Archive for July 9th, 2010

Vaseline. Prized for thickening eyebrows, healing cuts and aiding shoehorns, but a rabid pest if lobbed into rookie hands. It was 1988 and I was emigrating to London in three days and thought it might be a good idea to have sex before I left. It was all a bit new to me, the sex thing, and Random Paul seemed like a grudgingly safe bet. “It really turns me on if The Girl pretends she’s blind,” he smirked, twisting open a giant jar of the finest petroleum jelly. An hour or so later I was stuck to the bed, jellied tripe, while Random Paul bungled off into the sunrise, never to see his faux-blind harlot again.

Last night in Temple Bar, five of us well-watered journos began fly fishing for stories of bad sex and general mortification. As my fellow beer flunkies winced and hemmed and hawed and strained and moaned (and sang Michael Jackson tunes) to avoid coughing up the goods, Generation Game conveyor belt music starting going off in my head. There it was: the toaster, the golf clubs, the cuddly toy, a whole line-up of crap sexual experiences, sliding by as a consumer job lot of lousy shags.

A year after the blind-fantasy-vaseline man I was in the throes of my first serious relationship in London and apparently I was terribly frigid. “You’re not like other Irish girls I met, they were really dirty!” he protested. It was, of course, the start of a long line of gobshite men. To spice things up, and only because he owned a scooter and my flatmate’s boyfriend also owned a scooter, I suggested we try having sex with helmets on our heads. I thought it might be fun. In truth I wasn’t experienced enough to know what ‘spicing up’ meant? There was always helmets in the hall, broken umbrellas in the sitting room and booze in the kitchen. At first it was just sheer hilarious, we had to open up the visors that were steamed-up from laughing. We looked a bit like giant humping flies. But after a while when we really got into it, things got a bit road-crash hectic. Our heads were smashing into each other in full missionary force, my neck auto-whiplashing and the heat inside the helmet made it extremely difficult to breathe. By the time we abandoned our efforts there was nothing left for it but to get pissed and never mention it again. We broke up a few months later.

The London Years (1988-1995) were loud with all kinds of carnal clatterings. The jazz singer with the half-moon penis that he inherited in a bus crash, the Clapham barman who tried to ‘dry ride’ me when I was asleep and got his Winkle caught in his jean’s zip with disastrous ‘bloody’ consequences; an ensuing trip to St. Thomas’s Hospital where I had to pretend to medical staff I was his wife. The manic-depressive whose post coitus musings included a desire to fling himself off a motorway bridge. A Sikh guy who used to put my hand down his trousers and say: “Sikh and you will find.” I was desperately, painfully, saturated in unrequited love for him. There was also an Italian IT expert who could only get turned on after watching National Geographic – stuff like wildebeest stampeding on  the plains and open woodlands of Africa. He’d smolder out his nostrils and demand we head to the bedroom for animatistic sex as the programme credits were rising. It was a miracle I made it back to Ireland intact.

So there I was in my early 30s in a pub in north inner city Dublin totally infatuated with a sooty-haired musician with a cheeky grin and those West of Ireland certifiable green eyes. For months I gave him crab-sideways libidinous stares, come-hither smiles and ‘look at me, aren’t I just the dog’s bollix?’ belly laughs. I also made sure he’d hear snippets of personal details and how great my career was progressing, when I was chatting to some of the local deadbeats. I’d lost four stone so amazingly men were glaring back for the first time in aeons and West of Ireland man became so brilliantly reciprocal I had no choice but to bite the bullet and ask him back to my plywood apartment. This was my first blatant seduction and I was sheer delighted with myself.

The next bit happened so fast and so non-passionately that by the time I could say: “Do you want a can of Miller?” he had his cock out in my purple sitting room, demanding to know what I thought. This is still very hard to describe, even now, but there was a foreskin problem of sorts, well most definitely…the full details proffered by him there on the spot. His Ma admitted that she should’ve got him circumcised when he was small but that she really couldn’t bear to “hurt her baby” and ever since he’d started “doing the business” years later, he had to manually fold it over, his nuclear mushroom cloud, and tuck it in like an overgrown pastry lid, before he could get it inside a lady. The entire thing was so shocking that I wish I’d had the guts or gall to utter that famous Wickerman line: “Oh, God! Oh, Jesus Christ! Oh, my God! Christ! No, no, dear God!”

If bad sex doesn’t lead to a good heart, it will certainly lead to a good sense of humour. Last night as the Anti-Room meetup came to a prudent close, five  diehards posed a question no-one with even a quarter of a reputation would ever want to answer: I kept my gob firmly shut. Some things are just better off left dead in the bed, world without end, Amen.

June Caldwell is a writer, who after 13 years of journalism, is finally writing a novel. She has a MA in Creative Writing and was winner of ‘Best Blog Post’ award at the 2011 Irish Blog Awards. You can read this post on her own blog: here:

Read Full Post »

Just Say No

Dear old Elton John. The zanily-bespectacled, platform-soled one may well have been quite correct in his claim that Marylyn Monroe “lived her life like a candle in the wind” but he got it wrong when he maintained that “sorry seems to be the hardest word”. Sorry is fine. “No” is the one I struggle with. It’s often there, tingling on the tip of my reluctant tongue as I’m bombarded with yet another utterly unreasonable request from a client/friend/family member/total stranger.

