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He wakes to a text from Zeta...

I'd crash-landed back in London, newly single.  And gone to a bar with my bestie, Ryan, the very moment we'd carried the last hefty cardboard box up the winding stairs to my new home, and dumped it on the carpet in the hallway.  A carpet, it must be said, that generated sufficient electricity to power the needs of the developing world (or Lincolnshire, which is yet to develop).  Had only it been harnessed correctly, rather than via my feet, fingers and, on occasion, genitals, whenever I touched a conducting surface. Which was, sadly and predictably, often.  I'm a slow learner.  It hurt.  Every time.  For two years.  I hate static.

In a fit of brilliant inspiration, I chose to write the previous two parts of this story in the style of Enid Blyton.  Or, as Ryan put it the other evening, "Like a bad Ladybird book".  Except with allusions to the Famous Five and the Magic Faraway Tree.  And Noddy.  It's the story of an evening of furious post-move thirst-slaking in a new bar in a new part of London with new friends.  If you haven't read it yet, here's Part One and Part Two.  It's all true, apart from the bit about Anne from the Famous Five accidentally chopping down the Faraway Tree. 

She did it on purpose, to demonstrate her love for Dick.

OK.  I promise.  No more Enid Blyton gags.

I settled in to the area quickly, partly as a result of the bar formerly known as Goblin Hipster becoming a central part of my life.  I was freelancing from home, choosing to do much of my work early in the morning after a session with a personal trainer, and late into the evening, leaving my afternoons free to drift in, greet new friends, drink mint tea, perhaps eat lunch, and then move onto a cheeky beer or two as the light started to disappear.  And this was early spring, so there was some additional cheeky beer opportunity.  I figured it was a trade-off for gradually becoming fit, which I was doing.  I've pretty much managed to unravel that process these days, but almost having abs is a fond memory.

Gloria proved to be exasperatingly unsavable, which hurled my late night white knight fantasies into a bin and set fire to them.  We saw each other often, and she was alternately engaged and not really there; frustratingly fragile or feisty and fuckable. She was, and is, every bit as beautiful as the days she graced magazine covers, billboards and TV screens incessantly.  But the vulnerability ran deep.  I'd like to think it's the complete gentleman* in me that resisted her occasional sexual advances, but there was an on/off boyfriend too; Terry; blatantly manipulative and eerily malevolent.  Trainspotting's Begbie could have been his comparatively saintly older brother, but Terry would have already glassed him in the balls as a child for "looking at him funny when he was born".  He was that kind of guy, a weasely little shit with greasy hair and a Stanley knife in his sock.  My real name is Gonzalo, Terry, if you're reading this, which I suspect you're unable to.  But just in case, I now live as a ninja in Tokyo.  Sending kisses, ya psycho.

*I'd like to point out that I've never had any kind of man in me, gentle or otherwise, except when I had suspected appendicitis.  That may have been only a gloved finger, but I felt like a glove puppet being violated by the BFG.

Along with Gloria and a group of other newly minted friends and drinking partners, Zeta was a constant presence, although that green link is me flogging the backstory again.  Supportive but vastly  experienced in her resignation at the latest doomed to failure quest to rescue Gloria from herself, she was invariably squeezing her blonde, beaming self in next to me on the sofa at quiz night, or a late but welcome arrival during any afternoon discussion over red wine and Marlboro Gold.  She'd actually texted on that first morning, enquiring after my aching head.  Zeta was sharp in observation, and despite English not being her first language, funny in nuance, and in innuendo.  I'm a sucker for innuendo, matron.  You can give me one any time.  Zeta was wide open to them, and suggested that this was a situation that required deeper probing.

Actually she suggested lunch.  And I actually, honestly, upon my very soul, expected nothing but chatter and gossip with a new friend.  I suspect my first year or so of singledom involved a good degree of naivety, which must have been charming and irritating in about equal measure to the girls I was meeting.  I didn't have an enormous sense of self-worth then, so while being liked or desired was hugely validating, it didn't always contribute to a robust decision-making process.  If I'd been inspected by OFSTED at that point, they'd have shut me down.  And in some ways, this was all about my education.

