Sunday, 26 June 2011

First Date

University was a trial by fire for my introduction to the dating world. If Teen Movies have taught me anything, it’s that the ages of thirteen-seventeen are best spent testing the boundary between pubescent discovery and sex offense. By the time we ship out to university we should have enough experience under our belts to lure, bed, and quickly abandon any vaguely in-season female, only seeing them again when conscience dictates we must inform them of the malicious bacterial memento we left behind.

I was starting from the pit lane.

Naturally I chose to pursue the first girl to show even a flicker of interest. She was in one of my classes, and we walked home together once. That was enough. But to even consider asking for a date in person was unthinkable. The coward’s way is the indirect way. So, I asked a friend for the phone number of the girl’s friend, so I could ask her for the girl’s number. Numerical fruit was yielded. I spent two hours drafting a text that, to my mind at least, was winningly off-the-cuff and only indistinctly creepy. She responded, and I had a date. My first date.

The girl was nothing remarkable. A year later, following her particularly clumsy attempt to pull my friend in a bar, she became known to us only as Shrek. A cruel, yet largely accurate, likeness.

I decided not to be ambitious. We went to the pub. I behaved as television has taught me a gentleman should and bought her drink. The only problem was what the hell to talk about.

Beforehand, I had prepared topics. A lifetime of indoorsmanship had (and has) robbed me of even the most basic conversation skills. My list of romantic and racy topics included, among others, ‘What books do you like?’ and ‘Have you ever played The Sims?’

Without the list to hand, however, I was lost. Before I knew it I’d revealed my dislike for both dogs and cheese, opinions that to this day mark me for mistrust. I continued to dig my grave by explaining about Bread Tuesday. In my first year of university, I decided that every Tuesday morning I would purchase a loaf of bread and eat nothing else for the day’s duration. Shrek fidgeted with her hastily emptied glass and giggled nervously.

Around forty-five minutes into the date, as I babbled about Sim social services seizing custody of my Sim first-born, Shrek’s phone rang. Hindsight assures me that this was an escape call. Her friend needed her desperately for some computer project, or perhaps due to trouble at the swamp. Shrek and I parted ways. She didn’t even let me walk her home.

At the time, I thought it had gone quite well.

A second date was eventually arranged, but she backed out fifteen minutes before we were due to meet. Another agonised-over list of topics was wasted.

Sometime later, through a mutual friend, I stumbled across her Live Journal. There was an entry dedicated to our date. Apparently I was ‘very tall, a bit weird, not funny’. Most damning of all: ‘All he eats is bread.’ I resisted the urge to remind her firmly that this was only on Tuesdays!

Two years later, when I had slimmed down and could pass for dimly attractive, I encountered Shrek at a club. She eyed me like I were a delicious Christmas ham and stroked my chest. I let her buy me a drink, and then left her behind in the crowd.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Fatal Collision

I was known for many years as a crier. This did not involve a bell or the expression ‘Hear Ye!’, unless it was my classmates shouting ‘Hear Ye! Hear Ye! That fat kid is crying again!’ If someone hit me, I’d cry. If (in fact, particularly when) I forgot my lunch, I’d cry. When the girls asked kindly, yet firmly, that I not participate in a round of Kiss Chase, I’d cry.

Midway through secondary school I gained the masculine attribute of bottling it up and keeping it suppressed at all costs. This does little to pardon a crying legacy of fourteen years.

My first vivid memory of crying at school was during a lunch break in year three. For some reason I was running (perhaps rumours of free cake were circulating again) across the playground to reach the main building. I had made it up onto the concrete disabled ramp when someone rounded the corner in front of me. Too late to stop, our heads collided, and naturally my weight barrelled the other boy hard into the railings.

Pain throbbed in my chubby features. I put my hand to my nose and it came away bloody. It was decision time: to cry or not to cry. I looked to the other boy, Stuart, from my class. His mouth was bleeding profusely, surely enough to justify some tears. I took the plunge and let my eyes leak. Much to my chagrin, Stuart didn’t.

A dinner lady arrived to drag us to the nurse. My nose pitter-pattered a trail of blood on the corridor floor that remained visible for the following two weeks. While we walked I probed my mouth; a tooth near the front had been knocked loose. This was leave to cry harder.

The nurse attended to Stuart first, leaving me to squall by the door. Stuart smiled as she mopped his face and checked his mouth. One tooth was missing, another as good as gone. She gripped it between thumb and forefinger, and whipped it loose in one swift tug. More blood, the most I’d seen at that point in my life. Stuart didn’t cry. He kept smiling.

I didn’t tell the nurse about my own loose tooth. When she came near me, I cried.

Nearly a decade later, I stood in a crowd on my secondary school playground to watch Stuart beat the hell out of another boy. They were on the ground, and Stuart had him in a headlock from behind. In between taunts he slammed his elbow down onto the boy’s head. Understandably, the boy began to cry. There was no sympathy. The crowd jeered his tears. By then I had shucked my weeping tendencies. The boy cried harder as the elbows crashed down on his cranium. I laughed as loud as all the rest.

Stuart left the school soon after. The next I heard of him was a few years later, when his obituary appeared in the local newspaper. He had crashed his moped into a lamp post at speed and caved in his skull. When I read the news I put my fingers around the tooth, long since restored from the day of our collision. I closed the newspaper. I did not cry.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Binge Eating

There are numerous advantages to not being fat; reduced probability of heart disease; reduced probability of appearing on Jeremy Kyle; reduced probability of attracting the fancy of cannibals.