It’s such a tiny word – just two little letters contained in one diminutive syllable. It can be uttered in a nanosecond. It’s the Usain Bolt of words – over almost before it’s begun. Yet sometimes it seems so much simpler to say “Sure that sounds fine to me” (6 words, 22 letters, a mini-marathon of a sentence) or even “Yes I can do that. When do you need it by?” (11 words, 30 letters, the full 26 miles).

It happened again today. I really thought I’d done the spadework to ensure that we were all perfectly clear on what was being promised. Several “Just to clarify…” emails had been exchanges and a number of wary conversations had taken place. Yet the phone rang, the excuses were proffered and inevitably the “favour” was requested. I opened my mouth and stumbled over the infinitesimal “no” that would have saved me hours of additional and unpaid work. “Erm, yes. Sure. I can do that I suppose. When do you need it by?” Doh!

Arrrrrgh! I could have kicked myself. I did in fact give myself a few resounding thumps. What’s wrong with me? I used to be brilliant at “No”. Admittedly it’s been several decades since my toddler-self happily (so to speak) screamed lusty no’s at the highest pitch of my squeaky voice and threw my tiny body to the floor to writhe in a paroxysm of self-justified rage. Perhaps I used up all my nos. Perhaps I peaked too early. When did I transmogrify into this obsequious people-pleaser and how can I reclaim some of my suppressed toddler?

Happily all was not lost. I may struggle to give voice to a refusal but I’m perfectly well able to write one down. A quick email containing a couple of choice phrases such as “On mature reflection….” and “I think you’ll find…” and I’m off the hook. No may not be so easy to say but it’s very, very easy to type.

Read Full Post »

Tupperware Love

Back in the swinging eighties, my mother discovered a before unnoticed love of bright hard plastic she could both freeze and microwave. ( Her microwave was white and the size of a large old-fashioned television by the way, none of your streamlined fancy schmancy brushed silver electrical goods).

Tupperware had arrived.

Enthralled by this new breed of plastic, housewives all over the region held ‘Tupperware parties’,  clandestine events where mammies would do their hair,  put on lip gloss and sally forth from the yard with curious ease and abandon, leaving us children behind to entertain ourselves, having made us promise to ‘be good’.  Fortunately ‘being good’ back then merely meant staying alive, so we were as ‘good’ as we could be whilst getting into a much trouble as possible.

But I digress.

The Tupperware party,  the hard sell of hard plastic, was also a social event and thus fraught with tricksy politics. Groups of housewives, forced to occupy space in one another’s homes, were eagle-eyed in their assessments. If one was hosting a party, one’s home had to be spick and span, dusted, vacuumed, filled  with cut fresh flowers artfully placed thither and yon. The good china was taken out from the cabinet and washed, and the ‘good room’ used  ( many homes of my youth had ‘good rooms’, silent spooky places where dolls from around the world sat behind locked glass, where doilies covered the arms of velvet green chairs, carriage clocks ticked and into which dust dare not venture).

The main topic of these parties – beside the plastic –was local gossip and families. And it was here ‘Tupperware Love’ was born and flourished.

What is Tupperware Love? Why the love that one holds for the children that can be used for one-upmanship of course. No matter how many children a lady might have loosed into the world, only the ones who had not shamed the family were dragged out into the Tupperware Show-ring like glittering ponies.

‘My Anthony, the doctor, was only saying to me the other day….’

‘Emma and her husband, the pilot, were driving through…’

“Well as you know Bobby is studying higher brilliance in the academy of sheer genius this year having got one hundred straight A’s in his leaving cert. He still takes the time to come to visit his mammy on the weekends though…’

Nary a black sheep was mentioned, nary a wayward child brought up. Son arrested that weekend for driving his Ford Escort Mark 4 blind drunk through a stone wall, killing one sleeping duck?

No mention.

Daughter ‘carrying on’ with a separated man of suspicious ( read blow-in) origins?

Pfft, what daughter?

Child caught shop-lifting bubble-up from local shop?

What’s a shop?

Only the good children were ‘Tupperware Loved’. Everyone else was tossed over the plastic cliffs like Spartan rejects

I knew nothing of this ‘love’ until the evening  K held her own Tupperware party. As I had yet to earn my black sheep badge of dishonour I was witness to their inner circle. Called upon to put out the biscuits and pour tea, I was warned not to grunt and to answer politely anyone who spoke to me. I was to keep an eye on tea levels, and to silently fill any cup that was less than one-third full.

The social construct was staggering to behold as the unspoken rule of dirty laundry held firm. Of the women there, drinking tea over acid green and burnt umber plastic, not a single one could be said to have a blemish free family (really, who does?), but to hear them talk they were the matriarchal queen bees to a spawn of world leaders and young Einsteins.  The questionable offspring had been removed, wiped from the slate. Not worthy of Tupperware Love.

The parties lasted not much longer than a year if I recall. The women became tired of each other and bored of Tupperware. Yes it was useful, they supposed, you could dry lettuce quite well with it. But really, how many parties did one need to learn how to use a plastic container?

‘That one,’ K said of one of the women, ‘always going on about her bloody children. Does she think we don’t know what they get up to?’

And like that the party was over.

Read Full Post »