone at the bar.

“So, can I give you my number?” he begs.

“I have your number,” I laugh.

“Oh, yeah. Well, please give me yours then. I promise I’ll call you.” He asks to the barman for a pen and paper as Chris walks back toward us. “Write it down,” he whispers, urgently. “I’ll shake your hand when we leave and you can slip it into mine.”

Devious! He’s no first-time philanderer.

I take the paper, discreetly scribble on it, fold it up and pass it to Dan, as arranged. The happy couple leave – Dan gives me a cheeky wink as he goes, and Chris is none the wiser.

Do I feel guilty? Absolutely not! Just a bit sad that I won’t be there to see Dan’s beautiful face as he opens the piece of paper to read:

“You absolute bastard”.

Image: Flickr

Decoding dumb things people say on their dating bios

Decoding dumb clichés on dating bios

Your dating profile – or the bio on whichever app your fingers are getting busy with – is your storefront, your prime advertising space.

Sure, a picture tells a thousand words, but as anyone who’s spent more than a minute in the company of a  boyband can tell you, hot looks are no guarantee of a great brain or a good time.

Given that most people are only a swipe away from dating oblivion, you’d think that guys (and girls, of course, if that’s your thing) out there might try a little harder to attract your attention. Sadly, most people are saying very little but a slightly different version of the same 20 or so things – most of them as empty and meaningless as a blow job in a train station in 1973.

Here, I decode a few.

“Might be time for some strings attached.”
Here I am on a sex app, a bit of tech that was created by somebody who wanted to make it easier for people to have sex with perfect strangers, using it to look for sex.

Thing is, I don’t want people to think I’m only here for the sex, oh no. I’m a sensitive soul, you see – I have a lot of thoughts, most of them quite deep and meaningful. I’m not just a piece of meat. So I’m looking for a boyfriend – some ‘strings’, if you like – who can take me away from all these endless cock pics and headless torsos and “what u into”.

But of course, rather than say that I want a relationship and rule myself out of any anonymous boning, I’ll only say that I ‘might’ be looking. Step this way, Prince Charming.

“Tall, dark and handsome to the front of the queue.”
War-torn Afghanistan has nothing on the devastation caused by the hordes vying for my affections. There are catfights, broken hearts and bloodshed at every stage of this miles-long queue, each suitor more beautiful and statuesque than the last.

And when you get to the very front, where I sit like Caesar on a throne made not of marble but made from bathroom selfies and protein shakes, there are the tallest, darkest and most handsome of them all.

Each one is on his knees, praying to his god (that would be me), hoping he’ll be the one selected by me to have uninspiring, brief and regrettable sex in a box room that could really do with vacuuming.

“I don’t bite… unless you want me to.”
Spoiler: the sex probably isn’t going to be that good and I will say “fuck, yeah” a lot during the act in the mistaken belief this makes me sound  ‘kinky’. Then I’ll bite you.

“I like going out and staying in.”
Sometimes I even do both on the same day! Get on this rollercoaster if you dare!

“I love to laugh.”
That’s not to say I do laugh, or indeed will laugh. The chances of me making you laugh are pretty slim.

Usually when I manage a chortle, it’s at something inappropriate like a child falling over, or you, in three months’ time, telling me that this isn’t really working out.

“Looking for a reason to delete this app.”
I, too, am looking for true love, without which I couldn’t possibly press and hold my finger on the icon of this dating app, then press the little ‘x’ that appears in the corner of the icon, deleting it for ever. Yes, I can definitely only do that once I have collected a slew of marriage proposals, not before.

And when people ask us the story of how we fell in love, I can look at the ground, then at you, then at them and, with a tear in my eye, tell them: “He helped me delete Grindr, and from then, I was hooked”.

“I can’t think what to write here. I’m not that good at talking about myself.”
I get up, I go to work, I come home. Sometimes I’ll go for a drink after work with colleagues. But usually I go straight home. There is TV, takeaways, masturbation. Sometimes Grindr.

Oh, and I also head up an international crime syndicate, have a meth lab in my kitchen and have killed a man – but my life’s too uninteresting to talk about really and I never know what to write on these things.

“I like to stay in with a DVD and a bottle of wine.”
I’ve had all my fun being an amazing, exciting, vibrant, sociable person already – before I met you – and now it’s time for me to settle for the boring inevitability of a relationship before I am too old and ugly to snare anyone. And all my friends are doing it.

We’ll be staying in a lot, talking about what to watch next on Netflix. I am 25.

“I’m very discrete.”
I’m married and do not own a dictionary.

“Whatever happened to all the cool guys on here? Am I really the only one looking for more than just a bunk-up with a faceless body, a spiritual connection with someone where you identify not just on a sexual level, but an emotional one too. I guess I’m being unrealistic looking for something deeper on here, but it would be nice to find out. If that’s not what you’re after, keep on moving.”
Pump me raw, stranger.

