The naked barman*

I stood in the doorway of the shabby ground floor apartment, aghast – firstly at the stack of clear packages in the bathroom which contained an illegal white powder – then at the naked Mediterranean man reclining on the bed, beckoning me to join him.

It was the very early 1990s, I had only just turned 18 and had led a relatively sheltered life up until now. But here I was, on my first holiday abroad to a Spanish island (I am being deliberately vague on location to protect the ‘innocent’) with three friends, whom I now suspect only invited me along for amusement value and to make up numbers, rather than a genuine desire for my oddball company (I was rather an eccentric teenager). What should have been a fun-filled riot of a trip had taken an unexpected turn and I had ended up in the apartment of a coke-dealing/snorting Spanish barman who thought he could shag me in his break.

I suppose being 18, extremely naïve, drunk in his bar every night and flirting outrageously didn’t help my cause. I had even had what is nowadays referred to as a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ one night, in which the strap of my dress had snapped and left one of my boobs hanging out. I had been so drunk on cheap beer that I didn’t notice until the end of the night when my ‘mates’, and some guys they befriended, finally pointed it out after sniggering at me all evening.

On another occasion I was in such a state that I was either vomiting in the street or sitting flopped over with my head between my knees for the whole night. When we returned to our apartment my ever-so-kind-and-caring chums thought it was a good plan to spray me fully dressed with a cold shower.

Back to the barman: He convinced me that he really liked me and I swallowed every cliché and false compliment. Then one night he suggested I hung about until closing time when he would take me to his apartment.

He had whipped his clothes off while I used his loo/coke store. I was a virgin and he was only the second fully naked man I had ever seen (my first was my granddad when I was staying at their house as a toddler and decided to go for a wander in the early hours. I bumped into him coming out of the bathroom. I don’t know who was more shocked – me or him – but to this day the image has never left my memory). I had seen penises, supplying a few blowjobs, as I wasn’t in a rush to lose my virginity and thought this would appease them for a bit. But I hadn’t really seen the full picture and how it all fitted together. What I couldn’t take my eyes off was the piercing he had at the top end of his penis – what many refer to as a ‘Prince Albert’. The little gold ring seemed to wink at me as he pulled his substantial willy about in an attempt to lure me in. He even said it ‘made sex better’.

While the effect of the large glistening bell end had the appeal of a bowl of chocolate whispering the words ‘eat me’ a feeling of discomfort had already started to grow in me, like an aggressive weed. Despite my dizzy beer head, everything suddenly felt wrong and this was not how I wanted to lose my virginity – to a creepy, serial shagging drug addict barman – all his exotic appeal and handsome looks had suddenly faded. Even his ability to toss and spin bottles with the skill of Tom Cruise in ‘Cocktail’ now seemed like some crude circus act. The more supportive of my three ‘friends’ had also agreed to wait outside for me, so I grabbed my bag, dashed out and we flagged down a taxi.

*If you read my first ever post you will recall my assertion that what appears here is part truth, part embellishment, so while some of this is true, some is not – just don’t expect me to specify which is which…

Celluloid or cellulite?

Whether it’s Hollywood, Pinewood or even Cricklewood, it always baffles me as to why the two leading characters on the silver or small screen* are so unconvincing when they end up horizontal ski-ing.

The thing they are doing together is not the ‘bonkery’ of regular human beings, such as you or I (or maybe I am living in a parallel universe where no one else stumbles, gets cramp or passes gas).

Setting the scene: Benedict and Rosetta have just enjoyed a flirtatious romantic evening at a restaurant or one of their homes. The wine has gone to their heads and now they are kissing frantically. Music plays over the scene – strings, a sixties soul classic or electronic keyboard. Benedict starts to kiss Rosetta on the neck, slowly running his hands down her back towards her perfectly toned derriere.

Meanwhile: Barry and Sandra have enjoyed a few drinks down the Queen’s Head and a bag of chips on the way home. They really fancy each other and have already snogged down an alleyway on the way back to Sandra’s flat. They sit on the sofa (after throwing off the pile of ironing and old tissues) and devour each other’s faces, tongues and all. Barry shoves his hand down Sandra’s top to grab her right boob.

Benedict and Rosetta seem to stand up in unison before Benedict takes Rosetta’s perfectly manicured hand and leads her to the bedroom. The bed is perfectly neat, covered in fluffy cushions; there are big bedside lights, co-ordinated rugs and no clutter whatsoever. In the next shot they are kissing at the same time as lowering themselves on to the bed in slow motion. The same song from earlier still playing and no audible slurping or sighing.

