The day after taking Jen and her chum to my favourite night out, we had her friend’s birthday party to go to. Faced with 9 hours of people I didn’t know I went prepared with my usual social crutch to make friends: balloons.
Thankfully Jen’s chirpy Irish friend from the rock club the night before was there with his boyfriend who was German and lovely. Jen was awesome at introducing me to to everyone. After doing the rounds I settled with the person that I seemed to be most on a level with: the small child who wanted ALL the balloons.
I taught her all about static electricity by sticking all her balloon swords to the celiing where every one was safe from their squishy jabbing.
The party was mostly in one largish room with the usual inexplicable crowd also in the kitchen and an area in the garden for lounging in the sun and supping chilled summer wine. The weather had another idea and had instead prepared a chilly and cloudy day with a brisk wind.
There was even a hookah, with strawberry tobacco jammed in and some charcoal balanced precariously atop. They taste nice, a bit like eating an invisible strawberry made of dry, and as long as you don’t try to talk whilst exhaling you wont spend the next few seconds spluttering on the smoke.
Jen had been great and had been cuddling up for warmth in between putting cigarettes into her face. Since there was a big game of kickball on the tellybox most of the people crammed themselves into the party room for 90 minutes of men in shorts chasing a toy round a field and left me to manage the firepit.
Suddenly I had a purpose. I was no longer at a polite suburban barbeque but was the very emboidiment of Cro-Magnon man, tending the fire for vital warmth and to roast the day’s slaughtered mammoth. Our mammoth’s may only have been marshmallows but that’s not the point.
At one point I smeared soot into warpaint stripes on my face. I can’t remember why but it was very important at the time.
I got chatting to the German boyfriend who was very intelligent, well spoken and entertainig. In fact he was so well spoken that I didn’t realise he was German. This may explain how I blundered into a conversation about the Nazis.
There really is only one topic of conversation that you should avoid with Germans and somehow I had grabbed it firmly by the scruff of the neck and dumped it into the middle of our rather pleasant dialogue.
It was at this point that I sudenly realised he was German.
In my attempts to backpedal and force an implausible segue to a friendlier non-Nazi conversation, I was making things worse and infact talking MORE about Nazis.
Thankfully only one of us was embarrassed.
After that the kickball finished and the people came back outside. There was a man with a guitar who sung songs that all the other people knew and joined in with. Not long after this I, Jen, her chum from the rock club and his boyfriend all left for the train.
Hairy Irishment are surprisingly insightful
On that journey back there was a telling conversation. There was some talk of exes and Jen’s chum asked me how long it had been since I had been with my last girlfriend. I told him it was almost two years and he said “wow, she must have really hurt you”.
This caught me off guard a little but he was right. I was just very surprised that he drew that conclusion so quickly.
After the seriousness there were more japes involving secret text messages and high fives. It was a saisfactory end to a day that had been very low key due to all the drinking the night before. Jen’s two chums from the train are like little teddy bears of fun and I really looked forward to seeing them again.
It’s important to get on well with at least some of your girlfriend’s friends because you’re likely to be spending a lot of time putting booze in your face with them.
Marriage percentage: 68%
Hello all, this is Marty McFly, from the distant past! Well, ok, it’s Biscuit but it does feel like I’m from the distant past. It’s not that I don’t love you any more (promise) I’ve just either had NO time to write or Jen has been here, making it a bit difficult to do!
I have a few important accounts to write up, then there’s gonna be something of a montage post to bring us up to date. Here’s the first (from about 2 months ago it seems):
My favourite night out involves a lot of vodka Red Bull, several hours of rock music and dance moves to make your dad cringe with embarrassment. I had been promising to take Jen there for ages and eventually (sometime around late May) I made good on that promise.
She rocked up from work in a black leather jacket, tight jeans, and a figure hugging black vest top. First stop was the warm up pub wherewe were due to meet a friend of Jen’s who was due to join us.
They say “first impressions last”. The friend’s first impression of me was when I leant over his shoulder at the bar, whilst Jen was still looking for him. He heard a tall man order “4 double vodkas, straight, over ice” then follow with “Oh, I’ve left my money in the cash machine, I’ll be right back” and thought “glad I’m not out with him”.
