So my business is failing and my business partner slash artist has just found out I’ve booked a load of hen parties (behind his back) to do very silly, very low brow arty activities that could (by their very silly nature) involve him compromising his artistic integrity or something. Well, I mean if you’re going to be a big baby about it. Thing is, we do need to make some money otherwise we’ll be jobless and I’ll definitely be homeless. He’s now not speaking to me, refusing point blank to do any of the bookings, and is telling me flat out to cancel them. Aside from that I just got news from the sex clinic that I have Chlamydia like a big hoe. A big disease ridden hoe.
RESPONSIBLE Adults Part II!
I’ve decided to put on the London Grammar album ‘If You Wait’ because I figure if this were a film, ‘Strong’ might be the montage music to this particular section of my narrative i.e. the dramatic bit of the film about forty minutes in. It’s melancholic but also determined. Just. Like. Me? Question: Have you ever tried to sing along to ‘Strong’? Well, it starts off fine, the angelic Hannah Reid (seriously she probably glows), starts off on a pretty low key that most people can probably hit so I’m safe there as I look wistfully out of the window of my little flat wishing for a reality where I’m a successful business owner and not a walking disease factory.
Reference link for ‘Strong’ for the uninitiated:
So it starts with “Excuse me for a while, while I’m wide eyed and I’m so down, caught in the middle” etc. etc. Perfect for a thoughtful ‘I’m totally fucked’ montage involving more wistful gazing etc. I even manage a tear but then the song kicks into the next bit and there’s no way I can hit those notes. I give it my best shot of course:
‘And a lllaaaahhh-aaaaahhhh-aaaaahhhh-aaa-aaaaahhhhhnnnnn, a lllaaaahhh-aaaaahhhh-aaaaahhhh-aaa-aaaaahhhhhnnnnn roars would you not liiiissss-eeeehhnnnn? If a chaaaa-aaaahhh-aaaahhh-aaa-aaaahhhllldd, a chaaaa-aaaahhh-aaaahhh-aaa-aaaahhhllldd craawwwwwss would YYYOOOOOUUUU NNOOOOOTT FORRR–HHIIIIVEE THEEEHHHM?’
Literal translation: “And if a lion, a lion roars would you not listen? If a child, a child cries, would you not forgive them?”
I’m in a pitch zone only dogs hear and I’ve given myself a headache so I pause the song and pack up my bag ready to go back to the all-day disco sex clinic. The Pokemon are attacking and I am out-gunned and out-manned so I text Jake in the vain hope that my plight may give me a free pass on this hen-do business.
ME: I’ve got Chlamydia!!!! 😦 Going to clinic, be at work after. Sorry Jake but I’ve got chlamydia. 😦
Possibly a bit thick but fingers crossed. He replies immediately – good sign?
JAKE: Don’t try and make me feel bad for you. You f***ing pimped me out Scarlett! YOU ARE A PIMP! Sorry your cooch is diseased but I AM STILL FUMING!
I can’t believe he saw through my cunning ruse. Smart cookie.
I walk to the STD clinic with my poorly vagina and wait for yet another hour to see a nurse. Do not Google image STDs when you’ve been diagnosed with one I’m telling you. Don’t even do it now because one day you could be diagnosed with one and those pictures will be burned into your brain and they will come back to haunt you. Haunt you! You looked didn’t you? What did I just say? This is a cautionary tale people! Oh God, inflammation of the what now? Infertility?! Reactive arthritis??! Oh yeah, and don’t Google your STD’s symptoms either. I’m John Hurt all over again, and that Alien is going to burst right out of my chest any fucking minute. Or more likely I may just puke. Yeah that is definitely probably more likely. Jake’s wrong too, I’m not the pimp, I am a harlot. A fille de joie! She who shags a lot! Whorey McWhorebag. But I’ve only had three sexual partners since the last test (four if you count my vibrator LOOL). A bit of gallows humour there for you.
