Whist

‘My girlfriend is getting texty,’ the man who ticks every box and makes me go aglow inside tells me. He’s a trombonist, and that alone should tell me everything I need to know. Except he’s also tall and blond and a bit Scandinavian looking and exceptionally friendly, and he has that borderline cute proportion of a long torso and comparatively short legs that make him just simply adorable.

I have nothing to say about this. Therein lies the ‘interesting’ realisation. It’s ‘interesting’ in so far as I normally have something to say about things. I pride myself—not ‘pride myself’ so much as find a certain degree of satisfaction that I try not to let seep into smugness if I can possibly help it, though sometimes I think in this I fail—in being able to find words. I like words, I love—nay, relish!—them. I use more words than necessary. What is necessary? I get admonished for being verbose. What, pray, is verbose? I say things for the sake of saying them. Thrice. I use language people don’t understand, but I get tasked with making things understandable, as a job. I like that. I like ironies, I like perplexities, I like conundrums and calling them conundra. I have said so before, but I like to say things again. I like repetition. Repetition. There you go: I like it. Repetition.

In the Game of Love & Chance—I like ampersands! And I love interjections, or little asides…—I am particularly useless, but I have of late started to enjoy that fact, rather than despair over it. It used to trouble me. Astonishing men like my Trombonist Friend right here and right now used to send me down a spiral of remorse and regret, about what I knew not.

About not having loved. About not having lived. About not having taken the chance. Now that I’ve taken the chance once or twice and then thrice and several times more, and notwithstanding the fact that this has sometimes but certainly not always paid off, and now that I realise that a ‘girlfriend getting texty’ is just exactly the kind of thing that would drive me up the wall, even if it were a boyfriend as handsome and delectable as her boyfriend right now, I can smile at the man’s beauty and charm and listen to the resonance of his torso and admire the sounds he produces from his instrument and say to myself: that has nothing whatever to do with me. It’s wonderful, and wonderful for him too. And I wish him really, and genuinely, well.

I love that kind of love. It’s taken me maybe thirty-five years—five heptades!—to get to this point, but I’m now at a point where I can absolutely love a man like that and know his life has absolutely nothing to do with me beyond the set of fortuitousnesses that brought us together in this context, at this moment, for this short period, and then let that be as it may. And should our paths cross again, then so much the better, but it would still not mean anything else or anything more or anything less. And should we become friends through our paths crossing further, that too would be just that, and it would be just fine. My Trombonist Friend shows me that I am all right. He is marvellous, in my mind; and let that forever be so: I am perfectly all right with that too.

We part and go our separate ways, and I think of it or of him no more, and I am where I once was and where for a long time I longed to be anew: unencumbered and free. I use these words a lot, I now find, it must mean they have become important to me.

I see on the social network that he’s doing something exciting with his trombone and his musician friends and the band somewhere, and I am deeply happy and unreasonably proud. I have no cause and no reason to be proud, I have nothing to do with his or any of his colleagues’ achievements, but I still feel a little proud of him and of them, as if it had something to do with me. And maybe it does have something to do with me, in as much as I know him, and we’ve once tangentially worked together (worked on the same piece, at least, for a very short while), and so at least in as much as everything is connected, and this therefore perhaps really also connects us a little, it may have a tiny little something to do with me, and that thought alone makes me happier still.

And now the words are there, and they are no better and no worse than any other, and that too is just fine and dandy. All words need not be weighty and grave. Some could do with being a bit more poetic probably than they are, but mostly they merely need to ring true. And this, to me, if nothing else, is true.


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{Threesomes}

The conundrum of the three bed hotel room.

Every standard business hotel seems to have them. I don’t get to stay in business hotels that often since I rarely ‘do business’ as such, but occasionally somebody needs me to be somewhere, and they put me up at a hotel, and while it’s normal for the room I stay in to just be an ordinary double bedroom with an ordinary king or queen size bed, every so often—probably because all the ordinary double bedrooms are booked—they put me in a three bed room, and my mind fairly boggles: it’s practically never a room with three single beds, it’s usually a room with a not very big double bed and a single bed.

Who stays in these rooms, and how? What do they do there? I try to imagine the scenario, but it doesn’t stay salubrious for very long, and then I take a step back, and I try not to imagine the scenario, but instead the moment somebody says to themselves: well, there are three of us anyway, why don’t we share a room.

Who are these three people? Are they parents and their one, lone and lonely child? That would make some sort of sense, if the child weren’t very small any more, so it wouldn’t be better off in a cot, but not yet grown up enough to want to stay in a room of their own. But why stay in an ugly business hotel if you’re a family of three? Why not go to a nice seaside or mountaintop hotel, or a charming B&B? Maybe they’re visiting the grandparents in this particular city, but the grandparents’ house isn’t big enough to put them all up. But that surely can’t account for the number of these three bed rooms in these standard business hotels?

Who else travels in threes? Probably not the managers, that seems unlikely. The more lowly personnel who are expected to share rooms, like the sales people? But then how do they do this: do two of them share the double bed, and one sad creature has to sleep alone in the single bed, hugging a pillow? How do they choose who gets to sleep with whom? Do they rotate, if they’re there for more than one night? Are they there for more than one night? What are they there for? The staff conference? Some sales training? An illicit adventure? A chance to experiment with their respective gender and sexual identities? And how do they cope with the bathroom situation? The questions are virtually endless…

I keep my door ajar, habitually. Not when I’m staying at hotels, of course, business or otherwise, but when I’m at home or sometimes when I’m staying at a very good friend’s house. I like the idea of my bedroom not being closed. It’s not as if I was expecting anybody to come and join me in my bed, it’s just that I like the idea of the air circulating, and my sleeping self not being entirely confined to a closed room. I also sleep with the window slightly up and the blinds or curtains open. I like seeing a bit of the night time sky as I’m falling asleep, especially if there’s a cool moon, and I like being woken up by the rays of the sun alighting on the tip of my nose. I may make an exception to all and any of these behaviours, as and when that seems advisable, which sometimes it is…

At home, my comparatively small bedroom has a very small ensuite bathroom, but I like that bathroom, because it has an actual bath in it, and I like to read in the bath. In fact, I read books almost exclusively in the bath, because I daren’t take my phone or my laptop to the bath lest I should drop them, or they should otherwise get wet, and I hardly ever get around to reading books anywhere else, since by the time I usually go to bed I’m too tired to read, and so I just maybe post a picture of the day to Instagram or watch a video on YouTube or Facebook.

I could read on the tube, of course, but I don’t have a daily or otherwise regular commute, and when I do use the tube I like to play Jass on my app; and when I’m on a train above ground during the daytime I like to look out of the window and ponder the imponderables (such as the conundrum of the three bed hotel room), or if it is night time, I’m more likely to be doing some work on my laptop.

In the book I am reading in the bath at the moment, Becoming a Londoner, which I’m almost certain my very first boyfriend in London who is now still very good friend gave me relatively recently, the diarist David Plante writes, “the unintended is truer than the intended.” He in one succinct sentence answers one of the most enduring questions I’ve had as a writer and as a human being: how is it that I so avoid the plan and favour the detour, that I so value serendipity over completion, that I so relish the random more than I delight in the foreseeable and foreseen? Because they are true. Truer at any rate than anything we think we control. That’s why, I’m sure, we all of us, one way or another, seek abandon; gay, or otherwise.


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