Ah, facebook. Can’t revise with it, can’t have a social life without it. These days at least. That’s a bit of a hyperbole, but it has become the most-used forum for sharing media, announcing events, and now even trumps email as the way to send personal messages. Supposedly two yanks at Oxford created it while they were at Harvard. Oh, do they row too? I forget. It’s not as if that was the only thing mentioned in the BBC commentary leading up to the boatrace. Who won again? Just kidding, I was at the boatrace, standing on the shores of the Thames, sipping from my pint as those banana-like boats sailed past. I digress, this is not a Rower Blue Part II or anything involving a threesome with the Facebook Twins.
The facebook homepage changes more often than my timetable, and has now begun to include what they presume to be a handy little sidebar of ‘Suggestions.’ “You have 2 mutual friends with this person, why not be their friend too?!” they suggest, excitedly. Well, if I wanted to be friends with them I would have sought them out through that handy little search bar you’ve provided, wouldn’t I? This ‘Suggestions’ section also suggests that you poke/message/write on the walls of friends that you apparently don’t interact with enough via social networking. Facebook is in no way inspiring me to add or contact friends. Especially since the people who show up are often people who (in the case of ‘add a friend’) I don’t like, or (in the case of ‘reconnect with them!’) am not bothered about talking to.
The other day, however, facebook suggested I reconnect with someone I used to date. The little picture of him stared me in the face until I caved and clicked on it. I was definitely not going to do as the book told me and message him, but some casual stalking couldn’t hurt. Still single, still hot as ever (damn him), and still not an avid user of facebook according to his recent activity, or lack thereof.
Recently it’s been as if facebook is mocking me. Suggesting I add people who I’ve de-friended, and suggesting I get in touch with exes, or siblings of exes, or mothers of exes (it’s true, I am friends with one of my ex-boyfriend’s mother on facebook), or even worse, current girlfriends of exes. Absolutely not, facebook. I do not want to talk to these people. I’m only friends with half of these suggested people because I would have felt bad rejecting their request.
There’s one ex in particular who keeps popping up and I would be a total liar if I said didn’t miss him. He’s off on some spiritual-cultural-exchange thing, backpacking his way around Europe somewhere. Such a stereotypical thing to do in your early-to-mid twenties. As a result, I have not seen him in, ohhh, about a year or so.
Quick side note, in case you didn’t get the memo on Twitter. I decided that I needed a better way of naming the boys I talk about, as ‘(random aspect of their personality here) Boy’ was getting a bit dull. The tube stop thing was good for those boys, but I don’t think it’s representative of all the boys I talk about as a whole. Scanning my room for inspiration I saw the tube stop map again, pictures of friends, clothes on the floor (brand names maybe? No, that’s stupid), timetable (zzzz, I do this as an escapism from uni, I don’t want to incorporate any more details about my academic life than necessary), then I saw it. A group picture of some friends and I during a summer holiday. There it was, sat regally in front of us, tall and handsome – the family dog. Concept. There are exponentially more breeds of dogs than boys I have slept with, so I will always have options. I love dogs, and I love boys, so this is perfect really. Ingenious even, if I may.
Back to my story. This ex who was facebook haunting me was a bit like the dog in this picture, which was a Great Dane. Really strong looking, with chiseled features, like a thinner version of the statue of David. His mother was a model and he clearly had her looks, though not overwhelmingly so. He was that subtle kind of hot that doesn’t really grab your attention immediately. The comparison to the dog ended at ‘really strong looking’ by the way. Anyhow, this one will be called Dane.
Dane and I met my first year in uni. He was two years ahead of me and, as I mentioned, I would not say our attraction was immediate. Dane was a complete sweetheart, and he made me laugh a lot. One day as I was walking out of my department I noticed a rather attractive person walking towards me and it wasn’t until his face lit up upon seeing me and he waved hello that I realised that I was ogling Dane.
He came up and we kissed hello on the cheek. “I like your hair,” he said pulling at a strand of it. “It looks different.”
“Really?” I said, pulling at a bit of it myself and examining it. “I’m not sure what I’ve done differently to be honest, maybe you just haven’t seen me in awhile.”
“Maybe. I just don’t think I’ve seen you wear it down before. It looks nice.”
“Thanks …” If the conversation hadn’t then moved immediately from my hair I would have begun to suspect he was gay, but luckily he asked where I was walking to and was conveniently, perhaps purposely, going the same way.
As we walked we discussed films, started singing Journey songs as loud as we could after we had come to the conclusion that they are hands down one of the best bands ever, and strolled through town grabbing flyers off of message boards for things we claimed to really want to go to, but never would, saying that we should ‘definitely go together!’ In the course of a thirty-minute walk I had fallen for him completely. It was as if we had known each other for years, despite never having had a conversation that reached beyond the depth of commenting on the weather, and the generic ‘So, what are you studying?’ bollocks you go through with everybody the first time you meet. Sure, we had a lot of mutual friends and saw each other at parties, but it wasn’t as if he was on my short list of people I hung out with on a regular basis. Until now.
