Thursday, 10 March 2011

REAR OF THE YEAR

So he seemed quite clever. I knew from his pictures he'd be arrogant, and dare I say snobby. But I was up for that. I like a bit of a fight.

In all fairness I wasn't initially attracted to him, looks-wise. His pictures didn't do him justice, I guess. It was the banter I was interested in. There seemed to be a lot of that and I'm a person who likes to be kept amused.

He was selected as Rear of the Year contestant for some bar in the village last summer, but got drunk before the competition and so naturally things went tits up. Sounds like the story of my life. I thought, maybe we have something in common after all?

The first two dates went well. I'm normally a top but so was he, so I gave bottoming a try and so did he. We were horny but not filthy. We slapped each other about a bit, broke a bed, got carpet burns. Nothing terribly outrageous considering my track-record.

But then something changed. Maybe it was my honesty. I'm honest to a fault. Especially when the booze is flowing. Give me a cocktail and I'll admit to anything. Yes, I shagged your husband. Yes, I stole these sweets from a baby. Yes, I killed a man.

Maybe I should have pretended to be someone else? But the effort of being me is work enough. Being someone else as well would probably kill me.

He caught tonsillitis and cancelled our fourth date. Fair enough, I thought. You can't help illness So I went out instead for my Canadian friend's birthday. I drank absinthe. I was more wasted than Hiroshima after the bomb.

Then who should waltz into the club at 3am, wiggling the almost-but-not-quite Rear of the Year? Okay. So I flipped a little. It's been said I have a short temper. Especially when drunk. I've also variously been called demanding, hard-work, and a handful. I'm all of these things and more, I'm sure. Most gay men love a handful, though, and we all appreciate an honest day's work.

So when he flashed me his swollen, flecked tonsils, trying to prove his innocence, I slid off and decided to pull some six-packed chav chicken from . . . Heywood, was it? After letting the boy bounce on me all night and all morning, I pulled myself from the sweat-sodden bedsheets and found a text from Mr Rear.

Okay. I'm sucker for the slightest whiff of an apology. I can hate you with all the anger in the world if you wrong me, but if you apologise I feel compelled to forgive. Why? Well, to be fair, anything anyone else has done, I've done worse. And I always apologise and am usually forgiven.

So fair is fair.

He asked me twice to meet up again for a drink. Explained he had been ill but was going back down south for a while and wanted to see his friends before he went. Okay, I thought. O-fucking-kay. I'll do it. No more grovelling.

So I met him. Everything seemed . . . alright. Good, even. We kissed, going just the right side of wild in the street, and I felt his cock stir. He blushed. Then he told me his room was a mess and he had an early morning. Which was probably a good idea, since I had an early morning too.

A few days later he wrote on my wall on Facebook, making a joke that I was common. At least I assumed it was a joke.

So he was still interested, right? Wrong. I guess he'd asked me back on another date because he just wanted to assuage his guilt. To end things on his terms rather than mine, most probably. Except, he never did really end anything. I never heard another word. Not a peep.

That definitely stoked my fires. Tip to guys: grow a pair of bollocks and tell me you're not interested. Even a text would do. Indeed, I prefer to be dumped by text. The city's murder rate stays down that way. But nada.

So I got over it.

I guess he didn't win anything, but he certainly was my Arse of the Year.

[Originally published in Jan 2011 issue of Bent]

Thursday, 3 March 2011

TOP TO BOTTOM: THE BENT SEX QUIZ

Think you’re good in bed? Take our sex quiz and find out.

1. When did you last have sex?
A. Within the last six months
B. Within the last two months
C. Within the last week
D. Within the last 24 hours
E. I can’t remember

2. When adding up the number of sexual partners you’ve had in the last year, your number would be which film:
A. Me, Myself & I
B. Romeo & Juliet
C. You, Me & Dupree
D. 300
E. Sister Act

3. The perineum is:
A. A type of nut.
B. Between your nuts. Maybe?
C. The male G-spot.
D. Something I can hit from six miles away, baby.
E. The edge around a circle.

