Harry #2

“I miss my monkey.”

Clearly all the Puka Puka’s had gone to my head because I’m sure I had just heard Harry #2 say that he missed HIS monkey. I refrained from blurting the first thing that entered my mind (WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK) and tried to contain the incredulous emotions from my face.

I failed.

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I was not subtle it seemed. I do struggle to contain my utter bafflement, disdain, ‘WTF’ expressions from my countenance even though I will do my best not to actively voice just how confounded a person can make me. Harry #2 caught my expression immediately though and promptly whipped out his phone and brandished a rather recent picture of a small grey monkey on his shoulder… equipped with a little diaper as well.

Well, fuck. “I had to give him up,” Harry #2 explained. “I miss him. I could not travel and leave him behind, it would be cruel.”

Wasn’t it cruel to have him in the first place? I’m sure the poor creature would prefer not to be contained to a small house by a lead and a fucking diaper. I didn’t say anything, I knew it was quite customary over here for people to have wild and exotic animals as pets. Besides, I was very attracted to Harry #2 and up till that moment he had seemed possibly like the most normal person I had ever dated.

I was struggling to find any fault. He was an IT technician… I think. It was something technical, something difficult to remember… like whatever Chandler’s job was in ‘Friends’. Anyway, he was also very intelligent and well-read with a great sense of humour. Sitting at the cocktail lounge I had chosen for us to meet, I felt decidedly sophisticated and mature. He was dressed superbly in a crisp white business shirt and formal trousers, he smelled Godly (there is just something about a man who smells like you could ravish him on the spot), and his shoes were freshly polished. He looked dark and weirdly handsome and rugged, unshaven (which is normal considering where I live now) and very tall. He bordered on skinny which I did not mind. Despite what my previous blog posts have expounded on, I do not particularly care about height or body type or any of that, but somehow my most intense experiences have revolved around men who frequented the gym. Ok well not that many- just two or three.

I was attracted more to his personality than anything else. I said weirdly handsome before because I don’t think he fit into the conventional standards of handsome. I found him pleasing but he did look a bit odd at times. Nevertheless, as we sat together in the cosy bar sipping cocktails and talking books and philosophy and life, I felt supremely sophisticated and the classy lady.

Until my cover was blown.

“It’s good to see you again, Miss Ashleigh,” the young bartender said amicably as he brought me my regular cocktail (a blasted thing called a Potted Parrot adorned with a garish bird to boot). He looked at the man sitting next to me. “I am sad to see that it did not work out with the other guy.”

This particular establishment had become my go-to when I wanted to meet someone for the first time. I hadn’t met many men here though, I believe there was one other who introduced me to the place before Harry #2. Anyway, I liked it so much I kept coming back. Guess I would have to shake things up a little bit now…

Luckily, Harry #2 didn’t seem to catch on or he chose not to comment on it.

We spoke for what seemed like hours and I didn’t let the fact that he had evidently kept a monkey as a pet get to me too much. When our drinks dwindled away, I honestly didn’t want the evening to end. He invited me over, I accepted, and we shared a cab to the hotel apartments where he was staying.

Sex wasn’t supposed to happen, it wasn’t the goal of my evening, but it did and it was good and I do not regret it though at the time I acted like I did. After the deed was done I collected my clothes and bag, feeling ashamed of myself, and got in the next cab back to my apartment. Harry #2 wanted me to stay… he asked several times if I would, but I brushed it off casually, attempting to keep cool and calm and collected.

I suppose I am unused to one night stands that extend beyond the “one night” but Harry #2 asked to see me again and I complied. He brought dinner and drinks to my apartment and after eating and fucking I asked him to leave. Who was this person, asking sophisticated lovers to exit her bed?? Damned if I know.

Maybe the universe was building up to a terrifying climax that makes me cringe even to this day.

The next week I did spend the night at Harry #2’s hotel apartment. It was a week night and I had to arise an entire hour earlier than him (cursed profession, that of an educator), which didn’t seem to be a problem. Naked as the day I was born under the covers, I pulled them back to get out of bed as something caught my eye.

My heart stopped beating in my chest.

It was small, but there nonetheless, and if Harry #2 chose to throw himself out of bed and mess the covers, he would have seen it too.

A small, obvious spot of blood was on the white sheets, a clear indication that my uterus was laughing at me and boycotting any attempts at a normal relationship with a nice man.

I was horrified. And I got back into bed and pulled the covers tightly above me so that the offending spot was invisible.