But, lucky boy, he was out with me!
Once we’d all become acquainted we drunk a lot of vodka mixed with contraband Red Bull smuggled into the pub down my pants and made balloon models for strangers. After the customary spazzing around we hit the club.
I’m the kind of person who gets all fretful about plans until I’m settled in wherever I’m supposed to be. Because of this we were in the club before most other people had got there. The friend was wondering what sort of barren warehouse party I’d brought him to.
The magic of the place is that you don’t really notice it filling up or time passing until you look round and realise it’s rammed with long haired occupants dressed in black and throwing their best air guitar.
Jen was totally at home and did me proud.
We all got drunk. Very drunk!
At one point a boy sidled up to Jen when I was away at the bar and tried some terrible cheesy line on her. He was still there when I got back, which I found quite amusing, but my masculine imposing figure must have scared him off.
That, or the fact that I was wearing colours and he shuns the gaiety as a vampire would garlic.
Eventually, it was time to pack the air guitar away and join the nocturnal zombies on the streets in search of a ride home.
We said goodbye to the chum (we were now best buddies, the vodka incident just fuelled my mythos in the end) and made our way home for a lot of painkillers and very little sleep.
Marriage Percentage: 68% – Being able to rock out with your metaphorical cock out is an absolute MUST and Jen can flash her imaginary penis with the best of them!
This is something of a ‘highlight reel’ to bring you up to date with the present situation. It’s been tricky to find time to post during may as I have had a lot of work stuff on (over weekends too) and have mostly been either knackered or seeing Jen. Since it’s probably a bad idea to write up posts whilst she’s visiting I’ve slipped rather far behind.
The first time I saw Jen as boyfriend and girlfriend I looked like I was covered in serious sex scratches. No, this wasn’t a repeat of my ill-fated date with Indy. I had been to a very moshy ragga-metal gig the night before.
She is an excellent ‘concerned girlfriend’, wincing over my wounds which meant I could nonchalantly parade my war scars and feel extra manly as she hung at my arm like a medieval maiden (minus the pointy hat, those things are dangerous with the height difference between us; she could have my eye out).
We got to spend most of the day lounging around in bed with absolutely nothing to do, it was amazing. It has struck me since that that’s the first time we’ve really had the time to do it because we’re usually bolting from one place to another.
The following Friday Toast and I were busy at the Dominatrix’s birthday. Jen wasn’t actually coming but there was a telling incident involving strangers’ boobs.
Somehow the conversation got round to fake boobs and out of the table of four of us, I was the only one who had never felt fake ones. The friendy dominatrix (is that an oxymoron?) at the table decided that it would be her mission to rectify this for me as there were plenty in attendance at the party.
Now, I did think about this as it’s the sort of thing that tends not to go down well with girlfriends. I reasoned I could easily do it and just never mention it but that 2 things stopped me:
1) I don’t want to start down that road of little deceits.
2) If there were any good stories then I wanted to share them with Jen so we could giggle together.
I politely thanked the dom but said it would be bad form as I had a girlfriend. Then I text Jen to tell the amusing tale of enhanced norks offerings. The reply I got from her says a lot about why she is an awesome girlfriend:
“I say go for it, for science. But you are not allowed to do sexy feeling, more perfunctory”
Sadly I didn’t get to follow through with the offer but it’s reassuring to know that, in an emergency, I would be able to grasp firmly onto pumped ladybumps. Maybe for floatation.
The following night I had made plans to join Jen in town with her friends on the Saturday. Although she’s hung around with my chums a few times this was the first big friend test for me. Although I’d already spent the night drinking with her chums in the town where she lives, it turns out most of them were only casual acquaintences. Tonight it was the real friends.
No pressure then.
I’m usually fine so I pretty much just had avoid developing sudden explosive tourettes or backing myself into a conversational cul-de-sac about the Hitler Youth. By the time I arrived in the first pub all the friends were assembled and clearly curious to see who it was that had snared their diminutive friend.
Everyone was very friendly and played the ‘new boy’ game with me for a bit of pretending that different people were in couples, which was made all the more confusing as there was one gay couple there too. In all there were 6 friends there so I refused to let anyone move seats until I had all the names down.