As fate would have it, we had lectures around the same time in the same general location every Monday, Thursday, and Friday, and thus made our thirty-minute walk from lectures to college together three times a week. The walk, done alone, probably wouldn’t take me more than 17 minutes – 14 if I’m in a hurry (I’ve timed it). But we would mosey our way around, sometimes taking a detour towards the river to walk along the water and extend the time we spent together even more. We would talk about anything really, sometimes not talking at all – opting to sing instead. Dane had a great voice and loved to sing. Sometimes he would just look at me as if he were about to say something and then go, “Just a small town girl—” then in an octave higher than could possibly be comfortable for him, “livin in a LONELY WORRRLLLD” at the top of his lungs. I would laugh and he would carry on with his ballad for another second before bursting into laughter himself. His laugh was loud and happy sounding. It was contagious and made everyone else laugh with him until we all forgot what was even funny to begin with.
At a dinner party one night there was a large group of us sitting around the table, drinking wine and eating. Amongst my friends it was no secret that I was a virgin. It was also no secret that Dane was a virgin – though it always confused me as to how that was, seeing as he: a. was not religious; b. was extremely attractive; and c. had been at a uni where drunk girls flung themselves at him constantly for more than a day. Despite his ability to dress well and his inclination towards breaking out into Journey songs, we had almost certainly ruled out the possibility of him being gay as he claimed he wasn’t and often pulled girls. In fact he often went home with girls, but just never managed to seal the deal. A mystery to all.
The conversation at dinner had turned to sex, as it often did, and Dane and I were sat next to each other across from a particularly loud, but quite funny friend. We shall call him Mutt because he’s a ginger, and who really knows what breed that is. I would say ‘just kidding’ or something to that effect, but I have quite a few ginger friends and I’m sure they’re used to the banter. So Mutt looks at Dane and I and says, loud enough for the entire party to hear really, “You guys are both virgins, why don’t you guys just sleep with each other?!” We laughed that kind of uncomfortable ‘I-have-to-laugh-and-avoid-eye-contact-with-everyone-now’ laugh.
Then our other friend, Serbia (‘Serbia’ because that is where he is from, and to get the full effect of his statement you have to hear it in a Serbian accent) said, “Wat?! No! Dat’s a terrible idea. They woodn’t have any idea wat to do!”
There are … no words. Dane tried to redeem himself by saying, “Oh, come on! It’s not like I have no idea what I’m doing.” I certainly would have had no idea what I was doing, but I wasn’t about to offer that piece of information to anyone. Well, I would have a vague idea, but it was definitely something I felt would be better to do with someone who had actually had sex before.
Still, I couldn’t help but think it would be a bit romantic to lose your virginity to another virgin. In reality, it would probably have been horrible had Dane and I lost our virginity together, but I was naïve and full of romantic optimism, so it was not for lack of trying that I did not lose my virginity to Dane.
Dane and I had many conversations about the joys of being single and how neither of us wanted a relationship. Just having started uni, I had enough to deal with, and being his friend was time-consuming enough. It was as if we were in a non-committed boyfriend-girlfriend scenario sometimes. Dinner together, going places together, always sitting together or being together at parties. I’m sure people assumed we were dating – well I know they did because they would often ask me what was going on with me and Dane, but in reality we were both non-committal freaks.
We had had a cheeky kiss once or twice at parties, which always raised speculation as well, but it wasn’t until Serbia’s birthday party that we properly got together and ended up back at mine after ducking out of the party together early. When we got back to my room he kissed me and it felt as if our lips had been made for each other. I can still remember the dizzying excitement I would get just from kissing him. Our torsos pressed tight against each other, we kissed some more before he pulled away and said, “Let’s take a shower.”
I had never been completely naked with a boy … and I hadn’t even been half-naked with a boy when the lights were on, so naturally I took a moment to think about this proposition, during which he began to take off his clothes. To this day, I would rank Dane as one of the five most attractive guys I have ever been with, in fact he’s one of the most attractive men I know full stop. My inhibitions quickly flew off with my top and he led me to my shower, leaving a trail of clothes in our wake.
If you’ve ever lived in college accommodation you are probably aware that shower space is kept at a minimum. A square-like container suitable for one is how I would explain this bathing receptacle, and it wasn’t smooth sailing from the start. There was some awkward fumbling, and him being about a foot taller than me put quite a strain on my neck in terms of kissing. Neck cramped, and annoyed by the constant spray of water in my face, I finally broke away and said, “My neck really hurts.”
