Exotic babe, 25. Slim, curvy, very attractive, intelligent, creative, professional seeks intelligent, attractive, well travelled man, 22-35.
Such was the alluring advert I placed in Time Out in 1995. I got sack loads of mail, several from men who said they “couldn’t resist” an advert like that. I weeded through all the photos, eliminating those with two heads or over 65, and created a pile of men I potentially wanted to meet. I then called them to see if we would click on the phone. Some were clearly deranged, aggressive, or thick as a jellyfish, so I created a smaller pile of people I was going to meet.
My favourite of the lot was an incredibly good looking DJ who played at clubs all over the place. Blonde, chiselled and cool I decided he was just the man for me and had fervid fantasies about becoming a DJ’s groupie. I had just started seriously clubbing and taking ecstasy. Unfortunately, he wanted my photo before he’d agree to meet. I sent him the photo but tragedy struck when he didn’t like it at all. His friend phoned me up, saying he didn’t want to meet but was looking for advice on a trip to Cuba instead. Hoping he might change his mind, I gave the advice but never heard from him again.
I became obsessed by the notion that he was “the one” and would spend hours looking at his photograph. That I was developing these feelings about someone I’d never met didn’t strike me as odd at all. If only I’d sent a different photo the outcome would have been different, I wailed. I became so infatuated that eventually I had to burn his picture on the gas stove to put out the fires of “love” in my mind. That worked to an extent but it did make a nasty mess.
Dejected, I set out to meet the other men. One looked like a foetus and was nothing like his photograph. I walked past him five times at the tube station thinking, “oh fuck that can’t be him.” What can you say when your presented with someone who looks like an afterbirth? I was too shy to say, “you look nothing like your photo, please fuck off” and wasted an hour with him.
Another seemed promising and I ended up canoodling with him in a hotel. I was lonely and bored and wanted some action now. He then phoned me up saying that he wanted to meet me in hotel rooms and pay me for sex. Not realising what a great opportunity this was to make extra cash, I said I wasn’t that type of girl and slammed down the phone.
There were quite a few men who were very into me. But I just wasn’t into them. The vast amount of interest I’d generated with my ad seemed to be turning to dust as I couldn’t find someone I liked who wasn’t into kinky sex.
A very interesting option presented itself to me as I was outside my father’s house in Notting Hill. I was discussing a man with a friend from school who I said “was much more marriage material” than her ex. I was wearing a see through peach coloured dress and straddling my bike. An incredibly attractive man with a dog looked me dead in the eye, saying “whoever he is, he’s a lucky man,” then walked off down the street. It wasn’t me that was getting married you silly man, I was talking about my friend. I stared after him, mouth gaping, not knowing what to do, then eventually did nothing, of course. I became convinced I had “ruined my life” by not following him down the street. If I had, I was sure, we would have got married immediately. I had fantasies about the wedding, thinking the best man would be an Emperor Penguin and the bridesmaids, sheep. I wanted a unique wedding with an animal theme. Jesus was the Lamb of God so I was sure the church would let in a flock of sheep. My imagination blossomed: flamingos and peacocks could waft theatrically around, handing out canapés. And the horse drawn carriage could be pulled by a zebra instead. It has to be said that when I mentioned this fantasy to a man I was on a date with he immediately ordered the bill. Morose, I trailed around Notting Hill, with a pair of binoculars eyeing every man and especially men with dogs. When the police stopped me and inquired what I was doing I waved the binoculars shouting, “I’m looking for a man with a dog.” They mentioned something about psychiatric services but this was obviously a joke. I even thought of putting up an advert in the newsagent saying “desperately seeking man with dog.” Alas my efforts to find him were in vain and I never saw him again. It didn’t cross my mind that he was probably a player to come out with a comment like that.
At work, I had moved to the Aramaic and African desk in the BBC World Service newsroom, with a very civilised start time of 11.30 or 1 o clock. I still managed to be half an hour late every day, huffing in sweating and panting when my editor had gone to the loo. Part of my job was going to editorial meetings at the language services every day. It was there I met Gogol the gargoyle who had a profound effect. Gogol was married, to someone working in the next door room. But this didn’t stop him trying to put his wick about as much as he could.