The chums then took it in turns to quiz me about various tidbits of information that they know, much to Jen’s cringing. It turned out that her most recent ex was universally disliked amongst her friends for being a cock.
So far so good!
The main event of the evening was Eurovision so we all grabbed a cab to another bar which had a whole floor dedicated to the fiesta of trash pop. As I wasn’t bothered about standing shoulder to shoulder craning at screens of bad music performances I chatted to the few of Jen’s friends who remained when the others ran upstairs to see how our entry was performing against the competitors.
Towards the end of the evening as everyone was leaving, one of the chums leant over, slightly drunkenly, and whispered in my ear “well done, you’ve passed stage 1”, then gave me a knowing wink.
Very early on we had been on a date to see a filthy electro rock band. This establised the very important precedent that Jen is an excellent gig partner. Immediately after this we booked tickets to see the king of gangsta rap: Snoop Dogg.
We arrived at the venue much later than intended as Jen had a journey worthy of Ulysses on our much delayed public transport network so I was expecting to walk straight in and have to weave through the crowd to a good spot. Instead, we were faced with a queue that ran the entire length of the building, around the corner and the same length AGAIN.
When faced with so much time to kill there is only one reasonable course of action. Jen volunteered herself to run to the shop to grab some beers. THAT is the mark of an awesome girlfriend!
The gig itself was great and once again confirmed what a compatible gig partner she is. Music is a really important part of my life and being able to share that with someone who might be a potential wife is really important.
The following Sunday we had one more gig planned. Toast was supposed to come too but couldn’t.In stark contrast to Snoop Dogg, This was a Balkan Brass Battle. We were late getting there (again) so necked a couple of drinks from the off licence on the way there. The bands were amazing (I thoroughly advise you to check out both of them) and we danced our way through most of the 2 hours.
The more we drank the more I was convinced I had authentic gypsy dancing down to a tee… in retrospect I probably just looked like a spaz waving his arms around and gyrating badly but we both had a euphoric time!
Towards the end Jen needed to pop upstairs the terrace for a quick fag so I joined her for a rest from the dancing. The next bit is, sadly, a little bit of a blur but it unfolded something along these lines.
We were sat roof lined by flower filled planters and I was just filled with the joy of being out with someone who has proven to be consistently awesome, funny, tolerant, exuberant and an absolute delight to spend time with. Because I’ve rushed into things in the past I’ve been trying really hard to be measured and slow about this but that evening I felt like a freshly shaken bottle of pop and was having to try hard to contain myself.
It’s strange opening up to someone again after being burned so badly by Cupcake but I really feel like I can trust Jen. I would lend her my lightsabers and everything.
I gave her a massive hug and, with a big grin on my face, I looked into her eyes and said “I do love you!”. She hugged me back and said, with palpable relief, “Oh I love you too. I’ve loved you for weeks.” I’ve even talked told my mum!”.
I told here that I knew (about how she felt, not about her mum… her mum asked her what was wrong with me since I hadn’t been married or had any kids by the age of 3… but she is from the north), I could tell and tell that she was holding it in. I said that I didn’t want to say anything when I had been drinking as I didn’t want her to think that it was just because of the booze.
We made our way back downstairs for the last of the band and eventually left the venue hand in hand, buoyed along by amorous bliss and alcoholic exuberance.
The following morning we both had the day off work to lounge around, have sexy times and generally be work-shy hedonists.
What actually happened is I was ill. Very ill. There were lots of visits to the toilet as my body punished me, somewhat unreasonably, for the relatively meagre amount of booze I had drunk.
Jen was just really concerned and kept asking if there was anything she could do to help. Grimly I professed that there was nothing she could do until I weathered the storm unless she wanted to sit and stroke my feet for hours as that’s the only thing that seems to ease the pain.
She was just really happy to be ably to do anything to help so sat at the far end of the sofa stroking the soles of my feet as I suffered behind a pair of sunglasses, occasionally softly weeping to myself that I didn’t want to be ill any more.
I love booze, but occasionally we fall out and I always come off worse.
Eventually I stopped planning my will and improved. Jen was amazing all day and still loved me when I looked like I was suffering with cholera. This is one of the many reasons why she is awesome and why I am keeping her.