I grew up in a family that just did not discuss these sort of things openly, anything to do with sex, monthly cycles and bodily fluids was hush hush and almost scandalous. I am more open about them now but it has taken some time to navigate around the feelings of discomfort each time they are mentioned.

So when this unspeakable ordeal occurred in the fancy hotel apartment on the first night we spent together, I wanted to die.

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I lay there, mortified to my very core, until Harry #2 woke up for work and asked why I wasn’t up yet. “Oh, I er… decided not to go to work today,” I responded quickly. “Feeling a bit sick.” Lies, lies, lies!

How pathetic was I that I let a tiny drop of blood on a white sheet stop me from going to work? OK, well I hated my job at the time so it was an easy enough decision but c’mon… Well, I doubt Harry #2 ever found out about it because as soon as he left I stripped the bed and disposed of the evidence before housekeeping entered to finish the rest.

We saw each other on and off for about 2 months. I did like him but I figure there was no real connection between us, just some good sex and conversation. Harry #2 was very laid back throughout our brief courtship and maybe if I had adopted a similar approach we would have developed into something more serious. I struggled with the fact that we did not have a label, that there was no sense of commitment and it was implied that I was free to do whatever I wanted. It left me edgy and when I spoke to him about it, he asked me what I wanted.

“A relationship,” I told him directly.

“Then let’s have a relationship,” he replied as he packed his suitcase on the other side of the room for a two week business trip to Lebanon.

“It’s that simple?”

“Yes, why not?”

I shrugged, feeling uneasy. His phone went off from beside me on the bed and he asked me to pass it to him. As I did, I caught sight of the message on screen. I’m not a snoop, I have never found the need to search through another person’s phone before, but that message quickly eradicated any notion of a relationship with Harry #2.

Someone named Amy had written: “I really want to see you again.”

Instead of letting the issue fester and gnaw away at my thoughts, I asked him directly about it and received an indirect response.

“Sometimes it is possible to misinterpret what we read,” Harry #2 said when I asked him about Amy and whether he was going to see her again.

Very inconclusive.

For some reason I wasn’t hurt. I shrugged it off and contemplated absentmindedly what I should do about the matter, but the thought came and went like a pesky fly that I had to keep swatting away. Eventually I did end the relationship with an obscure and cowardly Whatsapp message that read something along the lines of: “I don’t feel very relationshippy. Sorry.”

I never heard from Harry #2 again. I did however provide him with a very loquacious drunken Whatsapp essay after one too many bottles (yes, bottles) of Prosecco in which I regaled him of all the deep dark musings of my broke and twisted mind. How I wish I had kept that bit of prose but, perhaps wisely, I deleted the evidence off my phone and Harry #2 blocked my drunk ass on Whatsapp.

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Harry #1

I have had a guy ask me to lick his nipple. I have had a guy ask me to stick a finger in his pink (I assure you, I did not indulge this request). I have had a guy ask me to choke him.

Look, to each his own I suppose but I am a pretty normal girl.

There is nothing really that would surprise me anymore and although there was nothing extremely perverted about Harry #1, I have this lingering sense that he was just simply weird. I’ve labelled him Harry #1 because, as you can safely assume, there were two men of the same names that I happened to ‘date’ relatively close to one another.

Anywaaaaay.

Harry #1 and I met on Tinder. I had been in my new country for about 2 months and already I was a dismal dating disaster. I had met only one guy so far and it had veered horribly off course (not that I could blame him though- he was and is very young and deeply complex- more on this surprising development later). I was a bit tentative when it came to this one… he was a weight-lifter who had competed in several professional competitions or some such (SERIOUSLY MY TRACK RECORD RUNS LIKE THE WHO’S WHO OF GYMBAG DOUCHERY!).

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OK, so maybe I have a weak spot for a finely corrugated abdomen and biceps the size small bowling balls. Harry #1 was half American and half Arab, not so tall as he was wide, swarthy skin, thick wavy hair- the boy damn well cleaned up well, I say. There wasn’t a speck of hair on his body, too. I bet if he greased up you could slide right off him like an amusement park ride…

He checked off the boxes relatively quickly- good looking, engineer, educated, English proficient and he was in the market for a serious girlfriend. Yes, folks. Harry #1 looked good on paper.

On paper.