My resolve to shed my girth was found in far shallower waters. I was seventeen and tipped the scale at 20 stone. I wasn’t exactly bullied; the worst I received were delighted cries of ‘BOOBIES!’ whenever I removed my shirt before PE. The last year of school had started, and on an October weekend I attended a university open day. The sun shone and birds sang amid the leaves of abundant trees; and there were girls everywhere. For six years I’d attended an all boy’s school. The University tour guide (another girl, who actually spoke to me) informed us that the ratio there of girls to boys was 6:1. It was too much. I could not attend university as a fat blob. I would not.

The process itself was a rather lifeless Rocky montage of eating better, jogging under the cover of darkness to avoid embarrassment, and verbally abusing myself until I wept. I lost 6 stone in ten months.

More than anything, this blog entry is a precursor to forthcoming stories. Being slimmer did little to boost my self-confidence. Defensively I grew my hair long and adopted a poser hippy image. Girls remained repulsed and I remained terrified of their very presence. Key themes all of the tales I plan to tell.

The curious point on this occasion is that, despite my success in losing weight, it was at this time I took up the delightful hobby of binge eating. It began as accompaniment to the World Championship Snooker final. Soon the excuses grew ever more frequent: good film on telly? Binge eat! About to complete Final Fantasy X? Binge eat! Made it up the stairs without getting out of breath? Binge eat!

Midway through Uni this took a darker turn. An incident of heartbreak (yet another story) saw me refuse food for seventy-two hours and hit the gym hard. To this day, any rejection is blamed on being fat. In seven days, I dropped over a stone.

In response, the binge eating upped its game. Let’s quantify this for effect. A typical binge saw me put away two large bags of crisps, two packs of biscuits, a loaf of bread, three large bags of sweets, two bottles of Coke, and a variety of small confectionary. At its peak, this happened twice a week. On the odd occasion I was caught purchasing this much munch, I’d claim it was to take in for everyone at work. A more appropriate lie would have involved stockpiling for the apocalypse.

Naturally, the guilt hit hard. So any other day, I starved. I threw down the gauntlet to the Special K diet and survived on a bowl or two a day, while still attacking the gym. On one occasion I blacked out on a treadmill and came round pressed face first into the wall as if the Blair Witch had caught me.

Like any good story of hardship, this one has a silver lining. Although I still occasionally binge, it tends to be within the realms of decency. The terror of removing my top in front of anyone still leaves me awaiting the cries of ‘BOOBIES!’, but copious work on sculpting my guns in the gym is starting to alleviate this fear. My future plans are either to model underwear for some rapper’s fashion line, or appear on Jeremy Kyle under the topic: ‘I fell on my family and killed them all.’

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Thespian Wank

Every teenage boy is caught wanking at least once. At the time it’s possible to convince yourself that you narrowly got away with it; that the swift parry with the duvet hid the red face, laboured breathing, and the picture of Baby Spice stuck to your fingers. My enthusiasm for the act was matched only by the intense desire to keep it secret.  

It was something of an apostasy to find myself, at the age of seventeen, masturbating feverishly in front of three female teachers while they holler blow-by-blow instruction. This wasn’t an emotionally scarring dream, nor a headline on the channel 5 news. I was rehearsing a play.

For our A level drama final performance, two friends and I had chosen a short play about the real-life serial killer John Christie. I was quick to assume the titular role, a part that required self-flagellation with a rubber tube, the wooing of a blow-up sex doll, and the aforementioned violent wank. In the final instance at least, I could go method.

A number of strange rehearsals ensued; spattering fake semen onto my costume, memorising obscene limericks (‘There once was a woman named Heather, whose cunt was made out of leather...’), and my means of self-pleasure being judged by a female panel.

‘Just do what you do at home.’

Alone on stage, exposed by a single spotlight, was the very opposite of my hand and I’s romantic trysts at home. The three teachers faced the set. Before I could argue they bid me go.

Bared to my spunk-splashed long-johns, I initiated five knuckles into a shuffle. Mostly wrist action with a dose of heavy-breathing.

To exacerbate matters, a tape played during this one-sided sex scene of women screeching slurs against my sexual prowess and general manhood. This had been recorded with great gusto by an ensemble of my English, Science, and Drama teachers. The mood was hardly forthcoming, let alone with my educators and figureheads screaming that they want to ‘cut my dick off with scissors.’

‘More violent!’ shouted the brash Australian teacher who I’d only met three days previously.

Wrist action turned to a butter-churn, and I mixed up my vocal performance with some self-conscious growls and moans.

‘Pretend your mum’s coming up the stairs!’  

Instantly I was cast back to the frantic duvet lunge, the shame in those maternal eyes, the condemned man’s desperate flapping hands to shake free the cloying evidence. A time bomb of anxiety detonated within me. The mocking voices on the tape rose to a crescendo. My fist beat against my crotch. My free hand clawed and hammered the scenery. I roared and sighed and crowed while the teachers egged me on. The tape finished in a cacophony of female voices, and I competed with the greatest noise of climax I could summon, my head thrown back and diaphragm thrumming.

‘Lean forward!’ the brash teacher shouted. I bent double.

‘Kick your hips back!’ I thrust them back as far as they’d go.

‘Now bow your legs!’ Fist clasped to my crotch, I knocked my knees together.

‘And drop to the floor!’ With a final guttural howl, I fell to the ground, panting hard in an imaginary puddle of my own fluids. The spotlight faded, closing me gently into the dark. In front of the set the teachers jumped to their feet, clapping and cheering my perfect arrival.

For the first, and so far only time in my life, a woman was completely satisfied with the timing of my orgasm.