Keen to impress at a dinner party, our man’s disastous choice of sexual anecdote leads to humiliation

 

Summertime, and the living is easy. Well, not for me it isn’t. I live by a park in west London, and June is unbearable. It’s the women. There are dozens of them out there every weekend, toasting their bodies in bikinis. As I walk my black pug, Gilbert, through the trees for his twice-daily poop, my eyes are drawn everywhere to tanned flesh and firm young curves. The scent of Ambre Solaire, the swell of a perfect breast, a bottom as tempting as a nectarine… and all of them tantalisingly within touching distance. When I was a kid, we used to hunt through the bushes to find discarded porn mags, but nowadays there’s no need to. The park is the porn mag.

So, summer finds me sick with desire. The only cure is to go home and masturbate, but that, frankly, is a pretty joyless affair at my age. Maybe I’ve worn my penis out. Or at least the nerve endings in it. Because back in the day I used to look forward to self-abuse. It was something to luxuriate in, and – after many minutes of delightful coaxing – my orgasms would shoot out of me like meteors. But for the past few years it’s been a chore that feels about as erotic as bleeding a radiator. My semen emerges in a small lump, like a slightly less disgusting cousin of phlegm. And if I masturbate in hot weather, I find I have to sleep for about three hours afterwards. It’s just not worth it.

But I am weak. Lustful thoughts foam up inside of me all day long. Erections appear. They demand attention. I fight against them, but it’s no use. All too soon I am under the duvet, reaching for a tissue. As I doze off I am ashamed, knowing that another day has been wasted, another day in which I could have written the perfect poem, visited the Tate Gallery, or made an important contact in publishing. My life, squandered…

About a year ago, I decided I should try aversion therapy as a cure. I started collecting stories of sexual disaster from the newspapers. I kept them pinned up on cork boards in my study, the way Victorian gentlemen used to keep butterflies. But instead of Red Admirals or Cabbage Whites, I had stuff about men being arrested for having sex with pavements, or penetrating donkeys, or being found dead in a hotel with their penis trapped in a Corby trouser press. Here’s a genuine example:

My ten year erection.
A pensioner has won £220,000 damages after his willy implant malfunctioned – and gave him a TEN YEAR erection. Impotent Charles ‘Chick’ Lennon’s plastic implant was meant to help raise and lower his manhood, but jammed in the erect position. The ex-handyman, 68, of New York, is too embarrassed to hug people and feels awkward around his grandchildren.

The idea was that I’d see these stories every morning and fight my libido. The message would be drummed in: SEX = BAD. Then I’d be a more balanced human being, and maybe even get married to a nice, sensible woman instead of having one debacle after another with high maintenance princesses, pea-brained models and emotional train wrecks. But the trouble was, the tales were funny. Sex is funny. If someone gets a traffic cone in the eye and loses their sight, that’s a horrible tragedy and we all wince in sympathy. But if someone gets a traffic cone rammed up their arse, even if it happens in a bizarre road accident, it’s amusing. So my good intentions failed and my onanism habits were back to normal within a month.

However, there was a plus side. Armed with all these weird tales of sexual excess, I became something of a hit at dinner parties. When the subject matter turned to sex – generally after the third bottle of wine in my experience, depending on how middle class the hosts are – I would become a fount of information. Men with pipe cleaners lodged in their urethra, women having yoghurt lapped off their muffs by eager housecats, gay buccaneers speared to the elbow in complex fisting manoeuvres… I had a grand guignol anecdote for all occasions.

And having spent most of my adult life failing dismally at social events – I can’t make small talk or remember punch lines – it gave me a warm feeling to be suddenly so popular. When I spoke, people would crane forward across the tablecloth so as not to miss a detail. Laughter would ring around the dining room. Couples I’d met at one party would eagerly invite me to their next function, slapping my back like an old friend even though we’d only been introduced a few hours before. I felt euphoric, like a stand-up comedian who had slayed his audience.