He collected me from my apartment in his very posh and expensive car and whisked me off for dinner and drinks at a nice restaurant about 30 minutes off-island. Jesus, the man could eat. Without preamble, he ordered for himself the biggest cheeseburger on the menu, a starter portion of cheese fries and chicken wings followed by the chocolate brownie dessert and the plate sized double chocolate chip cookie smeared with cream and yet more ice cream. He consumed it all like a hoover.

He was sweet though albeit a bit goofy. I couldn’t quite get used to his sense of humor… it was almost under-developed. Quite childish. I felt like he was on the verge of telling me a knock-knock joke half of the time, and he would giggle (yes, giggle) at slapstick trip ups and farts.

However, it was a first date and so far it wasn’t all bad. He did not let me pay for anything and drove me back home. We proceeded to kiss in his car for a spell and I knew by the way that he moved his lips that he was experienced… the boy knew how to kiss. Warning maybe?

Anyway, I did not take Harry #1 upstairs (Hurrah! Gone was the sluttish, misbegotten ways of my youth! I could refrain for a whole first date without pouncing on him. Such willpower…) and I was mildly surprised when he called and asked to spend some time with me that weekend. At this point in my transition to a new country and a new apartment, I was still living in some unfurnished hovel. My recent pay cheque had a nice little back pay that I quickly spent on some IKEA furniture. Well, Harry #1 had his uses in the end….

[Quick IKEA side rant- What kind of fucking company lets people assembly their own fucking furniture? Jesus Christ. I am already giving you my money, just fucking deliver the shit fully assembled to my door, you twat monkeys! Is this a foreign concept to you, well-off European country?? I could totes understand the need to assemble one’s own furniture if I fucking collected the wood for my fucking bed from the fucking tree in the BARBARIC JUNGLE I was dwelling in!]

So Harry #1 helped me assemble my bookshelf and subsequently a friend’s bench. I learned a particular thing about him during this procedure- he had no idea what to do with a hammer. Or how to follow instructions. Or anything remotely to do with assembling something (engineer?). His fancy car, his high paying job, his lifestyle- these were all entitlements and he unknowing acted like they were too. It became abundantly obvious to me that this was a man who would not be able to cope should he have to one day fend for himself.

It was very off-putting.

So I fucked him.

What made the sex so good was that despite the fact that Harry #1 didn’t quite know how wield a hammer or tie his shoelaces without the assistance of a hefty entitlement or a servant, in the bedroom he was a beast. He took control. He lasted an acceptable amount of time. He balanced the right amount of sexy aggressiveness in his voice when he was aroused, a startling and welcoming contrast to the soft pansy-like quality otherwise. He finished (a bit too loudly).

And then he farted.

And then he giggled.

And I despaired.

Was I inhabiting some other worldly dimension where this was acceptable bedroom behaviour?

And it got weirder.

He gave me a live, naked demonstration of how his mother would whip his ass if he had done something she didn’t like.

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Yeah… hashtag: GET THE FUCK OUT.

I blocked him soon after that, and then one night drunkenly unblocked him. He would message me occasionally and harp on about how broken he was over his ex-girlfriend or some such shit but this was one guy I was happy to not care about at all. So in conclusion, I don’t miss or yearn for Harry #1 in the slightest but his brief sojourn in the chasm of my life was weird and profoundly… well, weird.

I wish I could make this stuff up.

Fuck Tonsil

I realise it has been 3 long years since I last published a post on this blog.

It was unforgivably rude of me and I do humbly apologise.

However, the time that I’ve abstained from my writing certainly the same does not pertain to the sordid and remarkable feats of my dating repertoire. I can and will assure you, the stories have increased tenfold… and I have been left dumbfounded and time and time again broken and alone.

But therein lies the beauty of everything I believe… the unerring ability to pull into oneself and, piece by little piece, put yourself back together until finally, through the cracks, little parts of the person you once were begin to shine through. And this is what it all boils down to, this is why I was pulled, tugged, pushed towards this blog- I am finding little bits of who I was again. I know I am not myself, I have not been for a very long time it seems, and perhaps the change I have undergone over the years since I started this blog is indeed irreparable, but though a person can change perhaps the foundations are not so easy to shake. I am, and probably always will be, a writer, a story teller, and hopefully there is someone who will read these words and be amused, touched, even healed.