Marriage percentage: 65%. She has no problem with me feeling boobs for science, grabs beers in an emergency and will play Florence Nigtingale if I’m ill. What more could I want?
Following the success of the boxing, I had my next date arranged with Jen a week after. We were planning to go dancing at a night of mash-up DJs. On the face of it this is a good plan, although it does involve quite a considerable cumulative period of cocking your head to one side like a confused dog whilst you look at your friends pulling “what are these songs???” faces.
Toast’s plans had fallen through and I wanted to invite him along too, but didn’t want Jen to feel I had brought an unwelcome interloper. However, being a lady of good heart she basically insisted that he come out with us once she heard that he would have no one but the Xbox for company for the evening.
So that the Xbox did not feel left out either, we fired it up and set about some dancing competitions whilst we shovelled gin into our faces. This experience presented an interesting revelation. Whilst we had got the hang of generally spazzing around in front of the TV and just about managing to pull together the semblance of a routine (with the exception of the time Toast actively tried to throw his games but kept getting scores Jonh Travolta would have been proud of), Jen somehow managed to make the whole thing look like an actual real dance. One you would do in public and everything.
The venue itself was spread over 2 floors: one like a trendy bar and the basement as the dance-floor. Whilst the basement apparently had all the necessary equipment for air conditioning, only one of the many vents in the basement was actually working. This meant that after only a few minutes of dancing you became drenched in your own sweat, and probably some of other people’s too. This meant we kept having to escape upstairs to breathe and dry off. Toast said it’s the most unbelievably hot nightclub he’s ever been in, and he’s been drinking in Texas.
Upstairs we started busting out the Kinekt dance off moves in full unfettered glory. I would have thought this would be enough to put any women off but apparently there was a girl who had been eyeing me up all night. I only knew this because Jen told me about it. Apparently she had appeared near us downstairs, and then up again. She had even made eye contact with Jen searching for approval!
Obviously I was totally oblivious to this, even after it had been pointed out. That should tell you most of what you need to know about how adept I am with ladies.
Towards the end of the evening Toast was flagging because he was the only one who had not had caffeine and Jen was dancing with a giant inflatable pirate. This seemed to be the natural point to go home.
The ride home
Ordinarily that might be the end of the evening’s tales, however we then had a positively bizarre taxi ride. After negotiating with a random ‘cabbie’ we jumped in the car with Jen in the front. There was the usual banter, then the driver started telling us about all the women he had on the go and how he’d already had two that evening already. This was in addition to his wife and three kids (by different mothers).
He kept asking us is Jen belonged to one of us and if she was either of our girlfriend. Since she neither belonged to me or was my girlfriend I couldn’t say either was true. It was all getting uncomfortable and borderline rapey when he pulled up and announced we were home. Only we weren’t. We were no where near home! Whatever postcode he had put in to his sat nav it was not ours, not even close.
This meant another 20 minutes whilst he drove us to our real home. He didn’t serem to be remotely annoyed as he was ‘subtley’ trying to get Jen to give him a handjob in the front of the car!!!
Ordinarily I would have stopped things long before that but since Jen was bantering with him and winding him up she seemed entirely comfortable, even I was ready to thrust my hand into his face and shout “NO” three times clearly before pepper spraying him.
Using my best spy training I got him to drop us off away from our house. We DID get a riverside drive of the Thames for free I suppose, even though we should not have been anywhere near the Thames at any point. I’m not sure it was worth a handjob though.
Marriage percentage: 61% – Finding giant inflatable pirates whilst drunk is definitely a valuable life skill. Not giving strangers handjobs for a ride is a bit of a bonus too.
One of the things that enjoyed most about living with Dragonforce was going to gigs and festivals and being able to get drunk, bounce around being punched by sweaty strangers and have an awesome time without the need to babysit anyone or feel bad for having fun. I’ve been to gigs with girlfriends before and it’s sapped my enjoyment if I can’t be where I want to be or feel guilty for being where I want to be and having to keep running back to check they’re ok.
When I last saw Jen we spent a lot of time swapping music recommendations and I invited her to join me at a filthy electro rock gig I had the following week. This was real make or break stuff. Seriously, had potential to be a bit moshy so it really could have been ‘break’!
