Eleven digits.

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Oh god, oh god, oh god.

I gave my phone number to a girl last night.

An actual girl.

Oh god.

Ok. Let me give some context. This is all a case of tremendous peer pressure. My friend from university, my non-genetically-linked-big-brother of sorts, is visiting this weekend. We’ve known each other since I was a bright-eyed and innocent fresher (his words not mine). We lived together in student housing in my second year, he’s one of my ‘boys’.

‘My boys’ are the name I give to my (significant) male friends. My sweet, supportive male friends, the important and very special influences in my life. I have several of this kind of male friend, all from different times in my life, and I stay in touch with or see them regularly. They have common qualities; they’re all fundamentally lovely. Other criteria for this includes:

•Excellent hugs,
•Have looked after me when I’ve been blind drunk at least once (its usually more than once),
•Haven’t tried to have sex with me,
•And they’re usually taller than me.

I love these men fiercely.

The other great common aspect of these friends, is that you can put any two of them in a social situation and they’ll instantly get on. It’s their inherent awesomeness! BB insists it’s because I have impeccable taste in friends. Horrific taste in crushes [thanks] but excellent taste in friends – they get on well because they’re all good people. I took BB and my friend K, another member of this exclusive brotherhood, to the pub last night. They got on very well – mostly because they instantly started trading anecdotes about when I’ve been too drunk to stand.

Thanks guys.

I went to get a round in. The barmaid who served me had been behind the bar the last time I had been at this pub with K. It was a few weeks ago. I remember her as she had worn a really cute top and I had complimented her on it. That sounds more suave than it was. I actually just exclaimed “Wow! I love your shirt!” at her when she was collecting glasses. It really wasn’t a line. She said thank you, I smiled awkwardly and then she moved on.

I came back with the drinks and told K that she was here again.

This gave my boys an idea.

I’d been whinging about how I’m terrified of speaking to women so they decided I was going to go back and talk to her. Another defining characteristic of my boys is that they are stubborn. Very stubborn.

I felt shy and stupid – I had no idea what to say! BB bought a round, which helped slightly. When K went to buy his round, he told me to come help him carry glasses. An obvious ploy. I was still determined to not talk to the pretty barmaid. How often does must attractive woman selling alcohol get harassed by drunk customers? Can’t the poor woman work in peace?! I didn’t even know if she was gay! He ordered our drinks, having a conversation with the barmaid while I stood next to him mute and embarrassed. As she went to get another bottle of beer, K looked at me with a raised eyebrow and said “now what is so difficult about that?”

Now, I’m as stubborn as my boys and I wasn’t going to be belittled by anybody. Especially not by K. I fixed him with a look which said “fuck off then”. He handed me a ten pound note and told the barmaid I was paying.

I stood at the bar, which was slightly too high for me to lean across, so I was on tiptoe. I could feel one foot leave the floor in some horrible parody pose and blushed at the thought of what I’d look like to the boys sat at their table. I knew they’d be watching my progress eagerly. The barmaid gave me the third bottle of beer and took my (K’s) money. When she came back I attempted to engage her in conversation. I can’t even remember what I said, but she chatted back. I was astonished when she asked me a question. Is- is this… a conversation? This is pretty good!

We talked for a little while, until a drunk guy lurched up to me and started talking to me. BB clocked this from the table and swiftly came up to me, putting his arm around me and giving me a kiss on the cheek in his best boyfriend impression. Boys are fantastic. Passing for one of their property is a horrible concept, but so useful. When I was with a (female) date and a drunk came to our table, we couldn’t get rid of him after he guessed we were together. I don’t think it was anything we did, more my look of indignant fury than my short hair. But indicate to a man that you are in a relationship with a man and they’ll back off pretty quick.

BB took me back to our table and promptly began to quiz me about my conversation with the barmaid, K chipping in as well. They decided I should give her my number. I had thought the conversation had been nice enough, but I wasn’t sure she was actually gay, or even remotely interested. I was still recovering from actually making conversation with a woman! They pestered and I wrote out my number on a scrap of paper. I clutched it in my hand while we argued and over our drinks. The barmaid started collecting empty glasses and the boys egged me on to give it to her when she came to our table. I wasn’t about to let them watch me – it was difficult enough working up the nerve to do it at all!

We realised that we needed to drink up and get the tube. We’d had many of the beers and I announced I should have some water. The boys seized this opportunity to harangue me about giving the barmaid my number. I swiftly declared I wasn’t thirsty – but K insisted he needed water. So I went to the bar. It was probably the beer, but I felt a surge of courage. As she returned with two glasses of water I said to her that if she’d like to get a drink sometime she could give me a call [not verbatim it wasn’t that eloquent].

And I gave a woman my phone number.

She didn’t throw me out. She smiled! She even said she was thinking of doing the same thing! I kept my cool, went back to the boys and told them. They were most impressed and proud. Hooray.

We left the bar soon after to catch the last tube, me babbling most of the way – I was in shock. K went his way and BB got my drunk ass home safe.