Naturally, it couldn’t last. And experience should have taught me that I would soon be the author of my own downfall. It happened like this. As my confidence grew, I got cocky. Instead of waiting until everyone was drunk, I’d start telling extreme sex stories even before the pre-meal Twiglets were gone. At a supper party in Shepherd’s Bush, I was doing my schtick on an attractive barrister named Lucy. I guess she must have been bored by the normal bourgeois topics covered at these events (house prices, school zones, holiday plans), because we weren’t even halfway through the soup course before I had her rapt attention. I was delighting in her outraged, girlish giggles and gasps of “No!”

Unfortunately, she had been invited expressly to get paired off with the fellow on her other side, a serious-looking individual who I had vaguely clocked as some kind of doctor. He kept waiting for a chance to get her attention, but I was monopolising her. Only when Lucy stood up to help clear away the soup bowls was he able to butt in. “Why do you talk about sex all the time?” he asked, coldly.

I told him about the aversion therapy. But, as Lucy was listening, I made it sound like I was doing because I had a super-charged libido, instead of just an unhealthy one.He nodded, then explained that he had done an internship at the Maudsley, a famous psychiatric hospital. “Therapy won’t work unless it’s personal,” he explained. “You need to be considering your own moments of shame, not strangers’.” By now other people were listening.

“Yes, go on. Tell us one,” urged the host. “I’m not sure I’ve had any.” “Oh, come on now,” said the doc. “With your sex drive, you must have had some… inappropriate moments?” He was looking at me like I was a rat in a laboratory, ready to be sliced up for scalpel practice. I didn’t like the way he was leading the conversation, but then Lucy joined in and it was too late.

“Oh, go on. It’ll be funny.” “Yes,” the doctor piped up, his voice marinaded in malice. “It’ll be funny.” He had me trapped! Lucy sat between us. I had to prove I was the alpha dog. “Right… well… I suppose there must have been an incident or two.” I quickly ran through my mental Rolodex, hunting for a suitable example. Failing to get wood with a Pirelli calendar model? No, that would make me look puny. Getting a boner while in the barber’s chair, and then being forced to have another inch cut off my hair because I was too embarrassed to come out from under the cape until it deflated? No, that sounded worryingly bisexual.

“It’s not very funny so far,” he chirped. “Erm… nearly there…” Christ! There must have been one incident. Something. Anything! It came to me in a flash. “Yes, there you go. I was seeing this girl who wrote features for a Sunday magazine. It was about, oh… four, five years ago. Anyway, she was very left wing, really into women’s issues, you know. She had all those books about Prozac and anorexia…”

With an awful jolt, I suddenly realised that the story I had embarked on did not end well. In fact, when it came to impressing Lucy with my potential as a sexual partner, I’d have been better off telling her that my penis had been burnt off in a firework accident. But I couldn’t get away from it now. I could only dig myself deeper into the hole.

“So… er, anyway…” Maybe it would be best to get it over with quickly. “We’d only been dating for a week and we went to the cinema. She wanted to see this French film called Irreversible. To be honest, it sounded pretty lethal to me, but it had Monica Bellucci in it, so I figured I could pretend to be thrilled with the whole idea. Plus, I was obviously quite horny to start with, what with us being new lovers and the whole back row thing going on. I put my arm around her, gave her a snog during the trailers, and was already looking forward to getting back to her place afterwards. But then it turns out that the whole film is about Monica Bellucci’s character getting raped in a subway, and the scene lasts ten minutes. It’s really graphic and realistic. Like a snuff movie. My date is obviously really upset by it. She’s gasping. Then she keeps reaches out to grab my thigh for comfort. The problem is, I still have my monster erection from before. It just won’t go away. So I’m trying to lift her hand up, panicking that she’ll notice I’m aroused, and she keeps putting it back, squeezing harder and harder.

“And then on the screen the rapist bashes Monica’s face into the concrete, blood goes everywhere, and it’s so bad my date suddenly buries her head in my lap. There’s about one second of nothing, and then she springs back up again like Zebedee in The Magic Roundabout and gives me this terrible look. She got up and walked out, and I had to rush after her. Never saw her again…”

There was an uneasy silence around the table. Lucy was squinting at me, as though seeing me for the first time in the bright light of day. The clock ticked. “Good rape story,” murmured the doctor. More silence. Eventually, the hostess said some thing about the lamb we were having for the main course, and the conversation burbled back to life. House prices, school zones, holiday plans…