After my birthday, I just thought the sex with Mike would be a nice little one-off.
We exchanged a few messages the next day. He said something about eating a bacon sandwich; he seemed to be referring back to a conversation I had no memory of.
I said I’d managed to find a new pink belt on eBay, to replace the one he’d broken. He offered to reimburse me, but I said it was only a few quid. He said “in that case, my only regret is that we didn’t break more belts.”
Then, a week later, I decided to get back in touch. I thought I wouldn’t mind seeing him again after all. I wasn’t sure how much we had common, but I had enjoyed chatting to him, and I thought he might be a good distraction from my heartache.
Also, I thought it would be nice to have some sex memories in my recent archives, that were not of Whippersnapper.
We texted each other over the next few days. I thought he lived in London, but it turned out he had actually moved to Manchester. However, he was soon going to be back in London visiting friends again.
Around this time, I had to move out of my flat. I had been planning to move into the new flat I’d bought, but that had fallen through, so I was moving in with a friend – Joe, who had bought a flat but needed a lodger. I met Joe about 4-5 years ago, when we worked together. He is a fellow CBT therapist. He’s the kind of person that, whatever mood you’re in, after being around him for 5 minutes, you’re instantly in a better mood. He’s also the friend I asked for advice about same-sex dating, when I went on a date with a woman.
One Monday evening, I had moved most of my stuff either into storage or into Joe’s flat, and I was back at my old flat, cleaning.
Mike was in London, and had asked me a few times if I needed any help with moving or cleaning. I thought to be honest, I would love some help, but I can’t ask, as I barely know you.
I was feeling quite down.
Straight after my birthday, I’d started to make some headway with getting over Whippersnapper. There was a day when I was thinking about how immaturely and cowardly he had handled the breakup; I came out of my tube station and it felt like the clouds parted, and the sun shone down, and I thought Wait. Was Whippersnapper actually a bit of a dick?
It felt like such a relief.
But then packing everything up in my flat set me right back to square one. It was weird, because I actually moved in there with Matthew, but moving out made me really nostalgic for Whippersnapper. We had so many great dates there. One day I was packing up my kitchen, and I leaned against the oven for a moment. I suddenly had a flashback of Whippersnapper pressing me against the oven when we were having the most incredible kiss. I missed him so much I physically ached. Maybe moving is always a bit intrinsically sad, and I was assigning all of that sadness to WS.
Also, I like being independent, but sometimes I wish I didn’t have to do everything on my own. When I was struggling to do various things by myself, I felt so alone. It’s not very feminist but I really wished I had a boyfriend to help me.
That Monday evening, I went back to my flat after a hard day at work, and knew all I had to look forward to was a long evening of cleaning. I was hungry, and not sure what to do for dinner, as all my kitchen things had already gone. I thought about having dinner in one of the pubs nearby. Eating alone seemed a bit depressing.
I texted Mike saying “is the offer of help still there? I know it’s short notice, but if you wanted to help, you could keep me company for dinner when I have a break from cleaning.” He replied straight away saying “sure, what time were you thinking?” and we arranged to meet at 8pm.
Apparently, he had been just about to get on a train out of London when I texted; his trip had ended early as the friend he was staying with was breaking up with his girlfriend.
I carried on cleaning the tops of my kitchen cupboards and felt a lot more cheerful.
I cleaned for another hour and a half, and then it was time to meet Mike. I cleaned my teeth with my work toothbrush and put on the lipstick that was in my handbag, and thought how strange it was to do such little preparation before a date. Normally, 24 hours before a date, my bedroom looks like this:
This time, I was going to a date after only 3 minutes of preparation, with hands that smelt of bleach.
I arrived at the pub and Mike was already there. Straight away, the conversation flowed easily. We talked about cleaning flats and moving house. As we read the menus, we discovered our shared hatred of mayonnaise. We moved on to we discussing other white condiments we dislike.
“Anything white like that, I hate. Mayonnaise, tartare sauce, salad cream…” I said.
Mike agreed. His came from having food poisoning after eating mayonnaise as a child. Our impassioned conversation about our dislike of whites substances made me laugh inwardly, after how the sex ended.
We ordered our food and drinks. Apart from the lack of stress and preparation, another weird thing about this date was that I wasn’t drinking, because I was driving.
We started talking about my party. The morning after, he had filled in the gaps in my knowledge about the sex. This time, he told me more detail.