“Leave us” he would say, waving his hands dramatically to shoo everyone out when I came in. “We need to be alone.” He would then try to chase me round the room to have a snog. I would dodge this, more and more expertly as time went on. But he was totally lacking in shame and then tried to snog me in front of ten people in the lift. We would go out for coffee, or rather he would have coffee and I would have a glass of wine. He would tell me he loved me and not to worry about his wife. His wife wasn’t my primary worry, it was turning to stone if I ever woke up next to him in bed. Of course it was sexual harassment. But I felt sorry for him. Without any awareness of sex addiction, I realised he had a problem and couldn’t help the way he behaved.
I got into serious trouble at the Aramaic Service by writing a news story that mentioned that an Israeli had bought land from a Palestinian. “No Palestinian has ever sold land to an Israeli,” shrieked a Palestinian member of the editorial team, looking like he was going to wallop me in the face. Little did I know that I had strayed into one of the most contentious areas of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although most of Israel was established by force, Israelis had in fact been buying land from Palestinians from before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Palestinians had been murdered for selling land to Jews and a few years later, in 1997, the Palestinian Authority made it a capital crime to sell land to Jews. But the fact that they had to do this showed it was still going on. I’m sure the Aramaic translation of my story that was actually broadcast mentioned nothing about the land sale at all probably saying the Israeli had beaten him round the head and stolen the land.
One day I was heading with trepidation into Gogol’s office (not because of a political squabble but simply because he might try to feel me up) when I saw a tall, dark, handsome, stranger there. “Caroline,” Gogol rushed towards me to give me a hug. “Ah,” he flicked a hand towards the man, “this is Akbar, a reporter with the Aramaic TV news.” Mr Hotstuff gave me a big smile and I smiled right back. This was much more the type of editorial meeting I wanted to come to.
We repaired down to the bar at the end of my shift and talked for hours and hours. He was gorgeous, and fascinatingly knowledgeable about the Middle East. We swapped numbers and agreed to go on a date. After all my searching in Time Out I had found a man right on my doorstep at the BBC.
Things swiftly progressed to a snog and then canoodling in bed. I wasn’t just keen on this man, I was absolutely obsessed. I spent twenty three hours and fifty five minutes a day thinking about him. The other 5 minutes I might have, briefly, considered work. I spent all my day on the Aramaic desk fantasising about having sex with him in every position conceivable. Of course, to my practically virgin mind, this only meant one or two. Without any awareness of love and sex addiction, I realised I was totally hooked and that, to me, he was heroin. I wondered if I should write an article about “heroin sex” for GQ. Romantic thoughts about ditching miniskirts and converting to Islam floated across the whirling Arabian sands of my mind. I noticed from all his family photos that his family looked fundamentalist and were all covered up. But he was so Western, I thought. What did it matter if you couldn’t see his family’s faces in their photographs?
But then just as I was about to have sex, disaster struck. He lost his job, as his whole television station closed down. Suddenly he was facing deportation and said he couldn’t continue the relationship until he knew what was going on. Bereft, I agreed to cool things down.
After a couple of weeks, it was clear he was going to get another job. He called me, wanting to meet up. I went round to his flat, hitting the walls with excitement, thinking this would be the time. We soon ended up in bed. But when I was almost naked expecting him to caress my lady parts, he said he didn’t touch women “down there” it was “a cultural thing.” I felt like I’d been slapped in the face, but, infatuated as I was, I carried on. But when he tried to fuck me it just wouldn’t go in. “Relax” he snapped, not making me relaxed at all. “Umm,” I said, my mind wanting to do it but my body saying no. In fact, though I was totally obsessed with the guy, no matter how many times I tried I couldn’t have sex with him. I went to extraordinary lengths to try to stretch my lady parts, buying a gigantic dildo and practising at home. Not wanting to waste any opportunities, I took the dildo into the BBC where unfortunately it fell out on the cash desk in the middle of the canteen. But all my efforts to stretch were in vain, I was tight as a drum and the damned thing wouldn’t go in.
We compromised with me giving him multiple blow jobs instead. But in the end he got fed up of the lack of sex and said he was sick of me. I felt like I’d fallen out of a lifeboat without a life jacket and the boat was now slipping away. I was devastated and almost cried; but of course I never cried. My parents had been so poisonous to me that I swore I would never cry as I didn’t want them to know how much they’d wounded me. I still can’t cry now.
Post-Akbar, I realised that no matter how desperate I was to have sex with someone, if they didn’t warm up my muffin it wasn’t going to happen at all. Having come up with nothing but a giant plastic dildo in my quest for a man, I settled back into life at work thinking I was as likely to marry Bigfoot as find Mr Right.
Next Saturday: Falling asleep in my handbag and major mishaps with myopic men in Rome.