Big hugs

The other day a male work colleague dressed a deep puncture wound on my left ring finger.

This was an unremarkable event in itself; I had accidentally stabbed myself when washing the giant blade of a new food mixer. A day or two after, when I was in work, I asked him for advice, when it was still bleeding quite a lot. He had done a first aid course, you see.

But as he gently applied a padded dressing and secured it with some surgical tape, it sent a strange tingle from my wrist, up my arm, shoulder and into the back of my head. It’s that odd, but pleasant feeling you get when someone touches you (not sexually) in an unexpectedly gentle way. I remember the same feeling when I was about seven and my piano teacher adjusted my ‘fingering’.

I have no feelings of attraction towards this colleague – he’s a sweet, funny man about 20 years older than me with a twinkle in his eye, but nothing to appeal to me in that way – nor my female piano teacher of 30-odd years ago.

But the significance of this event – which I would never tell anyone, as it would sound self-pitying – was that it must have been the first time in over seven months that a man has actually touched me. Here, I am not counting a hug from my brother on Christmas Day, or repeated hugs and kisses with a four-year-old boy (my little boy, by the way). And because of that, the thought of it lingers in my mind. And how careless I was when I was washing the ruddy big blade that sliced through my washing up gloves.

I am not making this observation for sympathy and pity, just noting it for thought and the fact that when we get ‘touched’ regularly we all tend to take it for granted. If you’re bored with your man, irritated by him grabbing you from behind as you do the dishes (avoiding sharp mixer blades, I hope), kissing your neck or squashing your legs, as you sit together on the sofa and he does that turning sideways to stretch out and use you as a foot rest thing, just think about it. What if all that physical contact suddenly stopped, even though you find it annoying at times?

It feels cold – cold and shivery. Yes, if these things happen, we just have to suck it up. Shit happens, as less articulate philosophers would say. And lots of old people live for years without a single hug, kiss, touch of a hand. I remember (long gone) older relatives attaching so much meaning to a mere hug that, clearly, it was a major event in their lives.

So, really, I mustn’t grumble. But nothing can replace a big man hug, that kind where you can bury your head in his chest, hear his heart beating, smell his scent, feel the warmth emanating through his clothes, as he holds you tightly, for a few minutes. Even emerging with an imprint of the knit pattern of his jumper on your face, and feeling slightly woozy, because you haven’t breathed proper air for a few minutes, is worth it.

Don’t get me wrong – I still miss the sex bit too – my God, I do! But I have ‘machines’ that can help with that.  Whereas, at this time of year, when temperatures drop below zero, any number of layers of clothing, heating on full blast, jumping up and down and jogging on the spot, are just not enough. Nothing can replace snuggling up with someone on the sofa or under the duvet.

Wasted on the young

There is an October chill in the air and most people on this Sunday morning will be tucked up under warm duvets, but not me. I am shivering, tired and light-headed sitting on the cold tiled floor of my parents’ porch. The skin-tight black jeans and leather jacket are not keeping the cold out.

Why am I sitting here and not in bed? My parents weren’t expecting me home. I had been to a friend’s party, stayed over, but left at 8am while everyone else was still asleep. Or rather, stomped off in a sulk, because I had failed to land the boy I fancied. My parents are at church and the key has not been left under the flower pot. So here I am, stuck, trying to avoid being seen by the neighbours.

This kind of ridiculous scenario only plays out when one is a teenager. Who else would be sitting out in the cold, locked out of their own house, because mum and dad don’t trust them to have a key, without losing it? My parents had sussed out my fecklessness a long time ago.

But my teenage stupidity stretched far beyond this. I was incredibly naïve and gullible from puberty until about 20, particularly with boys and sex.

My first boyfriend, who was 18 when I was 15, barely spoke to me. He just wanted to stick his tongue down my throat and his hand down my pants. But that’s as far as it got. When he stopped ringing me, I couldn’t work out why, when clearly he got bored of me not ‘putting out’.

Then I seemed to find myself in numerous ‘blowie’ situations – usually beginning with drinking copious amounts of cider in a particular night club, snogging someone who I thought wanted to be my boyfriend, being led outside and having my head pushed down on a throbbing, sweaty member. I just assumed this was normal and complying would make him love me, even if it (at that time) never culminated in penetrative sex. It was also very rare in these episodes that the youth of the moment would even attempt to pleasure me.

I was then surprised when none of them ever phoned me, asked me out on a date or wanted to see me again. I would sit in my bedroom staring at my posters, feeling very alone, only revealing my true thoughts to my diary.

Then when I did have a boyfriend, with whom none of the above happened, I put myself in a very odd position one night.

