Tag Archives: good-looking

The Steal

In 2001 I was 25, living in Scotland and still ‘finding my way’.

I was painfully inexperienced, restricted to directionless fumbling, falling in lust with the man who washed hair in my barber’s salon or avoiding hopeless one night stands. Saturday nights (and Sunday mornings) were usually spent at parties, having the same dazzling conversations with less than dazzling company.

I had met bubbly Scouser Cally at one of these parties and we had struck up an incredibly superficial friendship that relied on darkness and close proximity to vodka. Despite our repeated assertions that we would meet up for coffee “sooooon”, there was an understanding between us that needed no words. This was just a party thing.

I was at one such party and had a text from Cally that she was on her way with some friends. Her friends weren’t really my kind of people – and I was certainly not top of their “most influential” lists either. These were weathered gay men, slightly older, and suspicious of the English boy who they never seemed to be able to work out or, crucially, fuck.

I was trading jibes good-naturedly with a guy in the kitchen when suddenly a door slammed and there was a whirlwind – Cally and her entourage. I greeted her warmly, but couldn’t help notice she’d brought a bottle of Grant’s vodka with her – I was willing to lay money on the fact she’d not touch a drop of it herself, not when there was so much Smirnoff around.

I greeted her warmly, but couldn’t help notice she’d brought a bottle of Grant’s vodka with her – I was willing to lay money on the fact she wouldn’t touch a drop of it herself.

As I queued for the toilet, one of Cally’s friends, Nick, queued behind me and started to play a one-man good cop, bad cop routine.

First he complimented me on my hair and then slated me for being too big for my boots. He then followed me into the bathroom and looked at me like a bulldog gazing at a link of sausages. Then: a bang on the door. Continue reading The Steal

Advertisements

The Charm Offensive

I am 24 and at a friend’s flat. She is having a party. Well, I say party – the lounge is full of people, there are bottles of vodka and dubious mixers on the kitchen table and there is a queue for the toilet. It’s as close to a party as we’re going to get this evening.

I am a different animal as a 24-year-old. I’ve yet to endure all the various, turbulent life experiences that will teach me to be kinder, more humble, accommodating, friendly – all that shit.

Instead I am almost a quarter of a century of awkwardness, curiosity and sugar-topped vitriol masquerading as confidence. A familiar tale to many, I’m sure.

I’ve not been out of the closet long – I’m still working out what to do with my wonky wiring and feelings that I’m now allowed to have. And I get super-nervous around other gay men.

As I pour myself a really large gin and tonic, alone, my friend glides into the kitchen and says: “Claire’s friend Matt is here. He’s gay, but a bit weird. Watch out for him.”

I thank her for – well, warning me, I guess – and pour an extra shot of gin into my glass, sending the contents splashing all over the table. 38-year-old me would get a cloth and wipe it up, but time machines aren’t a thing yet and so 24-year-old me vaguely waggles some kitchen roll in the spillage’s direction and strides out to the lounge to witness this weirdo for myself.

I spy him immediately. He is kind of good-looking, despite being dressed in clothes you would describe unfortunate at best. He throws his head back in laughter at something the guy he’s with is saying.

I have met the other guy before and know for a fact his banter is up there with a night in a Bangkok prison in the LOL stakes, so I assume the hysterical laughter is for somebody else’s benefit. It then occurs to me that maybe he too has had a ‘warning’.

I play that desperately unoriginal game every young gay plays: faux-blindness. Oh, boys, you all think you’re being so clever, but coyness is the one trick every gay guy likes to pull out of the bag first. It’s never convincing and always ends in disaster. But I’m yet to learn that.

So it begins. I pretend I haven’t seen Matt at all and instead trundle over to a corner and start talking to someone much better looking.

It continues this way for around an hour or so. Whenever he walks into a room, I find the earliest opportunity to leave it and if finding myself trapped in a group conversation, smile politely before making my excuses and going to the loo. He does the same – he never addresses me directly and doesn’t cast his eye over me at all.

While our paths don’t cross and we haven’t said a word to each other, the air is thick with something – and it’s not cigarette smoke. Our fellow party guests eyeball us nervously, nudging each other, as if wondering who’s going to bite first.

Eventually, I take a pew in the kitchen and join another conversation. Matt enters soon after me and sits opposite. I am between the kitchen wall and the table and can’t possibly get out without appearing very rude. So the conversation continues.

Matt doesn’t say much, but looks across at me often. It is definitely not lust in his eyes – his hooded eyelids convey a dash of contempt, if anything. I decide I don’t have anybody to impress and let forth what I suppose at the time would’ve passed for bawdy humour but would now seem crass and attention-seeking. I’d do anything for a laugh.

