“What would really get my cock hard would be a picture of you braless, in a blouse with one or two more buttons undone than would normally be socially acceptable.”
Photo courtesy of Wriggly Kitty
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I love my job. I pour as much of my myself into my business as I would a human baby. But sometimes it’s bloody exhausting. Between last Sunday morning and now I’ve worked 82 hours. I’ve written and delivered two conference sessions, done three film shoots, organised a fourth, begun negotiations on visas for a notoriously tricky country, and written about 4000 words of copy. None of this is a complaint, but I am looking forward to resting. Today will be my first completely work-free day since 22nd October and I plan on doing little more than reading and eating things that make me happy!
“Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by so quickly you hardly catch it going.”
He wasn’t working at the time so weekday afternoons were our default time for hanging out. We’d chatted lazily over tea, I’d come under the rhythm of his tongue and we’d polished off an early evening dinner.
He had evening plans. I had a girlfriend coming over for wine and chat.
His plans were cancelled.
He stayed to say hi and took a glass of wine. The chat was relaxed and the wine good. One glass turned into two and before I knew it the bottle was drained. He got up to get another bottle from the fridge. He returned with the wine but minus trousers.
Confident. Brazen. Hot as fuck.
A clarion call.
My stomach flipped and my cunt pulsed. I felt the colour rise in my cheeks. But none of us acknowledged the adjusted dress code. He topped up our wine, sat back down and we picked up the conversation. Through the loaded atmosphere and increasingly disjointed chat my friend and I made eye contact. Eyebrows raised in slight question and half smiles communicated wordlessly that we were both good with this.
The conversation tailed off, both of us watching as he teased himself hard, gripping his cock through his underwear. It’s funny how we remember detail. The underwear sticks in my mind. Hard cock profiled through fresh white cotton. He eases them down. I dip my head but hesitate, enjoying being stood on the edge of a moment.
He pushes my head down in what felt like slow motion and then I am sucking his beautiful dick. I could have stayed in that moment for much longer, feeling him thrust into my mouth and enjoying the moment of exhibitionism and thrill of us being watched. But I force myself to pull away. I look up, catch her eye and nod.
It all speeds up then. In one swift movement she’s on her knees in front of him. He’s gripping the back of my neck and kissing me with an intensity I rarely feel, as if he’s communicating the pleasure he’s getting from her mouth through the force of his kiss. My fingers in her cunt as I slide down onto his cock. Me smiling as I sit back for a minute or two and sip my wine as I watch her ride him.
Then he’s pushing her to her knees and directing her face between my legs. He fucks her from behind, the force of his thrusts pushing her tongue harder onto my clit. Of all the flashbacks I have of that evening this is the one I feel most keenly. The moment of locking into eye contact with him, appreciating the pleasure play across his face as he fucked her, watching his expression flicker between calm and concentration.
That was more than eighteen months ago but I think about it often. Present moments may go by quickly but I close my eyes and this is yesterday.
Dendrochronology is the method by which you date a tree by analysing its patterns and age rings. It is derived from the Greek word dendron which translates as ‘tree limb’. On Friday I noticed @lovelustlondon tweet that this weekend he adds another age ring to his chronology. As I’d so far only published one shot from our April walk in the park I thought a birthday Sinful Sunday was in order. Happy Birthday!
This time last year I’d just been dumped. Not quite ghosted but not far off. In the year since it happened I’ve trodden the well-worn post-break-up path; there’s been shock, disbelief, ‘what did I do wrong?’ wondering, looking at their social media feeds, sadness, anger and bitching. The only good thing about it all is that I haven’t been going through it alone. You see, I wasn’t dumped by a lover, I was dumped by a friend and Jedi Hamster and Charlotte Brown were dumped at the same time.
The screen grab opposite is the message that dropped into our WhatsApp group (and yes, don’t judge, we did also have a separate for-spoiler-avoidance GBBO chat!) and then ‘xx left’. Just like that. Actually, probably not ‘just like that’. In hindsight the signs had been there for a while: subtle and not-so-subtle silences that would smart; an air of disapproval and judgement; casual criticism of things we’d always enjoyed together that felt like a point being made; and sometimes just undeniably mean behaviour.