4. Your last lover would be mostly likely to say:
A. I’ve got a headache.
B. Can we try something else?
C. Mmm.
D. That was the best sex ever.
E. I’m not sure because the English language didn’t exist back then.

5. Your favourite position is:
A. Missionary.
B. Doggy.
C. Standing up.
D. Wheelbarrow.
E. Sobbing over your chastity.

6. Your filthiest fetish is:
A. Anal.
B. A threesome.
C. Feet or socks.
D. There’s literally nothing I will not do.
E. Touching the covers of porn rags and pretending you have the guts to buy one.

7. The longest you lasted was:
A. Ten minutes.
B. Twenty minutes. Maybe half an hour.
C. An hour.
D. I haven’t stopped since last Thursday. Could you pass the Savlon, my cock’s starting to chafe?
E. As long as it took Father McDougall to touch me.

8. When did you lose your virginity?
A. 21
B. 18
C. 16
D. 12
E. I keep a rosary around my cock. I shall remain pure.

9. Do you consider yourself to be a slut?
A. Well I slept with someone once on a first date. Maybe I am?
B. Not really.
C. Not enough.
D. Darling, Belle de Jour could learn a few things from me!
E. That’s what the priest said when he beat the Devil out of my rear with his rubber wand of purity.

10. Your preferred age range is?
A. I don’t know. Anyone that will have me.
B. People my own age. I feel weird otherwise.
C. Five years either way, but otherwise around my age.
D. I’ll do anything to anything!
E. Sixty years older than me.

Mostly As: You need to get laid. Now.
Mostly Bs: Brush up your chat-up lines, get on Gaydar, and get some practice in.
Mostly Cs: I guess you’re pretty average.
Mostly Ds: Check out your bad self! Just make sure you get tested, huh?
Mostly Es: Join the Catholic Church. You’ll get more sex that way.

[Originally published in Dec 2010 issue of Bent]

Thursday, 24 February 2011

THE WAITING GAME

THE WAITING GAME

I hate waiting for boys to text back. If ever there were a way to drive me to the very depths of despair and then to the heights of insanity, it would be this. I try everything to divert my mind from the obvious—he's not going to text back, or if he does it's to give bad news.

I pace the kitchen, turning Tracy Chapman up on the stereo, sliding barefoot on the smooth wooden floor. Feels like palms against my soles, just for a second. I unsheathe bananas, just to imagine, and eat them ritualistically, as if tasting him.

I scramble eggs furiously, beating back my doubts as I work on my wrist action. Serve with ham, granary loaf, Harrod's breakfast tea. I close the curtains and turn the heating up. After I finish my food I pour a glass of champagne, splash with pulpy orange, to treat myself, and contemplate running a bath.

I nibble on something every hour, feeling my insides growling empty.

It helps to have distractions at times like these. An old flame, an old friend, an old fuck. The Three Musketeers of the waiting game. I text them all, and see if I can either flirt, laugh or get laid.

Today the flame is in London, burning quietly and too far away to get me hot. The old friend has boyfriend troubles of his own, so can't offer his humorous sidekickery tonight. The old fuck, though, is reliable. He always is. His reliability is the only thing that prevents him being boyfriend material. Who wants a boyfriend you can predict?

He turns up at the cinema, blonde, young, but willing to suck you off at a bus-stop or in a nightclub toilet for half a pill. Qualities I admire in a man. I tote a bag bursting with half the off-licence spirits shelf, and we pick the emptiest, deadest film—the latest showing.

It's almost too easy, but we sit at the back, and for a long time no one else enters the theatre. Then one more person enters: probably a member of staff just finished his shift, wanting to catch the only film he's not yet seen twenty times already. He sits near the middle, back to us. Setting a challenge.