More like this:
10 toxic things you really shouldn’t say on your dating profile
10 terrible opening lines for a dating profile 

Thanks to everyone on Twitter who suggested their favourite dating bio clichés.

Image: Chazwags on Flickr

Emergency exit

The breakup: Matthew the hot controller

Until my current relationship, I had always believed there was a price to pay for going out with a beautiful man.

Every Adonis I met seemed to come with their very own set of hang-ups. While they would hide these shortcomings from you at first, only the very best of actors could keep up the pretence long enough to make a lasting relationship out of it. And let’s just say I’m yet to screw an Oscar winner.

Matthew was beautiful, there was no getting away from that. From that very first date, when he had charmed me into taking him home with a little boy lost routine that I now look back upon and feel slightly green around the gills, his confidence and good looks fooled me completely. His eyes were so huge and dark, they made him seem vulnerable. I didn’t realise then the depths of darkness within.

In fairness, he’d warned me that he had left endless broken hearts behind him, but I mistook it as an attempt to get sympathy, and also a challenge. While I knew in my heart he was only good for one night, I was lonely. Plus, heads turned whenever we went anywhere. I told myself that I was more than up to the task of keeping this lothario on the straight and narrow. My vanity nearly destroyed me.

When the first glitch in a courtship appears, it’s like that moment when you realise that to get that super fast, super cheap internet, you need to fork out for line rental.

Matthew’s ‘line rental’ was his need to have a say in absolutely everything we did together – even if it was a “you day”, a rare opportunity where I got to suggest what we did on a date. (I always said “the pub.”)

He would insist on a “you day” as he didn’t “like to do all the thinking”, yet beyond telling me how much he hated my date ideas, he didn’t think very much at all.

If I booked a restaurant, he would immediately say he’d heard it wasn’t good or that he thought it was inconvenient to get to. Getting served was a trial, because Matthew liked to be the one doing the ordering. If I hadn’t decided what I wanted and told Matthew my choices before the waiter came to the table, he sent him away again.

Any dates he’d suggest would be prefaced with a text, an hour or two in advance, asking what I was wearing and, on being told, a series of further texts, ‘advising’ me on what might be better.

I began to feel downtrodden, like all my spirit was draining from me. I would arrive home from our dates not exhilarated at the potential relationship, but exhausted, weak with the effort of treading on eggshells lest Matthew got into a mood, which he did more often than not.

Friends asked how the dating was going and I wouldn’t know what to say. I pretended I hadn’t met anyone interesting yet. I knew I didn’t want a relationship with Matthew, but going out on endless dates and meeting Mr Wrong was starting to take its toll. I didn’t want boozy nights out or awkward walks in the park with a series of strangers – I wanted to hear a familiar voice and have sex with a body I knew and hands that knew mine. And while it was very good, it wasn’t good enough to make me want to hold on to Matthew.

There has to be a last straw and it came, as I guess I always knew it would, in a restaurant. It was bank holiday Monday and we hadn’t made any reservations so couldn’t find a table at most places we tried. We ended up going to a place that was more of a bar, packed with people getting drunk on the second cheapest bottle of wine on the list.

Matthew was in a bad mood because I’d worn shorts and he hadn’t thought to, so he was too warm. He hated the table we were seated at and thought the guy who’d shown us to it was rude. When I couldn’t decide what to have, he tutted loudly and kept reminding me how hungry he was. When another waiter came to take our order, he was astonishingly good-looking, and all of a sudden I became invisible, while Matthew lavished upon on our delighted server the charm I hadn’t seen since our second date.

It was a grotesque show; I was embarrassed for them both. Matthew, clearly too chicken-shit to dump me, was letting me know there would always be someone else round the corner lapping up those looks and amiable patter.

If this were a movie, I’d have stood up and made a dramatic, empowering speech, before upending the table and striding out of the restaurant. But movies are movies and this was a bank holiday in central London, not LA, so I sat and ate in near silence while Matthew grumbled about everything – the food, the fact I hadn’t thought to remind him to book anywhere, how I was too casually dressed. Me me me, basically – and for all the wrong reasons.

I had forgotten how difficult it is to swallow food when you’re trying so hard not to cry.

When the bill came, he quibbled over something on it and called the waiter – a different one, thank God – over. He was embarrassing himself yet again, slurring from the two glasses of plonk he’d hoovered up in about 25 minutes.

As Matthew was doing such a bad job at explaining the issue, I interjected and clarified in the hope I could bring an end to it. As the waiter accepted what I said and went off to correct the bill, Matthew snarled: “Don’t do that.”

“What?”

“When I’m talking to the waiter, don’t interrupt. It’s nothing to do with you.”

I swallowed hard. “I was only trying to help.”