‘Shall we go upstairs?’ Slurs Barry. So the pair stagger up to Sandra’s bedroom. Her bed is strewn with all the clothes she tried on when she was getting ready. There are tissues, magazines, books and a Lego train on the floor. Sandra has to throw the clothes off the bed and kick aside a few teddies to make a safe passage to the bed. As they embrace on the bed, Barry fumbles to undo Sandra’s bra, so she puts one arm behind her back and flicks it open.

Benedict and Rosetta are now both naked, although you cannot see their genitals, just their perfect, smooth, toned bodies – Benedict has a six pack stomach and bulky biceps while Rosetta hasn’t a scrap of cellulite and perfect breasts and a flat tummy. Benedict writhes on top of her and she throws her head back sighing ‘oh, Benny, oh Benny’.

Barry and Sandra are still struggling to disrobe. Barry trips over trying to remove his trousers and smashes something on Sandra’s dressing table. Sandra lies on the bed and manages to kick her knickers off so that they fly across the room, meaning she probably won’t find them in the mess for another two weeks. Barry dives on to the bed and directs her to his member so that she can give him a blow job and stop the beer-induced floppy.

Benedict and Rosetta are still ‘making love’ perfectly framed by silk sheets. Now the beautiful Rosetta is astride Benedict, but the sheets somehow cover her pubic mound. Her long glossy blonde hair is still perfectly styled as she throws her head back in ecstasy, exclaiming ‘Oh God!’

Sandra has rescued Barry’s hard-on and they launch into penetration, but five minutes later Sandra shouts: “Stop! I really need the loo.” So she has to run out of the room, quickly pees and takes this opportunity to remove her contact lenses, before dashing in and trying to resume what they started. Barry needs a quick ‘blowie’ to rouse him again and off they go. Their rounded bellies slap against each other and everything wobbles and jiggles, particularly Sandra’s boobs and she jokingly rubs them against Barry’s face.

Benedict and Rosetta are way ahead now – lying in each other’s arms, blissfully, occasionally taking sips of the champagne which has somehow found its way into the bedroom (I don’t remember seeing them bring it in earlier). They talk about how their eyes met across the park and taking a trip away somewhere together.

Barry and Sandra are still going strong, testing a few positions before Barry comes while taking Sandra from behind and collapses on to the bed. He then lets out a fart so loud that it vibrates through the bed and almost makes the walls shake. ‘Oops, sorry,’ he says, ‘must have been that jumbo sausage I had earlier.’ Sandra can’t hide her little giggle which quickly vanishes when the smell reaches her nostrils.

Benedict and Rosetta have fallen asleep in one another’s arms, romantic music framing the scene. The silk sheets seem to have magically stuck to Rosetta’s breasts (or her breasts have Velcro nipples). No snoring can be heard and they still look as perfect as they did at the beginning – hair neatly styled, Rosetta’s lipstick and mascara are still both intact.

Barry and Sandra had a sweaty cuddle, but are now sleeping at opposite sides of the bed facing away from one another. They tried to lie in each other’s arms, but after five minutes Sandra’s stiff neck flared up so she had to move. She also sneaks another trip to the bathroom and gasps at her reflection – her hair is bedraggled and her eye makeup is smeared all over her face so she looks like she has been in a fight with a pen. She tries to clean the worst off with a flannel and sneaks back into bed with a now snoring Barry.

Benedict and Rosetta can no longer be seen – an upbeat 80s hit is now playing and the screen is covered with film credits. They got their rose-tinted, sugar-coated happy ending, so no one needs to know what happened next. Unless they decide to make a sequel.

*I’m talking mainstream movies, not porn here – I’ll save that for another time.

The might-haves and what-ifs

You are in the queue at one of those discount bakeries and there is only one thing on your mind. It stares out from the glass case, almost saying “look at me, I am so delicious and you want me, don’t you?” It’s the last chocolate éclair.

You are almost at the front of the queue now – there’s only an old guy in front before it’s your turn and you can finally get the éclair. But wait a minute – the old guy mutters but you can just about make out his words – “choc-o-late e-clair” – nooooo!  So near but so far and all you can do is opt for the dried-up gingerbread man. Your heart is heavy and you don’t even feel hungry any more. If only you had set off five minutes earlier.

This is a long, convoluted illustration of the near misses in life, the ones that got away – I wanted to avoid the over-used fishing metaphor.

There are always those events you look back at and think “would it have been so bad if I had done that, chosen him, accepted that job, taken the alternative route home…” etc.

With me it starts with the nice, sweet boy, a mate of my friend’s boyfriend. They had tried to put us together, which he was totally up for but I wasn’t. He seemed too much of a geeky goody-two- shoes – not unattractive, but too sweet and inexperienced with girls. I also lacked experience (hard to believe now) at the age of 15. But I wanted a proper man to teach me stuff. Instead my first boyfriend was the groping 18-year-old who lived two doors down and had his own car. With hindsight, neighbour with car was arrogant and only after one thing, which I didn’t give him, while sweet geeky boy genuinely liked me and would have treated me with some respect. Maybe we would have stayed together and made geeky babies and we would have all gone out wearing identical Star Wars t-shirts.