Then a new wave of angst dawns when I realise I’m going to have to call those three men. I am disgusting. I text Trish all the sordid details in the hope she can offer practical advise or at least a commiseratory emoji. After ten minutes this comes through and it is neither.
TRISH: Don’t sweat it, if you’re not showing symptoms you’re fine.
ME: That’s not what Google says.
TRISH: Fuck Google.
ME: No I checked on several sites. That’s not a thing.
TRISH: Huh. Really?
ME: Yep. Absolute rubbish.
TRISH: Want me to come over?
ME: No but thanks. We have clients BTW – 3 hen-dos.
TRISH: Really?! Don’t forget we need to work out my cut, since the dildos were my idea. And there’s something else I want to talk to you about.
ME: They’re technically not dildos. They’re more like plaster of Paris. Like a dirty version of paint your own Beatrix Potter figures.
TRISH: We need to talk shares. As in my share.
Is that how business works? Seems more like a Mafioso style take over to me. You let them do you a favour and you’re screwed basically, that’s what I’ve learned from The Sopranos and being friends with Trish for the last decade.
ME: There won’t be any shares to own if we can’t get Jake to do it. He’s refusing.
ME: Because it’s not high brow enough.
TRISH: Why did he advertise it then?
ME: He didn’t.
TRISH: You went behind his back?
TRISH: Scarlett? I can see you’re still online you moron.
Damn you Whatsapp! The jig is up so I cut and paste Jake’s messages into the text. That’ll shut her up for a minute. Then I absently check my emails, and we’ve got two more potential bookings. I’m feeling less excited now and more panicked about having to cancel them. I lock my phone for some relief from the impending doom and then I remember where I am and why I’m here and what I have to do. I have to call three guys, one of which is an Austen obsessed arse, and the other two were just flash in the pan dalliances for Godssake. I have to call them and tell them I’ve got an STD. Oh God what are they going say?! And why should I care what people think? I shouldn’t. I know this but I do. I actually really do care about someone who is no longer in my life turning to his mate (who I’ve probably never even met and will never meet) saying ‘That girl is one dirty skank’ etc etc. Yeah I care because I feel like a dirty skank, and I’m currently wallowing in the dreaded zone of shame.
Okay, you know what? Let’s take a break from the shame zone and go back to the comforting thought of what symptoms I don’t want to have. Please don’t be infertile and please dearest vagina, don’t look like any of those Google plague images. I’ll still love you but I’ll masturbate in the dark, you know? The thought makes my face screw up into an ugly cry position, blinking back tears. I know I’m being a baby but I can’t help it. My world is imploding. A camp looking gentleman looks over at me trying to wipe my eyes discreetly. He cocks his head sympathetically and mouths ‘SYPHILIS?’ I shake my head and mouth CHLAMYDIA. He rolls his eyes as if to say, haven’t we all.
BEEP. Oh for fuckssake go away imploding world! Ah shit. The Mafioso’s back.
TRISH: I’ll deal with Jake.
ME: You’re not going to take him for a boat ride are you?
TRISH: What? No. Boy needs to understand that’s all.
ME: Understand what?! And will you be using any sharp implements to make him understand? Violence solves nothing Trish! Nothing!
TRISH: Have you been watching re-runs of the Sopranos again?
Yes. I just love the therapy sessions.
TRISH: Jake needs reassurance Scarlett.
ME: Reassurance of what? That you won’t break his fingers?
I feel like I’m missing something very fundamental here but the nurse has come out and called my name. I have to deal with one thing at a time. One thing at a time. So with that in mind, I ignore the niggling feeling that I’m missing something and furiously text Trish the following message as I shuffle up to the nurse’s office or what I like to call the Misery Emporium.
ME: The death knell has been sounded. Please don’t do anything with or TO Jake before I get back to work.
