Andy Bodle meets the girl of his dreams at a comedy gig, but what he learns about her grows increasingly disturbing.
“Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.”
Sylvia Plath, Ariel
My stand-up career lasted three years, but I can encapsulate the whole thing in two gigs, within a week of each other.
The first was at the Comedy Cafe in Shoreditch, an established fixture on the London circuit. I’d won the new act night the week before, which entitled me to my first ever “proper,” paid spot. And the paid spot went even better than I’d hoped; no one heckled or booed, some actually laughed, and afterwards, the owner, a widely respected figure in the industry, took me aside, put his arm around me and said, with what I still maintain was the utmost sincerity: “Andy, in seven years’ time, you are going to be a fantastic comedian.”
The second gig was decidedly not an established fixture on the circuit. It was a room above a pub in a dingy Soho sidestreet, with a stage consisting of a bedsheet bearing the club’s logo in Wite-Out hanging lopsided behind an upturned wooden pallet. When the lights came down, there were 12 people in the audience—if you counted the organiser and the five acts waiting to go on. It didn’t help matters that, emboldened by my recent success, I had decided to test out some experimental new material. Suffice to say none of those jokes have been heard since.
There was one ray of sunshine. Three of the six paying customers were attractive young women, and in the bar afterwards, one of them approached me and, presumably more out of pity than admiration, offered to buy me a drink.
Her name was Trish. She was 25, red-haired, and springy—there wasn’t much to her, but what there was was in magnificent shape. Though she rarely smiled, there was a sweetness in her voice that made me want to hug her till she burst. She gave me her business card and made me promise to call.
Browsing through Time Out a couple of days later, I noticed an article about “the first ever tethered balloon ride over London”: 15 quid a head for a gentle ascent to an altitude of 400 feet, and 20 minutes hovering over the city. It seemed perfect: different, romantic, and just a little bit scary. I called Trish and asked if she’d like to meet me the next day. I didn’t mention what I had planned.
The sun was setting as we arrived at the site, and the lights of London flickered on to the sound of the propane whooshing from the tanks into the envelope. Trish looked at me and beamed. “Good job I’m not afraid of heights,” she said, pinching me. Oops. Hadn’t thought of that.
The gondola had room for about 50 passengers, but there were only ten booked on this flight, so Trish and I had a corner to ourselves. As we rose, the city slowly spilled out below us like a pool of cooling lava. It was, I was surprised to find myself admitting, breathtaking. It must have worked for Trish, too, because within minutes, she was
attacking my face like a sperm burrowing into an egg. We were still at it when the balloon crumpled back down to earth.
Afterwards, out of respect for tradition, we went for a drink nearby, but there was never any doubt as to where this was heading. She lived alone; I didn’t. Her place it was.
As Trish rifled for her keys outside her flat, I noticed her checking nervously over her shoulder. “What’s wrong?” She sighed. “Bit of trouble from my ex. I don’t think he knows my new address yet.”
Shit. A stalker? A thousand questions burned in my brain. Was he a nutcase or a sad case? How long had this been going on? Had he served in Iraq? And exactly what lengths had she gone to to keep her new address secret? But immediately prior to our first shag was hardly the time to ask.
Once inside, Trish poured us each a Bailey’s, and we sat and made small talk in her living room. And when the sexual tension became unbearable, she stood up, took me by the hand and led me to her bedroom.
The first thing I saw was a photograph Blu-Tacked to the side of the wardrobe. It showed an attractive blonde girl, a few years younger than Trish, smiling broadly in a park. Who was it? “It’s me, you dipshit.”
I did a double take. Take off a few years, change the hair colour, and … well, sort of.
“I had a nose job a couple of years ago.”
“Oh.” It wasn’t meant to be a judgmental “Oh”—I believe people should be free to mutilate their bodies in whatever way they see fit—but the old nose looked perfectly lovely.
Trish put a hand on my shoulder. “I didn’t do it out of vanity. I did it because my ex broke it.”
“Jesus. That’s … No wonder you moved house.”
“No, not that ex,” she said. “The one before.”
The look on Trish’s face indicated that the subject was now closed. Besides, more pressing matters were afoot. She closed her eyes and opened her mouth, I engulfed her in my arms, and we kissed, tenderly at first, but with mounting urgency.
