I hate the word ‘nice’. I’ve often lost out on having the sex of fantasy and ended up being friends with women I fancy because I’m ‘too nice’ apparently. When women talk about Brad Pitt they don’t say he’s too nice do they? ‘Gorgeous’, ‘Divine’, ‘Handsome’, ‘Hot’. That’s what Brad gets. I get ‘nice’. Rubbish. Put it down to the raging hormones brought on by sunny weather, but there was once a time some summers ago when things went my way for once.
A good example of the whole ‘friends’ thing was my relationship with Rosie. We’d seen other for about 6 weeks before the ‘N’ word came up again. Almost apologetically, she went onto explain that I just wasn’t like the slightly ‘dangerous’ men she usually went out with. She liked a bit of mystery, some sullenness even, someone ‘enigmatic’, she told me. A picture of a brooding Frenchman, smoking with an intense look on his face in a black and white French art-house film came to my mind as she said it. It confirmed my embittered theory that women are often attracted to arseholes. Anyhow, mostly by virtue of seeing each other around a lot (and me still hoping I might get to sleep with her again) we ended up being mates.
One warm Friday evening in August we met up for a drink. She was working behind a bar at the time and after she closed up we were locked in with a few of the others and carried on boozing. We skirted around asking about each others love-life for a while until the alcohol gave us courage enough to get to it. At the time she was still inexplicably single, despite embarking on an exercise routine that had flattened her stomach (which had the added bonus of further emphasising her already generous chest) and gaining a tan in the hours between shifts at the pub. For my part, I was sort of seeing Claire, a mate of my friend Paul. Sort of because she lived up in Sheffield where she was working on a doctorate, whereas I lived in Bristol. We’d ended up getting off with each other whenever she’d visited and this had since extended to phone calls and a relationship of sorts. Excitingly, she was arriving that weekend to stay at mine and my mind was already excited at the prospect of finally getting some action.
Rosie laughed as I told her, entirely devoid of any jealousy. We ended up drinking too much and as we did so, some of the fondness we had shared returned. As I walked along the road with her after the pub she took my hand absent-mindedly and before I knew it I had pressed her up against a wall and we were snogging like teenagers. With no words being said about any kind of getting back together, we headed back to my flat and into bed. It felt entirely normal that we could do this with no repercussions.
"When women talk about Brad Pitt they don’t say he’s too nice do they? ‘Gorgeous’, ‘Divine’, ‘Handsome’, ‘Hot’. That’s what Brad gets. I get ‘nice’. Rubbish."
At about 4am I heard a knocking at the door. I lived on the first floor at the time and shared with Keith, who was commuting from Newcastle. He would go straight into work Monday morning and the last I would see of him would be Friday morning as he headed back North as soon as work was done. This was great for me as it meant I had the flat to myself at weekends. Downstairs from us lived Rachel, who I thought was very glamorous at the time. In stark contrast to the sparse and slovenly way that Keith and I lived, Rachel had expensive looking furnishings, very professional looking work wear and drove a BMW. She was 30, which seemed a lot older to me then. Rachel often used to come up for a cup of tea or ask us down for a drink so I was used to the sound of her knock. I looked over at Rosie but she slept on, oblivious. Pulling open my front door in my boxer shorts, I found Rachel in her dressing gown looking nervous and scared.
Rachel and I also had history. One Sunday morning I had popped out for milk and the papers. Her door had been ajar and she called out to me as I went. Whatever she’d been up to, she was wired enough that she couldn’t sleep and asked me to get her some Lucozade and some junk food. She called me in to deliver it when I returned and then asked me to sit and talk to her. After a while she asked me to run her a bath, which I’d thought was a bit strange, but not as strange as when she slipped out of bed completely naked and pulled me into the bathroom, asking me to keep her company.
It’s a running joke with my mates that I can be very slow on the uptake when a woman is giving out the appropriate signals but at this stage I still thought maybe this was just what older women did. Maybe they were just more bohemian, more at ease with their naked selves than I was. Though I’m sure she delighted in my embarrassment for a time, her patience eventually evaporated and on stepping out of the bath, she took me to the bedroom and spelled it out. ‘Fuck me!’ she commanded. Well, what’s a bloke supposed to do? When she’d finished with me, she ushered me out and over the several months that had passed since then, had given no indication of wanting to repeat the experience. I, of course, had let her know every time I caught her in our shared hall that I would be very willing. I guess desperation wasn’t so attractive.
As I beckoned Rachel up our stairs and into the kitchen, I tried to calm her down. She told me that she thought someone was in her flat and asked if I would have a look. Mindful of the brownie points this could win me as well as the need to act like a man, I went down to check it out with one of Keith’s golf clubs in my hand. Trying to be as quiet as I could and turning on all the lights as I went, slightly shitting myself, I thankfully found nothing. A few of the windows were open and the blinds were banging a bit with the breeze and I thought that might have been it and told Rachel so when I got back upstairs. She was having none of it.
"She took me to the bedroom and spelled it out. ‘Fuck me!’ she commanded. Well, what’s a bloke supposed to do?"
‘I don’t want to sleep down there on my own tonight, can I stay here?’, she asked me, taking my hand and smiling.
Given her disinterest since our Sunday morning coupling, I wasn’t thinking that her desire to stay was borne out of anything but fear even as I showed her to Keith’s bedroom. Even after she said,
‘Will you just stay here and hold me for a bit?’
Like I told you, I’m sometimes a bit slow on the uptake. Sure enough our comforting embrace soon morphed from exploratory groping to full blown sweaty exertions. And all in Keith’s bed too. When we were done, she asked why I’d kept trying to put my hand over her mouth during the sex, at which point I had to fess up that I had another girl in my bedroom. At this she collapsed in giggles,
'You dirty bastard', she said admiringly, 'You'd better get yourself back upstairs quick-smart.'
Kissing me on my way out of Keith's bedroom, she also promised she’d be back in her own flat before I got up in the morning. Back upstairs, Rosie was thankfully still away with the fairies and before long, so was I.
Claire was due to arrive at the flat at about 10.30am. Upon waking, my clock said 9.30 once I’d got my eyes to focus. It said the same when I’d screwed them up a couple of times and tried again. Turning over again, Rosie beamed back at me smiling and bare breasted, a wicked glint in her eye.
‘Look I’d really love to but…’
I couldn’t finish the sentence, afraid of offending. ‘OK maybe a quickie’ I remember thinking, as she reached over for me.
After our post coital shower, juggling the needs to behave like a gentleman yet mindful that spotting another woman emerging from my flat might well blow it for me with Claire, I sent up silent prayers to God to get Rosie to leave. For her part, she was enjoying her delaying tactics and my squirming responses before eventually capitulating to my badly hidden discomfort and heading out of the door. She turned right down the road, blowing a kiss back over her shoulder at me as she went; just as she turned the corner and disappeared from view, Claire entered my field of vision at the other end of the road, to my left.
She greeted me with a passionate kiss in which I was sure that I detected lust. She slid her hand down to my by now overworked crotch. ‘I’ve been thinking about you all week.’
Yep, definitely lust. She looked puzzled for a second then.
‘How did you know to open the door at that moment though?’ she asked me, slightly suspicious.
‘I couldn’t wait to see you.’ I lied, ‘I’ve been standing here waiting.’
‘Oh you!’ she said ‘You’re so nice!”
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