Veal

Standard

Finding oneself extraordinarily drunk in a well-known, seedy Melbourne bar at 2am seated opposite a group of much younger men can only lead to one thing: a sudden appetite for veal.

At 27, I hadn’t really considered myself old enough to seek out an affair with a lusty toy-boy, Desperate Housewives style. After a night of various highs and lows, Lucile and I found ourselves at Pony with a jug of cider. Seated at the edge of a long couch with a view to most of the male prospects in the room, things were looking dim. But there they were, at the other end of the long suede couch: young, fit, full of energy and obviously excited by the thought of chatting up older women. Lucile pointed them out first. I laughed and called them “teenagers,” which prompted Lucile to lean over and ask one of them his age. 21. She turned back to me, grinning, eyebrows raised triumphantly. “See? They’re not teenagers!” I glanced around once more for a reason not to, and then slid down to their end of the couch.

It was like being any female person walking into an IT server room. We felt like queens. They asked more things about us than they said about themselves. They thought our very ordinary jobs were “awesome,” and carefully guessed our ages as “mid-twenties.” They emptied the change from their pockets to buy us drinks.

After the initial group conversation I began sizing up our new-found dude-possy, like a cowboy sizing up a group of new steers, deciding which one he’s gonna hog-tie and brand. There was the Show-Off, who seemed incapable of going for more than a minute without interrupting a conversation to make a smart-arsed comment and couldn’t sit still; the Attached-but-Unattached, who said he had a girlfriend but was making no real effort to remove himself from a potentially relationship-threatening situation; the Runt, who sat silent and wide-eyed with his tail between his legs; and the fourth one who I couldn’t quite put a label on. Flirtatious without being crude or arrogant. A little nervous, but in an endearing way rather than a this-guy-is-going-to-wee-himself way. Cheeky sense of humour. Ready grin with a hint of a dimple on one side. Large, intense eyes. He leaned in and said something about wanting to get better at guitar, then stayed close to my face, drinking me in with those dark grey saucers, and murmured “your eyes are so pretty…”

His name was Joel, he lived in the outer eastern suburbs, and I didn’t feel the need to ask anything more about him. He was an excellent kisser- soft, sensual, just the right amount of tongue and no excess saliva- and had certainly lost all traces of his earlier nerves. Every now and then he would press his mouth to my ear to make yet another promise of what the night had in store for me. After about 40 minutes of kissing, grinding and generally grossing out the patrons sitting behind us (but who cares, it was Pony) we jumped in a cab headed to my place.

As he got out of the taxi and rolled a cigarette I noticed his nerves had returned. We chatted for a bit on my front door step before I led him through the house to my room. As we began kissing again I assured him that we didn’t have to do ‘everything’ if he didn’t feel comfortable. He stared at me like I’d just told him that my bed was made of cheese, then flashed that half-dimpled grin as his confidence came rushing back.

The guy was a natural. Every touch, kiss, caress and movement was exactly what I wanted it to be. It was as though he could read my mind. After a few hours of intense foreplay and so much incredible kissing I was afraid he was actually grating my chin with his stubble, we came to an impasse: no condoms. As was evidenced by my untidy room, my unmade bed and my ungroomed south-o’-the-border, I was not expecting company and had not thought to detour via the 7 Eleven for the necessary protective measures. When I asked why he didn’t have his own provisions he gave me another grin and simply shrugged, ‘Well I didn’t know someone was going to take me home…’

We spent hours in limbo, dozing flittingly between bouts of intense fervour, tangled in each other’s limbs for most of the night. As the daylight began to spill under my curtains, in the brief euphoria that comes an hour or two before the onset of a horrific hangover, I could take it no more. Action was required. Peeking first out the window at the empty car port to confirm that my housemate had left for work, I crept down the hallway wearing a shirt and no pants, a la Donald Duck. I paused at the threshold of his open bedroom door, momentarily weighted by the line I was about to cross. I knew it was wrong. I glanced back down the hall to my now light-filled bedroom, mentally tracing over the hours of teasing and foreplay that had led to this moment. And with my legs (and other parts of my lower body) trembling, I tiptoed through my housemate’s strewn belongings and nimbly plucked two condoms from his open bedside drawer.

It was worth it. After almost 5 hours of foreplay we knew exactly when to move, when to stop, our exhausted bodies suddenly revived and renewed before collapsing in a stupor of pleasure. After a tangled powernap and a brief but enjoyable Round Two, he left in the haze of hangover onset. Wanting nothing more than to lie motionless in my bed for hours, I was presented with my next problem: I needed to replace that which I had taken before my housemate returned.

My first hurdle was the intense throbbing pain in my head and churning in my stomach that had all but paralysed my body and addled my brain. The second problem I faced was the absence of my car, which had spent the night at the station after we caught the train to the city. With no idea of my housemate’s ETA there was nothing for it – I was walking to the shops.

After a brief shower, during which I clutched my stomach and sobbed loudly to no one that the water was punching my brain through the top of my head and I wanted to sleep or maybe die, I dressed myself and headed out into the harsh light of day. My sunglasses, on the passenger seat of my car, were in no position to be of assistance, so I squinted into the overcast glare and icy headwind through bleary, miserable eyes and began forcing my legs to walk the 1.2km to the supermarket. Passing a church on the way as worshippers filtered out with an air of peace and satisfaction, I momentarily considered repenting and just calling it quits. The thought of actually having to admit my crime in my state of wretchedness was too much to bear, so I trudged on. My next round of punishment was in the purchase itself – an assortment of tacky colours, textures and flavours with names like “Raspberry Ripple” and “Bangin’ Banana” in order to replace the two purloined items with their identical kin.

My return journey was worse than the initial one, despite the procurement of some hot chips and a Coke. I shuffled miserably down my street with dead eyes, slowly chewing chips with an open mouth, a lone box of assorted coloured and flavoured condoms swinging mockingly in a plastic shopping bag that dangled from the crook of my elbow while my hand stuffed chips towards my face like an imbecile posting letters. The punishment fit the crime. My disgrace, self-pity and repugnance in this moment was equal in power to the hedonistic pleasure that had led to my transgression.

As I lay immobile on the couch later that day, determined to keep the chips on their descent through my digestive tract where they seemed to have found a foothold with which to climb back up, I received a text:

So tired. Can hardly move. Totally worth it x

He was right.

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