Most of the ones that got away did so because of timing.
Paul (not his real name, but he looked like a Paul. Or a Peter. Or a Stephen – with a ‘ph’ not a ‘v’) will never know just how perfectly wrong his timing was.
I met Paul in a beer garden. Again, most of the ones that got away escaped from beer gardens. Or pub lounges, if the weather was shitty. Metaphorically slipping out of the window when I was busy fucking someone else in the toilet.
Paul was a tall, skinny, pale, polite sort. The kind of person you don’t look twice at until he says something funny. Then you turn, laugh, take a closer look at his features, and imagine those features twisted into a bizarre-yet-sexy grimace at the point of ejaculation.
Well. I do, at any rate.
We got to know each other in the same way I get to know most people: over five pints and occasional flirty chit-chat, before the sun went down fully enough that we could fumble at the bottom of the garden without disturbing the other drinkers.
My friends were gathered a bit further away, one of them clearly keen for Paul and I to get on. When we rejoined the group – ostensibly to chat but mostly to make sure that those whose round it was wouldn’t forget our empty glasses while we were too busy frotting – my friend told me to take his number.
“Ah, go on. You should. He’s up in London next week.”
So I did.
And then we collected our pints and went back to snogging. For about two hours, until we all got chucked out of the pub.
It was deliciously amateur. Delightfully youthful. And I think I was twenty-eight.
I was, at least, old enough that I could have afforded a hotel to take him back to. Make one quick night of something and have a stronger memory to hold onto than just ‘looked like a Paul’ plus ‘dick felt good through his trousers’ and ‘very good at getting his round in.’
Paul could have been a longer bet. He might have turned into a regular fuck – someone who texted me when he was in town then popped round for beers and blow jobs. Or he might have been something more – he was funny and shy and interesting and pervy enough that perhaps he’d have been a guy who stuck.
I think a lot about the guys who almost stuck. My first boyfriend, who I genuinely thought about marrying because I was sixteen and a twat. A later boyfriend, the eighth guy I fucked, who was exactly as wrong for me as I was for him, but both of us were too horny to realise it. A guy whose virginity I took with glee and delight, who now exists only as pixels on someone else’s Facebook and a Dad to someone else’s kids. Others: one nighters and casual ones – it’s always easy to imagine them sticking.
The ones that got away are perfect in every way: they’re funny. They’re fun. They exist in a state of excruciating horniness, because you never quite got to sate each other’s lusts and roll over to find that without that need they were boring.
Paul might have stuck, if he’d had the chance. If he’d made it through the first night’s drinking and groping and me making shit jokes about the bands which were playing inside, then it’s more than possible he’d have stuck through a few more fun. Some sex. Maybe even dinner. He might have stayed through my relentless insistence that we forget all useful dates, so we don’t accidentally end up having an anniversary which I subsequently fail to remember. Then later we’d have had rows, and I’d have apologised, and he’d have apologised. And we’d have gone to Thorpe Park to try and forget about our relationship problems. Then maybe had a baby. Or taken up swinging. He’d grow frustrated with my inability to put work aside at the weekend, and I’d have started bitching about the fact that he rarely spanked me. We’d go to the pub together on Sundays and pick at rapidly-cooling gastro-pub roast potatoes, each hunting desperately for something to say.
And then we’d come home. Maybe with a baby, maybe not. Maybe with a Fetlife profile and a basket of invites to sex parties. Most likely with the start of an afternoon-drinking hangover and the beginnings of a nagging fight.
Paul might have stuck.
But in between us swapping numbers and the text he sent four days later, something else happened. A bit of my life got in the way, and someone else stuck instead.
Most of the ones that got away did so because of timing. A few more days in either direction, and Paul may well have stuck.
Lucky escape, Paul. Lucky escape.