I shove my vibrating phone in my pocket as the nurse gestures for me to go in. Inside the Misery Emporium, it’s actually not quite as terrible as I thought although I do realise I’ve been holding my breath for a record breaking amount time when the nurse tells me the Chlamydia is only early stages and I let out a blimp’s worth of air in one great sigh. He tells me that I have to go on a seven day course of antibiotics and I can’t have sex for a while or something but that the meds should clear it up without any lasting damage. I’m not infertile, hurray! And my vagina doesn’t resemble the apocalypse, HURRAY! To be honest, I don’t really want to have sex for a while except with myself thank you very much. My vagina and me have some trust issues we need to work through. The nurse also tells me what I already know, what I’m dreading doing, he tells me I need to be a RESPONSIBLE adult and inform any sexual partners who I think might be affected by this. I feel like I need a shower, or ten.
I leave the pharmacy twenty minutes later with my little paper bag of pills and get my phone out to see if Trish replied. Of course she did.
TRISH: He needs reassurance he’s a good enough artist to do both the hen-do stuff and the larger scale pieces.
Oh. What? Jake is insecure? Is that really what this is about?!
TRISH: Yeah he needs to be reassured that he’s brilliant and amazing and he’s above such paradigms.
ME: Where are you?
TRISH: At BPA.
ME: Is Jake there?
ME: Are you saying he’s insecure?
TRISH: Yes Dummy. Why else would he turn down actual paid work? Hurry up and get here, we’ve got something we need to talk to you about.
Oh my God, it’s not Jake whose going on a boat ride it’s me! It’s bloody well me! Trish is swooping in and taking my business away! From me! This is not a good day. Well you know what Trish? I won’t give up without a fight. I walk up to the front door of the studio, take a deep breath and burst in like a mother fucking Weinstein brother. Yeah, a shaky, nauseous Weinstein brother.
ME: “Right. Trish! I built this shitty business and I’ll do whatever I have to do to keep it! You’re not Tony Soprano but I’m a mother fucking P.I.M.P according to Jake so don’t even think you can just waltz in here and take it away from my plague ridden hands that easily.”
Trish looks nonplussed and remains quiet for a moment with Jake who actually looks a little afraid (hurray!) before asking me if I’ve finished. When I nod in the affirmative she begins.
TRISH: “I don’t want to take your business, you’re my best mate, even if you are an absolute idiot. But I do want to invest, come in on this, as a three way split. You guys aren’t going to survive the next two months without a third party putting money into this. You need a bail out and I think this is a good business idea. I think with an outside objective viewpoint chiming in, it could grow.”
ME: “You mean you’d be like an overlord?”
TRISH: “No more like a quiet rather than silent partner. I don’t get involved with the day to day running but I’m involved in bigger picture stuff or if things are going tits up.”
ME: “Like a Mafioso.”
ME: “Jake what do you think?”
JAKE: “I think it’s a good idea.”
JAKE: “Is that it?”
ME: “What do you mean? I’m not saying yes I’m just asking what you think.”
JAKE: “That’s a first.”
ME: “What do you want?!”
JAKE: “Er hello? Apology please?”
ME: “Sorry I mean I was going to get to that but I’m kind of blindsided here.”
JAKE: “You’re blindsided?! Think how I felt when I opened up our email inbox Scarlett PIMPernel.”
ME: “Do you even know who that is? Because it doesn’t really make any, whatever. Look I’m sorry, sorry. I am sorry. I know I shouldn’t have done what I did. I was desperate and you weren’t budging so-”
JAKE: “You thought you could go behind my back and I wouldn’t notice when a gaggle of screaming women walked in demanding their tits be painted?”
ME: “To be honest I did not think that far ahead. Does that mean you won’t do the hen parties?”
JAKE: “I didn’t say that. Trish has pointed out certain benefits and it might be quite fun so long as we don’t lose sight of the other shit.”
ME: “Which you’re also AMAZING at!”
JAKE: “Oh put it away Scarlett.”
