|The 40 In 40 Days Project.|
40. The Falling In Love (1985)
The Au Pairs
Grocerina was the heartthrob of
Nottingham University’s Gaysoc. At our weekly meetings in the darts
room of the Narrow Boat, competition for the seats either side
of him was fierce. Woe betide you if you needed to visit the toilet
– for on your return, your seat next to Grocerina would invariably
have been grabbed by yet another eager admirer.
I was just as enamoured of Grocerina
as everybody else. One night, back at my digs after the club, I popped
the question. It was what my old Latin teacher would have called “a
question expecting the answer No”. And a No is what I got back.
However, as rejections went (and I’d had a few by then), this was
the most charming I had ever received. Not only did Grocerina let me
down gently – not only did he express the entirely sincere wish that
we could stay good friends (and we are indeed still good friends to
this day) – but he also suggested someone with whom I might be
compatible. To my surprise, he suggested K.
I had met K on two previous
occasions, both times in large groups. Once at the club, and once at
Grocerina’s party. We had barely spoken to each other. He struck me
as shy, quiet, reserved, somewhat ill at ease with the jollity of his
surroundings. He did not strike me as potential boyfriend material. I
explained all of this to Grocerina – who told me that I had formed a
wholly misleading impression. K didn’t feel particularly at ease in
clubs, and – being a couple of years older than the rest of us, and
a graduate – student parties weren’t his natural milieu either.
Grocerina promised me that he’d try and arrange another meeting
sometime soon. He was someone whose judgement I had already learnt to
trust – so I was already curious.
What I didn’t know at the time was
that Grocerina had also been stepping out with K on a reasonably
regular basis over the last couple of months. They weren’t exactly
what you would call boyfriends – but they weren’t too far off
either. Grocerina had realised by then that the relationship had
already run its course, and I guess that in some ways, he was looking
for a way out. And now here I was, making the moves on him myself.
What could be more convenient than to introduce the two of us, in the
hope that we might pair up and get off Grocerina’s back? Killing two
birds with one stone, in other words. It was a cunning plan – but
one that, if successful, could work to all of our best interests.
Fast forward a couple of weeks or so.
Saturday evening, April 20th, 1985. Grocerina, Chuds and I have all
been to see A Passage To India together. K is also in the same
cinema with other friends, but we have yet to meet up. Back at my
digs, Grocerina gets on the phone to K. Why don’t we all meet up at
the club in an hour or so?
K has been drinking champagne and
listening to Don Giovanni all afternoon. Grocerina, Chuds and I
have all piled back to mine in order to catch up with that evening’s
episode of Dynasty on video. There is, shall we say, something
of a cultural gap at this stage.
We all meet up at Part 2. K
seems quite different to the retiring boffin type I had met before. He
is full of life, full of energy, and utterly charming. We are already
directing much of the group conversation at each other. A couple of
drinks later, standing on a raised area overlooking the dancefloor, I
make my lunge. It is immediately and enthusiastically reciprocated.
We never look back.
And here we are, still together after
nearly seventeen years. Blissful, in fact. Sure, we’ve weathered a
couple of storms along the way - of course - but nothing we couldn’t
sort out between ourselves. In fact, the experiences have made us
stronger. Now, to my mild amazement, we’re closer than ever. Who
would ever have thought that was possible, after all this time? What
we have is special, there’s no doubt about that.
But if you’re expecting me to
analyse our relationship, or if you’re expecting me to share the
secrets of our success, or if you’re expecting florid paeans to
K’s all round gorgeousness and the magic of our love, then I’m
afraid I shall have to disappoint you.
We don’t do slushy.
But before I go off and prepare
myself for tomorrow’s fortieth birthday celebrations (some of my
friends are downstairs waiting for me now, so that we can crack open
the first bottle of champagne), I do have a couple of final thoughts
to share with you all – and I am going to try and express them with
as much objectivity as I can muster.
K is, without doubt, the most
wonderful man I have ever met.
And I am the luckiest motherfucker on the planet.