There were no proms when I was a teen, but there were ‘balls’ – an excuse to get dressed up and quaff alcohol in a posh venue. So my boyfriend, H and I had arranged to go to one of these shindigs with a few friends. One of H’s friends was T, who always had a glint in his eye for me.  He was going out with a posh girl, called something like ‘Saffy’.

H and I had a few drinks and dances, then went over to T and ‘Saffy’. We were all tipsy at this point, but T seemed particularly squiffy and had ‘Saffy’ perched on his lap as he leaned back in his chair. H chatted to him while I stood patiently. But then I felt something going up my dress. I was wearing a cocktail-type number, with a plain black bodice and a full net skirt, with layer of black and white net flowers on it, so access up there was rather easy.

I shuddered a little, then realised it was T’s hand which was travelling further and further towards my pants. So, I was standing next to my boyfriend who had his arm around me, while T sat with his girlfriend on his knee, shoving his index finger into my cunt. I was drunk and confused, but strangely aroused – H had never attempted this territory, let alone stuck his finger in.

Because we were all stood quite close together and my dress was a mass of black and white meringue net, no one noticed. T realised this and was smiling smugly, lecherously, while I was too shocked, bewildered and trembling with excitement to move or slap his hand away. It was in fact the first time anyone had stuck their finger (or anything else for that matter) inside me. But it did cast a black cloud over the rest of the night and my relationship with H eventually fizzled out, my virginity still intact. I sometimes wonder why I didn’t just give T a kick in the shins and expose him as a fingery cheat.

Then, less excitingly were the two or three boys I fancied like mad – the kind of teenage infatuations that leave you crying into your pillow, asking “why oh why doesn’t he like me?” Each one of them would happily snog me in the aforementioned nightclub, maybe even grope a boob and I would get to smell their cheap aftershave and the slightly more seductive leather of their jackets. And each one on different occasions said they were happy to “go with” me (which, where I come from in the late 80s/early 90s meant make out with), but couldn’t possibly go out with me. The usual reason was that they were in love with someone else (and I was just someone to practice on). In reality they were probably just terrified of the desperate or grateful look in my eyes.

So my teenage years were largely spent being ridiculous.  Even down to the clothes I wore – a friend finds great amusement in reminding me of the time I showed up in a tutu skirt and baseball boots. I would also spend a good deal of time copying song lyrics from Cure albumns on to large sheets of paper, and smoking out of my bedroom window, thinking my parents wouldn’t notice, even when the wind was blowing against me.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have had an absolute whale of a time, keeping those boys dangling, kicking T in the shins and enjoying being young and looking ten times better than I do now. Youth is truly wasted on the young.



Manual controls

The air is still, hanging with expectation. It is a hot, humid night – the kind where it is hard to settle, relax, sleep.

I lie on my bed, just out of the shower, but already feeling beads of sweat starting to form down my back and under my breasts. I run my hands over them, stroking my fingers over my nipples round and round until they start to tingle and send waves of excitement down to my groin.

As these waves run down my body, I slowly echo the direction with my hands, gliding them down from my breasts, slowly towards my stomach, hips, thighs so gently and lightly that the back of my neck also tingles. My fingers take a right angle turn from my thighs to my groin and I feel my mound and pubic hair through thin cotton knickers. I like to seduce myself slowly, as the anticipation makes the finale all the more delicious.

I stroke this mound through the layer of cotton, going nowhere near the pink dragon in his damp cave, who is now starting to wake from his deep slumber. My fingers move in tiny circles, alternating between the pads of my fingers and the edges of my nails. I close my eyes and focus on the sensation. Then the cheeky middle finger of my right hand tentatively dips under the side of the gusset and carefully slides across the outer labia to the area around the clitoris.

I give out an involuntary gasp at the sudden surge of arousal and gear change this brings about. No longer idle caresses – now the rocket is fuelling for take-off! And so the cheeky finger grows bolder and begins to pulsate faster and faster, sending waves of electricity through my body. My lower body begins to tilt upwards and wriggle and jerk up and down. The finger has a mind of its own and seems to move independently while I am no longer in control of my body, panting and groaning. I keep my eyes shut so nothing distracts me from the waves of ecstasy shooting through me from head to toe.

Then it happens. I always have a warning it’s on its way as I get a high pitched muffled sound in my ears – like ducking under water. My entire body shakes in one giant spasm and a powerful, joyous tidal wave overcomes me. My mind is completely empty for a few seconds. I gasp and moan and want to shout ‘yes’ but hold back so I wake no one. I then feel the urge to bury my face in the pillow next to me and hug it.