The linguist and I have been seeing each other for about six weeks. Over that time, I’ve grown to like her more and more. Our personalities complement one another beautifully. She’s organised, rational, practical, level-headed and kind. I’m chaotic, dizzy, effusive, sensitive and warm. She’s a steady hum in my slapdash existence and I’m an excitable gurgle in her well-oiled machine. There’s only one problem. Dating someone awesome invariably throws your own awesomeness – or lack thereof – into sharp relief. The linguist is far more intelligent than me. She sheds facts like skin and I have to lumber along after her scooping them all up and trying to make sense of them. Who was that philosopher she mentioned and what was his theory? Everything I know is just strings of loosely related words with no glue to hold them together: Napoleon, Alsace, Waterloo, Saint Helena. My head’s like a library with half the books missing.
One thing I love about living in London is how many brilliant options there are for dates. Forget Odeons packed full of sweaty, shrieking teenagers and flabby, flat-packed pizza chains. Forget googling ‘great date ideas Trull’ before giving up and taking your date to the same Indian you went to every Friday with your ex. Forget having to schlep out to the nearest town to be able to have a snog without half the village seeing and having a middle-class meltdown. In London, the world is your oyster and oysters are the food of love. This is the place where young lovers gorge.
“Welcome,” the woman says. “We’re delighted you’ve decided to join us. How was your journey?” “Fine,” I say, “a bit tiring.” “I can imagine, London’s a world away from us! Let me show you to your room.” She leads me upstairs and into a loft room that’s a melange of old beams, antiques and tapestries. Sunlight streams through stained glass windows, forming painterly puddles on the bedspread. In the corner is a carved oak desk, simply adorned with a jug of bluebells and a decanter of red wine.
One of the dating rituals I find most irritating is the trend for a shaved muff. As a working woman, I resent how expensive, sore, fiddly, cold and time-consuming it is. Sure, I’ve been working all week, studying for a diploma, going to the gym, making a curry, calling my mother, doing the food shopping, planning my weekend, doing my tax return, dismantling the Christmas tree, renewing some library books, vacuuming my bedroom, trying to work out where to recycle lightbulbs and sniffing the air vent to make sure the old lady next door’s not accidentally gassing herself – BUT PLEASE, LET ME SHAVE MY PUSSY FOR YOU.
Waking up with the older woman, there’s a sourness in the air. I feel vaguely disgruntled that I’ve come all this way and paid all this money and given myself to someone for nothing. If I had a bed post, I’d carve her notch lightly – just a shadow in the wood, a whisper, something you could easily forget. All morning she irritates me. She makes bad coffee and sniffs constantly and it takes her so long to do her hair and make-up that we end up having breakfast at 12.30. Being hungry is a running theme for the weekend; the night before we had dinner after 10. That fact alone would be enough for me to never see her again. If I’m not going to come, I’d at least like a delicious breakfast.
I’ve come to the coast: to sea air and fish suppers and my third date with the older woman. She’s invited me to her holiday home, a flat with very high ceilings and a sliver of sea view. “It’s not quite finished,” she says self-consciously on arrival, “the bathrooms aren’t quite to my taste.” “It’s beautiful,” I reply. We have a quick drink before we head out, softening the evening in white wine. She’s wearing a low cut top and her cleavage winks at me from across the living room. “Come sit next to me,” she says, patting the sofa and I duly pad across the floor. Drinks finished, we head out for the evening. She’s made plans for us to watch a bonfire show: a mad, visceral thing where pissed villagers in frilly headdresses wave lit torches around and set off fireworks worryingly close to one another’s beards. The whole thing is hot and loud as hell and I get a brilliant flash of schadenfreude as, one by one, crying children have to be …
In the olden days, there was a stat people used to quote about how men think about sex every 7 seconds. Men were animals, apparently, held to ransom by their desperate, yearning, aching ballsacks. Women were often left out of such studies as people thought women were incapable of enjoying sex because it’s “icky” and it “messes up one’s hair”. Thankfully, times have changed. In ground-breaking research commissioned exclusively for Girl Meets Girl, I can reveal exactly how often women think about sex. Behold, a single day in the mind of a woman:
Last month I threw away my bullet. Poof. Gone. There was nothing wrong with it. It hadn’t worn out or wound down or fizzled up on the insides like an old radio. It still hit the spot, made me squirm and writhe and gasp and sing like a canary all over the bed sheets. I just made a decision it was time to end it and I ended it. Plop. In the bin. Another useless bit of plastic swimming in a dump somewhere. I know. I KNOW. Someone fetch an ambulance or a fire engine or a detective to find this poor woman’s marbles. What’s wrong with me? Vibrators are awesome. They’re a single woman’s best friend. They’re the slightly seedier version of getting a cat. Me, my vibe and my pussy: We’re one big, happy, creepy family.
Does anyone get the perfect amount of sex? My friends and I talk a lot about our love lives and so often sex is a bone of contention even in happy relationships. There seems to be a lot of mismatched expectation and negotiation: a lot of pleading, begging, gnashing, blocking, sighing, yearning, weeping, scrabbling, silent mounting and tearful pleas to “get off me so I can go to sleep.”
Maybe I’m naïve, but I assumed most people had the same values as me: don’t steal or lie, don’t cheat on your exams or taxes or people, be kind to others, help if you can, work hard, protect your family, protect our world. Actually, I’ve been surprised at how often our values aren’t in synch: how many people are disingenuous or dishonest; how many are cruel or lazy or neglectful; how many can’t see how their actions make our world and hearts a bleaker place.