Within minutes my jeans are round my thighs, and blondie has his hands on my knees, his mouth round the beak of my cock, sliding it quickly to the back of his throat. Ten minutes in and I pin him to the floor on the back row, heaving inside him, and we come among popcorn and beer cans. The thrill of getting caught brings us to it faster than we planned, and we shift in the dark, sliding on clothes and getting kernels in uncomfortable nooks and crannies.

We return to our seats and watch the rest of the film. It's surprisingly good.

We bid farewell to each other at the front of the cinema, and we make our own way home in the dark.

The next morning I wake to a text message from the boy: of course he wants to meet up again. How am I fixed for Friday? I think about it. I think about the old flame returning on his train in the downpour. Maybe I'm not that interested, after all.

[Originally published in Nov 2010 issue of Bent]

Thursday, 17 February 2011

FIRST DATE WAR

Okay, so here's the problem. I get lots of first dates. And I mean lots. Sometimes I worry I'm hogging the North's fair share of first dates, but whatever. The problem is, I rarely go for second dates. And it's not that I'm meeting entirely inappropriate people any more. I screen them carefully now, so all the weirdos, unsexy pervs (because a bit of kink is fine with me) and flakes don't get through. But I never want to go on a second date. And often, neither do they.

This strikes me as odd. I'm not the only person this happens to. My friends often bemoan their single status but then steadfastly refuse to invite guys on a second date. After careful consideration, and listening to my friends' umpteen descriptions of technically perfect first dates that have failed to yield results, I think I've figured it out.

First dates are no longer about finding someone to carry on dating. More usually they're about finding someone to stop dating.

How many times have you sat there, on a technically perfect first date, where the chit-chat is witty and funny and sexy, and you're eating good food, drinking nice cocktails, and thinking about how sweet the other person is, while secretly tallying up as many faults as you can find? This to me seems to be the problem.

First dates are about convincing ourselves not to take things further, which seems an utter perversion. I'm almost sure it's more about protecting ourselves than genuinely not wanting to find someone (because otherwise why are we going on these dates in the first place?). We're our own worst enemies.

I was on a great date the other week, and the guy in question had so much in common with me. He was hot. I was hot. The sex was hot. We started off with drinks, which spiralled into dinner, which led to clubbing, which followed with a night at his, and then brunch in an underground café. On paper, it seemed right. But the whole time, I was expecting something to go wrong. I was anticipating that it wouldn't work out because, well, it never works out, does it?

Maybe if we'd given each other a chance, and asked for that second date, we might have found something more? Maybe we told ourselves the problem was there was no 'spark'. But we laughed and had fun and were attracted to each other. It's not exactly an explosion of emotion, but surely it's a spark of some kind?

Maybe we didn't really get to know the other side. We weren't enemies: we were allies, fighting for the same thing, and could have worked together if we'd let down our guard.

I'm not going to lie: I go into first date mode as soon as I meet someone for the first time. Like a great tactician, I move into battle with stories I know will make him laugh, or will impress, or will leave him shellshocked.

I know which parts of myself to reveal and move in formation, trying to delay the inevitable while in no-man's land. But in doing so I'm actually adding to my own defences and retreating from the possibility of a relationship, rather than conquering it.

The revelations are not real displays of personality, because they're constructed and considered. We're not really letting our defences down because we've planned our actions like a military operation. We're dealing out propaganda. We're fighting for hearts and minds, but half-arsed, as if we already expect to lose and just want to minimise the collateral damage.

After we've been round the block a few times, we're all pretty guarded on first dates. It's how we survive. So shouldn't we cut each other some slack? Maybe sometimes we're complaining that there's no spark, but maybe that spark's been sacrificed for best behaviour. Sometimes we need to feel, and the best way to feel is to open up to getting hurt.

Isn't it a good idea to wait for a second date, when the armour slowly comes off? Isn't it then we should be expecting the real spark? Isn't that when we start to ignore the catalogue of imagined problems (he won't call me back, he isn't prompt enough, he went to public school, there was too much teeth when he blew me) and let ourselves get to know someone?

