BiCrushing: Theory and Reality
It wasn’t until my final year at university that I felt comfortable describing myself as sexually fluid or bisexual, and the years leading up to that were tough indeed. The period of my life between A Levels and the start of university was a notably bleak one when, instead of having a proper gap year surfing and sampling magic mushrooms on a South Pacific Island, I found myself volunteering in a local charity shop. Some days, I was working on the till with a girl who insisted on playing the Bee Gees Greatest Hits for the duration of her shifts. On better days, I picked through donation bags looking for music and videos we could sell. My boss on the music and video section was a woman in her early 30s. As we sat together in the stockroom pricing up Right Said Fred and cassettes, she chatted about her misspent youth, re-aquainting me with the neglected belief that mine was being well-spent.
I went away to university, and came back to the charity shop during vacations for about a year afterwards. One day in the summer, my boss invited me out for drinks, adding that her boyfriend, who was A Character, would be joining us. In the dictionary of euphemisms, the entry under “A Character” reads: “a harebrained letch with outspoken worldviews of entirely the wrong sort and a fondness for lager.” Sure enough, the early part of our evening was disrupted by the failure of the boyfriend’s elaborate scheme to jump the queue at the pub. When we eventually got inside, I wasn’t sure whether the impossible noise was a blessing (curtailing his likely rant about asylum seekers and the EU) or whether even that would have been better than a band playing drivetime rock cover versions. Nevertheless, I cared about pleasing my boss, and if feigning enthusiasm whilst dancing to drivetime rock covers was suddenly part of that remit, then so be it, I supposed.
But, as the evening wore on, it became more and more obvious that there was something a little confusing about the boss and her boyfriend’s relationship, namely that they were openly snogging strangers on the dancefloor in front of one another. Whatever the explanation for this: they were in an open relationship, they were too drunk to know what was happening, or too fed-up with each other to care, it would have been a suitable moment to leave. But I didn’t: and the next thing I knew, I was being told I had pretty eyes by the boyfriend. Whose own eyes (and beer breath) were inches from me. With my boss in view, I decided “Get lost, creep” wasn’t an option, and went down the more diplomatic route of avoiding eye contact and making “but won’t your girlfriend mind?” type-gestures. Apparently not. And apparently she would quite happily join us.
Sober and close to tears, I wormed my way out and bumped into someone from school, who, unbeknown to me previously, was friends with my boss: the kind of girl that would relate to Sugar from TVs Sugar Rush; which makes her the kind I spent most waking hours from age 12 to 18 avoiding. She recognised me, and tried I to make some small talk, as if I wasn’t in the middle of a packed pub trying to escape a threesome with my boss’s boyfriend. It was like being stuck inside one of those lucid morning dreams where everything’s going bizarrrely wrong. Like the ones where you’re inexplicably back at school taking an exam for a subject you’ve never learned.
And the moral of the story? Fantasy equals smoulderingly handsome older man and his smoulderingly glamorous wife in the bedroom of their half-million pound love nest. Reality, alas, equals a seedy drunk with cigarette breath and his charity shop manager girlfriend in a 1991 Reading Festival T shirt, on the dancefloor of a provincial pub. Luckily, I’ve never had to put “Reason for Leaving” on a job application form. Even to a firm on the most earnest diversity push, “Approached for threesome by boss’s boyfriend” doesn’t sound too great…