He raised his voice. “I don’t need your help. Mind your own fucking business.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “You were showing yourself up, Matthew, much like you are now. I just wanted to get it sorted so we could get out of here.”

It was then that Matthew tried his very own Hollywood move. He swilled the few remaining drops of wine round his glass before flicking the glass at me. The wine missed me – there wasn’t much of it – but I knew this would be just the beginning if I let it.

“Look,” I said in a calming voice. “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again. I’ll pay for this. Why don’t you go wait outside and get some air?”

Matthew shrugged and slumped out of the door. I saw him outside through the window, skulking with the blackest of looks on his face. The night of the long knives was ahead me and I was in no hurry for it to start.

I paid the bill, leaving no tip, and, gently pushing my chair back, headed to the fire exit I’d noticed as we came in.

I quickly pushed the lever to open the door and, with the door’s alarm ringing in my ears, I ran and ran and ran until I could neither hear the siren nor breathe to run any faster. I turned my phone off, my music up and I never again saw Matthew’s cruel, beautiful face.

For a while afterward, I would arrive at dates and surreptitiously check to see where the nearest alternative way out was, just in case.

I can’t tell you how happy I am not to need those emergency exits any more.

Image: brookemackay on Flickr

The Plus One

The Plus One

“I’m going to a friend’s for dinner on Friday. Come.”

I should say “No thank you, Toby; it’s only our second date”. I don’t.

“Is there anything you don’t eat?”

I should tell him about my phobia of celeriac and meringues. I don’t.

When I ask “What shall I bring?” and he replies “Nothing, just yourself!” I should listen, but I don’t.

When Toby spies the prosecco I’m clutching to my chest as we arrive and tells me “You can’t bring that; they’re teetotal and Polly won’t have it in the house” I should hang on to it, but I don’t. I leave it by the doorstep.

Polly answers the door and eyes me with the same suspicion a white carpet would afford a dog with diarrhoea. I should scowl back. I don’t.

When Polly’s boyfriend Max sloshes elderflower cordial into my wine glass, I shouldn’t quip that it’s a waste of a perfectly good glass, but I do. Max shouldn’t laugh and wink conspiratorially. But he does.

As Polly serves up every food I’ve ever hated in my life, with the icy glare of a serial killer, I should politely decline the offer of pudding, despite eating nothing of the main course. But I don’t.

When Polly goes on and on about Toby’s previous boyfriends, all of them beautiful demigods who adored Polly and would probably have turned straight for had she asked, I should defend myself, or step up my patter in an attempt to impress her. But I don’t care what she thinks, so I nod politely and play with my napkin.

As I laugh uproariously at one of Max’s jokes and see, out of the corner of my eye, Toby’s face fall, I should tone it down and pay more attention to the date who’s barely said a word to me all night. But I can’t. Why get out of Max’s sleek limousine of a conversation only to clamber into Toby and Polly’s knackered old Nissan Micra chit-chat?

When Max and I are stacking the dishwasher and he confesses to me he’s bored rigid living with Polly, I should act surprised and encourage them to stay together. But I’m not, so I don’t.

Usually when a man tells you his problems, he’s hoping you’ll solve them, so perhaps I should pretend we’re in a film and put my hand on his leg and stroke my mouth suggestively. But I don’t want to turn a horrendous evening into an apocalyptic one, so my hands stay where they are.

When I walk back into the lounge, it is obvious I have been getting an absolute skewering from Polly, as her and Toby redden immediately. I can see Toby running back to one of those holy exes within a month – Polly wouldn’t have it any other way.

When it’s time to leave and Max says he’s looking forward to seeing Toby and me again really soon, I should tell him that’s extremely unlikely, but I don’t.

When Toby makes it clear he’s going straight home and says he’ll call me, I should feel sorry and protest a little, but I don’t. Instead I proffer my cheek and he pecks it politely, begrudgingly, finally.

Perhaps I should feel sad that I’ll never see Toby again, but I do not – I feel a rush of relief or elation. The regret may come later, but it will be brief and I’ll have probably have somebody else close to hand to take my mind off it.

I shouldn’t pick up that abandoned bottle of prosecco from the doorstep and drink it on the bus on the way home. But I do. And that turns out to be the best part of the evening.

Stats: 32, 5’9″, auburn/blue, Newcastle
Pre-date rating: 8/10
Post-date rating: 3.5/10 – that score’s for me, really, isn’t it?

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly dating column I used to do in Gay Times magazine. I now answer GT readers’ dilemmas and dole out relationship advice. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

Why I’m not buying Jonah Hill’s homophobia apology

Spare a thought, everyone, for Jonah Hill – the character actor caught on tape this week telling an irritating, confrontational paparazzo to suck his dick, signing off with the beautiful “faggot”.

No sooner had the first bored internet user finished listening to the second syllable of “faggot” spill from Hill’s mouth than the Wolf Of Wall Street star was hastily beating a retreat, apologising profusely, his Hollywood bankability draining before his very eyes like an iPhone battery at a festival.

