I’d shown up at a party in Marchmont with #184, though he subsequently revealed that he had no recollection of the night, due to customary obliteration of self with alcohol. Our host, Gavin, was all out of glasses and handed me a plastic measuring jug so I could embark on my second bottle of wine.
I contacted #210 to get her take on what happened next.
What do you remember about the night we first met?
Well, there was this lovely moment when we started talking, that moment of discovery when you meet someone kindred in a busy place – we were talking about stuff and getting quite passionate and heated.
As I recall, we jumped straight into a discussion about exotification and cultural appropriation.
We did indeed! And it was so gratifying to have meaningful chat in this crazy whirlwind of party. And then I remember you kinda tricking me into kissing you by distracting me with the #184/Gavin hook-up.
Oh. I may need more details here.
Well, I think #184 and Gavin were kind of standing around awkwardly, and you took control of the situation by vaguely challenging/suggesting Gavin snog #184. And I was very encouraging.
Did that work out?
It did! And then almost as soon as it did, you started kissing me!
I don’t think #184 even knows that that happened.
#210 and I subsequently spent a significant portion of the evening in Gavin’s bedroom, with #184 stumbling in every five minutes with his hands over his face, apologising profusely while scrambling for another can of beer (I guess it never occurred to him to maybe just take all the beer away with him in one go).
I was really surprised that you’d never kissed a woman before. I had just assumed. And somehow being the first in that category makes me feel like there is some extra level of responsibility, and I was like: whoa, should i backtrack?
Why did you assume? Because I had so many gay friends?
You know what, I think I assumed because one of the only things I knew about you was that you were non-monogamous (although details were very vague), and I don’t know many straight people who are. I still don’t actually know how you identify – or indeed whether you bother to.
I don’t really – it’s a case by case matter, I think. I suspect I may have encountered this experience sooner or later …
The fact that #210 didn’t have any dramas about her first experience with a woman was a relief to me, in the wake of the episode with #203. The following morning, I awarded myself a hangover day and gave myself permission to just faff around; I embarked on a task that I’d been putting off for a long time precisely because of its ludicrousness, which was to make a list of everyone I’d ever kissed, and then I started thinking about what to do with it.
I wasn’t sure where you wanted things to go after that night.
Gosh, me neither – bearing in mind that I actually spent the night with Gavin.
Although the fact that you contacted me online in about three different ways the following day implied that I hadn’t made a terrible impression.
Really? That makes me sound quite desperate!
No, I never took it that way. And obviously, regardless of whether further action was on the cards, we got on well, so it was all good. But still, I wasn’t sure. I quite liked you and realised that I would be interested in seeing you again in a more-than-platonic way. Which felt unusual, since around that time I was mostly just getting off with people in an opportunistic manner and not really looking for re-runs.
It was nearly two weeks before we met up again. We had lunch, then fed the squirrels in the Botanic Gardens, had uncoffee, and checked out a sex shop, where we didn’t buy anything but marvelled that they’d renamed the butt plugs ‘derrière plugs’. All in all it felt more organised and date-like than pretty much any date I had ever been on, except I wasn’t sure whether it was a date at all. The fact that we’d set a precedent wasn’t enough to go on. It never ceases to amaze me how awkward I can find these things; it doesn’t get easier with experience, at least it doesn’t for me.
So when we met up and went to the Botanics that day, did you see it as a date? Or a maybe-date? Or what?
I did see it as a date, though I had no idea how I felt. I knew I genuinely liked you as a person, and thought you were cool, interesting, different. But because I hadn’t really considered the girl thing before, I wasn’t sure how I was approaching it.
And for my part, I wasn’t sure if you wanted me to kiss you or not, so I didn’t … and a huge reason for that, I think, is the first-experience thing. Although actually I’ve been equally inept with other women who’d already had experience. So.
But did you want to kiss me at the Botanics? I didn’t think you did!
Really? I think I did! Although when you put it like that, I don’t know whether I might have spent more time on trying to actually read the situation from your perspective rather than focusing on how I felt. Which is kind of ridiculous maybe.
No, no – I think it’s kind, in a way. Not wanting to intrude on my space, as it were.
I guess it was like: I didn’t have my heart set on going out with you, so I wasn’t going to be crushed if you said no, but I would have been up for it if it had been a clear option. And then there was that night you came back to my place, and I really didn’t want to overstep boundaries, but I didn’t know what those boundaries actually were. This is probably the part where I should have just asked. In plain English. Maybe.
Oh, but it was fine – I think I was much more at ease with the possibility of something happening that night. Just maybe because I’d gotten more used to the idea.
Still, I wasn’t sure, even when we got into bed. It is entirely possible, however, that I am excessively cautious in these situations. On one hand I think it’s good: having set any precedent should never imply that anything further is on the cards. On the other, I need a better way of sussing out these things.
I, of course, am hilariously unperceptive in these situations. Even when we were in bed, I didn’t actually think anything was going to happen. I just didn’t consider it, I think! This might have something to do with the fact that you’re a girl, I think, in retrospect. I mean, in the same situation with a guy, I’m pretty sure I would have gone “hmm, we’re going to be sleeping in the same bed, and we’ve had some action before…”
So like, on one hand you were open to the possibility, but on the other you didn’t think anything was on the cards?
Okay. So, yeah, my main concern was not doing anything you felt uncomfortable with.
How did you feel after that night?
I was fine. But I think my feeling never went away of being reluctant to take the lead if I was with you, but then again, there was once or twice at the Forest after that at which I was ludicrously drunk and less discreet.
Yes – Queer Mutiny was a bit difficult.
I’m sorry for that. I don’t actually remember, and was astonished to learn MONTHS AFTER THE EVENT that I’d been somewhat full-on.
It’s okay – that was a weird night for me anyway as my ex was there, much to my surprise.
Which would make it rather more indiscreet of me, indeed. And it was a friend of yours who later described in glorious technicolor detail how I’d pounced on you.
You’re obviously forgiven.
Thanks! I figured, though I certainly do regret making you feel uncomfortable. I had to mainly rely on eyewitness accounts of that night. And the day after, you said to me on IM “is it okay if we become a snog-free zone for a while?” or words to that effect.
Right, yes. I think I was feeling a bit confused, generally, and also, I’m pretty good at sussing whether I have a romantic future with someone and I kinda sensed we didn’t.
And you had a lot on your plate then already.
Also, I am really goddamn flaky, so it was smart to make that decision! I would never have been able to promise much more than what we already had, I think. I liked the idea of romance, but wasn’t really in the headspace to make it happen. But it was good to end that side of things without it turning into general awkwardness. I mean, when you said “for a while” I took it to mean “that’s it”, but that’s all fine.
Yeah – I didn’t want to say neversaynever, but I guess I was also trying not to hurt your feelings.
I think overall, we managed things pretty well. I still feel like I may have done excessive tiptoeing (when sober) versus excessive mauling (when a train wreck), but … we’re still friends! So, kind of made that transition seamlessly, I think.
Yes! it’s pretty awesome. Even though it didn’t go anywhere, I’m glad it happened. It made me test my boundaries a bit and found a friendship without much damage or fallout, which is pretty unique.