At the next gap in conversation, Matt takes a swig of his drink and leans over, saying loudly to me: “Do you know, I think you’re the most arrogant person I’ve ever met.”

The room goes deathly quiet – the only sound is the ice clinking in my glass as my hand trembles.

I laugh derisively and he gets up and walks out of the room.

About half an hour later, I decide it is time to go. I call a cab and wait for it outside the flat – the sky getting lighter and lighter as I smoke the bollocks off a Marlboro Light.

I hear the familiar diesel engine sound and my chariot pulls up. Suddenly by my side is Matt.

“Er, hi,” he says.
“It’s bye, actually,” I beam as I open the cab door.
“But…” he starts breathlessly. “Aren’t I coming with you?”
“What?!” I shriek. “Why would you be coming with me?”
“I thought I’d be coming home with you,” he says plainly.
I’m incredulous. “Why? I thought I was the most arrogant person you’d ever met.”
“You are. And I want to come home with you.”

I’ll never forget his look as I carefully close the cab door and tell the driver to go – his hopeful face getting smaller and smaller in the distance until it is just a dot.

I’m sure Matt wanted to teach me a lesson I’d never forget, and he did – just not the one he was hoping for. The only thing I learned from him was that I should stop being a dick at parties – and that men are depressingly impossible to read.

Image: cathydelmarnie on Flickr

The Forget-me-not

To celebrate my blog’s fourth birthday, I decided to give everyone a rest from my prattling and instead hand over to a guest contributor – and not just any guest poster, oh no. This wonderful, funny tale of a brief encounter, which I knew I had to have for the blog as soon as I heard it, comes from none other than my wonderful, funny boyfriend. Take it away, handsome…

It’s Friday night, and “the girls” are on the town. I’m with my friend James and his mate Chris, who I’ve not met before, and the scene could not be more like the start of Grease if a load of girls in pink jackets appeared and started singing Summer Nights.

Chris, you see, is in love. He’s just met Dan, and he’s keen to tell us more, tell us more.

“He’s just perfect,” he sighs. “HOT. Amazing body. Perfect kisser. Great sex. And he’s so into me. I think we might have a real future together. I just can’t believe my luck!”

James and I, painfully single, each raise an eyebrow. Frankly, we can’t believe his bloody luck either. And to put the tin lid on it, this God of a gay is on his way to join us, so we’ll have to watch them getting off with each other all night.

A couple of drinks later and Chris perks up even more when his beloved arrives.

As he walks towards us, we see that Dan is indeed HOT, with an amazing body. And I realise that I know exactly  how perfect a kisser he is, because I had been suctioned to that oh-so-beautiful face mere months earlier.

“You know who that is, don’t you?” I whisper to James.

He nods wearily, having been one of the unfortunate witnesses on the night Dan and I had made quite the spectacle of ourselves on the dance floor before vanishing into the night.

When Dan sits down beside me, it becomes clear that his memory is not quite as vivid. As we’re introduced, he regards me with suspicion.

“Have we met before?” he asks.

“I’m sure I would remember if we had,” I reply, icily.

Eventually, Chris and Dan head to the bar.

“Bloody hell,” I say to James. “He’s the last person I wanted to see.”

James smirks. “Really?” he says. “Didn’t you say he was the best sex you’d had in your life?”.

I scowl. “Well, yes. But I’m obviously the only one who thought so. He doesn’t remember me!”.

Dan returns, plonks himself back down and peers at me intently. “You look so familiar. Do you ever go out in Clapham?” he asks.

“I’ve only been there once,” I reply.

Dan will not be placated, and an hour of gentle interrogation follows. Eventually, he loses patience. “I’ve definitely met you before,” he says, just a bit too loudly. “Are you sure you don’t go to the Two Brewers?”.

It’s obvious I’m going to have to spell it out, so I lean in to remind him about the cold January night when he dragged me back to his Clapham lair and administered the best sex I’d had in my life.

Suddenly, Dan can remember our encounter only too clearly – right down to the phone call he made the following afternoon, not quite accusing me of stealing his Vue Cinema unlimited pass.

“I’m sorry I never called you,” he tells me. “It was a big mistake. Can I see you again?”

A-well-a-well-a-well-a-HUH?

I glance at Chris, who gazes adoringly at his new love, even as he puts the moves on me. Do I really want to be him? Looking on while my beautiful boyfriend blatantly chats up other men?

I consider this for a moment and, remembering the best sex I’d had in my life, decide that yes, I absolutely want to be him.

Last orders are called. James and Chris head off to the cloakroom, leaving Dan and I alone at the bar.

