Sunday 6 January 2008

What a way to (almost) go

15st 2lbs; 0.5 alcohol units; 1,489; Rockall.

Yesterday brought the shocking news that the man who displaced me in the affections of one of my ex-fiancées was in hospital after suffering a heart attack. It would clearly be in the worst possible taste to speculate on what might have caused his seizure. However, it does bring back to mind his partner’s refreshingly open and enthusiastic approach to sex.

In fact her second question on our very first date, right after “Have you had a good journey?” was “Are you interested in sex?” I gave the right answer, helped by the clue in her following sentence, “Because if you’re not I might as well run you back to the station now.” I omitted to mention that I was by now mainly interested in it as a spectator sport. She found that out later, but by then we were “in lurve” and she presumably felt honour bound to pretend that it didn’t really matter. In any case, if things had gone according to plan we would have been married within six months. And then, if all my married friends are to be believed, sex would have vanished from the agenda forever anyway.

Or at any rate sex with your spouse. “A bit of strange” still seems to exert a powerful appeal to the married male. And, helpfully, most of the single young women I have got to know in the last couple of years have had somewhere in their lives what they disarmingly call a “f***-buddy”, who in some cases has been a married man.

I have been fascinated by this modern phenomenon ever since I was introduced to it by the above-mentioned ex-fiancée. Having led a life sheltered from many things, including such TV programmes as Sex and the City, it meant absolutely nothing to me until she brought it up.

It happened like this. A Bloke we shall call Jon had temporarily moved into rented accommodation to finance a rather radical career change, and was storing many of his belongings in my fiancée’s loft. Every now and then he would pop round to retrieve something and chat with us over a glass of wine or a cup of tea.

One evening when we were alone, my fiancée brought up a subject which I have already been attacked for discussing on 26 December (too much information and all that) and said that the only man she knew who was really keen on that particular sexual practice was Jon. In fact, she displayed a truly stunning knowledge of this Jon’s tastes in the bedroom.

“Er, which Jon are you talking about, exactly?”

“You know, Jon who was round last night.”

“But I didn’t realize that you and he were …”

“Oh, we’re not NOW” she said, not quite as quickly as I’d have liked. “It’s nothing serious – he is, er was, my f***-buddy.”

“What’s one of those then?”

“It’s a friend you have passionate meaningless sex with when you’re both in the mood, with no strings attached.”

“Christ, I like the sound of that. Can I be one?”

“Oh no, we’ve got love and commitment and all that, which is so much better. You wouldn’t want to be just a f***-buddy.”

Wouldn’t I? For most of my adult life, it would have been as close to total perfection as made no difference. Why on earth couldn’t someone have stuck it on the menu of relationship options when I was about 18? I felt like a man who had been told by his doctor that he was permanently impotent on the day the contraceptive pill went on sale for the first time.

I’ve never met my ex’s new lover, but I wish him a speedy recovery and suggest that he takes it easy for a bit. They say that having a heart attack feels like having an elephant sitting on your chest, which must be nasty. Though preferable, at least, to an elephant sitting on your face. Now that really is the stuff of nightmares. Damn. I'm going to have an image of the Fat Slags from Viz on my mind for the rest of the evening.

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