In the last week of January, I was at work, you know, like you are and I was in the kitchen polishing the cutlery when I felt a vibration in my pocket. I took out my phone and looked on the screen;
Curious, I phoned my answering machine and listened to the message. It was Matt:
“Heya. So I was thinking. You. Me. My parents’ house. Sunday lunch. This Sunday. Let me know.”
I got off the phone, and could actually barely move. I was freaking out inside. The last time we had spoken about his parents he had said to me that he didn’t want me to meet them – his mum especially – until he was sure that I was the one he was going to be with until his mum died. So that she thought he was in a stable relationship and was happy when she was gone. This was a big deal. Surely this meant something, right? I called him back after work. The weekend would run something like this; pick me up Saturday evening, go back to his for a bit and chill. Head out to Clevedon for a house party at Cam’s – yes, Cam’s whose carpet I had thrown red wine over the first time I had met him – and then over to Matts parents the following morning. This would also be the first time I would actually have been allowed to sleep with Matt… Not that my parents knew that. As far as my parents were concerned, we were sleeping well and truly separately. Over to Matt’s parents. His parents. For Sunday lunch. Jesus. What was happening here?
It had been over a month since that first time in the snow. The best Christmas present I had ever been given. Before I could say floccinaucinihilipilification, Saturday had arrived. Matt had slept over mine the night before, having got back late from Essex way, I took him up the Batch to Helens’ – in insistently refused to let him drive; it was dark, he was tired, and to call the Batch a pain in the arse was an understatement – so we walked to Helens and as we arrived, they were literally on the drive getting ready to leave to go down the Crown. Fantastic. I’d virtually had to haul Matt up the hill, we were both mildly out of breath, as though we’d stopped for a quick shag on the way up and it was already time to walk back down again.
But anyway, we walked back down the Crown and pulled up some chairs around a table. Matt and I stood by ourselves in a corner and I think it took Matt a while to quite work out what was going on. To call the Crown spit and sawdust was a stretch. It’s basically a cottage on the hill that happens to have a bar inside. The fires were on so it was lovely and warm and Matt kept making jokes that a horse was about to walk through the split doors that led out the back. I remember he seemed a little relieved when James Dewer – Tilly’s boyfriend - struck up a conversation with him. He told me later that he found it fascinating that James could be a dancer and be straight, to which I had a little chuckle. Welcome to my world; I thought.
As the night unfolded, Tilly told us the tale of how she and Mario had been driving home recently and had accidentally killed a deer. Facial expressions were hilariously re-enacted and Matt got on well with everyone. Rosie – keeping true to form – got off her face on cider and decided to eat horse radish under Tilly’s instruction, only to very quickly spit it back out into an empty crisp packet. She fell in love with Matt instantaneously, and it seemed as though he developed a soft spot for her too. It ended up that having bought Matt two or three Mendip Magic’s, his comment that he didn’t hold his drink too well was proven to be more than true. As everyone else filtered off and it got later, I virtually carried Matt home from the Crown.
When we got home, I wanted nothing more than to cuddle up in bed with him and just go to sleep with him in my arms. I had planned it meticulously, but Matt was having none of it. He said that he didn’t want to upset my parents – that this was their house and we had to play by their rules. We brushed our teeth and I kissed him again. I just didn’t want to let him go… But ultimately I had to. He walked away from me, looking at me the whole time and disappeared into his room and I into mine. That night I slept surprisingly well, knowing that the man I was slowly but surely falling in love with was just in the other room. When I woke up on the Saturday, I remember creeping across the landing and opening the door to Matts room, making sure to close mine again behind me, so that no one would suspect I was ‘in bed’ with Matt. I hopped up onto the bed and under the duvet to snuggle up to him.
“Morning, baby,” he mumbled as he smacked his lips. I had noticed this was something he often did when he was tired or trying to be loving… It was a little cute, I had to admit. Now, I probably should have forewarned him that my feet were more often than not, absolutely freezing cold. So when I tried to wind my legs amongst his, I think he thought I had electrocuted him as he jumped at the temperature.
“Fa-uck-ing hell!” he exclaimed. I just tittered away to myself. It was an expression I had heard in this situation many a time before. I just teased by adding my cold hands to the equation as well, plastering them across his back. He squirmed and writhed, then rolled over to face me. A kiss.
“Morning,” I replied, “Did you sleep alright?”
“Very well, thankyou, baby.”
We just led there for a while. His hands began to move across my body. Lifting up my tee-shirt and smoothing over my chest. We kissed some more and my hands wandered across him until we found each others crotches. I let out a nervous giggle. This was quite funny. People were walking around the house and I was in here, with Matt, fooling around like this. It was dangerous, but exciting at the same time.
Before I knew it, he’d taken it out and was… downthere.It was amazing. Every time this situation came around, I could never get over what it felt like. It felt rushed, though. I could tell he was nervous, but it was entirely his choice. Suddenly, a door slammed downstairs. Matt got spooked and froze before putting everything back in its rightful place and sitting up on the bed, facing me. I traced the line down his breastbone with my finger, smiling with a bitten lip.