We met for lunch, during which it turned out she was vegetarian.  And may still be.  I'm comfortable with this, if that's your bag, though I'm a firm believer that if God hadn't wanted us to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them out of meat.  A belief I'm infinitely more comfortable with than the existence of a sky fairy that has a million conflicting rules about how you should live your life and what you should eat, because there's only one way of doing it properly.  If there is a God, which clearly there isn't, then he would have created us all and given us free will, so isn't it amazing how we form cliques, make rules, and fuck it up?  Anyway, I digress.  I'm not Richard Dawkins, in case you were in any doubt.

After a frenzy of seafood and noodles (me) and noodles (her), and probably some wine, because borderline functioning alcoholic, at least in those days, we stepped outside the restaurant into cold spring air.  I wasn't sure whether to head home or suggest another drink, which I didn't really want, it being mid afternoon, with the sound of client deadlines whooshing in my ears like Cinderella's midnight coach.

"You can kiss me now"

Zeta solved my destination dilemma, square in the middle of the road, largely through grabbing me in an eastern European headlock and pulling me towards her.  If you've never seen a stick insect being absorbed by a giant marshmallow, you're not watching enough YouTube, but it was probably a bit like that.  There may have been a brief struggle, largely with my conscience, but I kissed back, because manners.  And, perhaps unsurprisingly, I was not entirely unaroused.  I'd been single for a few months, but I'd spent the previous two decades in a relationship where the role of parent had gradually but irretrievably exsanguinated that of lover. Even the physical act of being held, let alone kissed, with desire, felt like a new sensation.  It had been a very long time.  I wasn't sure of the rules any more.  I didn't know what I wanted, but just being wanted felt like a particularly auspicious kick-off point.

Zeta had picked the restaurant, which turned out to be about 150 yards from her flat.  I'd call it an apartment, for our international readers, but this would imply something untrue.  Imagine a single car garage, dominated by a bed at one end and a kitchen at the other, with enough floor space in between to play a minimalistic 4x4 game of Twister so long as limb placement was fastidious, and a single ventilation window to prevent actual suffocation.  And then shrink everything by 20%.  £1200 pcm in London in 2015 got you all the glories.  But had I been an Estate Agent, I'd have struggled to market this one, even to the hard of thinking.

I don't wish to imply that I was dragged inside entirely unwillingly, or to deny that I was to revisit, happily, a place that even Harry Potter would have turned his nose up at before returning to his understairs cupboard.  Zeta assuaged my fears.  I wasn't ready for any kind of a relationship.  She just wanted an FWB, she said.  Even that concept was new to me.  I hadn't actually been a Mormon in my previous life, but the contrast between that and singledom in London, where I was literally turning down one attractive woman and struggling to turn down another, was enough to discombobulate my world view.  I didn't know where I was at, but Zeta did, and I allowed myself to be led inside.

She is as pink and smooth as a bag of Flumps abandoned in a hot tuck shop window over a school summer holiday, and smells a little like this too.  Shiny, sexy, and pliant, I am presented with a vision of tightly-skinned Barbieness, enthusiastic in pursuit of my long-abandoned Ken.  Who is quite enthusiastic in appearance, as it turns out...

Ken performs well, according to audience feedback, even though he says so himself. Albeit nobody likes a talking penis.  Except people who like Michael McIntyre.  Inexcusably, people fucking love that talking penis.  But I digress.  Memories of Zeta and me are all a bit of a blur, although, some hours or days later, we grow in confidence.  We've been pinkly naked and wanton on a few occasions.  I know this isn't expected to become anything, because that's what she told me at the beginning, right?  And I'm reassured it is so, even while she straddles me, like the Colossus of Rhodes looming over a coracle.

What I do remember is that Zeta liked things rough.  Much rougher than I could manage.  I'm a pretty gentle soul, and sex for me is largely about giving pleasure, which I find incredibly arousing.  Sure, I'll pull your hair, bite your nipples or slap your arse, if that's your thing.  Try though I might, I can't get my head around being comfortable holding a knife to your throat or choking you while I'm inside you (or indeed when I'm not), and it was on this fundamental chasm in the pleasure principle that enthusiastic and vigorous nooky faltered and became uncomfortable.  Over time I heard from and saw Zeta less, until it became clear she was actively avoiding me.  I was slightly hurt, but mainly relieved.  I just wasn't nasty enough for her, and I knew it.  But, confidence boosted, and cutlery returned to its rightful place in the kitchen, I was ready to choose my next dates for myself.


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