Hill has flung not one but two apologies out into the ether since the unfortunate incident over the weekend. First up was radio DJ Howard Stern’s show, in which Hill conceded the remark was “disgusting” and then again on Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show. Oh, this is just a coincidence, I’m sure, but Jonah Hill has a new film out.

In his most recent apology, which is at times emotional – but this is an actor we’re talking about here, so big deal – Jonah claims the photographer had been following him all day and making personal attacks against his family. So far, so unordinary.

Jonah goes on to explain he wanted to hurt the photographer back and so used “the most hurtful word I could think of at that moment”. Although Hill assures the audience he didn’t mean the word in a homophobic way, the fact this word was his first port of call when he wanted to hurl the most horrific insult he could think of is very telling. “Faggot” is the worst he could think of? Really?

Rather than ask himself why that might be, Hill goes on to pull out his best “Some of my best friends are gay” shtick by claiming he has “been supportive of the LGTBQ community my whole life”. Watch out everyone! The killer is calling from inside the house!

Jonah Hill may think that dutifully doling out red ribbons for World AIDS Day and clapping politely at a same-sex wedding means he has no more work to do, but he couldn’t be more wrong.

By choosing to use a defamatory word as “faggot” to degrade another man, he is exposing prejudices that no amount of rainbow-flag waving can wash away – it’s that last creaky floorboard you just can’t fix, no matter how hard you try.

That accusing a man of being gay and inviting him to suck you off is the worst weapon in his arsenal puts Jonah back in with the big nasty boys at school, who’d shrink away from each other, towel-whipping in the changing rooms and screaming “No homo!!!” at the top of their lungs.

Surely during his time in the battery farm of insecurities that is the American high school system an overweight teenage Hill heard, and was called, much worse. But thanks to Hollywood, Hill has managed to scale the fence out of the loser pen and electrify it behind him.

The worst thing is not the fact Hill said the word – we have all told loved ones to go blow themselves or die in a fire – but his refusal to think about why that was his go-to insult, the thought processes that took him there, that is the biggest concern. When his celebrity status is in silent mode, and he doesn’t have a sequel to flog or a chat show chair to perch on, what is Jonah Hill really thinking?

I’m sure you’re sorry, you certainly look it, but it’s never too late to educate yourself, Jonah. Get yourself to a school and ask children what it’s like to be called a faggot, and then try to understand. The concept of words associated with homosexuality now being bandied about as almost acceptable insults is a grotesque one – it doesn’t need any Hollywood champions, no matter how brief their turn in the spotlight may be.

If you need a new insult to hand next time you encounter an aggressive snapper, why not try “arsehole”? That way, if you need reminding of it, you can head to the nearest mirror.

Where not to meet your next boyfriend: The supermarket

Where not to meet your next boyfriend: The supermarket

The supermarket can be a boring and depressing place at the best of times, let alone if you’re single.

Couples snogging in front of the very shelf you’re trying to reach – lasagne for ONE – or, much more likely, arguing about being organic in front of the tenderstem broccoli. It’s a nonstop misery-fest, from the very moment you pick up your basket – complete with someone else’s scrunched up receipts in the bottom of it, the bastard – to the awkward hunt for your loyalty card as your cans of beer clang in straining carrier bags.

One way to brighten up your journey to the supermarket is, of course, to have a crush on almost everybody in there. You tell yourself you’ll never do it again, after that guy with the rippling muscles and the faux-geeky specs caught you salivating over him by the cottage cheese, but you can’t help yourself. Supermarkets are boring and hate you – you need something to look at.

And, oh look, there’s one now. His hair is just the right side of imperfect, his skin shines beautifully under the stark “prisoner loose at Alcatraz” supermarket lighting and he is sashaying down the aisles with a heady mixture of grace and vigour. He is Gigi and these tin-stacked corridors are his Champs-Elysées.

Let’s get one thing clear: following people around supermarkets checking out their arse is a bad idea, and you know this. But just this once won’t hurt, you tell yourself. I’ll keep a safe distance this time, you reason. It’s only really stalking if they see you, you decide. You are wrong on all counts, but there’s no stopping you now is there?

You do a quick glance up and down the aisle to see a) whether anybody has noticed your eyes are glued to the nape of this poor unsuspecting gentleman’s delicious neck and b) whether there’s a better option. There’s nothing. On you go.

What’s in his basket?
You sidle up to near where the object of your affection is standing. In your head, you do this nonchalantly, almost on casters. In reality, you loiter far too near to where he is, breathing heavily, and demonstrate the worst subtle side-eye since Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston last shared the red carpet.

You peer into the basket to see what he’s got. Hmmm, plenty of vegetables. Kale, even. How modern. Broccoli. OK. Mange tout. Right. Spinach. OK, that’s a lot of greenery. You picture, in the future when you live together, wandering into the bathroom after him – then backing away with your man-bag over your nose.