“Do you know how I got the carpet burn on my hip?” I asked.
“That might’ve been when you fell off the bed.” He replied.
It’s probably not that unusual, but for me, it was the first time I’d been on a first date where we’d already had sex.
It started to feel like a dating version of the film Memento (the film about a man with amnesia, in which the scenes are shown in reverse order, so it starts with the final scene, and ends with the first scene). We were doing things the opposite order, but I had no memory of a lot it.
Also, normally on a first date, I avoid talking about exes, but at my party, Mike and I had already talked about our respective recent breakups. This time, not only did I mention WS, but because Mike is a therapist, we ended up discussing how gutted I was, and Mike said some quite helpful, therapy things.
Mike was planning to get the last train out of Euston at 11:30pm, and stay at his parents in the West Midlands. I thought that seemed a bit ridiculous and inconvenient for him. I also thought he was handsome and I was enjoying his company.
I went into the toilets and called Joe, my new landlord.
“Bit of a weird question – I know it’s only my 3rd night living with you, but is it OK if I bring someone back? It’s just that guy Mike…” I explained the situation.
Joe was completely fine about it and asked if I wanted anything from the supermarket while he was there.
I went back to the table and said “if you wanted, to save getting the train back tonight, you could always come back to mine. Not necessarily for a repeat of what happened at my party, especially as there would be a menstrual barrier to that, but for practical reasons.”
Mike seemed on board with this.
Before driving to my new flat, I needed to put another load of stuff from my old flat into my car. Mike and I walked from the pub back to my old flat.
I opened the boot of my Nissan Micra and propped open the front door to my building.
Mike helped me carry down from my flat to the car. It was all the typical tab-end of move items. Rather than sensible stuff like big cardboard boxes and furniture, it was embarrassing stuff like carrier bags of crap, some slippers that belonged to my Aunt, a hat my dad had left in my car and an old work bag I planned to throw out as it had mouldy sunflower seeds in, but I’d realised it also had in it some payslips and a memory stick I needed.
When the car was full, we drove off. I thought again what a weird date it was, as he’d now helped me move house.
Joe’s (and now my) flat was in a different part of London, about a 30-40 minute drive away. It was the first time I’d driven to the flat without needing to use the satnav to remind myself of the route.
I drove along the M25 and we chatted. We talked about how we’d met, and work-related romances. The Glamorous Adulterer came up. I said something quite racy and frank about sex and Mike said he liked the fact I was completely different to how he would’ve expected.
I’ve had this from men before; apparently I give the impression of being quite innocent and wholesome, especially at work. This means people can be surprised when they get to know the side of me that – well, would end up getting tied up and fucked by a former student on their birthday.
When I turned onto my road, the weirdness hit me again and I said “this is really weird, isn’t it?”
He said “it’s adorable that you point that out. Most people would just know it’s weird but not bring it up.”
We unloaded the car into the new flat, and Joe, Mike and I all stood around talking about CBT. Mike shook Joe’s hand, as if Joe was my Dad, which I found cute.
Then Mike and I went into my new bedroom. We navigated around boxes and sat on my bed.
I got us some glasses of wine and we chatted about all sorts of things, including how close we are to our families.
After a while, I realised it was really late and I had work in the morning. I went to clean my teeth.
When I came back, Mike had got into bed and removed some clothes. “I hope this is OK,” he said.
“Yeah, sure.” I replied, doing the same.
We both lay in bed and carried on chatting, with no physical contact at all.
Eventually I said “so, the elephant in the room is that we had sex a week or two ago, and now we’re both in our underwear, in my bed.”
“I thought you didn’t want any cuddling or anything, after the morning after your party…”
“Yeah.” I paused. “I’m not sure I still think that.”
Mike processed this. “So I can cuddle you?”
“If you like.”
As long as you stop saying ‘cuddle’.
He moved over to me and we started kissing.
“I thought you just wanted me to stay over as a friendship thing… You said you weren’t inviting me back to repeat your party.”
“I mean, I did say ‘not necessarily…'”
We carried on kissing. It was nice to be kissing him as he’s a nice, handsome man. However, I did feel like either our kissing styles didn’t match or he isn’t a big kisser.
After a while, hands found their way into underwear. Because it was my period, we just did hand-related stuff to each other.
Then I said we really needed to go to sleep as it was nearly 2am.