We abandoned the idea of fooling around and got dressed. Downstairs, Matt had a drink and left. He would pick me up again later to go to Cams house party in Clevedon. I was at rehearsals for Blood Brothers that afternoon, all the while lightly worrying about how I was going to cope with the social situation that would turn out to be that night. He picked me up on my way home from school, as I was laden with stuff for the show slightly resembling a pack mule. It was absolutely freezing cold and I genuinely couldn’t feel my hands. I had waited at school for a while, but after he was about 15 minutes later than he’d said, I’d given up, already partially frozen and started the walk home. I was walking down Ladymead Lane when he appeared down the road. I hurriedly opened the door and threw everything inside.
“Oh, my fucking god it’s cold.” I spat out.
“Baby! I didn’t know you had all this stuff!” he exclaimed, as he kissed me. “I would’ve come and picked you up.”
“It’s fine,” I gasped, shivering and frantically warming my hands on the heaters which he had turned on full.
When we got back to the house, I took him up to my room where he pulled up a pew on my bed and asked;
“So, what are you wearing tonight?”
I shrugged. Clothes? I hadn’t really given it much thought. I imagined that the ‘Your Boyfriend thinks I’m cute’ tee-shirt wouldn’t exactly be appropriate for this occasion. We rummaged through all my drawers and my wardrobe, in search of an ‘appropriate’ outfit for this evening. I began to felt a little self-conscious about my wardrobe as everything I picked out was deemed ‘too young’ or ‘too formal’. Either way, there was usually something wrong with it. In the end, I think we chose a plain tee-shirt, perhaps the ‘I’m Bored’ one, which was a particular favourite of mine, and then dressed it up with a waistcoat and added some jeans.
I remember that Matt got a bit panicky at one point, that I was trying on all these clothes with the curtains wide open. I never gave two thoughts to shutting the curtains. From the road, you couldn’t see inside my bedroom particularly well anyway, so why bother? But he insisted and drew them shut. The next challenge was dressing for the ‘rentals tomorrow. This one was easier. And open and shut case. Jesus. That whole ordeal took much longer than necessary. I felt like I was being judged and scrutinised already. Throwing everything in my rucksack, remembering to pack spare lenses, glasses and essential oils – which would prove to come in very handy – I took some of the alcohol left over from my cocktail party back in December and put it in my bag. A bottle of archers, which I genuinely thought was gin when I picked it up. Having completed the mammoth task that had turned out to be getting ready, we headed downstairs and bid farewell to my parents before jumping in the car to leave.
We went back to his place first, chilled for a bit, picked up some things and then left again, going to Morrison’s first to buy some drink and a card and a gift bag. We picked up some tonic water for the supposed ‘gin’ as well, then headed over to Matalan next to buy some presents for Tom whose birthday it was, and the excuse for this party. Not that you needed an excuse for a party, of course. It hadn’t occurred to me that Paige worked in Matalan and that she would be working today. We walked in, hand in hand and she noticed me and waved. I waved back. Quick whizz around the shop and we left again. Boots next to look for some cologne. Armed with everything – including a ‘Diana Wash’ washing up brush – we left for Clevedon.
I didn’t know Clevedon particularly well, so as soon as we passed Tesco’s and delved deep into the back streets, I was well and truly lost. He pulled into a petrol station and filled up with fuel. As we were driving around he had told me something I sort of wished he hadn’t;
“So, theremaybe some light drugs at the party. Coke and stuff. Depends if they can afford it. They won’t offer you any and they won’t take much. If they do, it’ll just make them more chatty.”
“Okay. That’s fine,” I replied, putting on a brave face. Now that this was actually happening, I was shitting myself.
“I don’t know how much exposure you’ve had to this stuff before, so I just thought I’d let you know.”
“Well, someone I know used to do coke. And a friend was a dealer for a little while, so it’s not something that’s new.”
“Okay,” he said with a smile. I think he knew I was nervous, but he didn’t say anything. He left the car and went into the shop.
I hastily plugged in my iPod and selected Carl Orff’s ‘O Fortuna’ to listen to. I felt this quite adequately reflected how I was feeling right now. I could feel my eyes getting wider and my breathing getting heavier. I hadn’t panicked this much since the first time I had met him. I needed the recue remedy, but didn’t have any. Deep breathing. Calm. Calm. Calm. Okay, we’re good. I can do this. Just smile and wave. Take a leaf out of the book of crazy penguin from Madagascar. All would be fine. The only thing I was a little worried about was le hot-tub. But we would cross this bridge if and when we came to it. There was no guarantee I would allow myself to get undressed to the core in this circumstance anyway. Oh no. No guaranteeatall.
When Matt got back to the car, he asked me what I was listening to. Like most people when you tell them about ‘O Fortuna’, he didn’t know what I was talking about, but he laughed out loud when I played it to him.
“Baby, there’s nothing to worry about.”
“I know,” I was far from convinced.