What else has he got? Fresh fish and chicken. No beef. You worry. Can you really feel a deep, sexual connection for a man who doesn’t chow down on burgers? Oh well, you shrug, you can always go to Byron on date night.

Who’s he with?
Hot people rarely go anywhere alone, because other people tend to want to be around hot people. You check for any flatmates, boyfriends, girlfriends, mothers – anybody who might spoil your dark, twisted fantasy by the deep freeze.

That he’s got no trolley is a good sign he’s flying solo – unless he’s a tight-arse who shops with his other half/flatmate but doesn’t split the bill.

Is he checking out anything other than his own basket?
Oh my God, you think, did he just look at me? The answer: yes, he did. The reason: he thinks it’s weird how you have been on every aisle he’s been on.

In your fantasy, he comes up to you and asks for your advice on the product he has in his hands (just pray it isn’t tripe). In the real world, however, he frowns at you quizzically before scratching his head and scurrying off to the checkouts. You follow, even though your basket contains only a tin of chickpeas, an iceberg lettuce and, inexplicably, some haemorrhoid cream.

Will you be the unexpected item in his bagging area?
He has gone to the self-checkout. This can be a dealbreaker  – so many fall at this final hurdle. You should never date a man who can’t hold his own at a self-checkout.

If he gets more than one shrill “Please remove last item, unexplained item in bagging area”, you should probably run for the hills. If he’s that useless at a self-checkout when all you have to do is scan, imagine him fumbling his way round your very own bag for life.

You scan your items, trying to catch his eye. Now is the wrong time to be flirting, you need to concentrate on what you’re doing. Uh-oh, those dreaded words. “Please place the item in the bag.” While you’re sorting out with the assistant why your haemorrhoid cream isn’t going through properly, your crush shoots you a swift glance and sails on through, sauntering out to the car park. You shoo away the checkout guy and race after him, frantically searching the horizon before he disappears over it.

You can’t see him anywhere. Dolefully you turn back into the store, only to find your crush there, his shopping bags in his hand and a smile on his face.

“How about a drink?” he asks, a glint in his sexy eyes.

You gulp. “Sure… I’d love to!”

“Great, come on then,” he says, putting his arm round you. “Oh, and by the way,” he whispers, “can we have medical assistance on aisle 3, please?”

You look at him, puzzled. “Sorry, what?”

“Medical assistance on aisle 3,” he barks in startling monotone. “We have a customer emergency.”

And suddenly your head hurts and the arm round your shoulder is an in-store cleaner asking you if you’re OK – and all around you are tins of chickpeas. Further up the aisle, your crush peeks at the carnage before him, before he’s joined by a hotter, taller, blonder guy who playfully squeezes his arse and pecks him on the cheek.

“Come on, babe,” he says. “Let’s leave them to it. I can sure they can help the poor old bugger.”

Oh well, at least the haemorrhoid cream was a dream, eh?

Oh. Oh.

Image:  Flickr

Todd and his toothbrush

The bitter end: Todd and his toothbrush

With Todd, the signs were always there, I guess – on our first date he spent rather too much time ogling a famous popstar across the bar. On leaving the place, I took him back to mine to teach him a lesson he’d never forget and, perhaps to both our surprise, it turned into something.

Little things would crop up every now and again to make me wonder. Todd’s insistence that he sit facing a window when we went out to eat, or going to a barbecue and eating only what he had cooked himself – a trial because he incinerated absolutely everything – or his annoying habit of refusing to accept I didn’t like red wine that much.

“White wine is for beginners,” he would say, impatiently, as I slipped a bottle of prosecco in the shopping basket. “And prosecco is for girls.”

“If prosecco is for beginners then I don’t ever want to be intermediate,” I’d reply trying not to roll my eyes. “And I’ll happily wear a dress if it means I get to drink cheap fizz.”

“White wine is for beginners,” he’d say, impatiently. “And prosecco is for girls.”

His main shtick – and the loudest of all the alarm bells – was trying to make me feel uncultured and shallow. He would get on to politics far earlier in the day than was acceptable, and call me out on “wishy-washy Guardianista received opinion” then bore me to death with his musings on the economy which I suppose I could’ve read myself had I not been laughing too long at a deliciously bitchy Marina Hyde column.

And yet, incredibly, he fancied me rotten. He would tell me so, very often. Over lunch, on the train, in the supermarket – usually mere moments after skewering me over my choice of wine. Looking back now, I suppose he thought he could get away with acting permanently exasperated at my faults if he told me I was pretty, like an old lady cooing at her budgerigar or a stable hand patting his thoroughbred’s thigh. Being single can be quite a fragile state at times, and I suppose being told I was hot by someone was a rare pleasure, it made me feel nice, albeit briefly, and it can be quite the aphrodisiac.

