February 1979. Ten years ago but she remembers it clearly.
Thursdays to Saturdays were club nights then. Different clubs each night but nearly always the same tribes, like-minded characters who were drawn to their own kind. On Friday nights they went to Rudy’s an easy going, ramshackle place that specialised in Ska and Two Tone with a bit of Northern Soul and Punk thrown in. It was a bit shabby but the music was good and the Posers provided the missing glamour. So long as you didn’t murder anyone in Rudy’s you could do what you liked, no one cared.
They were also the nights she had guaranteed sex with Gez. He was always there, waiting for her. They’d skirt around each other to begin with, each one not wanting to be the first to move in, but eventually one of them would break. They’d make small talk for a while, maybe dance then go to his car. It had been that way for eighteen months.
She remembers how much he dominated her life, thoughts and conversation back then. She remembers the loneliness of wanting someone so much more than they wanted you, scavenging for kind words, scattered like seeds by someone looking to harvest no more than a cheap fuck; words that would be carefully picked over in the next day’s post mortem. Most of all she remembers the shock of seeing him in Finlay’s that previous Saturday with his arm around another girl. They had looked bored but comfortable with each other; the kind of look couples take on once the novelty’s worn off.
February 1979. They walked into the club that night dressed to be noticed. Her eyes deliberately met those of the men watching her. She held their stare just long enough to show they were unworthy: it was part of the game they played. She spotted Gez in the crowd but looked through him, not quite sure how to play it. After Finlay’s she didn’t know what to say. The girls had coached her, drumming into her the questions she needed to ask. The problem was she didn’t know if she could bear the answers.
He came over to her earlier than usual and she wondered if it was because he knew he’d gone too far. Perhaps he understood there was more than just sex between them. She smiles now at the immediate and crushing disappointment of his first words,
“I’ve got a hard on just looking at you in that dress. Shall we go outside?”
So that was it, she thought. No conversational foreplay, just straight down to it. She wanted to tell him how much that hurt, how she’d spent the last six days thinking about him and that girl but she didn’t.
“Yeah, ok” she said as if she had nothing better to do.
She felt the warmth of his hand in hers as they walked to the car in the chilly February night. What was that her mum always said? “Cold hands warm heart.” She wondered if it worked in reverse.
She remembers thinking surely he loved her as much as she loved him.
She can’t actually recall the sex. She can’t recall any of the sex they had in the whole eighteen months. It must have been pretty uninspiring she decides.
Afterwards, she wanted to ask him about the girl but she couldn’t, so she pulled herself together and made her way back to her friends. In the toilets they listened sympathetically. They told her she deserved better and she knew it was true; she wanted something better but she wanted it to be with him.
They went back out and mingled with the tribes. She took her place on the dance floor moving easily to the pulsing beat, all the time aware that he was watching her. Before long she was glistening with sweat in the hot, steamy atmosphere. She felt as if the room was closing in and was in need of a cool drink. Gez followed her to the bar and grabbed her arm, pulling her over to a quiet corner.
“Something wrong?” he asked
“Why don’t you ever askme out?”
“Er… I didn’t think that’s what we were about.”
“Oh, so all I’m good for is a Friday night fuck in the back of your car then is it?”
“No…but you’re not really into all that going out relationship crap are you?… You don’t need all that conventional stuff… You just do what you like. You don’t need a night out or a ring to justify a shag. You want it so you just do it…That’s what I like about you.”
It had taken a few minutes to sink in. She stared at him blankly not sure what to do. She knew that he could be throwing her a line but maybe that really was how he, how other people, saw her. If she told him he was wrong she would be admitting that she was just like the next girl; she wasn’t strong or independent; she was bound by the same social constraints as everyone else. She couldn’t do it but she couldn’t stand the thought of being his Friday night recreation either.
In the background the DJ made a dedication for the next few songs,
“To the late, great Sid Vicious, RIP Sid. Life was short but you packed a lot in.”
The room throbbed as all but two of its population surged towards the ceiling in one great Pogo leap to “Anarchy in the UK.”
“You wanna dance? “ He finally asked.
“Yeah, but not with you “she snapped. “ I don’t want anything to do with you anymore.”
“What? Why not?”
“Because you bore me and your sex is shit!”
She left him before the furnace in her exploded. It was only the DJ’s next choice of record that held back the angry tears. As Sid’s flat, couldn’t give a fuck, voice croaked out “My Way” she smiled at the irony.
She makes up her face now and thinks about how different her life could have been if she’d told Gez that she was not the kind of girl he thought she was. She’d loved him in that intense, oppressive way that only comes with the first and she could have told him so that night but something held her back. She still doesn’t know whether it was pride, fear or that picture he’d painted of the woman she wanted to be and she guesses she never will.
She’s meeting the girls tonight. They don’t go clubbing much these days but it’s a special night. They’re celebrating the memory of Sid.
She’s feeling good. She might pick up some company if she’s in the mood later.
The taxi sounds its horn just as the stereo’s playing “My Way.” She raises her glass to finish off her drink.
She wraps her coat around her and thrusts her hands deep into the pockets to keep them warm.