List of Lovers
July 14, 2011 § 4 Comments
I have a chronological list somewhere on a green bit of filofax paper of my (pre-marriage) lovers. Paper, some twenty years old, a bit brittle now.
Top of the list are not one but in fact two, like a couple of candidates who come equal top in an exam. I lost my virginity to two men at the same time. Long story.
The list goes on to be quite long, though probably not long in a modern girl’s book. I’ve got names and dates; I’m quite an organised type. I think I wrote it at the time so that I could look back, and pat myself on the back – or regret. A sort of young fuck you to my older self; a plea by my young self that I should have seen to it to give her a happier time. A definite proportion of my list constitutes Regrets as opposed to Results. Of course, my young self consoled myself with the thought that quantity not quality validated me as an attractive sexual being, though my older self knows better – or at least thinks she does. Quantity, then, was important. Now, not so much. (Though Gobi fucking Desert is taking the piss too far in the other extreme).
Anyway, some of the men on my green list, I look at their names and vaguely smile. Others, I fear, draw a complete blank, or maybe I can at least remember the fallout (always some fallout), or maybe the moment of seduction. For, occasionally, going through my mind was, “Shall I bother to? Shall I bother not to?” Sometimes, it seemed more of a bother to unravel a process that had clearly begun. It seemed more of an effort to say, “No,” after all, and deny him what he had been conscientiously working all evening to achieve (even if, earlier in Pizza Express, he hadn’t proved quite conscientious enough to bring himself to ditch going Dutch). So it was I clocked up another dreary notch on the bedpost.
It didn’t make me happy then, in my twenties. There were of course the odd, wonderful exceptions who did make me happy, sometimes very, and I hope I did them. But for the most part these notches constituted no more than notches or, at best, meaningless and at worst, malign names on a green bit of paper. I wonder if most women, if they are honest, don’t look back on their own sexual history – whether eventful or not very – with a certain amount of ambivalence? A good dose of regret mixed in with only a pinch of nostalgia?
That is why when hearty people tell me now – and an awful lot do – “Go out and enjoy yourself” – by which they mean fuck a few folk – I think, what good would that do me? I don’t disapprove on moral grounds – I am a child of the sixties after all. But it made me often miserable, then, when I was young and less gravity-challenged. How on earth will it be fulfulling now, in my forties, with my fragile flesh, my fragile emotional template, and my fragile dignity to keep intact?