The final straw, however, was the most ridiculous of all. I had endured six weeks or so of this odd mix of him telling me I was irritating then being unable to keep his hands out of my shorts, but what finally did it for me was a toothbrush. Yes, a toothbrush.

I stayed over at his flat for the first – and, as it turned out, final – time. I woke first and ran my tongue over my teeth.

To placate him the night before, I had gamely joined him for a few glasses of red wine. My breath was pure vinegar and my teeth felt like tombstones.

I padded through to the bathroom, praying I wouldn’t bump into any of his housemates. He lived with two girls, but I never saw them, only their miserable bootcut jeans hanging to dry on a clothes-airer in his conservatory.

In the bathroom mirror, I surveyed the damage. Purple-stained lips? Check. Grey, wine-ravaged teeth? Check. General feeling of gut rot, extreme nausea and cottonmouth? Check in triplicate.

I glanced around, looking for something to fix my malodorous mouth. No Listerine in sight. I sighed heavily. No floss, either. I tried to remember what Todd’s teeth were like, realised I couldn’t, and thought that in itself was a pretty bad sign.

In a beaker by the sink stood four toothbrushes. One was red. One was pink. One was purple. And one was green. I considered them all. Three people lived in the house. Sticking to gender stereotypes, I reasoned the pink one would belong to one of the girls. I couldn’t see Todd going for a red toothbrush, and it looked quite grotty, so I assumed they used that one to clean the grouting. Purple or green would be Todd’s then. I thought of maybe just leaving it, but… oh my mouth. It felt awful, like it was screaming at me “Who did you let in here last night?!” I had to get rid of this feeling.

I grabbed the green toothbrush, smeared some Colgate on it, winced, and started to lightly brush my teeth, the bristles barely touching enamel.

“Why would you do that without asking?” he railed. “That’s my PERSONAL toothbrush!”

At that precise moment, of course, Todd walked in, scratching his arse through his boxer shorts. He stopped dead when he caught sight of me, his eyes darting from the beaker to my mouth, then back to the beaker, before resting on my mouth and widening in horror.

“Heeeeey,” I garbled through a mouthful of fluoride and foam.

“What are you doing?” he asked, his eyes like saucers and his lip trembling in a way I had seen once before but for a very different reason.

“I’m guzzhing my keergh,” I mumbled, before giving in and spitting out any toothpaste that had managed to stay in my gob.

“Where did you get that toothbrush?” His voice was almost a whisper, but with a hardness that I assumed was dissatisfaction. My lord and master wasn’t happy.

I gestured toward the beaker. “Right there.”

He pointed now to the brush still in my hand. “That’s mine.”

I made a face a bit like a pug trying to get chewing gum out of its back teeth. “Yes. Well, I don’t have one here. I thought I might as well.”

He started to go red. At first, I thought he was embarrassed at making such a fuss, but it soon became clear he was angry. Furious, even.

“Why would you do that without asking?” he railed. “That’s my PERSONAL toothbrush” – I can only imagine what his business toothbrush was like – “and I don’t like you just coming in here using it.”

I carefully placed the sainted toothbrush back in the beaker. “I wasn’t keen either,” I admitted. “But… I don’t really understand why this is a big deal.”

He snorted. “Come ON. It’s gross. It’s not hygienic.” He scrunched his face up in disgust.

“Are you for real?” I spat. “Your tongue’s been on just about every tooth of mine it can reach, and you had my… my pecker in your mouth a few short hours ago.” I cringed at the memory. “But dragging your toothbrush around my gob is a hanging offence?”

He looked puzzled and ran his fingers over his own teeth. “I don’t know where you’ve…” he stopped himself. “Um, you might have gum disease.”

I rubbed my eyes. Suddenly I was very tired and very hungover and very much hoping for teleportation to be invented within the next 15 seconds.

“I’m just a bit funny about what I put in my mouth.”

I slid past him and went back into the bedroom and started to get dressed. He followed, but the sun was in my eyes so I couldn’t see his expression. When he finally spoke, he sounded sheepish.

“I’m just a bit funny about what I put in my mouth.”

I pulled on my trainers in excessively energetic frustration. So many one-liners swirled around my head; a hundred possible put-downs and sparkling double-entendres willed me to pick them.

Instead, as I slipped on my jacket, I settled for “Fuck off, Todd” and left the room, his flat, his street and jumped on a bus to start my favourite journey of that year so far – the one that took me away from Todd for ever.

Image:  pcapemax2007 on Flickr

A padlock

The Hold-Out

A restaurant. I hate going for food on a first date, but my date suggested it and so here I am.

Leo is a student and 22 – that enchanted age where anything seems possible, but you’re still not old enough to realise none of it will ever happen.