“So, can I give you my number?” he begs.

“I have your number,” I laugh.

“Oh, yeah. Well, please give me yours then. I promise I’ll call you.” He asks to the barman for a pen and paper as Chris walks back toward us. “Write it down,” he whispers, urgently. “I’ll shake your hand when we leave and you can slip it into mine.”

Devious! He’s no first-time philanderer.

I take the paper, discreetly scribble on it, fold it up and pass it to Dan, as arranged. The happy couple leave – Dan gives me a cheeky wink as he goes, and Chris is none the wiser.

Do I feel guilty? Absolutely not! Just a bit sad that I won’t be there to see Dan’s beautiful face as he opens the piece of paper to read:

“You absolute bastard”.

Image: Flickr

Things I have pretended to like in order to get sex

Football
I remember a very miserable afternoon – a rainy Saturday – spent in a pub that smelled of cauliflower and dog, staring with great concentration at a TV up on the wall. I didn’t really dare look away in case I looked like I was bored and I couldn’t have given two bronze fucks about what was happening on the screen so I fixed my gaze on a spider at the corner of the TV. The spider span a web and then fell onto a table and crawled into a crisp packet. Spider, 1. Man eating crisps, 0.

Opera
Luckily, he didn’t take me to the opera, just played me one on his speakers that were bigger than Kensington and made the floor throb. I recognised a bit in the middle from an advert. He told me what it was but I was too busy wondering when I was going to get to play a concerto of my very own all over his alabaster rack. It turned out to be a very staccato experience.

Radio comedies
When asked whether you’ve heard of something, you should be honest lest you embarrass yourself and get a fact wrong. When my date asked me if I had heard of a particular comedy on Radio 4, I lied through my shiny white teeth and said “Why, yeeeess, it’s brilliant”. He used to play it to me before and after sex – never during, because “that would be weird” apparently – and when we got to the end of the first series I decided I would not be recommissioning him for another go.

A terrible food blog
Never have I pretended to like Instagrammed croissants and love hearts drawn in lattes so fiercely in my entire life.

Aaron
Aaron had very, very pert nipples and I was absolutely dying to see what they were like in the ‘flesh’, so I ignored his boring politics chat, the way he looked at every waiter’s arse as they walked by our table and his penchant for telling me how tired I looked and, when it came down to it, bit those tiny pink beauties very, very hard.

What have you faked so you could get more bang for your buck? Tell me on Twitter.

Image: Flickr

The Wow Moment

Everybody should have their Wow Moment – that one moment in time where you look and feel fantastic and are at your absolute pinnacle of excellence, confidence and desirability. Most people aren’t aware of theirs when it’s happening – which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it – but if I’m ever going to have mine, it’s now, as I walk into the bar precisely 33 seconds late for my date with a man ten years my junior.

The wow is all over my date’s face as I approach him. I don’t see that look too often, sadly. I am nothing if not realistic; I know the only way I’m ever likely to grace the cover of a magazine is if I become a famous serial killer. But whether his expectations were low, or my pictures were bad, or he’s just really desperate, I have no idea – all I know is that his eyes widened when he saw me. And not in horror. It’s delight. I’ve seen it just about enough times to know the difference.

He’s wearing a blue button-down shirt which looks like it was ironed by a depressed cat and chinos the shade of every unlovely hotel room you’ve ever stayed in.

He is 25, “a musician” and has a name that sounds like a countryside railway station – Clark Deeping or Brent Malling or something like that – and he is tall and sturdy and looks just the right side of sexy-boring. He definitely collects things, I can tell; I just hope it’s not scalps of hapless middle-aged midgets he goes on dates with. He tells me he’s glad I gave up my Saturday night to meet him. Yes, a first date on a Saturday! Very unlike me, but there was something in his jolly-masquerading-as-confident texts that told me it wouldn’t be a miserable evening. He’s wearing a blue button-down shirt which looks like it was ironed by a depressed cat and chinos the shade of every unlovely hotel room you’ve ever stayed in. I have always had a soft spot for sartorial awkwardness, so I am not remotely deterred. Clothes come off, after all.

We have been together for precisely two hours. He has touched my hand eight times. We have had four drinks. Not that I’m counting.

For someone so youthful, he seems a serious soul. There is much knitting of brows and thinking before he speaks. I, of course, am in this ridiculous Wow Moment mode, so am doing lots of what I’m assuming are enigmatic smiles peppered with sparkling conversation. To the outsider I probably look like someone having a stroke while they read out a shopping list. Whatever it is, it is working. We have been together for precisely two hours. He has touched my hand eight times. We have had four drinks. Not that I’m counting.