I've been on many first dates, and one thing I'm positive about is I never got to really meet someone until much later on.

[Originally published in Oct 2010 issue of Bent

Thursday, 10 February 2011

THE GAYTRIX

I’ve never been one to let social networking sites rule my life. I’d much prefer to be out meeting people in the flesh than chatting to socially inept retards with Photoshopped pictures to rival the cover of The Face. Sure, we all like the odd wank over a webcam, and dating sites can be useful for getting dates every now and again—but the majority of sex I’ve had has been on nights out. I prefer it that way. Then the only shock you get is the one when you sober up, rather than the one where the person you’re meeting looks entirely different to his pictures and the sinking realisation you’re not going to get sex after all.

The reason I bring it up is that I’ve become more computer-based the more time I spend working. I’m either designing my next issue of Polluto, assessing a novel someone has sent me for publication, writing my column or writing one of my own fiction pieces. So I spend a lot more time online. I’ve found myself alternating between cyber-overindulgence and Luddite rejection of all things with a plug on the end. Pens and paper are a blessing. It’s just a pity I can’t do everything that way.

And I’ve noticed: the more I’m logged on, even if I’m doing nothing, the more I notice how active other people are online. They start thousands of threads on message boards. They change their online status every five minutes and get heated over who’s top of the Facebook Campare People polls. Strangely, I’ve been top of a few for a while, even though I ignore all applications requests and shy away from checking such things for fear it will become addictive. I couldn’t become a computer nerd—my skin’s not pasty enough and I have too many real life friends. At least, I thought I did till they all uploaded themselves onto the net.

It’s now reached the stage where friends of mine update their Facebook status via their mobiles when they’re in bars. Even worse, nearly every gay bar in Manchester and London has the internet, and an increasing number of queens spend their time hunched over a computer screen and adding ‘Are you a cunt?’ applications rather than mingling with the totty around them. To a self-confessed socialite like me, that just seems wrong. We’ve become mindless batteries, charging the bionic armies of advertising executives and millionaires known only as Tom.

People are cocooned in goo (and not just from all the cybersex). They don’t get out; they don’t live. They don’t meet up with each other anymore, they just exchange instant messages and rate each other ad infinitum.

Whatever happened to the great outdoors? No one has sex outside anymore. Or even in beds. It’s all filtered through emoticons and MSN nudges. And I swear, if one more person on Facebook pokes me without it resulting in some sort of orgasm, I will grab my nail file and commit murder. Cum should be on young men’s chests and faces, not their computer keyboards.

I think I miss the days when queens went out every night à la Queer as Folk. The clubs are far too empty and I need me some fresh meat. So put down the mouse, grab your handbag and meet me at the bar in five. I need a stiff drink and a cock I can feel.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

DRIVING ME WILD

Gay men are kinky gits. It’s hardly breaking news.

About a year ago, a young emo kid I pulled wanted us both to dress up as chavs for the night. He took me shopping, picked out white briefs, sports socks, pale blue trackies, a Le Coq Sportif polo shirt, blue trainers and a cap. Then I donned a gold chain and ragged him around the room for a couple of hours till he was satisfied. My sister was staying over at the time and tells me she recorded the sex noises/battle cry for future blackmailing purposes. I told her I hope she sells it to The Daily Mail and gets a good price.

A few weeks ago a guy asked me to wear my trainers again and give him a good trampling. The offer didn’t really appeal, until the guy asked me to drive over his hands. Hang on! I thought. Did he really want me to drive over his hands? Yup. He wanted to go to a field (the ground is softer and his fingers could sink into the soil) and drive over his hands in his brand new car. It wasn’t a small car, either. Naturally, being the investigative journalist I am (Oi, you! Stop laughing at the back!), I decided to get behind the wheel.

‘What would you do if you actually broke a bone or something?’

‘I wouldn’t care. You’ve told me to do this,’ I said.