His pictures were, to put it bluntly, deceiving and he is not very good-looking at all, but I’m here now and we can at least have a nice dinner. I can tell he’s not a serial dater, as he’s picked Chinese – nobody wants to spend two hours watching a stranger grapple with chopsticks.

He has been flirting with me outrageously since I got here – he’s all coquettish leans to one side, wry smiles and fluttery eyelashes. I am as responsive as a fridge in a scrapyard.

Halfway through a bowl of noodles that I can’t wait for him and his mouth to finish, he licks his lips and puts down his chopsticks and I know I am in trouble.

“I just want you to know – I never sleep with someone on the first date.”

Here we go. I am nothing if not a sadist, so I ask simply: “Why?”

He goes into a long diatribe about how  relationships can only be brief and meaningless when founded on sex and that he prefers to get to know someone “spiritually rather than carnally”. I wonder which rock of self-help this bizarre statement crawled out from under.

“So how long do you wait?” I ask. “What’s the magic number of dates before you do the deed?”

“About four?”

“Four,” I repeat. “And then what?”

“Whaddya mean?”

“After date five, what happens next?”

There is no response. Just a deep breath. I plough on.

“Well, here you are.” I gesture around the room. “Sitting with me, on date number one. It rather suggests that as magic formulas go, your one for having a long-lasting relationship doesn’t seem to be much good.”

He scratches his head. “Eh?”

I should stop, but I can taste blood and, reader, I like it. “Four dates. Risky strategy.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, you’re giving people an awful lot of opportunities to fall out of love with you.”

He scrunches up his face, puzzled. “What’s wrong with my four-date rule?”

I rest my chin on my hands. “If your formula for starting out on a long relationship is not to have sex with someone until the fourth date, why are you single? Where’s your relationship? Why are you here, now, with me, on a first date, imparting your ‘wisdom’, when in fact it is a load of old pony?”

He laughs nervously. “I don’t know.”

“Well, no. Holding out on sex on a first date is your choice, and totally up to you, but don’t think it makes you any deeper or less superficial to keep your Aussiebums on. It just means you are missing out on a shag. If you’re happy with it, that’s great.”

He puts his hand on my arm and smiles at me in a way I imagine someone once told him was sexy. There is a bit of chive in his teeth. He looks very pleased with himself – like a bank manager cancelling an overdraft. “Are you asking me to make an exception just this once?” he says.

My gaze slides glacially to his hand.

“I do sleep with people on the first date,” I smile. “If I fancy them.” Cue dramatic pause. “You’re safe tonight, Leo.”

He moves his hand back. We spend the rest of the date talking about the weather and ask for the bill as quickly as politeness will allow.

Stats: 22, 5’7″, mousey/blue, Norfolk
Where: London E1
Pre-date rating: 8/10
Post-date rating: 3/10
Date in one sentence: Bait is not taken.

Image: Zebble on Flickr 

Mean Girls – Cady Heron

The Reluctant Mean Girl

Midweek. Another bar. Another pint with a stranger. I sit and wonder where I’ll be in five hours. Will I be back in my flat ignoring the ironing or will I be tangled in Egyptian cotton and kisses with tonight’s contestant?  You just never know.

“And you wore pink!”
I nod at his polo shirt, knowingly. “Perfect shirt for tonight!”

My date tonight bristles with efficiency. He was on time, buying drinks and sitting opposite me with a rictus grin on his face, in his pristine baby pink polo, before I knew what was happening.

“It seems weird going on a date on a Wednesday, no?” he says.

“Wednesdays are perfect, I think,” I reply. “And you wore pink!” I nod at his polo shirt, knowingly. “Perfect shirt for tonight!”

He narrows his eyes. “I don’t follow.”

“Oh, errr,” I stumble awkwardly. “It’s from Mean Girls. They say ‘On Wednesdays we wear pink’. Yes?”

His face is blanker than a blank thing on a blank day in a town called Blankton.

I probe further: “Do you know Mean Girls?”

He leans back in his chair and his face changes to a look of bemusement tinged with disgust and a dash of weariness.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he sighs.

“I mean…” he shakes his head dismissively. “I just wouldn’t even want to watch Mean Girls. I’m not into trashy movies.”

I gulp, feeling dumb and shallow.

“It’s a film. Written by Tina Fey. Lindsay Lohan was in it? It’s quite old.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of it. I mean…” he shakes his head dismissively. “I just wouldn’t even want to watch it. I’m not into trashy movies.”

I shrug. “It’s not trashy, really. It’s quite a clever, knowing kind of comedy. Not as good as Heathers, but in the same ballpark.”

“I don’t really like the kind of films that gay men usually like,” he replies.

Oh, I see! BINGO! We have the new gay stereotype – the gay man who refuses to conform to a stereotype! How lucky for me to have snared this rarest of beasts. And barely halfway through our first drink.

I could just let this go, or I could take a tin-opener to that can of worms he’s waving in front of me.

