Guest Blog: Everyone I've Ever F*cked.
#10 Briony - My Pyramid*
[* In the sense of barely any time or investment on her part, but a whole universe of emotion on mine.]
I knew she was a dyke before I turned around. Queuing at uni in South West
London to start a post graduate course, my gaydar was heightened enough to
tell a rug muncher by a shoe style, a way of standing, the nape of a neck, a
glance. Or a voice. And her voice, behind me, disembodied, said 'gay'.
We became firm friends. Both more twisted and sarcastic than the conventionality of our lives allowed us to be. Both too cerebral, obsessional, quiet and geeky to survive in the world without adapting and hardening. I saw her bookshelf, and I wanted her.
In fact, most of the time, I wanted her. When she brushed my arm in the Refectory. When she constantly bumped into me on the walk through the woods to uni. When she leaned in towards me to offer a sarcastic whisper, and I caught a scent of her perfume, her body smell, or the sweet sickly tang of her breath. When I sat in the Refectory at lunch and she only ever sat with me. Only ever spoke to me. Only ever gave that deep throaty, dykey laugh with me.
I passed. I passed for dyke. My first uni had been somewhat of a "lesbian bolt hole" to quote the alumni, and fifty percent of my friends were LGB. I had been to gay sex shops, to summer and winter Pride, knew how to play the Northern Line Game (eye contact too lingering, knowing smile, sly wink, blow a kiss) and my favourite nightclub was a monthly (fnarr) dyke nightspot. I was pretty sure of myself fitting in fairly unobtrusively into the gay subculture if I tried. I knew for truth that the cool dykes never fuck with a straight girl, never come on to a bi. If I wanted this woman, I had to play experienced, absolute, hundred percent Kinsey dyke. I was pretty sure of myself. Pretty sure. Not certain.
So I passed for gay. Never mentioned the boyfriend in North London. 'Outed' myself at uni in a deplorable high drama public showdown with a homophobe, a showdown that Briony knew was coming, and hid from, in horror that I'd out her too.
I realised that I'd have to make the first move. (These days, I realise that all women are passive, that this is always the case, no matter how butch they think themselves.)
I cancelled a date with Brian #8. He decided to drop the whole venture, see a friend. So it wouldn't make any difference if I went to the same bar that night with her, would it? You can see what's coming, can't you? Of course he turned up. I sat in that bar with my boyfriend, his best friend, and my girlfriend. I went home with her, to the sweetest most gorgeous night of longing yet not fulfilling I'd ever passed in a single bed with a woman entwined in me. Secretly. No confessions to either party. And I got away with it. I did. I carried it off.
The guilt was too much for me. First I cried at home to my flatmate, who thought it a brilliant opportunity to try to jump my bones. Then admitted to her, and broke it off. Then I cried at home some more. Finally, I traced him, and tried to get him to sit in a cheap cafe, for me to break it off. I had loved him, after all, and I wanted someone else. It was the most decent route left to me. But I couldn't find a cheap cafe, like the MTV shorts told you to. In fact, I spent so long tramping around Islington looking for one that he accosted me: "you're trying to find a cheap cafe to dump me in, aren't you?"
Another night of crying to the other flatmate, another badly avoided clumsy pass. Finally, I crawled, guilty, back to Briony's. By this time, she'd shown me that she had a long term, all consuming beloved girlfriend herself. That she was willing to date me but not to love me. Any sex we had would be a punishment for the love of her life, nothing more. Walking out to the shop for plum jam, with tears in my eyes, I spied Brian #8 on a bus, waving cheerily at me, forgiveness in his eyes. I was wearing trouser's he'd given me, which still had stains in the dye from illicit, furtive sex with him a year before. I left. shattered.
One more try: after a day wrangling with myself, and a night crying while listening to KD Lang (see, I was still passing), I rode the two hours of train from South London to North East, to Briony's apartment. Looked in amazement at the sensitive intellectual soul on display through her books. Knew this woman had a power to hurt me. To hurt me more deeply and woundingly than any man ever could. I should have run screaming. But here's the kicker: I found that thrilling.
Posted by Clytemnestra, as part of the Twelve Guest Blogs of Christmas