So I did. I drove over his hands just to see how much he enjoyed it. Only, now I wish I’d filmed it and posted it on YouTube. It’d get a million hits within the hour. Paris Hilton’s sex tape was nowhere near as risqué. I think I’d have preferred her firing ping-pongs from ning-nong. Maybe she’s a closet necrophiliac. Or, more likely, we’ll next see her in Two Rich Girls, One Horse. They say girls who horse-ride often break their hymens. I’m beginning to understand that in a whole new light . . .

But I know there are other, stranger fantasies out there. A friend of mine reportedly likes being fucked by glass objects. I only hope he doesn’t clench and find himself in bits. Another likes to cut her girlfriends and lick up the blood, lesbo vampire style. When a guy asked if he could suck my toes, I thought him positively boring.

To be honest, I’m game for anything. Life’s for living and you can never say never. Much of my experimentation comes from boredom. After your thousandth shag, doggy style just doesn’t cut it. It’s like drugs. You need bigger and stronger hits to get your rocks off. In that respect, I’m the sexual equivalent of Amy Winehouse. Whilst she’s smoking crack, I’m licking crack; and whilst she’s shooting up, I’m shooting rent boys with a BB gun just so they can get it up.

But there have been some things I’ve shied away from so far. One guy wanted to put on a wetsuit and have me piss on him. I’ve never been one for golden showers and I’ve never visited Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, if you catch my drift. There are some depths I’m yet plumb. Maybe one day I’ll get bored and find myself swinging from a chandelier, ready to take a dump on a hungry geriatric below.

Then again, maybe not.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

GAY SHAME

Pride season is pretty much over and all I’ve got to show for it is a killer hangover and a huge dent in my personal finances. Now all the messy, political stuff is out of the way, it’s back to partying the carefree, shameful way. You know, the way those people in the adverts do. ‘You wouldn’t start your night looking like this, so why end it this way?’ Well, um, actually, why not? And if I’ve not got in from my night out yet, why not haul myself over for brunch at Harvey Nick’s in whatever I was wearing last night? I wear the stains like badges of honour. Sometimes the stains help me identify exactly what I have been up to. Sick means booze. Blood means S&M. Leaves mean bushes.

Going out, especially at Pride, is only measured a success by the amount of shame the next day.

But now Pride season is over and I can relax.

Or at least, I could if it wasn’t freshers’ week at the end of the month. But that offers new opportunities. Fresh meat. Hot young boys, drunk, naïve and eager to have fun. I might not even leave the house till midnight, then I can just skim the totty from the streets in a continuous stream until the end of the night.

In order to be a good fresher, of course, you have to be game for anything. It’s part of the bonding rituals. Part of uni life. And in order to be a good gayer, you have to know how to pick them up. The more hardcore among us will be camped outside the nightclubs like particularly ardent festival fans waiting for the gates to open. Then, as soon as the first fresher crosses the threshold, they’ll snap into action, slapping fake tan across their limbs, powdering their noses and tangling their hair in greasy knots. They’ll dash inside, tongues waggling, and fall over themselves (and each other) to deliver cheesy chat-up lines and offer to buy (no doubt rohypnol-laced) drinks.

This year I’ve had a better plan: host freshers’ week at mine. I’ve put up the posters, paid for the ads and sent out armies of boys to flyer and promote. Doors open at 8pm and close sometime around June. Bring your wallet, your best outfit, a change of pants and seventeen or more friends. Condoms will be provided in the industrial-sized bins in every room. Get your money ready at the door, drop your pants and prepare to get screwed. Only the sexiest need bother coming.

Freshers’ week is the most important time of year for any gay scene. It brings in the new faces, without which the bored scene queens would erupt into civil war. Fres meat is good, because there are barely enough gay men to keep any scene alive without newbies arriving to spice things up again. How many times can we visit the same five or ten venues, week in, week out, without going mad?

This year I also plan to travel even more. How else can I top the last year’s shagging record?