Then there was tall skinny Indy music guy at university. I will call him D. D had shiny black hair in that rather odd messy bob style fans of ‘shoegazer’ bands (Google it) could get away with circa 1991, and piercing blue eyes. With his chiselled cheek bones and handsome features he should have had girls crawling all over him, but he was very shy and quiet.

One of my friends had just dumped him, as she got frustrated with his lack of chit-chat, and introduced me to him with the aim of setting us up. I don’t think he actually spoke to me for half an hour – just smiled and twinkled his perfect eyes at me while she rambled on. It turned out he was quite interested and I think we spent a couple of nights together, fully clothed in his bed, just kissing. His laid back, uncommunicative approach and my need, at the time, for things to happen halted a relationship before it even started. My head was soon turned by more outgoing, rugged alternatives and poor D was soon forgotten. I would sometimes see him at the back of the student bar, pulling a sad little boy face at me, and be almost drawn back to him, but he either didn’t have the fight or the heart to try any harder.

A few years after leaving university I discovered an extremely cute barman (I’ll call him G) working in one of the scruffy nightclubs my friends and I frequented on a Saturday night, after a few too many ciders. With dark wavy hair, olive skin and dazzling blue eyes (there’s a running theme here all of a sudden) I couldn’t help but be drawn to G, especially as he always made the effort to talk to me. After a few weeks I tried my luck at asking him out for a drink. It paid off and we became an item.

We had a few happy weeks of getting to know each other and things seemed to be going really well – he was intelligent, witty and the sex was just starting to get interesting. Then I flushed the whole thing down the toilet on a night out with friends. One of my male friends had an old school friend up to stay from London, someone I had met a few times previously and had always fancied. We were in a late opening bar and G was meeting me there later after he finished work. I should have been sensible, not drank too much and enjoyed the anticipation of seeing G later. But no, I was a foolish woman in her mid-20s with a reckless edge. The ciders went down a little too quickly and ‘London friend’ gradually became the most beautiful man on the planet and he was spending a lot of time talking to me. My drunken, twisted philosophy was that life is too short to let fidelity get in the way and ‘London friend’ was only there for the weekend. A couple more ciders and our lips just couldn’t stay apart any longer. Within an hour G turned up, I confessed what had happened and he left immediately.

This, readers, is one of my biggest regrets. I tried to call G to appeal to his forgiving nature, but it didn’t work. A couple of months later a friend told me he had moved away, but had managed to get a mobile number for him. I made the mistake of calling him. He was surprised to hear from me but quickly ended the conversation. And I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach; guilt, regret and embarrassment, all in one steel toe-capped boot.

But we would not be the people we are now if it wasn’t for a few bad decisions and if we took the right track every time we would always reach our destination without any adventures along the way.

In the mirror

Hair, once full and glossy, now a little dull
Dyed to cover sprouting greys and fake my youth,
Tracks of time have crept across my forehead,
Worry ploughs working through the night.
The eyes begin to sag and once faint lines are clear,
Whatever makeup I wear.                                                                                        
Where did the girl go?

Breasts, once pert and bouncy, grapefruits not melons
Heading south, the droop begins.
Nipples, once rosebuds, now walnuts
No longer my pride and joy, just deflated tennis balls.
Where did the girl go?

Then comes the most hated, sagging mass,
Once small and rounded (never flat and taut)
With peachy smooth skin.
Now flabby, sagging, overstretched by two tenants.
The navel, once small and winking, is now a lazy eye
Surrounded by creases and orange peel skin,
Unsightly and ugly, no wonder the girl ran.

Wobbly thighs, the colour of raw sausage rub together
But there was never a gap.
Dry bony knees, bruised and scarred,
Sausage legs, with trickling blue veins appearing
Feet once described as pretty, now misshapen, nails thickening
And a crust of dry skin needs a sandblast now and then,
There is nothing left of the girl.

The bottom, once a ripe, full peach, has started the same journey
South for winter, with dimpled skin and saggy creases
And the hands start to change to veiny claws,
Worn down with years of toil, no doubt the arthritic gene
Will turn fingers bent and gnarled.

But still the shell aches to be filled,
The dark pink warm and wet cave needs to be touched
The body needs to be held, to feel the warmth of another.
The girl will not be back.
No one can love an ageing, sagging sack.
They all look for the girl.

Today’s post also comes with a soundtrack: : So, it’s Aerosmith – judge me as you will.