The first time was after we’d gone to see Watercress at the old Bongo Club. I knew #96 already because we both worked at the microlab, although our shifts never coincided so we’d just met a couple times on work nights out. He was cool, and maybe the only other queer at my work, so we had some solidarity going on. All the same, I remember feeling a little hesitant when I kissed #83 at the gig – after all, she was his girlfriend, and although everyone knew the score, this was the first time I’d been with her while he was around.
But after the gig #28 and I landed back at their place for more drinks and spliffs, and then eventually #83 got tired and went off to bed, and #28 passed out in the chair by the window, and then I got off with #96 on the living-room floor. It was fun, it was hot. At some point he suggested we maybe go and wake #83 up, but I said no. This is a theme I’ve got: I only ever have threesomes when none of us are already involved with each other. If I’m seeing two people and they’re seeing each other as well, I only get off with them separately. I could probably go away and analyse this, but whatever. I’m in the middle of a story here.
The thing that impressed me about #83 and #96’s relationship was the total lack of jealousy, or should I say, any time there was jealousy they worked through it. And there wasn’t jealousy when #96 got off with me; instead, he crawled into bed with her after #28 and I had finally set off home, told her what had happened, and then they spent the next morning in a pleasant hungover daze, and he’d get a blissed-out smile every so often and she’d share in his glee.
There was another time not long after, when a bunch of us had been out at the pub, and then I took him back to my place, ostensibly to lend him a CD or something, and it was obvious to me and #83 and whoever else that he would be spending the night, but it still came as a surprise to him.
After that, the next time was a year later, when I’d only recently gotten involved with #117. We hadn’t talked yet about monogamy, although I already knew that that was likely to be the deal. All the same, I made out with #96 at Opium, that god-awful nu-metal style bar they opened in the wake of the spit ‘n’ sawdust Legends, a place they never needed to change. Because #117 and I hadn’t had The Talk yet, I reasoned that it was okay to do whatever I liked, but #96 gently reminded me that I couldn’t really operate that way.
Two years later – god, how time drags – #117 and I split up for the first time. #83 and #96 were living in Manchester by then. I was making my way back up to Edinburgh from Sheffield, and they met me at Manchester Piccadilly for the hour I had in between trains. I was a mess. Everything had gone horribly wrong. #117 had essentially given me ‘permission’ to go away overnight, and had said it might do us good to have some space away from each other, and then once I was on the road he sent me a dozen paranoid text messages, culminating in the statement that he wanted out of this relationship. (Later, he retracted the claim, saying he had just wanted to provoke a reaction in me. That sure as hell worked.) We sat in Wetherspoon’s, and #83 went over the finer points of the mess with me. #96 said, “Eat something.” I loved him for that, for being so practical and reminding me that I needed to do mundane things that I was too miserable to think about.
Six months later everything was better. I was finally free of the relationship of doom and I went down to visit #83 and #96 for Easter weekend. #96 and I stayed up late together my last night, maybe drinking or smoking joints, and we reminisced about past times, including the times we’d gotten off together, and there were a million moments when it would have made sense to make a move, but I was out of practice, no longer sure how to act on those cues. It was a long time before I managed to just lean over and kiss him, and then I apologised for taking so long.