His name was Wesley, and I met him on Gaydar. On his page, he had a photo of his big 'ole bubble butt, but not his face.
The venue for our meet was the John Lewis department store on Oxford Street, where he worked. We chatted on a staircase in the store, and I quickly realised he wasn't doing it for me. It wasn't just the suit (always a turn-off). He was unresponsive, blank, and sort of jerky - frantic desperation bubbling just beneath the surface... It was 2002 and I'd only been in London for a few weeks. I was like a kid in a sweet shop, and sampling London's best was my only interest.
Wesley didn't fall into that category, he was clearly damaged goods. Perhaps unwisely, I told him straight, "You're not my type, but maybe we can be friends." And off I went on my merry way. Kids are so callous, so stupid, even when they don't mean to be.
It could only have been a matter of weeks before I encountered Wesley again, on another faceless hook-up. The place: Liverpool Street station. The guy: "Jake". When he turned up, late, I couldn't immediately place the face. He said his name was Jake. We went for a walk. It was the weekend. The City was mostly empty of its financiers.
And "Jake" told me that he was Wesley's identical twin brother.
Caught up in the moment, face to face with this person, I tried to process it as "it's-so-weird-maybe-it's-true". Could it be? No. Really? Surely not. But maybe...
Jake/Wesley and I went on a long winding walk through the City, your correspondent in something of a daze. I don't remember what we talked about. We went into a cafe at one point and then we left, and I forgot my bag. I never forget things, and I never lose things. I've never lost my keys, my phone or my wallet in my life. But I left my bag behind that day. And that was before he suggested I have a threesome with him and his identical twin brother.
I played along with Jake/Wesley, completely thrown. The more we walked, the faster the truth dawned on me. His bafflingly soap-operatic lie was so transparent anyone else would have walked off in fits of laughter. Was I too embarrassed to confront it? Or was I playing along? I hope the latter isn't true, because his motivation was frightening. To be that desperate for someone (anyone - because, after all, he knew almost nothing about me) points to real loneliness.
We parted company, at some point, Jake/Wesley and I. I don't remember where we ended up (somewhere in East London), but I descended into the Underground, and returned to Shepherd's Bush. My friend John, with whom I was staying, was amused.
I eventually confronted Wesley about the whole thing, cowardly, by text. He admitted the deception (how could he not?) and we didn't see each again. But he kept on texting and phoning.
Fast forward two years. My kid-in-a-sweet-shop antics had driven my then-boyfriend to an attempted suicide, and ultimately led him to being sectioned. Perhaps because of that, I felt bound to mend my ways, finally caving in and agreeing to meet Wesley on the basis that we'd be friends. Wesley agreed; we'd be friends.
The venue: Queer Nation in Brixton. Everything seemed to be going okay, Wesley was fine, we were just two friends hanging out - until I started getting a little freaky with someone else, a cutey called Joe, in a baseball cap. I remember we were all sitting in a row on the edge of the dance floor - me in the middle with Wesley on one side and Joe on the other. I think Joe and I were kissing, or had our arms around each other, or something. Wesley grabbed the chain on my wrist and tried pulling it off. I thought he was fooling about, but his eyes were crazed. I tried ignoring him, annoyed, now, and turned back to Joe. Then Wesley grabbed the chain around my neck and started yanking on it. I pushed him away. Joe just looked baffled.
I stood up and started walking away - Wesley followed, still pulling at me. I think I punched him, or he punched me, but the next thing I know we were on the floor, fighting. I'd never been in a fight in my life, and never expected to get into one in a club. Bouncers broke us up and ejected us. It took three of them to hold Wesley back as Joe and I departed in a cab.
End of story, right?
The cab got to the end of the road and stopped at a red light. Someone wrenched open the door - Wesley, of course, trying to pull me put of the cab. The driver got out and wrestled him away. Then we were away. Into the night.
I saw Wesley/Jake once more, right outside where I work. We passed each other in the street and our eyes met, briefly, but he continued on his way.
I've been lost wandering the streets in New York, without a dime to my name, and held up by a gang with a blood-filled syringe on the streets in Perth, but passing Wesley on the street was something else. That scared me.
I can still see his eyes, blank, staring. But if he messaged me today I'd still want to see him, to try again. Because maybe we could be friends.
Top picture: Real twins Keyontyli and Taleon Goffney. Bottom picture: "Blue Bird" by Philip Gladstone.
Title quote: "We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness." Albert Schweitzer, German philosopher, 1875–1965.