If you see me around, buy me a drink. But be nice. I might just put you in my column.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

BRUISED EGOS

I was recently talking to a guy who couldn’t stop old men from chatting him up. He then suggested I should write an article about it.

‘So you’ve read my column?’ I asked.

‘You’re a writer?’ he asked.

That he’d asked me to write about him when he didn’t even think I was a writer made me laugh. Obviously this kid thought he was so interesting he expected random strangers who’d never put pen to paper to become so inspired they’d become flourishing Wordsworths overnight. And it got me thinking: are gays really that self-absorbed?

A friend of mine (let’s call him Michael) travelled all the way to Manchester for a shag. The guy spent all evening watching what he wanted to watch on TV, doing what he wanted to do, playing the games he wanted to play on the Wii. Then he just disappeared, content to spend ages in the bathroom without even telling Michael. When he came out, he got into bed and waited for my friend to join him. When Michael wasn’t there in five minutes (presumably gay men are psychic when it comes to sex), he called my friend into the room like a servant who should know better.

The sex was equally self-absorbed. The guy lubed his dick up and readied it for penetration, before my friend pointed out he wasn’t wearing a condom.

‘Oh, yeah, I didn’t think.’

No, he did think—he just expected to get away with barebacking without even asking. So Michael watched him put on the rubber and slid it inside. The guy wanted, of course, to do it in his favourite position, with Michael face down in the pillow and getting very little pleasure. Luckily, a minute and a half later, the guy pulled out. Great! Michael thought. He’s going to change positions! But he didn’t. He’d cum already.

When he took Michael to the train station the next day, he turned and asked, ‘So when will I see you again?’

‘I don’t think you will, darling!’ Michael said, before he turned and walked away.

Clearly the guy had been so confident he was the shit, he’d failed to realise he was, um, a shit.

But this isn’t all. There are the gay men who think ignoring you on a date is hot, and that they’re so gorgeous you’ll never be able to resist, only to be left stunned when you leave them at the dinner table with the bill. Of course, they’ll also have been so busy fawning over their own reflections in the cutlery, they won’t have noticed the lobster thermidor and champagne you’ve ordered and which they’ll now have to pay for.

There are also the guys who walk into the club with a giant trout pout and sashay their hips like they own the place, only to be utterly stunned when the barmen won’t respond to their finger clicks and hand banging on the bar. Remember: screaming and hurling straws and napkins is not an acceptable way of ordering drinks. Neither is, ‘Serve me now bitch! Don’t you know who I am?’

Of course, all of the above goes for anyone other than me. I have to be a bitch so I can research my column and bring you such sage wisdom. If I was good boy, what would you stand to learn then?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

BOOK ME IN!

[Originally published Nov 08 in Bent: http://mag.bent.com]

Strange things have been happening this month. Maybe I’m going crazy and imagining things.

First off, my friend got really drunk on a night out, went to the wrong apartment, woke a straight couple up at 3am, vomited in their sink and on their floor, came onto the man and fell asleep on their sofa. This in itself isn’t weird—but the fact I wasn’t there to witness it (or do those things myself) is.

Then I had a semi-hallucinatory dream about the ending of Hollyoaks’ McQueens storyline. The dream continued after I’d ‘watched’ the episode, where an author I know broke into my house and tried to kill me for saying his novel was crap. Luckily I grabbed an empty magnum bottle of champagne and clobbered him to death with it.

Then I signed the contract for my first novel, an illustrated book called Troglodyte Rose. The story itself is pretty weird, which led my publisher to ask if I’d been sober when I wrote it. Naturally, I replied, I wasn’t. But the whole affair seemed rather unreal. The contract was there, I argued with my publisher for about a week over certain clauses, he changed the contract, then I finally signed it. Problem is, the ending for the book’s still not written, and it was written in about a month or two, after the publisher, who’d been emailing me for a while, agreed to publish it based on a very loose idea. That’s probably why it doesn’t feel very real at all.

