A many splendored thing

I can count on one hand how many times it has happened to me – well, actually three fingers of one hand. But for some people, all their fingers and toes may not be enough, while for others a big fat fist of zero says it all.

A simple, probably unoriginal comment on one of those social networking sites – the one that sounds like a brand of bird food – got me thinking. It said: “Women use sex for love while men use love for sex.”

Of my three ‘occasions’ just one did not start with sex, but all three ended in failure or rejection – maybe I am just good at getting it wrong.

The one that did not start with sex, ended with sex, so what’s the difference? He was a good friend and I actually fell for his personality before his looks (let’s call him S). When we went out as a group on a Saturday night in our 20s, I somehow always ended up chatting to S, moaning about a clingy boyfriend I had at the time. S was always willing to listen, impart his wisdom and never looked bored. Maybe he was just a good actor, but I began to realise how unique this was for a man in his early 20s.

I then began to notice his face, the way he talked and everything about him gradually became wonderful, beautiful, perfect. I would gaze into his eyes as each Saturday he would make time to ask how I was in a way that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

The flip side was that he was also a big drinker and would deteriorate into a shambling mess by the end of the evening. And he was still deeply troubled by the break-up of his last relationship. But the lost and troubled boy was all the more endearing. I thought I could heal him. As the months passed it became obvious to everyone else that I was smitten – especially since I have never done well at hiding my emotions, even when I think I am being discreet. He knew it too.

We managed a couple of drunken snogs, out of the sight of everyone else – I thought he was being romantic when in fact he probably didn’t want to be seen with me. We also fell into his bed drunk on one occasion, but it was strictly clothes on and no sex.

A year passed and my feelings didn’t change. I would sit in my flat listening to Radiohead and crying into my pillow at the injustice of him not wanting to be with me. S had said he did not want a relationship. This in the phrase book of the male language, which I will write one day, should end with the silent two words of ‘with you’. The other well known, overused dumping line is ‘I can’t do this anymore’, only slightly less common than ‘it’s not you, it’s me’!

S and I continued to have our drunken snogs, which lifted, then dashed my spirits repeatedly. Then, I thought we had a minor breakthrough on a visit to friend in another town. We all slept on his floor after a wild night out. We kissed and fumbled and he allowed me access to his lengthy member so I could quietly tuck in. But still, despite my success at popping his cork, he wouldn’t let me in emotionally and I returned to my pillow and Radiohead.

So, I surrendered, tried to move on, had other relationships. But for a year or so, I would always compare them to him and they never matched up.

Then I met the man I ended up marrying, which seemed to give him a sharp kick in the nads. As soon as he heard I was engaged, he sat up and took notice. I continued to have the odd night out with my friends without the fiancé. But S became the attentive person he was when we first met, asking if I was sure I wanted to be married. This turned to ‘do you have to get married’ then ‘don’t get married’. We then had a very drunken night – I can’t even remember where or when – and ended up at my flat. He pleaded with me to ‘do it just the once’ before I got married. What could I do? After all those years of love and lust, how could I resist, even though I was supposedly making a lifelong commitment to someone else?

We hurriedly threw our clothes off, as if the heating had suddenly been turned up, and dived into bed. But alcohol had the last laugh. He entered me once then rolled over after a few seconds when everything wilted. I am not even sure if what happened actually qualified as sexual intercourse.

We left it at that, remained friends, I got married, the marriage broke up after several years, he got together with a long-term female friend and they are still together. He got it right. I got it wrong.

And the other two occasions – one was a six-month relationship at university with another drunk – this time a very intelligent, musically talented and charismatic one who got bored of me. And the other? That would be telling.

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