Now, kissing doesn’t often get me excited, but something about this woman—or this situation—had turned little Bruce Banner into the Hulk. When an inadvertent pelvic thrust alerted Trish to this fact, she raised an eyebrow, ripped open the top two buttons of my fly, and slowly walked backwards to the bed. I removed the rest of my clothes in
Halfway through doing the same, Trish stopped and sighed. “There’s something else I should explain,” she said, and unbuttoned her blouse. Starting at her collarbone and arcing ‘round beneath her right breast was a large, jagged purple weal. “This was my first boyfriend.” Apparently, the nose-breaker’s predecessor had stabbed her in the chest, narrowly missing her heart and leaving her with one and a half lungs.
Trish must have sensed that I was running out of sympathetic platitudes, because she put her finger to my lips and guided my hand to her waist. And within seconds, our worries were forgotten as we explored each other’s bodies for the first time.
She was very, very good at sex; a little cruder and rougher than I was used to, but on the whole, the technique proved effective. There was one awkward moment. Trish was on all fours. I was kneeling behind her, ready, I hoped, to begin the main event. And then she said it. “Talk dirty to me.”
I stiffened. This was not a request that had been made of me before. Nor had it, to my knowledge, been put to anyone else I knew. Sure, I’d seen foul language in porn films, but the effect was generally more comic than erotic.
Besides, there are many degrees of obscenity. Did she want a mildly risque bodice buster-style description of what was going on? A raunchy fantasy of the sort that might appear in Playboy? Or did she want dialogue lifted straight out of Nasty Nymphos 19?
It’s hard to ask for clarification in flagrante delicto. “How dirty do you mean, exactly?” Yet if I pitched this even slightly wrongly, it could ruin everything.
My deliberations were evidently taking too long, because after about 30 seconds, Trish leaned back and whispered, “Call me a whore!” Thank God—a ballpark insult. I faltered a little over the first volley of abuse, but before long, I was reeling off synonyms, and even adding a few embellishments of my own.
While the name-calling was clearly floating Trish’s boat, it wasn’t yet having the desired effect on me. And experience had taught me that it’s important for a man to make a splash on a first sexual encounter. It’s almost seen as a stain on a woman’s character if you can’t make a stain on her bed. First emissions, you might say, last. I was starting to worry that I wouldn’t be able to deliver the goods when Trish inserted a finger where previously only my GP had been, and bingo.
After we had lain there in a blissed-out embrace for a while, Trish sat up, reached into her mouth, took out her front teeth, popped them into a glass of water on the bedside table, then turned out the light.
Despite my slight anxiety about how Trish’s exes would take to me, I was on cloud nine. She was sweet and funny and smashing in bed, and she was the first woman I’d felt I really fitted with—both physically and mentally. A healthy dose of terror seemed a small price to pay; and she still looked quite sexy with her teeth out.
For our second date, I took her for a meal. It was all going swimmingly—the food was excellent, the setting convivial, the conversation bright—until Trish exploded.
I can’t remember the specific cause of the outburst—possibly some mild difference of opinion over how much to tip the waiter—but the transformation was terrifying. In a single violent jerk, Trish’s face contorted from serene smile to hate-filled snarl. She didn’t assault me physically, but her viciousness knocked me sideways. She screamed and swore and stamped her feet and her blazing eyes dared me to retaliate.
I opted not to rise to the bait, more out of shock than anything. After a while she cooled off, said sorry, and we went back to my place for some rather energetic make-up sex.
I overlooked the outburst as a one-off, but on the third date, she did it again. Once again I kept my cool, despite the lack of justification for the attack. On the fourth date, she pressed her face right up to mine and screamed at me, showering me in saliva, in front of thirty astonished onlookers on the tube. Each time she apologised, and promised never to do it again.
I don’t know exactly what was going on; perhaps her previous abusive relationships had established a pattern she couldn’t break. Perhaps fighting and forgiveness were the only way she knew to conduct a relationship. Perhaps she just didn’t like me. Whatever the case, it was clear this woman needed help. But can you do that? Can you suggest to someone on a fourth date that they might benefit from counselling? Do you ride out the bumps, hope they’ll become more manageable, and slowly learn ways of sidestepping them? Or do you just walk away?
Read more: In Defense of Psycho Bitches from Hell
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