But the weirdest thing of all is the half-stupor I’ve been wandering round in some days. It’s a result of too little food and irregular sleep. But until the novel’s out and the royalties come in, that’s unlikely to change. I have no time to do anything else but live and breathe it. Hence I never sleep and I never eat. I can’t focus on people in the street and I can currently play my ribs like a xylophone. Maybe I should take up busking using my ribcage as a musical accompaniment and overtake Amy Winehouse as the skinniest of musical oddities. Then again, I’m not that skinny.

The only time I feel okay is when I’ve been drinking. That probably makes me an alcoholic. I wake up most mornings with a sore mouth, washed out with too much harsh liquor, and a fuzzy head like a TV set tuned to a dead channel. Any day now I’m expecting Heat to pap me and make up some story about crack addiction or the guilty conscience of people smuggling. It’s nothing of the sort, of course, it’s just the result of hard work and even harder play.

Yes, it certainly all feels like a dream. An episode of The Twilight Zone with Karen Walker’s drinks cabinet. I can’t wait for July 1st when the book comes out and it’s all over. Then I’ll no doubt be back to my usual contented, bitchy self.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

ROMANCING THE STONE

[Originally published Feb 09 in Bent: http://mag.bent.com]

I know a couple who constantly profess their undying love for each other. It’s in their status updates on Facebook; it’s in their texts to each other; it’s all they ever talk about. At least, when they’re not together. When they’re together it’s usually ‘cunt this’ and ‘cunt that’. True, one is 18 and one is 19, so is that all it is? The folly of youth and first love?

‘No couple that goes on that much about how much they love each other can really be that in love,’ said a friend of mine.

But is it that simple? I have another friend, let’s call him Simon, who used to write love letters and poetry to his boyfriends. He’s currently single, but I’m sure he’d do so again, and at least two of his relationships were of the deep, long-lasting variety. It seems shocking to many of us, who think sending a text with the words ‘i fancy u’ in would be too much. But perhaps we’re just unused to romance?

True, teenagers are hardly the best example, as they probably will break up in a few months and be in love with someone new. But there must be real romantics in real relationships out there? Or are there? And how much romance is too much romance?

My friend Simon has been in love with a friend of his for quite some time now. He knows it will never go anywhere, but that won’t stop his feelings. As he himself puts it: ‘How can I get over something that never happened?’

His problem is that without having some form of relationship with this person, or even just sex, he’s been unable to move on because there’s nothing to move on from. Simon understands this and is happy with it.

‘I’d rather have a fantastic friend whom I loved than lose him by trying to push anything. It’s not my fault I love him and it’s not his either, so I just get on with it.’

However, Simon decided he had to tell his friend how he felt to avoid it becoming an issue between them. So he wrote a letter detailing his feelings and how he hoped they’d still be friends. I couldn’t help but wonder if his love interest would reply or not. Would he find such a letter too much information? Would he rather not know? Or would knowing allow him to handle the situation better, in case it ever did become a problem? Or would Simon writing him a letter be enough to ignite dormant passions in his friend and get them together? It seems a difficult situation. But ideally Simon’s friend would find the letter sweet and endearing, and it would make them closer as friends rather than driving them apart, and perhaps grant Simon the closure he needs.

Another example of romanticism at play is love songs. Many of us would feel embarrassed writing some of the lyrics to popular love songs (‘I wanna fall from the stars / Straight into your arms . . .’ etc), but there’s no doubt these songs inspire us. They make us feel good about ourselves and perhaps make us do things we wouldn’t consider otherwise. I’ve also often thought a good love song, or a happy song in general, can do a lot to cure a broken heart. Music is a tonic, and perhaps served with the right gin it can give you that warm, fuzzy, drunken feeling we all pay so much at exorbitant gay nightclubs to feel.

So maybe these romantic gestures—letters, poems, love songs—have their place. Maybe we shouldn’t write them off just yet.

Then again, maybe I’m just thinking too much because it’s nearly Valentine’s Day and I haven’t got a date yet!