He asks me how many dates I’ve been on, and I pretend to mull this over in my head, staring into middle distance, as one would expect a person thinking about something to do. After a few seconds, my acting master class moves on to a lying one, and I throw out a number that shows I have experience, but doesn’t make me look like a miserable slut who uses dating as an excuse to go the pub and stare at men’s nipples through their shirt. He tells me he is fairly new to dating – I have no idea whether this is true but he trembles a bit as he picks up his pint so it may well be – and then says he often ends up going home with his dates.
“What an odd thing to tell someone you’re actually on a date with,” I say.
“I am a bit odd,” he replies.
“How odd?”
“Odd enough.”

An excellent reply. Barman, drink number five, please.

He suggests moving on somewhere else. Given that he has done everything but write “You are going to see me naked later” on a Post-it note and pass it to me, I pretty much know it’s a sure thing, but am intrigued by how much effort he’s going to put in. I play as dumb as I dare, letting him decide where we go. Which direction will he take?

He suggests a place that I happen to know isn’t too far from where he lives. I’d congratulate him for being so smooth if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve played this game so many times before. And with more subtlety. But for a near-novice, he’s doing pretty well. I reward him by pretending I haven’t caught on to his ruse.

Getting off in the middle of the club like the teenager I’m glad I never was.

We arrive at a club that sounds very loud from the outside. I wince, but we queue behind lots of fashionable people who are talking about haircuts and DJing and chlamydia. To my surprise, the girl on the door smiles widely at us and we are waved into the club. I have no idea why: he’s dressed like a member of the Oxford rowing team having Sunday lunch with his parents and I’m sporting what I call my ‘date-boring’ look – a simple polo and slim fitting cords.

My threads are dull to make my personality – and my eyes – stand out more. It’s a boring old tactic, but a well-tried one. And what do you know, within minutes of our arrival, it becomes apparent it’s doing the trick.

Without so much as a warning, his face is on mine and I stand awkwardly – although enjoying myself immensely – spilling my beer all over the floor while we go to town on each other. Getting off in the middle of the club like the teenager I’m glad I never was. The Wow continues.

We break apart and sit down at a table occupied only by one very drunk girl who is trying to do cocaine off her hand, but spilling it everywhere every time she exaggeratedly hiccups. Ignoring her, my date leans in and whispers: “I just want to rip your clothes off right here.”

I can’t help but laugh. First of all, what he’s just said is totally fucking preposterous; we’re in the middle of a club, music is banging and drinks sloshing left, right and centre. Also, I am not the kind of guy that men want to tear the trousers off. In a way, I’m flattered, but it rings hollow. See? My Wow Moment is happening in front of my very eyes and I don’t want to believe it’s true. Perhaps his confession that he takes a lot of his dates home make me feel less special.

However, if this young buck thinks that clumsy line will work on me, who am I to knock his confidence? I’m going to leave life’s harsh lessons for another time – tonight I’m going to have some fun.

“Probably best not to do it right here,” I smile, idly playing with the open neck of his shirt. “How long will it take to get back to yours?”
“About 15 minutes.”
I break into my last enigmatic smile of the evening. And then: “Let’s try to make it 10.”

Stats: 6’3″, 25, brown/brown, Gloucestershire
Pre-date rating: 6.5/10
Post-date rating: 9/10
If the date were a song: Betcha by golly wow

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly dating column I used to do in Gay Times magazine. I now answer GT readers’ dilemmas and dole out relationship advice. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

Image: johnwennerberg on Flickr

The House Whisperer

It is always important to answer questions honestly. Well, as honestly as you possibly can.

So when Mark, a civil servant from Kent, asks me “Do you like looking round old houses?” I should’ve at least replied “Not sure, depends” instead of an over-enthusiastic “Yes! I love that kind of thing”. But he’s so hot and charming (over email, at least) I reckon I can skip the usual first meeting in a pub for something cultural.

In a rare show of confidence in this guy, I am sacrificing the holiest time of the week – Saturday afternoon. I usually spend them wondering if I’m already too old for Topman (probably) and queuing up for coffee (which will have my name misspelled on the side of it). We’re meeting at an opulent house that’s been converted into a museum of, well, nothing in particular. It’s a collection of old curiosities. As I approach, I can almost smell the dust, the culture, the history, seeping out from its windows. It doesn’t really look like it has a bar, which makes me nervous.

Alcohol isn’t always a must on a date, but it helps. Not only can inebriation aid attraction and conversation or soothe disappointment, it is also handy to have something to sip during awkward silences. Will I really be able to fall in love without a glass of beer in my hand?