Having spent the week with an ambivalent mix of excitement and trepidation she arrived at mine looking suitably attired for a gig: leather jacket, flats and some rather slinky jeans. Also her accidental Princess Diana haircut had now grown out to a fiery, slightly shaggy, rock chick cut. I was so proud that I wanted to take a photo to start an instructional “Dummies Guide to Gig Going” manual.
Because I had insisted on buying the tickets, she insisted on buying the booze. After the support band we settled into a comfortable spot in the crowd (after I’d finished mincing around, fretting that we’d not get where I wanted to).
When going to gigs with Dragonforce we used to use fluro wristbads to find eachother in a crowd. Her being about 5′ 10″ helped too. Despite being at a tiny venue with Jen, there was a not unreasonable chance of losing her as she is 5′ 3″.
As it turned out, she was brilliant. After the initial surge when the crowd sorted itself into ‘dancy’ and ‘non-dancy’ people, I slotted her into a space in front of me where she had a good view. We bounced around threw embarrassing spazzy shapes with abandon. She was gleefully absorbed in dancing whilst I would bound off for the odd song for tussle , then come back dripping with sweat to see her grinning at me. or whilst I fought off the bodies that would ricochet too near to us and I was worried about her getting hurt (I needn’t have been, she can look after herself)
She was even highly amused when, after kissing me, I unconsciously wiped my hand across my mouth because of sticky lipstick (hers, not mine… Wow, I’m really building myself up as a hot date)
I don’t think the night could have gone better. The more I date her, the more I feel like I’ve discovered a partner in crime. This is five dates now. FIVE! Look at me being a grown up and taking it slowly!
Marriage percentage: 57%
I would ordinarily add WAY more for that kind of excellent gig performance but she is already very high as it is. Is that a fair approach? If I had put on the 15% (at LEAST) that would otherwise be worth then we’ll be almost over the 70% and that leaves little headroom before we hit 100% and I have to propose.
I at least need to ask her more about her cat first.
Having seen Jen and had a lovely time with the dinosaurs, I still had a date arranged with the Irish Girl (who I will call Shannon). Technically this was a first date as the first time had been a chance meeting that turned into her deciding that I was her responsibility. It was a smooth move.
She had suggested an event that was part art installation, part performance, part interactive experience and all booze.
We were numbered and given fake money on entry. Apparently there was a ‘bingo wedding’ later. There was some obscure underlying game going on that we couldn’t figure out but soon discovered that we could illicitly collect more cash by sweet talking the ‘ruling elite’. Soon we were deeply embroiled in the game… or rather I was deeply embroiled. I’ve been known to be a little competitive at times. Hell, I think that’s a fair description of anyone who has a wager over who will get married first.
The second ‘Queen’ that we spoke to had a game of truth or dare going on. We didn’t dare refuse as we had no idea what sanctions might be employed. I had already seen her confiscate someone’s flag of nationality. I took a dare, which she was surprised at but there were too many awkward questions she could have asked. I was dared to sidle up to an unsuspecting woman and softly sing the first line of Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’ into her ear… which I dutifully did.
Shannon was then dared to perform Irish dancing in front of a couple sat at the bar… however she copped out by explaining at length before not really doing any dancing. During this time I was schmoozing with the Queen for extra cash. Actually she was flirting back and was incredibly cute in her cape and faux military hat.
I then dared her to do her best dancing in the middle of the warehouse space, which she performed with flamboyance and abandon. I was impressed… and rather fancied her.
Before long I soon had more money than anyone else could possibly have had, 5 different coloured flags and a cardboard and balloon construction that was drawing envious glances and attempted thievery. I had also drunk a lot of cider. During some of this time Shannon had been happily chatting to a couple of SCUBA instructors about doing her PADI. I did hunter gather drinks too but at times she was content to let me run round on missions, slightly bemused by my behaviour.
I also found myself using any excuse to go and talk to the Queen. She knew we were on a date but was undoubtedly flirting with me as we kept having those lingering eye contact moments long after we should have been looking elsewher.
This is where I crossed a line in my mind. Between the cider, the party atmosphere, her cheeky but authoritative persona and my apparent total disregard for any good form at all, I started to try and work out how I could get her number WHILST ON A DATE WITH SOMEONE ELSE.