Who knows? Enough morbidity. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

A lot has happened in 3 years. Perhaps the best way for me to reflect at this moment is through this particular gif:tumblr_lql77puo2t1qjgyuwo1_500

Let’s narrow it down. Oh, I adore the simplicity of lists… it’s as if you can minimalise the absolute atrocious fuck wittery that is your life into organised pigeonholes with which to tackle each problem individually (ha! ha ha ha!). Nevertheless, in no particular order here it is:

  1. Endured two long-term relationships.
  2. Immigrated (so I have dated in both the Southern and Northern hemispheres).
  3. Been engaged.
  4. Been jilted.
  5. Increased the number of guys I have slept with tenfold. Fuck.
  6. Lost myself.
  7. Found myself (in progress).

Maybe, if I think of more, I’ll add to this list, but right now those appear the most pertinent.

When I first thought about the concept behind this blog, I contrived of some fluffy notion that I could categorise the events of my dating life in the order that they happened. However, sometimes the timelines of each person I was seeing intermingled with another and so on… and now, three years down the line, I would struggle to grasp at the seamless flow of things. Hence, I will begin (again) with the most important.

I can not bring myself to provide my ex-fiance with a suitable alias, so I shall simply refer to him as Fuck Tonsil. Now, I can assure you that even in my lowest hours I can at least empathize with another individual and allot him an ounce of humanity in which I at least grant him a respectable name, but Fuck Tonsil does not deserve that. No, he does not. And I shall not allow him one for it makes me monumentally pleased to dub him that publicly despite the fact that all of this is completely anonymous.

So, it was a year ago to this day that I met Fuck Tonsil.

We met online first, of course. I had been living in my new country for 6 months, resplendently single and dangerously promiscuous (I jest, I err on the side of scrupulous safe practices- I’m the type of girl to always wear a bra during the deed and exclaim ‘ew’ when a guy pulls down his pants). I was on edge due to the trauma of my last relationship and emotionally susceptible to any far-stretching gestures of romance.

Enter Fuck Tonsil.

We had agreed to meet at a bar close to my apartment in the city. I remember driving past and recognizing him from the pictures he had sent me- I could not find fault in his appearance, that was for sure.

He was Arabic, Moroccan to be exact, with swarthy skin and dark hair and eyes. He was also a fitness trainer in the military. His body wasn’t built like most weight lifters but it was toned and well-formed with a taut abdomen I could pound rocks on. On paper, he was almost too good to be true except there was a slight issue with a language barrier. But we maneuvered  around that easy enough. Oh wait, he also had appalling taste in music…

Anyway, Fuck Tonsil was literally my first and last whirlwind romance. I do not think I can ever look at a bunch of red roses without acute suspicion and hate. He wooed me and swept me off my feet and I was helpless to resist. He was so lovely and endearing… surely this was what it was like to be wholly and fully loved without doubt?

Because of his occupation with the military, he spent one week on base and one week off base where he could leave his accommodations and do as he pleased. It became a quick adjustment that he would come to spend those weeks where he wasn’t on base with me in my apartment. Well, let me tell you, I am not a tidy girl. If there is a dish to be cleaned, chances are it won’t feel a drop of water or soap until I get so tired of looking at it that I call in a cleaner to deal with the matter. Fuck Tonsil had no qualms about keeping the place clean. He would also have a meal waiting for me when I got home from work. More often than not he would have acquired flowers, chocolates, gifts of varying sizes and expenses.

Until one day I came home to a ring. Why not? He was already calling me his wife. A ring just made it official. I was taken by him and the thought of dating… I can’t bear it anymore. Fuck Tonsil was more than I had ever hoped for and I remember being so happy that there was very little that could bring me down. The only warning bell I had at the moment was the fact that it was very soon and very sudden.

We had only been seeing each other for 3 months.

However, due to the fact that both our families were overseas and our holiday times could only coincide for a short time during each year, we opted for a lengthy engagement and would be married in August 2017.

We progressed happily in our relationship. Our weekends were spent at parties, brunches, beaches or romantic dinners. It was perfect. I had begun planning for the wedding, going as far as to reserve a wedding venue in South Africa, acquire bridesmaids, photographers, and even a dressmaker… Family and friends abroad were told to reserve a date to be in South Africa for the huge event.

Well, fuck me, right?

About four months into our relationship, Fuck Tonsil’s mother’s cancer appeared to take a turn for the worse and there was an overwhelming amount of medical bills inundating my future husband. I was with him while he transferred his entire salary to his mother and when that wasn’t enough, I could only comfort him in his despair. What little money I could offer, I did. Who wouldn’t? Besides which, the sum total wasn’t extensive or crippling, so I did.

