I’ve always tended to be a bit naive and what could be termed as a little gauche. Although I don’t deny having had a little experience of carnal knowledge, I seem to get myself into some very embarrassing situations when it comes to matters of a sexual nature.
In the early 90s my partner, Barry, spent a lot of time drinking in the local gay bar and would insist that I accompanied him. His regular routine was to go to the bar on a Friday straight from work and stay through till around midnight. Saturday and Sunday would involve him polling up to the bar at around 11am and leaving as late as he could. I was expected to accompany him and on the occasions when I couldn’t evade this, spent many unhappy hours watching the clock as he downed pint after lager with the odd gin and tonic chaser thrown in.
The bar was a grotty little place with a fairly eclectic clientele of slightly older gay men and stunningly bad decor. I was very fond of a few of the people who went in there and formed lasting friendships but on the whole they were a motley bunch of people. Motley, often oddball, but thankfully, also often redeemed to me by the amusement I gained from observing them.
I don’t have happy memories of the place. I just remember being terminally bored, feeling shy and scrutinised and sitting counting the hours down, thinking about all the other things I could be doing, such as walking the dog, cleaning the house or reading a good book. If I didn’t spend at least a couple of hours there with Barry each day at the weekend my life would be unbearable with his whining and sulking and I stupidly would succumb to this. I was working full time, he was spending all our money there and he was also an unpredictable drunk. One wrong word from me or someone else (but oddly usually me) and he’d up and storm out, slamming the door on the way out. I was left red faced sitting alone to finish my drink. I eventually got used to this and was helped by the fact that this action of his became known as “the flounce” amongst the regulars. “The flounce” became infamous and whenever it happened people would turn to me with a sympathetic look and say “Flounced again, has he?” and I’d nod, finish my drink and happily trot off, glad to be going home.
I gave up drinking at around this time, as it made it easier to keep a handle on him and make sure he wasn’t too obnoxious. I think, in retrospect, I would have been happier drunk. Barry would order a pint on arrival and before it was set down on the bar, would down it in one, instantly ordering another before he lost the barman’s attention. I hate to think how much of our money he spent on alcohol. The eternal mystery to me is why I stayed with him, but we live and learn.
There were of course, lots of amusing incidents and the landlord had a keen sense of the absurd and we’d laugh together at the things which went on. He’d regale me with little anecdotes about what went on in the bar and I’d repay him with little observations from my life. He used to say he’d like to keep me in a cupboard and get me out to cheer him up instead of watching t.v. Barry’s reply would be “Try living with the cunt, you wouldn’t be laughing then.” Ah, romance.
Two of the more sinister clients who went in the bar were a couple nicknamed “The Addams Family”. The regulars all had nicknames, some quite caustic. I still don’t know (or want to know) if I had one, as mostly they were not divulged to your face. I once made a terrible faux pas when I called a man Ruth, to his face. He’d once shared with someone in strict confidence that he’d been in prison for murder and naturally we all knew. Gays aren’t always good at keeping secrets. “Ruth” was devised after Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged for murder. Thank goodness I didn’t accidentally use his other nickname which was Slagatha Christie.
The Addams Family were appropriately sinister. Like me and Barry there was an age gap between them. The older chap looked how you’d imagine the bastard love child of a Vampire and a classic paedophile would look. He had slicked back hair, hooded eyes and an enigmatic smile. The younger chap was incomprehensibly Scottish (his accent was pure Gorbals) and painfully thin with very few teeth. I later learned he was a heroin addict and his older boyfriend was indeed, prosecuted for sex offences. Nice company. The younger chap had no teeth at all at the front which we surmised might be for ease of fellatio. OK, I surmised that. I can be small minded and vulgar.
The Addams family would come in and sit quietly in a corner and were quite affable, if spooky. Barry befriended them and to be honest, they were fairly pleasant, if a little tedious and unsightly. I often ended up lumbered with talking with them and managed to muster polite conversation but wasn’t particularly fond of them. One weekend they announced that they were having a party at their flat and for some reason, a group of us agreed to go. I think it was motivated partly by pity. This became an infamous event which I still titter about to this day.
Barry and I arrived late at their grimy little flat which was on the ground floor of a house on one of the roughest streets in town. I mounted the steps with trepidation, knowing we were probably in for a gruesome evening. We were. We walked in and the buffet was laid out on a side table, sweating grimly. It looked like a cross between the Iceland adverts’ spread which Kerry Katona congas round and the table of “bad” food which Gillian McKeith shamed the fatty with on “You Are What You Eat” Thankfully, no on examined my stools afterwards.
There were three other guests, crammed together rigidly in embarrassed silence on a sofa as the Addams Family made sporadic attempts at idle chit chat. One of the blokes shared my sense of humour and he eyed my arrival with delight.
“Isn’t it nice what they’ve done with the place!” he said. It wasn’t, unless you hankered after the 1970s. “Show C what you’ve done with the cellar. He’ll love it.”
I gamely trotted down the cellar steps after the toothless addict, expecting a nice workshop or games room. I was greeted by something which wouldn’t have looked out of place in “The Silence of the Lambs”.
There was scant furniture, just an old table and a beige Draylon chair sporting a few dubious stains. The table was exhibiting a fine selection of over sized dildos and assorted sex toys. The chair had a pair of handcuffs and a leather thong laid across it at a jaunty angle. It was all very tidy. I approved of the orderliness of it all, if nothing else. I think they’d arranged the dildos in size order, which is sensible. I was quite lost for words and looked at Barry for help. He was looking a little concerned and unusually speechless, so I thought on my feet.
“Does it get terribly damp down here? I imagine it’s hard to keep your equipment dry.” Barry stifled a giggle and we went back up the stairs faster than we went down. The assembled guests scrutinised my pallid face with amusement. They’d already done the tour of the cellar.
The party didn’t last long. I think their expectations of what was to occur were quite different from their guests. It was when they put the hard core porn films on the TV that we all decided to leave. Unfortunately we’d had to pick at the buffet first. I was home in time to put a wash on and wish that a good spin cycle would also cleanse the images from my mind. It didn’t.