There is a character in my screenplay who, halfway through having sex with someone, suddenly realises she has been in this position before…and with the same man…
When this scene was read out during my screenwriting course, apart from a few sharp intakes of breath, a couple of people questioned whether this was a believable scenario or even whether it was possible? One of the biggest tips I learnt on that course is that when writing a screenplay you must ensure that what you are writing is believable, even if it is not ‘realistic’ – it doesn’t matter as long as you can make the audience believe. Well, I am not (too) ashamed to admit that this scene was loosely based on my own experience, and therefore I can safely say it is both realistic, and therefore,to my mind, believable.
Many MANY years ago, in my wild and crazy youth, I had sex with a very attractive friend of a friend. It happened at the end of a night filled of drinking and flirting and we rolled into bed and had, if memory serves (which it clearly doesn’t – more of that later) a very enjoyable time. That would have been the end of the story. However, a few years later I was about to watch the football with the same friend when he told me that some of his friends were coming to join us. I was pleased about this as it meant I wouldn’t have to pretend to roar and howl over England’s shitness quite as aggressively as I had anticipated. In fact, only 2 of his friends turned up, one of them had a beard, and he was very attractive. I smiled when the mutual friend introduced **** and shook his hand. After the football (which we lost) we stayed in the pub until closing and I engaged in some not very subtle flirting with said bearded gentleman. I was having a lovely time until he went to the loo and my friend leaned over and whispered, “Going back for seconds eh?” The confusion on my face must have given away the fact that I had no idea what he was talking about. He continued “Didn’t you shag **** a couple of years back?”
Holy mother-fuck. Here I was, in a busy pub, innocently flirting with a man whose cock I had already seen. When he came back from the loo I had made my decision. I’d have to shag him again and make sure I remembered it this time so I was never put in this embarrassing situation again. So I did.
And that would have been the end of the story. However, a few years later, the mutual friend got married. I was doing a reading and **** was an usher….only I didn’t recognise him until after he had handed me the programme and very pointedly looked me in the eyes and said, “Hello Janey!” I saved face in the nick of time and gave him a hug as he ushered me pointedly into the registry office. On that occasion I didn’t try to assuage my embarrassment from not recognising him by trying to sleep with him. Oh no, instead I created much larger and longer lasting embarrassment by coping off with the bride’s quite (very) young brother. Welcome to my world.
Fast forward to a few months ago. A friend (a different one) very kindly got me tickets to see The Stone Roses, I band I have loved since forever. When they started playing I got chills and was transported back to the mid-nineties when I was brave and knew everything there was to know in the world, ever. It was magical. I blame this nostalgia trip for what happened next. Walking through the crowd to get a better vantage point my friend stopped, “Hey, *******, what are you doing here?” She’d randomly bumped into a friend of hers in the crowd who was at the gig with her boyfriend – I smiled and waved at both of them, then turned back to the stage. We stood together for the whole gig, doing a bit of dancing, drinking and generally hanging out when towards the end my friend said to me, “You do know who *******’s boyfriend is, don’t you?” I looked closer, really close, and lo and behold…It was ****. THREE times I had failed to recognise a man I had sex with, THREE times a man I had been intimate with was essentially a stranger to me. I had to rectify this somehow. I danced over to him. “Hey, ****! So good to see you!” He smiled, “It’s been ages, how are you doing Janey?” (I’m pretty sure he hadn’t had the same memory lapse, but who can tell?). “I’m good!” I replied. “ I don’t think I’ve seen you since the wedding!” He looked at me, confused. I faltered. At this point I should probably mention that at the wedding we had actually exchanged numbers and several weeks AFTER the wedding we had met up, drunk whiskey and had sex. Only, at that moment in Finsbury Park, I had forgotten that detail. Again. Thankfully before the ground could actually swallow me up, his girlfriend decided that it was time for them to leave, to beat the traffic. And so, once again, I waved goodbye and said ‘see you later!’
I know I should have felt ashamed, and maybe it was just the power of the music, but at that moment I was buoyed – either by my sexual prowess, by the hilarity of the situation or by the sheer absurdity of my life. My friend and I staggered back to the tube, giggling about what a moron I was, but secretly I was enjoying the tale I would now get to tell and planning my next blog. When we got to the tube, the queue was a mile long and the chances of getting on within the next hour (i.e. before it shut) were remote to say the least. Then I remembered that a man I had briefly dated (shagged) earlier in the year lived nearby. It hadn’t gone anywhere but I had liked him and enjoyed his company and at that moment, being positively BUOYED by my sexual prowess and my ability to ‘have sex like a man’, I thought ‘Why not? So I texted him. “Poor me, I can’t get home, can I pop round for a cup of tea?” An hour later I received a reply: “Hello, sorry I’ve deleted some numbers – is this Derek?”
Modern definition of Hubris: Excessive pride – “pride goeth (goes) before a fall” (from the biblical Book of Proverbs 16:18)
AKA Janey Ballantyne. So there you have it. One door closes, another one slams…or whatever it is they say. I know they do say write what you know, and that is pretty much all I have done so far in my writing career, but the only thing I know for sure is that what I know, and what I think I know and what I remember and the way I remember things keeps evolving and may well be different from how it really is.
Despite all the jokes, this is not something which has happened more than once in my life, and I am genuinely sad that my attitude towards sex is such, that it has happened, even once. I have never really taken sex seriously, partly because it is actually funny, but mostly because I find it so difficult to be myself with someone, to be earnest, to be honest. Maybe after finding myself in this ‘unbelievable’ situation three, if not four times, I should start taking it seriously and at least try to find my own reality.