I can’t believe I’ve successfully given a woman my phone number. I wouldn’t have dared to do that if those two hadn’t bullied me/used their Jedi mind tricks (read: manipulating my stubbornness). It was terrifying – terrifying – but after I felt really good. I felt brave. I think I could even do that again. So I’m (begrudgingly) grateful to those boys.

What a lovely pair of bullying friends.

Crash.

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I am determined to finish Crash by J G Ballard.

Crash was on a reading list for my dystopian fiction module in third year at university. I still haven’t read it. I graduated three years ago. Bad student.

I read enough to blag my way through the seminar. It’s not that I couldn’t be bothered. I simply couldn’t get to the end of it.

I’m not sure why Crash was listed on a syllabus for dystopian fiction – it’s not particularly dystopian. That was the overriding subject of the seminar as twenty disgruntled and disgusted students debated with our tutor.

The story features people who are sexually aroused by car crashes. I’m open to most perversions (whether personally or appreciating their appeal from an objective stand point) but I just feel ill reading Mr Ballard’s efforts. The language is visceral, explicit, brutal.

I mean, it’s gorgeous, immediate and powerful. It’s an intoxicating read and I love the writing. But I’m just struggling with the subject matter. The story doesn’t offer an insight into why this sexually excites the character. It just does. It’s not a view into the kink, it’s just the kink.

Maybe that’s why I’m struggling. I want to understand and I’m feeling excluded.

Bottom line, it’s powerful writing and I’m determined to finish it. There are book marks littering the well thumbed pages where I’ve failed to finish the book. The furthest I have gotten is page 45. I’ve seen the film adaptation with James Spader – that was accessible. So now I’m trying again. And I won’t stop until I’ve finished it. I’m not sure why I’m so determined but I’m going to go with it.

Maybe it’s Lit-student guilt, cultural obligation, smut obsession…? I’m not sure. But I will do this!

Oh god, it’s so beautifully visceral, but so disgusting…

L x

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Women Are Scary.

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I mean women are really, really scary.

As in, there are bunnies in car headlights that look more suave than I do when faced with a beautiful woman.

I have a confession to make. I’m really bad at talking to women. I don’t mean bad at flirting with them, or hitting on them. I am. But I don’t get that far. I cannot make any conversation whatsoever with a woman I like. I get all nervous. Really nervous. Quiet and silly and stupid. And I feel like they know exactly what is going on in my mind when I look at them. Its not even sexual. My brain has not yet developed the ability to think of women sexually. I mean, I would like to, you know… But I can barely talk to a woman. Kindly follow that thought to its logical conclusion.

A sneak peek at my brain when talking to a lady I like:

She’s so nice. I mean she’s really nice. I should say something complimentary. Or smart. I should say something! Erm, what about: I think your dress is pretty? Oh that’s a shit thing to say. What a materialist, objectifying comment. She’ll not respect you with horrible sentences like that. What should I say? Oh god, oh god, you took too long. She’s looking at you. She knows you like her. Stop looking at her eyes. Stop looking at her hair. Stop looking at her! Don’t ignore her, don’t be rude. She’s so nice. Oh god. She knows – she knows what you’re thinking! She knows you’re gay – she’s gay too but you’re terrible. And gay. She doesn’t want you, you fool! You can’t even talk to her! Run! Run away, run away, run away!

That’s about it really. On a loop.

Its a good job I’m horrible at conversation, because it means I rarely get to asking anyone out. And I suck at asking women out. Its done with very little finesse. Think: blurting out “Can we get coffee please?!” during a conversation about improv comedy, or “Other locations of cultural interest are available – if you would like to go to one together?” when discussing the British Museum. I have genuinely used that sentence to ask out a woman.  Ugh. It worked. But then that means we have to go on a date.

Getting the date is almost a hollow victory. I genuinely don’t know what to do on dates with women. Its a designated chunk of time in which to have (gulp) extended one-on-one conversation with a woman I fancy. I’m a horrible bundle of nerves. Getting through the date without declaring how scared I am is a win for me. If I don’t shout out “Oh my god, you’re the nicest thing ever!” over coffee, I think I deserve a fucking medal. Or a hug. I think I’d like a hug. Its exhausting.

I know what you’re thinking. But getting drunk does not make me more confident. Alcohol doesn’t help one bit. I was very drunk near a very beautiful and intelligent lady (who I know is a gay and was also drunk) the other night at a work trip to the pub. I managed to tell her I liked her dress before I realised I might be flirting with her like a normal lesbian. Got nervous. Promptly ran away. Well done.

I’m really not that good at this.

I am trying though – honest. I’m fighting The Incredible Urge To Run Away. I just need practice talking to women. Then maybe they won’t be so scary. Well. No. They’ll still be intimidatingly beautiful and intelligent and so much better than me at this. But I will try my hardest to appear calm in conversation.

For now, I’m just hoping my startled rabbit impression will work for someone, somewhere.

If that’s you, please get in touch. I’ll hide under my duvet for a week then totally email you back.

L x