But why am I using this language? Isn’t it a bit relationship-y? Well, yes, but in the last week I’ve discovered a new label – love-affair friendships. I picked it up in Rosie Wilby’s Is Monogamy Dead? In it she references the “impenetrable fortress of female friendship”, speaks of how “intense non-sexual trysts between women are common” and ponders whether “a world beyond the oppressive binary of relationships being either sexual or not, might be the richer and more vibrant one.”
I wonder how many of you are nodding along to that as I was when I read those words. I’d wager that many women reading this will recognise some of their friendships in those statements. Not all of them. We can ‘just’ be mates. But it’s undeniable that many (most?) of us have a handful of ‘food for the soul’ friendships that aside from the physical component can feel as intimate as the relationships we enjoy with our partners. Are those friendships more common between women than men? I don’t know!
So what was our group was like? Well, we were funny as fuck, obviously. We were so funny we decided we needed a shared Twitter account to give life to our musings and observations. That was bollocks and lasted about a month – in jokes are rarely funny to the outside world! But while the belly laughs were good, we bonded over far more than our ability to make each other laugh; all of us single, childfree and with complex relationships with our families, we recognised ourselves and our hang-ups in each other’s experiences and responses. Some of our chats about body positivity and sex probably sowed the seeds of this blog. Jedi Hamster came up with the name Exposing 40!
Should friendships like this last forever just because, for a time, they felt so significant? No, of course not! I have often thought that there’s excessive pressure for longevity and commitment placed on female friendships and an assumption of loyalty that is rarely expected of male friends or sexual partnerships. A few years back a sociologist from the University of Utrecht in the Netherland founds that on average we ‘lose’ 50% of our friends every seven years. I can believe this. Lives evolve, circumstances change and we meet new friends through jobs, travels, volunteering, new lovers.
But there’s a difference between the natural ebb and flow of ‘of the moment’ friendships and the fracturing of the ones that help shape us. And there’s no recognisable prescription for getting over those. No automatic right to mourn. If I split up with a partner and needed a cry or a bitch, that would be perfectly normal – people know how to rally for that. Break up with a friend and want to talk it out? There aren’t the same social norms around that.
But how does all this fit with a book about monogamy? Doesn’t monogamy refer to lovers not friends? Well, you might think so but Rosie explores monogamy in the wider sense. The jumping off point for her book is a survey where she poses a series of questions to help her unpick respondents’ views on monogamy and what counts as infidelity. Now, if you’re a deeply scientific person concerned with credible representative samples, then look away. Me? As a twenty-something PR who felt her cheeks burn when interrogated by a journalist about the ‘80% of Welsh respondents’ and then had to confess that the Welsh contingent in fact numbered 10, it should be said that I am not averse to a wafer-thin bit of evidence if it provides a good hook for a story. And this book is full of good stories.
If you’re endlessly fascinated with human experiences, emotions and behaviours then ignore the sample size (100!) and just soak up the stories. Through 49 pithy and anecdote-driven chapters Rosie explores what monogamy really means. If you’re not in an open relationship what counts as cheating, kissing or falling in love but doing nothing about it? Do our needs for emotional security and physical intimacy need to be found in the same person? That’s a lot of pressure for one person. If our lives are a rich tapestry of different people with whom we enjoy different connections, are we all a bit non-monogamous?
As the book is winding up she talks about the issue of language and muses that “if we don’t have the words for a particular type of loving relationship, we can’t talk about it and it remains invisible.” Like I said above, I hadn’t heard the term love-affair friendship until a week ago. I don’t actually need my friendships to be more visible in the literal sense of the word – I play a pretty open hand as far as talking about the friends that really matter to me goes! But taking that label to reconsider certain friendships was an interesting exercise.
Was our friend wrong for wanting out? No. No more than a partner would be wrong for ending a relationship if it no longer brought joy. But I also know exactly how she would have responded had a man behaved towards us in the way she did. What are our responsibilities when we decide a friendship has run its course? There’s no blueprint for ending them. But just going dark leaves a bitterness that’s sometimes a bit hard to swallow, even if the collective moaning sessions are therapeutic.