I have two options. I could just let this go, or I could take a tin-opener to that can of worms he’s waving in front of me. Egyptian cotton, or home alone? I imagine the pristine sheets. Lovely. Then I think of him in them, beckoning me to a world where sex means never watching a popular movie again. Decision made.

“I don’t like it because I’m gay, you total snob. I like it because it’s funny.”

“Yeah, right,” he replies, folding his arms. A drawbridge goes up with great speed. “But you think it’s a  funny film because of the bitchy dialogue and the pretty, evil girls being all ‘fabulous’, right? It’s just a bit… obvious.” He unfolds his arms for a brief second and waves them dramatically in the air.

“So you have seen it, then?” I smirk.

“Uh.” A pause so long you could actually use it to nip off to watch Mean Girls. And then: “I might have done actually.”

I’m back in my own kitchen – alone – within the hour.

Stats: 5’10″, 31, mousy brown/brown, Devon
Pre-date rating: 7/10
Post-date rating: 3.5/10
Date in one sentence: Gay guy thinks pretending popular culture isn’t a thing makes him less gay.

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly dating column I used to do in Gay Times magazine. I now answer GT readers’ dilemmas and dole out relationship advice. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

672_GUYL_COFFEE

Yet another 25 men you should never date

What do you look for in a man? Nice eyes? Bright smile? Good taste in footwear? Ability to make you laugh? We all have tick-boxes and black markers at the ready when it comes to finding a mate.

I can’t tell you who you should date – that is simply none of my business – but I can certainly advise you give this quarter-century of drips a wide berth. Yes, it’s another 25 men you should swerve to add to the 75 I’ve already blacklisted. And I should know how bad they all are; I actually am most of them.

You should never date a man who…

1. Has ever photographed a latte
“Oh look! A heart/flower/fern/my name/shamrock!” It’s coffee, sweetheart. Although, on the other hand, imagine his excitement on Christmas Day. All you’d have to do is hand over a picture of a Starbucks Frappuccino and he’d be hysterical with delight.

2. Reads his horoscope out to you.

3. Crowdsources.
Also: crowd surfs. Nobody wants a shoe in the face, except maybe…

4. Uses the term ‘shoe porn’.
Because that is really quite a specific thing, and we don’t think that’s what he really means when he’s cooing over his Kurt Geigers.

5. Describes himself as a flâneur.
‘Branleur’ may be more apt.

6. Refers to Debbie Harry as ‘Blondie’.

7. Stands at the end of a Tube carriage drying his sweat patches in the draught from the open window.

8. Searches for himself on Twitter and favourites spiky tweets about him.
Yes, we’re talking to you, contestants on Channel 4′s First Dates.

9. Has tagged a photo with #instagay.
Or #instamood. What do these even mean?

10. Says something is “a bit Marmite”.
Unless he’s talking about Marmite.

11. Mentions his MBTI personality type in his Twitter bio.
I mean, I guess it saves time, but I can think of four letters much more appropriate to describe a man who does this.

12. Bitches about what other people are wearing, while himself looking like he was just rescued from a burning building by Edward Scissorhands.

13. Only adds a location to his tweets when he’s on holiday or in Kensington.
We know you’re mainly hanging out in New Cross, bro.

14. On a first date, tells you all about his mother but nothing about himself.
If he’s called Norman and runs a motel, run twice as fast.

15. Claims to be ‘influential’ on Twitter.
Ugh.

16. Says “I don’t even have a television”, like it makes him sound super sexy and interesting.
What other pieces of tec don’t you have? I have never been so aroused!

17. Cheers “WAHEEEEY” when someone smashes a glass in the pub.

18. Bangs on and on about Mary Berry and Angela Lansbury being ‘fabulous’ but never gave their ailing grandmother the time of day.

19. Pauses after fellatio to update MyFitnessPal.

20. Only takes time out of his busy selfie-snapping schedule to tell you that you’re self-obsessed.

21. Likes arguing with shop assistants.

22. Has bought a James Arthur song.

23. Boasts about having never read a book.

24. Says things like “Never apologise, never explain”
Unless dating a sociopath who talks like a coked-up Valley girl is your idea of heaven.

25. Would ever listen to the advice of someone who’d write a list as stupid as this.
Even someone who had a Masters in faux self-deprecation. *coy smile*

What kind of man would you never date? Tell me on Twitter.

I write a monthly column in the marvellous GT magazine taking an ‘in-depth’ look at the kind of man you shouldn’t date, from calorie counters to graduates to men who refuse to tell you what time they’ll be in the pub. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek, obviously, so please don’t start crying if you get a mention.

I also answer readers’ relationship/love/life dilemmas. You can find out how to write in to me about that on my Contact page. I actually take it very seriously and give genuine advice, referring to specialists if necessary. Don’t be shy; my bark is worse than my bite. Ish.

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