Without any kind of hesitation, or consideration of my thoughts on the matter, he bent down as if doing a leg squat and hooked his arms under my thighs, bringing me up with him as he stood. I moved my hands from around his neck to grasping the cubicle walls … I wasn’t heavy by any means, but the whole ordeal seemed like it was probably a bit stressful on his body, though he assured me he wasn’t. The confined space became convenient and made things feel just a bit safer knowing that even if we did slip, there was nowhere for us to fall.
The water beat against my back as we kissed some more, our naked bodies pressed against each other in complete innocence as to what we were meant to do next. Eventually the shower ran out of hot water and he carried me to the bed, placing me on the sheets without drying either of us off. I reached my hand across to my alarm clock, which doubled as an iPod player, and pressed play, hoping that whatever music came on shuffle was an appropriate soundtrack. As the beat began I smiled at what a perfect song it was before going back to kissing Dane.
I am thinking it’s a sign
That the freckles in our eyes are mirror images
And when we kiss they’re perfectly aligned
He pulled away for a second, looking into the freckles in my eyes, and said, “That’s really sweet,” then pressed his lips back to mine, wrapping his arms around me and pulling my leg up around his waist. And so the Postal Service, among many other cheesy artists, was the first track to the soundtrack of our first time together. We weren’t together in the biblical sense, mind you. When we took a break to come up for air he explained that he had never been able to get it up with a girl, and thus had never been able to have sex.
“… well …” I started, trying to speak my words carefully, “have you ever considered that it’s because you’re not with a bloke?”
Without hesitation, or surprise with the question, Dane thought for a second and said, “No, I don’t think that’s it. I mean, I have wondered that as well, but after thinking about it, I’m definitely not gay.”
“Have you ever tried having sex while sober?”
“Maybe that’s it.”
He kissed me and got up to gather his clothes from the trail we had left. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” he claimed as he put his jacket on, then came and kissed me once more, pressing himself against the duvet that separated him from my naked body.
“Bye.” I said, slightly relieved that things weren’t exactly working downstairs for him. This isn’t how I wanted it to happen. Not on some drunken night where neither of us would remember the details of what happened the next morning.
I woke up the next day, resolute in what I knew I deserved. I wanted to be in a relationship, sober, and with someone I trusted the first time I had sex. It wasn’t as if I didn’t trust Dane, he was one of my best friends. I just didn’t trust him as a boyfriend. That didn’t mean we couldn’t meet up now and then for the odd shower or some naked time. Dane’s little problem downstairs was a consistent occurrence when he drank so there was never really any threat that anything would happen. We went home together on a less-than regular basis, and it was usually fun, but he was quite bipolar, sometimes being irrationally angry at nothing in particular.
The morning after storming out of his house after a fight over this irrational anger I received a phone call from Dane. “Hi, I’m really sorry about last night. I don’t know why I get like that. Well, I do, but—” he paused, “this sounds so stupid, but I get really, really angry and annoyed when I’m hungry.”
I sat there for a second, contemplating this excuse. “Are you joking?”
“No. Like I said, I know it’s stupid and I’m so sorry for yelling at you, but really, I don’t know why, but I just get really agitated when I haven’t eaten enough.”
He was too thick to make something like that up and I couldn’t help but be a bit relieved that it wasn’t me he had been angry with. “Why didn’t you warn me before? God, if I had known that was all it was I’d just carry a meal bar around with me at all times.”
He laughed on the other side of the line and my anger at him disappeared. He had this incredible power to flood you with happiness with the sound of his laugh, I could never stay angry at that. “Let me take you to breakfast,” he pleaded.
“Yeah alright, go on then you nutter.”
And so things went. We continued on with our casual ways, and it was with Dane that I realised that boys don’t notice the minute flaws girls see when they look at themselves in the mirror. They’re just so happy to get you naked that they can’t be bothered to notice if your boobs aren’t perfectly symmetrical or if your belly-button looks slightly odd. I also found it hilarious that while I wasn’t usually keen to get in the buff, it was Dane’s favourite way to be. Completely naked. I’ve come to find that’s not rare, boys love being naked. It’s brilliant. Dane played a big role in building my sexual confidence, and while we weren’t having sex, at the time it was the most intimate relationships I had ever been in.
Then one day, completely out of the blue, I received a text from Serbia, saying, “Dane’s lost it! You’re the only one left! xxx”
This text sounded cryptically like something from 28 Days Later, so I texted him back asking what he meant.
“He’s a man! He’s done it! He had S-E-X!”
My heart seemed to drop from my chest to the centre of the earth. How did this happen? I thought he couldn’t get it up. Was it me? A million things flew through my mind, but the text had also come oh-so-conveniently about an hour before an important meeting with someone in my department. I remember nothing of the meeting, all I could think about was Dane and sex. So, not unlike most meetings I have, where my attention wanders from the matter at hand to racy thoughts. On this occasion though, the thoughts were more troubling than amusing.