I really wasn’t being insincere but I just sound sleazy when I give compliments! Anyway, Trish can deal with that from now on because whatever she said seemed to work. Jake is even talking about colour schemes for each party and together we talk through the packages. The packages! And obviously we talk some more about how this new arrangement with Don Trish is going to work and how much I would like to have snacks and booze in the fridge again. This business might actually stay afloat. It might even grow quite a bit. For the first time in a long time I feel I have a purpose, a mission and most importantly I feel supported like I’m not in this alone. I’m also reassured that Trish will not act like the parent to two squabbling children. I reiterate to her that Jake and I are RESPONSIBLE adults. It’s annoying that whilst I’m saying this Jake is trying to give me a wet willy but I manage not to retaliate so I still feel like a winner. Mum it’s not a sex thing – you lick your finger and stick it in someone’s ear and wriggle it around a bit. Yes I agree with you that it sounds like it could be a sex thing and yes, either way it’s still totally disgusting.
‘RESPONSIBLE adult’ reminds me then that I’m actually a loser who needs to phone the three men I slept with. Crap. Trish and Jake sit on either side of me with a bottle of craft beer – yes we’re celebrating with Trish’s company card – I mean technically it’s a business meeting so still claimable. Anyway, I take a breath, and make the first call, to Mr F***ing Wickham. Damn you Gideon. I bet it was you who gave me this in the first place. Because obviously that’s more likely than a casual drunken dalliance I had with a friend of a friend at a party a month ago? Yeah sure it is. His phone rings. Please go to voicemail. Please?? Nope he’s picked up. What have I done to anger you Lord of the Web??
MR WICKHAM: Look Scarlett I’m with Lydia now, you need to have a little more self respect. You and I don’t work and I think on some level somewhere you know that, you know?
Oh. My. God. I am so tempted NOT to tell him. I could just hang up. I look at Trish and Jake with the face of someone who’s seriously thinking of hanging up. They shake their heads at me. Oh Christ this is horrendous. Of all the people. Here goes.
ME: I don’t want to get back with you Gideon, frankly I’d rather date Norman Bates. I’m phoning because… Because there’s this thing and…
MR WICKHAM: What Scarlett?
ME: Well, the thing is…Because… Um…
MR WICKHAM: I’m hanging up now.
ME: I’ve got Chlamydia.
MR WICKHAM: You what? You absolute fucking harlot! I should have known with a name like fucking Scarlett!
I hang my head and for a moment I leave it there listening to Gideon rattle on as if I cheated on him or murdered his cat or something. I realise that wallowing in the shame zone, I’ve actually been waiting for sweet, sweet judgement. I’ve been waiting for somebody to confirm what I have suspected since getting the test result, that I am a harlot. A hussy. I am gross. I want to cry again. But then somewhere half way into Gideon referring to me as a ‘modern table wench’ the words ‘responsible adult’ spring to mind once again. I am a sexually active RESPONSIBLE adult. I took myself to clinic to get checked, I’m going through the humiliating process of telling previous lovers about my problem so they can also be responsible adults, and frankly in this day in age if you are like me and you enjoy sex like me then there’s a chance you may catch something icky or awful even with protection. So yes, in future I will try and make sure that my sexy times partner has been checked too but I’m not Satan! I’m facing up to my responsibilities to girls like Lydia by talking to twats like Gideon. So I cut Gideon off, tell him to go fuck himself and promptly hang up the phone. I have an oasis of light relief, of triumph and then I remember one down, two to go… I take a deep breath, ready to call the next guy, ready for the next barrage of anger…
TRISH: “Maybe just send him a text.”
I look up at Trish and Jake hopefully. Jake smiles sympathetically and nods in agreement.
JAKE: “I think you’ve been through enough. It’s like watching a puppy get repeatedly slapped.”
ME: “You mean it?”
TRISH: “Yeah it really is.”
So I send a couple of guys a couple of awkward texts instead. Yes, I’m facing up to my responsibilities but I get to do it in the sweet, sweet forgiving age of near anonymity. Thank you mobile phones, thank you Lord of the Internet. Thank you friends for letting me off the hook. Cheers.