Sunday, 23 June 2013

Weddings and couples

Virgil and I see old friends and play the couple for a day. Afterwards I feel sad.

Virgil and I spent yesterday impersonating a couple at a wedding. Actually it was a first anniversary party thrown by the parents of some friends of ours who married secretly with only friends present on holiday last year. If they had hoped to escape the drama of a family wedding (I don't think this was their motive but...) they failed.

It was in most regards just like a wedding but without the vows. There was cake, a band, a reception in a rural hotel and the father of the bride gave a speech. Our friends were philosophical.

"As long as we're not expected to be grateful for this in years to come," said Fred, "it's fine. We had no say in arranging it."

Weddings are coupley places, aren't they? When I say this to Virgil he said: "Well that's what they're for. Couples breed couples." Outside the city, people look different. Floral dresses, pashminas and fascinators - that's another thing weddings are good for. I stand out in vintage clothes and mostly black. I wouldn't have minded wearing something bright but it's all I've got. I'm not buying new clothes for a wedding.

Fred and Daisy knew we had split but no one else did and we didn't correct the misapprehension. Anyway, it was mostly polite conversation with family and family friends. It didn't matter. The painful thing was – is – that we sort of slipped into a closer, more familiar way of being with each other. We got on brilliantly. Virgil held my hand and put his arm around me. The fact of having split up started to feel unreal. "We're so natural together," I thought, "We should be together. Why did we break up?"

Weddings are terrible for having to explain yourself. When asked how I knew the pair, I just said: "Through Virgil, who has known them since time immemorial almost." The truth is we know Fred and Daisy through sex parties, as did a few other guests who eventually outed themselves to us.

Swingers hide in plain sight. They look normal. They are rarely the tartiest or flirtiest people in the room and never the best looking. They also tend to assume special swinger-names. I asked one spectacularly average-looking chap why he did so. He said: "Actually it's nice to have some separation between everyday life, our professional jobs, and what we get up to at the weekend. I look forward to going home on Friday evening, knowing that I'm going to be Felix for the next few days."

I said: "I've never used a pseudonym, but it's funny that my real name is one that quite a few people do use as a swinger name."

This is not quite true, of course. Penny Black is to make her debut at a spanking party next week, if all goes to plan.

During the night Ela and her new boy get up frequently to use the toilet. Ela's bedroom door opens and closes, then the bathroom door, then the bathroom door again, then Ela's bedroom door again, right outside my bedroom. They're noisy doors and I sleep badly, vaguely aware of the coming and going.

This morning I am unproductive (no exam revision gets done) and about as grouchy as it gets, which is quite a lot. I have almost nothing good to say, although the gratitude diary I am keeping helps. There: I am grateful to be keeping a gratitude diary which makes me focus on the positive aspects of my existence.

But I feel hostile and lonely, jealous of other people's fun and good feelings. I know the insanity of this even as I do it. I have had to cancel two social engagements in order to work an impromptu shift. I need the money. I am saving for new glasses. It's the only way I'm going to get them.

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