SL is a sweetheart. A girl as good-looking as her you would expect to be ultra-confident, blasé, and used to knocking guys back every day. She’s full of surprises though, and I still never know what to expect. I first met her in Walkabout when I manned the guns in a wet-t-shirt competition. She looked stunning in a ripped t-shirt and thong. All I had to do was fire a super-soaker at her.
I’d heard that she was going out with some meathead, so I hardly even looked at her. Taken girls aren’t worth the effort. But then about a week after this in Cuba Cuba, she sent her gay mate over to tell me she fancies me. Yes, she’s the same age as me. 25. He’s older. I found out she’d split from her boyfriend and pretty much come straight for me. The first surprise was that she’s very shy and comes across as really innocent. To this day I can’t figure out whether it’s an act.
The first thing I thought was something that people have told me never to think. She’s Oldham’s most beautiful girl. She can have whoever she wants. Why go from seeing a guy who’s built like a brick shithouse, to me? Granted, I’m alright looking. But there are better looking guys. I’ve got a good body. But I’m not that ripped. Nowhere near as much as her ex. I’m pretty confident, in some ways. Just not in others. (She found out all about that eventually.) It didn’t make sense. And the feeling I used to get up until I was about 19- that I was having a joke made out of me- came back in a flash.
When SL came back in the next night I remember noticing her walk in the bar from the other side of the room. Nerves kicked in instantly. I’d not felt that shy in years, and everything I thought I’d overcome I realised I hadn’t. Dating her was hard work.
I thought that I’d got over that suspicion a long time ago: I thought that if a girl shows some interest I’d just follow it up, without thinking that everything was a hoax. I feel like I’ve realised that I am truly paranoid, and that- well, that just makes me more nervous. It slipped apart because her mates, and more importantly, SL, noticed things slipping. When I meet a girl I always make a good first impression- then a feeling creeps in. I think she’s eventually going to see a side of me that she’s not going to like.
SL’s friends told me that she felt that I wasn’t into her. I’d been seeing her for 2 weeks and I’d still not kissed her. The pressure was mounting. That night I did, but just as things were coming together- just as I started to offer her the trust she deserved- somebody started to spread shit about me.
Whenever I went to Walkabout people were asking me about her. I’d heard that she’d finished me. I’d heard that she’d stood on the door of Walkabout and ripped the piss out of me in front of the doorman, for being a virgin. It just didn’t make sense. SL’s too sweet and innocent for that. But then, I’ve been lied to before. I’d been hardwired not to trust girls. Just because she’s beautiful didn’t mean I was going to bend over and let her make an idiot out of me.
On top of this I’d been dabbling in coke and listening for bats in Alexandra Park, which probably didn’t help. A friend of mine took me out there and he couldn’t hear the high-pitched noises that I could. Was I just imagining things? Was my grip on reality looser than I thought? And was my friend joking when he claimed to notice laser-sighted BB guns pointing at us from the bushes? I only went out there to try, unsuccessfully, to explain to him what I’m explaining now. It seems this is the only way to express.
I carried on seeing SL for as long as I could. I could feel that she was going to finish me and I knew I was going to be extremely fucked off. Her friends could tell that I wasn’t comfortable. Gay C’s boyfriend told me he thought I seemed “a bit slow”. He said, “I don’t mean slow in the head, just- slow to act”. He asked me why that was. I said girls had bullied me in school. A moment of realisation crossed his face: He’d started to get a glimpse of what kind of mind-frame I had. But what was pissing me off the most was that I was explaining this to people other than SL. I wanted her to see things from my perspective. To this day I still haven’t let her do that.
I didn’t have much of a chance. She finished me eventually, claiming I’d done nothing wrong and her ex was causing her hassle. Maybe he had, but I was fully aware of my mistake. But whatever hassles she was having, if I’d been braver she wouldn’t have finished me. She felt I didn’t trust her and that I always looked really nervous around her. I tried so hard to hide that from her.
After this people continued to slag her off. She’s no angel- she’s a major pisshead- but she didn’t deserve to have to deal with peoples attitudes, and neither did I.
Why can’t I go through the dating process like most other people? When they meet someone they feel good. One of my Facebook friends updated her status as “excited about the next few months” when she got with her boyfriend. When CB met DB, he rang me to tell me all about it (graphic sex details included. Sorry dude) and he was really enthusiastic. When I meet someone and I’m attracted to her personality as well as her body, I feel emotionally at risk. She could hurt me. The more attracted I am, the bigger risk I face. That’s why I was so unbelievably stressed dating SL. This has to change.
I took this as the last straw. I figured it was time I took drastic measures, like I kept telling myself I would. I went to see NT, probably the best listener out of all my friends, with the intention of letting her see things from my perspective. I was shaking. I’d been trying to talk things out with her since January- I’d made a decision that 2007 was the year that I was going to sort my life out and overcome my fears. The first thing I needed to do was tell NT about them. Things got in my way, though.
So in September I finally got round to talking to NT. I told her basically what I’ve told you- what happened with SL, what happened in school- but I stopped short of telling her about the situation I’m in.
There were other people in the room- good friends of mine- but to open up completely it would have been easier if it was just the two of us, and the TV with the god-awful comedy wasn’t on. I’m very easily distracted.
NT has had her own struggles- she’s still working on quitting smoking. She mentioned that, in her efforts to kick the habit, she’d visited a place called E.K.C. EKC is a qualified psychotherapist working in Oldham. A professional. She gave me King’s card and suggested I gave it a shot. I felt a little better after finding this out. I had a plan. Even though I didn’t know how to pull myself together, I knew what to try next. And when you’re in my situation, you’ll try fucking anything.
It wasn’t an act. SL is incredibly shy, but at the same time, very comfortable with her body. So much so that she found herself invited to the Playboy Mansion some years later. She had a picture of herself on Facebook with her arm around Hugh Hefner. Jesus fuck.
NT was a good friend but we’ve drifted apart. She’s a small-town girl, so when I started going out in Manchester she dropped off the radar. Also, as I got older I hung around with girls less, which I think had affected my persona and confidence. Men help men be men.
SL did not rip me on the door of Walkabout. The doormen did. In retrospect, those individuals were raging faggots. One of them went to work at Manchester Walkabout for a few years, after which he allegedly got sacked. I have no idea why.