Mark is there already, nice and early – his bright blue eyes shining. He looks freshly laundered and optimistic. He has beautiful hair and one of his shoes is shinier than the other. I break into a grin. We shake hands and exchange hellos. He looks pleased with what he sees. That feeling never gets old. Not ever.

We step into the building, which smells like long-unopened boxes of letters and dusty old cupboards, and approach a desk staffed by Methuselah’s much older brother.
“I’ll pay,” Mark says. “It was my idea to come.”
I’m impressed by his gallantry, but Destiny’s Child taught me well. “No, it’s OK. I’ll pay for myself.”
He touches my hand. “No, please, let me.” Those eyes.
“OK.”

We begin walking around the house. It’s very beautiful and quiet. So quiet. Quiet is good if you’re at a relaxation spa, not a first date. I try to ignore my nagging doubts about how this is going to go, but they’re the loudest thing in the room.

After three or four rooms filled with paintings and dark furniture, I’m flagging. I plough on gamely by his side while he silently peruses the dog-eared information cards next to each artefact. Everything is behind glass or roped off so you can’t touch it – and that includes my date.

After another couple of rooms, we trudge up a huge polished staircase and when I reach the top I forget myself, giving a huge yawn. Mark looks at me worriedly.

“Are you bored?” he whispers. “Isn’t this the kind of thing you enjoy doing?”
“No, I’m not bored, honestly.” A small lie.
“I thought we’d be talking more,” he admits, his face downcast.
“Oh. Erm. I just thought you were busy reading,” I reply awkwardly.
He brushes his fringe out of his eyes. “I suppose I thought it would be a ‘different’ thing to do,” he sighs. “But I think I’d rather be in the pub. Shall we?”
I smile with relief. My hero. “Yes, let’s. It’ll be good to get to know you better.”
He beams. “You’re right. We should be looking at each other, not a load of pictures.”
Boom.

And so my newfound work of art puts his hand round my shoulder and we leave behind the antiques and exhibits to get started on a history all of our own.

Stats: 29, 5’9″, blond/blue, Kent
Pre-date rating: 7/10
Post-date rating: 8.5/10
Date in one sentence: I pretend I can get through a first date without going to the pub – and my date proves I can’t.

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly column I had in Gay Times magazine. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

Image: Flickr

The Time Thief

Clocks. All they do is tick and make people fret. I’ve been waiting at the bar for about 15 minutes now, for the latest contestant in the endless gameshow that is my dating life to turn up. I don’t believe in fashionably late – stylish punctuality is much more my kind of thing – and tardiness should always be explained with a conciliatory text or even a phonecall. So far, nothing.

Everywhere I turn there is a clock reminding me how late my date is. Late, late, late. I can’t look at my wrist any more, above the bar is off limits, and outside, a clock tower looms in my eyeline. And just to serve as one more reminder, even the barman’s wonky eyes are positioned at ten to two. I roll my own baby-blues and go back to studying my rapidly draining pint glass.

I have a bad feeling about this one, I have to say, and his delayed arrival isn’t helping to soothe my worries. He almost seemed too perfect, too good-looking, too eager. His one profile photo, of him and a pudgy mate on a beach in Ibiza, was tempting. ‘All this could be yours’ it seemed to say. I didn’t even bother exchanging much more than the usual pleasantries with this one. I purposefully cut the email chat dead before he managed to woo me with the written word, only to disappoint ‘live’, as happens only too often.

Sometimes, you’ve just got to go for it, throw caution to the wind. At least that’s what every idiot who ever took a stupid risk says. But he looks so good. If something looks too good to be true, it usually is, of course. So where is he now?

Finally, my phone vibrates with that hallowed text. His arrival is imminent, he says, as if he is an emperor or an aeroplane. I stand up from the bar stool and quickly survey myself from top to bottom in a mirrored pillar nearby. Looking up and seeing clocks no longer holds any fear for me, not now I know he’s on his way.

I look OK; I may even have gone to a little more effort than usual. I smooth out the creases in my corduroys – sadly the ones in my face are immovable – and straighten my collar.

Just then, a sound at my right ear. My name. He’s here. I spin round, my face a picture of expectant elation. The joy is shortlived. My mind races back to the profile picture. My shallowness has got the punishment it truly deserves. The pudgy friend is not a friend; he is my date.

Tip: always ask for another photo.

Stats: 37, height unknown, blond/blue
Where:
Central London
Pre-date rating: 8/10
Post-date rating:
4/10

Date in one sentence: To assume is to make an ass of you and me, but mainly, disastrously, me.

More like this: 
The Parent Trap
The Plus One
The Selfie
The Wrong Peter

Image: Flickr

– A truncated version of this post originally appeared in my monthly column in Gay Times.