“Go on, send her a message.” “No.” “It’ll be fun! Look, she’s a pole dancer!” “No, what’s the point? I’ll be going home soon.” “That’s the point! Or what about this one? She’s cute.” “Dammit woman, no! I don’t want to have empty sex with some stranger.” “Fine.” The holiday romance. It’s a slippery little bugger. It seems so magical in the books: star-drenched walks on the beach; coconutty limbs panting in hot sand; sea kisses, one hand tugging at the back of a bikini; Aperol and passione and tears at the quayside as you say farewell. It’s a bloody sham, I tell you. The only holiday romance I ever had was when I snogged a spotty teenager and then watched him try on my bras. No Aperol for me: Here, have this bubblegum-flavoured vodka and touch my willy. Thanks, but I think I’ll pass.
I think I’ve realised why people get married so young. I always wondered what the big rush was. What’s your hurry honey? Forever can wait another year or two. Strap on a backpack and hit the road. See the world. Make love with the wrong people. Make friends with the right people. Mess up. Learn. Fill your head with memories that will nourish you in the decades to come. Well, what do I know? I should have gotten hitched when I had the chance. Because once you’re in your thirties your time disappears. Poof. Gone. But, wait, it was right here. It was right fucking here! Where did it go? Two words: rat race. I am in it, my friends. The pistol was fired, I started jogging and a decade later I had morphed into the human equivalent of IBM. I am a keyboard. I am a logo. I am emails-on-the-go and coffee going cold and back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-black meetings.
I have a complex relationship with getting older. On the one hand, I love getting to know myself, all my strengths and weakness and weirdnesses. I love unpicking the assumptions I’ve made about myself and watching them slither to the floor: oh, so you do like mushrooms; you are an outdoorsy person; see, you are brave. When you’re young, you’re always rushing to fall in with the crowd. You wear shoes that are wonky on your feet because you want to fit in. Age brings understanding and confidence. You start to coax the real person out from their hidey hole, bit by bit, until all of a sudden they’re standing tall beside you. On the other hand, as soon as I hit my thirties, my tits collapsed. It was like – BYE! Have a nice life! I went from being a Baywatch Babe to basically a surfing board with a couple of very old balloons taped to the front, dangling in the wind.
Sometimes I think if there were credit ratings for hearts then mine would be junk status: BAD INVESTMENT, the signs would say, PURCHASE NOT ADVISED. All the sensible consumers would keep a wide berth, tutting: “Don’t touch that sweetie,” a mother would say, “it’s rotten.”
The first time you have sex with a woman is a complete minefield. I don’t want to do men a disservice or anything, but they’re mostly pretty easily pleased between the sheets. Just swing your legs around a bit and yodel and they’ll usually sort themselves out quite happily. Women, on the other hand, are far more complex: “Erm, left a bit…no, no, right a bit…okay bit far, go back? Yep, there. Bit softer…mmm…softer…yeah…that’s good babes. Okay speed up…no not that fast…yeah like that. Still soft though…but fast…but soft…but fast…oh yeah…oh baby…uh huh…mmm…keep doing that…right there…stay right there….don’t move…don’t move…don’t move…ARGH I’M TOO SENSITIVE JESUS FUCKING CHRIST GET OFF ME.” screams and hides in wardrobe.
Where do you stand on honesty? Are you an everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink kind of person? Or do you take a more…curated approach to candour, drip drip dripping the truths as occasion demands?
“So…so, let me get this straight. You went to a party at her boyfriend’s house. You got very, very drunk. You told her you loved her. And later you were sick on your hands.” “And on my coat. And a bit on the carpet.”