Written in response to a request for Bad Love Experiences from a US Zine.
I wouldn't necessarily call this a Bad Love Experience because it doesn't really have anything to do with love. And it's not especially bad either. I mean, he didn't boil any of my pets or send emails to my parents telling them what a rocket/disappointment I was in the sack.
That's because the only really genuinely, heartbreakingly bad love experience I have makes me so incensed when I think of it that I want to track the bastard down and lay waste to him with a spoon and I don't want any implication should the scooped out body of a man be found by the canal. In a leotard.
So instead this is what I offer as a Bad (not really that bad) Love (not really love) Experience:
I'd been single a while and went to the Titanic Bar on a particularly tragic hen night - believe me, if your hen-night consists solely of two random people from work who weren't clever enough to invent other plans (one of which was me) and three of your fiancé’s female ex- work colleagues you're in trouble. Titanic has since closed but you'll still occasionally see a sad little cluster of women with condom-strewn net-curtains on their heads and L-plates on their chests throwing themselves against its boarded up doors of a Saturday night desperate for one last Las Ketchup round its dance floor. You get the picture.
Anyway - we'd been for dinner which had been one of those meals where you suddenly wish you were either really, really old or really, really male - anything to set you apart from a group of women who weep with hysterics over a jelly penis and think touching the waiter’s arse is flirting. Oh, the things they had to tell their other halves ... I'd found the only way to get through it was to drink myself stupid so by the time we got to Titanic I was barely able to control my own bladder let alone my decision making.
Which is how I excuse myself for even entertaining this man's attentions. Jumper tucked in, slightly over-styled hair and a management consultant who was really into his job. Really into it. To the point that he started doing his training on me: stand with me, come on, stand up with me. Now, put your arms out and just trust me. That kind of thing. I should've known but, as I say, I was drunk and surrounded by women who thought that knowing the moves to a dance was more important than how you looked doing it. So I hungout with him and happily/moronically gave him my mobile number.
That night I got home around three – alone – only to be pummeled by text messages informing me of where this guy was. Firstly he was still in the club. Then he was leaving the club. Then he was safely home (phew!). Then he was in bed. All unprovoked and ignored but seemingly endless.
Dear GOD, I thought. That's the last time I speak to him.
But it was a long, empty week of nothing to do but watch soaps and envy people with exciting love lives.
So when he caught me off guard mid-deluge of texts by asking me out, of course I said yes.
We met by Embankment Tube station. Me, on foot, full of half a bottle of wine (does anyone notice a drinking theme here?) him driving a rather flash black Range Rover. Which was nice. Hey, I thought, perhaps, in the right light and sat behind the smooth, leather steering wheel, proffering a paper bag containing a chocolate chip cookie, perhaps he wasn't going to be so bad.
He took me on a Ghost Walk of London. A two-mile guided Ghost Walk of London. I was wearing heels. And a top that showed my boobs and didn't offer anything in the way of support. (Like I say, I'd been single for a while). And when we were allowed to stop off at a pub for a quick drink, he told me he was practically t-total. And when he walked in front of me I realised that clearly the only reason he was so good at rugby was because his arse was so bloody big.
And then we had to stop off in another pub after the Ghost Walk for him to go to the loo which, if the length of time was anything to go by, was just about the biggest pooh any man had ever expelled. And I didn't know he was going to be THAT long so I didn't get to order a drink either.
But then he hailed a taxi and we went for dinner in China Town and I got to thinking: ah, now we can be all romantic and everything. Yes, I know - after all that I was still hoping to be swept off my feet. But, hell, I didn't say I was a realist. I said I was desperate.
So we pulled up in China Town outside Wong Keis, which, if you know your Chinese restaurants in London, is one of the busiest and cheapest in the area. It has fluorescent strip lighting.
We sat down and he greeted the waiters like old friends and ordered the set meal for us and tutted all the way through my cigarette - he hated smoking - and commented on how quickly I was drinking the house red wine and then sat back and opened his mouth and the most fascinating/disturbing story came out.
I was on a date with a man who used to be a Jehovah’s Witness. And not just any old Jehovah’s Witness – a Preacher for the Jehovah’s. He'd been married at eighteen to a girl he'd never been alone with until the wedding night and built his way up through the church until at 30 he decided he was unhappy in his marriage, suggested divorce and was ostracised. He then slept in the factory he worked in for a couple of weeks, before moving in with the caretaker and his wife.
That's the fascinating bit.
After I'd listened to that and asked relevant questions and been, suitably, impressed/surprised/strangely attracted he went and completely blew it by announcing he'd been 34 before he had his first blow-job. That I can deal with because, hey, we're not all as lucky as we'd like to be. It was the detail that was so disturbing. I mean, he was like a forensic scientist. I heard it all from the sex in his marriage to the sex he’d experienced since the divorce. Would you understand if I told you that I was actually, by now, repelled.
I mean, really! That jabbering mouth coupled with the obvious pooh and that massive arse - this man wasn't just being inappropriate, he was committing date suicide.
"Yes," he was saying over the Peking duck, carefully sealing the pancake before taking a big, sweaty bite. "I’m still finding it difficult to come to terms with where the clitoris is."
“So," I said, making no attempt to hide my desire to please move off the subject. "Where did you go to school?"
"Hmm? Brighton. Anyway. You know, is it near the front of the back door?"
Yes, he did use the term ‘door’ and no, I didn't tell him. I was too appalled. Apparently he only had one friend who wasn’t a Jehova and he was too shy to ask him. Obviously, I, on the other hand, was offering the optimum level of confidence which isn’t bad seeing as he didn’t really know me and this was a date. And I was looking at him like this …
So. We finished the meal - him drinking water, me drunk on red wine and finding focusing really quite hard. We got a cab back to his car where he slipped an arm around me and I shouted out: mind my clitoris, which he didn't find funny at all. Then he drove me home playing Beethoven's Fifth at full volume and dropped me off with a closed mouth kiss, wagging his finger at me and saying reproachfully "ashtray mouth."
Needless to say I didn't see him again.
But you know what, I can remember all that down to the freckles on his cheeks and just how wide that arse was, but I can't for the life of me remember his name. Doesn’t that make you feel just a tiny bit sorry for him?