After Dane lost the big V, I really was the only one left. It was less embarrassing and more empowering though, as if being part of some exclusive society. I could have had sex whenever I wanted to, I knew that much. It wasn’t through arrogance that I thought that, just through experience that I knew it to be true. Luckily I waited for The Boy, who despite his terrible girlfriend management skills, was incredibly patient and perfect for being The 1st One.
Dane was the third person I slept with. After being dumped a week after losing my virginity to someone I went back into virgin-mode for a couple of months, not trusting most guys and knowing that all they probably wanted was sex. Luckily I was friends with mostly boys at the time and, having a vague clue of what had happened, they tried to reassure me that most boys weren’t like that. It worked to an extent, and one day after a long afternoon of drinking in the sun I was walking back to college with a friend who was Czech. Since the only relevant breed of dog I can find is Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, I’ll just call him Wolf.
Wolf was, and still to this day is, one of my favourite people on the planet. When he came to uni his grasp of the English language was minimal, so he went about communicating through a language which is universal amongst students: alcohol. Wolf threw himself into the social life of this fine institution and was immediately the life of every party. I would watch as girl after girl pulled him, more amused than anything. He was never somebody I thought of as more than a friend, but on this afternoon, pissed and needing sleep before heading back out, we decided to crash at his since it was closer than mine and I innocently believed we were lying down for a kip.
I was lying with my back to him and he slid his hand around my waist. His touch sent a shock of electricity through me, and suddenly the last thing I wanted was to sleep. We ended up having sex twice, getting dressed, then meeting back up with everybody else as if nothing had happened.
About a month after Wolf, I was out with Dane and some friends. I spent the night dancing with Dane and flirting and we eventually ended back up at mine. This time there were no problems on his side and after half an hour in the shower together (his trademark foreplay) we were in bed naked, and it was almost as if we had never been in this situation before. How many times had I sat there thinking I was ready, only to find he would not be ready at any point that evening? This time was different though, and after I asked if he had a condom his face lit up, then he asked, “Is this your first time?”
I half-laughed and put on a cheeky smile, “No.”
“What?! When did you—”
“Don’t worry about it.” I said, pulling his head towards mine to kiss him.
Having sex did not change anything in our relationship. Our conflicting schedules, however, did. We saw each other less and less, though we would get together for the occasional, and eventually rare, shag. The last time we slept together I came over while he was attempting to finish an essay. We were chatting and about to get down to business when we heard a bang on the door. A second later two of our friends barged in drunk, holding a bottle of rum and demanding we take shots with them. Said friends stayed for about an hour just talking to us in their drunken ignorance to what they had interrupted.
As soon as they left our clothes were off and we were in his shower (so predictable). We moved the party to his bedroom where we got creative and tried as many new positions as we could muster before falling asleep in each other’s arms. Dane wasn’t big on cuddling, but on this particular night he slept with his arms around me. He had left the window open, which had apparently made me very cold as I woke up to him pulling me upright and putting a jumper over my head as if he were dressing me for school. Half asleep, I dozily lifted my arms as he put his oversized jumper on me before placing his arm behind my back and gently lying me back down on the bed.
I woke up early the next morning, his forehead resting on the back of my head. I had to be somewhere, but wanted nothing more than to stay there all day. I got up and dressed, then walked over to the bed to say goodbye. Dane sat up and pulled me to him for a kiss. As if we somehow knew it was the last time we would be together, it felt like we were kissing goodbye at an airport, pressing our lips together and holding each other a bit tighter and a bit longer than usual.
I can scan through pictures on facebook and find one from each of the nights I’ve written about here. It’s an odd thing being able to browse through pictures which span years and know exactly where I was when they were being taken, and exactly where I went afterward. Looking through the tagged photos of Dane during the time we knew each other best, I was often either in the picture or on the other side of the camera, snapping shots of him and his big laugh, or of him singing loudly to anyone who would listen. Pictures from the first night we went home together, taken in the small pub we crammed everybody we knew into for Serbia’s birthday. Pictures from the night we fought, him pissing on a bin. Pictures of us taken by friends at formal events looking smart – him in a suit and me in a little black dress. Our relationship, and its subsequent fade-away, is chronologically catalogued for the facebook community to see. There is a significant change of tone in the pictures, when they go from almost exclusively him and I, to a gradual lack of my presence in the pictures and in his life. I look at the pictures of him now, still tall (I don’t know what else I would expect … he certainly wasn’t going to get any shorter) and very much more handsome than he was when he was 19. In his most recent pictures he’s shirtless on a beach somewhere sunny, and I can’t help but wonder which Journey song he’s singing.