In June 2016 the country entered into the holy month of Ramadan and I began to have the first tentative creepings of panic settle under my skin. Nothing was amiss, nothing had given me indication that something was transpiring under the surface. We had a plan, a purpose. For the month of July and August I would join Fuck Tonsil in Morocco to meet his family and enjoy a lovely holiday in a foreign country. We would return to the city together to commence with the new working year.

Due to his mother’s illness and the fact that his holiday began sooner than mine, he prepared to depart two weeks earlier than I. All was going according to plan. I literally had a PLANE TICKET to Casablanca, so why was I feeling uneasy?

I began to project my edginess, causing little tiffs that spiraled into full-fledged lunacy. During one spat, I threw my ring at him and the delicate sapphire came loose. Fuck Tonsil pocketed the ring, vowing to fix it once he was in Fez.

Because of Ramadan, we hadn’t slept together in two weeks. I felt uncomfortable if we did as he would not share a bed with me, unwilling to break traditions, so I avoided it.

People would always tell me to trust my gut. My gut was practically screaming something at me but whether I was just plain ignorant or unwilling to listen to the fundamental instinct telling me that SOMETHING was wrong, I do not know. I’ll never forget the night it ended, though.

I had said a teary farewell to Fuck Tonsil before he had departed for Morocco and the same evening I attended a farewell dinner for a colleague who was leaving the country. It was an Iftar dinner cruise and afterwards we went for some quiet drinks at a nearby bar, followed by more rowdy indulgence with a close friend at her apartment (the month of Ramadan doesn’t allow for any loud music or drinking of alcohol before sundown and any that is is seriously low key and kept out of public eye). It had been close to 18 hours since I last heard from Fuck Tonsil. I had his flight details and I knew that he was already in Fez but I granted him the benefit of the doubt that he was probably enjoying time with the family that he hadn’t seen in a year.

When I still did not hear from him, I sent a message to his close friends and brother who I had spoken to before and who I knew would be in contact with him…

Not long after this, I did receive a message from him.

“Ash, I not come back.”

I can look back on that moment as if from a distance, as if a bystander grimly curious at the scene of a macabre accident. Even though the message was plainly enough written before me, I couldn’t mentally accept that is indeed what he meant.

It is interesting to behold the moment that is one’s undoing. I can write about it now because those feelings are distant- remembered but not felt- but I know that if I had tried to formulate in words just how damaging the situation had been for me… well, I might had been subjected to a straight-jacket and padded walls.

Anyway, that was the precise moment that changed me. CHANGED ME.

It was established over the next two weeks that he had been fired from his position in the country we were in and he was not going to return from Morocco. This had happened in April. When shit hit the proverbial fucking fan it was June. Ya would fucking think he could have mentioned this to me? I bought the fucking plane ticket in May. Cunt. Boom- bye-bye cancellation fee that cost almost half the actual ticket price. Boom- bye-bye money I had saved to spend on holiday that went towards a ticket back to South Africa where I would return, tail between my legs, to lick my wounds. So long money I had loaned him to help pay for his mother’s hospitals bills. So long. And thanks for all the fish.

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I had a broken heart before but the clean up of those two relationships had been pretty much effortless- a few friends lost to the opposing team here or there. But this… Jesus. Each time I had to tell someone I was no longer getting married was like a painful and vehement disembowelment. Dealing with the repercussions was more than I could bear. I began to hide from the world.

I became a miserable cunt. I don’t like people any more. Honestly, I don’t. There are a select few I allow close now. I projected my hurt onto others and honestly there are a few relationships I may have ruined with people close to me. I am an arrogant and obnoxious drunk, picking fights with those closest. Alcohol is at once consoling and detrimental. It’s role in my life has become minimal at the moment.

I am still healing from that experience and occasionally I still have to endure the odd email from a wedding vendor who is inquiring about the progress of the impending nuptials. Those are setbacks that throw me but for the most part I am OK.

I don’t recognize the person who I was 3 years ago anymore. We look the same, but we are not the same. Change, in some ways, is good, but in others… well, we will see. I kinda miss the girl I used to be but I appreciate the one I’ve become.

So, I guess the whole point of this post is to say that… I’m back. Maybe not whole and maybe not the same, but I am back. I do not know where I am going, I do not know if I can find the humor in any situation (certainly not this one), but I am going to give it my best shot because there is a damn lot to write about that has left me dumbfounded, furious and amused.

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