I’m not proud of this at all and I make no excuses. The truth of it is that the only reason I didn’t overtly try was because I wasn’t sure I could get away with it.
The stupid thing is that I actually had a great date with Shannon. She stole a royal standard and happily tolerated my exuberant excesses. She also clearly spotted that there was something going on as she put herself between me and the Queen on the dancefloor later.
To make my behaviour worse, Shannon then came and stayed at mine and there were hijinks. I walked her to the station in the morning and promised to sort out the next date, but in my heart I knew she deserved better than that kind of treatment. If I was hitting on someone else on a date with her it clearly means that:
- I need to SERIOUSLY re-evaluate my priorities.
- I’m clearly not that into her.
- I should save her from any of this behaviour.
I’m not quite sure how I got to this state. This is less ‘with great power comes great responsibility‘ and more ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’.
Marriage percentage: 5%. This is entirely my fault and not hers. I had a long chat with myself after all this… but that’s another post in itself.
Having accidentally (but happily) gained myself a promised American wife AND having been on a great couple of dates with Kim, I felt that this qualified the New York trip as an unmitigated success beyond my expectations. I specifically wasn’t looking to kiss any more girls.
As Saturday was (supposed to be) our last night in the the city, I had arranged to see Kim after work for drinking on the town and had invited Toast and MyLoveLifeInYourHands to join me after we’d had our fill at the brewery. I knew that Kim was planning for a messy night as she had some naughty pills that she was planning to share with a friend but thought it would still be fun.
You probably already know what happened, since Toast has spilled the greatest spoiler since revealing the end of Titanic: I kissed a girl.
I have several points in my defence but nothing that really excuses the behaviour:
- She looked like a young Claudia Winkleman.
- She had an initial air of ‘bemused quizzical indifference’ that piques my interest (in a Ramona Flowers style).
- The moment I heard her accent I fancied her.
- She had an adorable laugh and beautifully coy but sincere smile
- She saved my beer from being stolen TWICE.
- She looks hot in a balloon hat.
As I had arranged to meet Kim I held back from kissing her several times when the moment was conducive to it. The tension was becoming almost intoxicating, but I also knew that there was an outside chance that Kim might be joining us if her plans didn’t work out.
I got some increasingly mashed messages from Kim saying that her plans were all on and we should join her. By this point I was rather mashed myself and having way too much fun with present company to want to negotiate the subway network for the best part of an hour.
Eventually I got a slightly garbled message saying that she was staying out and I should join her. It was shortly afterwards that I kissed Claudia. Toast was making us pose for a photo looking wantonly into each other’s eyes. I can’t remember the scenario but the basic premise on Toast’s part was get me to kiss her.
We spent a lot of time talking whilst the others played pool in the next bar. I had already decided to stay. I felt really torn but I knew I wasn’t leaving Kim by herself and I was a little reticent to go given that she had obviously taken the naughty pills (yes, I clearly am attempting to justify my actions).
In a moment that almost made me melt because it felt like something straight out of a trashy American teen film, I had paused mid conversation and was just looking at her when she raised her eyebrow and said “I know that look, you want to make out don’t you?”.
‘Make out’! I’ve never heard that term used in its native context before!
We did make out and it was very good making out indeed. However it was making out in a bar and I think we had already breached the etiquette of the situation. As the others were all happilly engaged in pool and fledgling bar brawls I said “soooo… would you like to go and make out somewhere else?”
That’s how we ended up with a house guest the following morning.
After we had all had morning tea and I had walked Claudia to the subway station, I sat back in the appartment and said to the others “Oh god, I’m such a bad person”. Toast replied “You’re not a bad person, you’re just acting exactly like one”.
At no point have I ever gone out with the express intention of kissing girls and I’ve never kissed any girls or done naughty things just for the sake of it. With all of them I’ve seen potential for something more than hijinks. This however, does not stop me feeling like something of a womaniser.
Perhaps I’m just not ready for the power that an English accent bestows whilst in the States.
Marriage percentage: 35%. I can’t believe I’ve met three people who I would happily pursue a relationship with in the space of a week. I’m still not entirely sure how it’s all happened.
Lesson learned: Applebee’s really does have the WORST coffee I have ever tasted.