I had a crush on my friend’s brother. He was in the year below me at school and we started making tapes for each other and swapping increasingly lengthy notes, all because we both liked bands like Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth. He was also hot. I had high hopes for him. On his birthday, we finally hung out. We went to the Limelight with a friend of his to see the Wildhearts. This wasn’t typical indie kid fare, but the Wildhearts had always been fun; I remember an NME review that said they knew more about rock than any of the other bands in the paper. My plan was to ask him out, probably after I’d had a drink or two.
This did not happen. Instead, at the bar I met someone I knew from school, who promptly engaged in some match-making. The next thing I knew, I was making out with this tall eighteen-year-old. I never found out whether my friend’s brother might have been interested in me.
How do I sum this one up? We went out for about twenty months. When I first met #18, a number of people allegedly wanted to kill him. I mean kill him kill him, not an exaggeration or a metaphor. He was mixed up in some stuff that was a bit weird but is probably not what you’re imagining. He had some dramatic stories.
We were drinking at the Point one night when we’d been together a month. He started talking about how he wasn’t good enough for me. I thought this meant he was about to dump me. “What exactly is it you’re trying to say?” I asked him, finding it difficult to even get the words out but wanting to speed up the horrible moment and get it over with. He paused for too long, then said, “I love you.”
I don’t know. It worked at the time, and then after a while it got really domesticated and routine. I got the glorious coupledom that I’d yearned for all these years, and then after a while I didn’t want that safety net any more. I wanted new experiences and I didn’t want to sit in and watch MTV with him any more. By then, he’d moved into my brother’s house, so he was very much linked in with my family. It had been a good idea at the time and then eventually it felt kind of suffocating to have everything so mapped out. It was so cosy it made me uncomfortable. I look back and I cringe a little at my behaviour; it was the first time I had been able to take someone for granted. I was kind of an asshole, especially at the end when I fell for #20. I didn’t mean to be an asshole, I wrote long tortured entries in my journal and I kept coming back to #18 and trying to kid myself that I’d really stick at it this time. You wind up in this awful loop, where you think you ought to stay together forever because the two of you shared good times in the past. This is not what you should do.
It ended for good just before Christmas 1995. On Christmas Eve, I visited him at my brother’s house. Just to make things extra awkward, I’d spent the previous night with #21, and I think I confessed this because I hadn’t yet figured out how worthwhile white lies can be. #18 was miserable. “How about one last kiss?” he asked. It was like that long long moment when I waited for him to dump me. I said no.