There was a naked man standing in front of me in his bedroom in Herne Hill in London. I was sitting patiently on his bed, with all the insecurity of someone about to have a one-night-stand with someone they feel is way out of their league. Something didn’t make sense. He seemed nervous too. He started to rub his hands against each other and he cleared his throat, revealing it to have dried up. He opened his mouth to speak, but nervously laughed instead. Shit, he’s more nervous than me, I thought. Why? WHY?
“Uhm,” he started, “What did, uh… What did Napoleon say to his gay army?”
I froze. Is that a… set-up? To a… joke?
“He said: Get in the boatsmen. Boats… men.” he delivered the joke horribly, but with relief. I forced a smile. Then it struck me. He was nervous, because… I had reluctantly told him that I was a comedian. What a silly thing to do, really – when comedy gives me a mere £20 a month, when I’m lucky and when I’ve rarely done more than twenty minutes. Yet, it’s all I do and it’s the thing I’m closest to being. And yeah, it had felt great to say to someone that I was a comedian – even though now there was a naked man in front of me who was clutching his fists together, nervously awaiting my response to the best joke he could think of. He was a chef. I wondered how he would react if I served him a frozen pizza.
Two months later…
I forced the microphone into my mouth and the gagging-sound blasted from the speakers and blend in with the laughter. I took it back out, quickly wiped it clean from my saliva and put it in the microphone stand whilst thanking the crowd for listening. People applauded and I left the stage to a smiling friend and roommate. We had both done a good set at the open mic in Camden.
“Now this microphone will forever be a penis!” the MC laughed. Evelyn sighed,
“Let’s go get a drink.” she said and we went downstairs to the main bar. We found a nice corner of the room and sat down.
A couple of semi-drunk men came over and sat down by the table next to us. We didn’t pay them a lot of attention — as we were deeply indulged in trying to fixing each other’s and our own love- and sexlives.
“It’s just, where do you meet men that are not comics?” sighed Evelyn. The guy next to me put his glass on our table.
“I know.” I whimpered, “It’s like, when would we ever get to meet them?”
“Sorry girls,” a voice interrupted, “I was just wondering, if I could buy you a drink?”
A blonde guy with charming dimples was standing by our table. He somehow maintained intense eyecontact with both of us at the same time.
“No thanks.” Evelyn and I choired.
“You sure?” he said, lifting an eyebrow whilst smiling seductively. We nodded and focused on each other instead. A few seconds passed. The triumphant look that girls get in their eyes when they’ve rejected a poor guy’s moves disappeared from our eyes.
“We are idiots.” I exclaimed, the thick irony becoming more and more appearant. Evelyn nodded. We were. We had thrived in our little bubble of thinking that socialising with people was impossible; a bubble, I think a lot of comics tend to fall into. Speaking to people is scary. Talking about not being able to speak to people is easy.
“So!” our saviour, the cute blond guy said and threw himself in between us. His friend joined us and finished his sentence, “What do you girls do?”
We paused for a short second. I remembered the nervous, naked man and his terrible Napoleon-joke.
“I’m a student.” I said. I looked at Evelyn who nodded,
We could have stopped our lie there. We could have thrown the question back in his face. We didn’t, though.
“I study Finnish,” I said, “You know, history, politics, language and all that.”
Evelyn nodded, “I study English.”
They bought into the lie, of course – who would lie about studying Finnish?
We were hitting it off. Cute blonde guy was all over Evelyn and The Other Guy had claimed my attention. Evelyn and I exchanged a few words in Swedish and Danish, realised again that we don’t understand each other’s languages and gave up. We both assumed that both of us were interested in the gentemen by our sides and that none of us needed saving.
Everything was beautifully grim. One-night-stands about to happen. Evelyn got up and went to the bathroom. I could’ve gone with. I should’ve gone with. But I chose not to – what was there to discuss? Everything seemed settled.
As she went down the stairs, people started emerging from upstairs. The gig had ended. Then everything that happened from then on, seemed to be happening in slowmotion. Like watching a car-crash. Your brain can’t believe it.
Four guys approached. I made the first mistake – I looked them in the eyes.
“Hey,” one of them began, “Your fellatio was amazing!”
Time froze. My future chlamydia-donor froze. I froze.
“All my friends agreed!” he exclaimed and his three friends nodded excessively.
“Wait, what?” my handsome stranger protested. I took in a deep breath, ready to explain, but I couldn’t. I desperately tried to think of something that could save the situation.
“Yeah, she talked about having guy-troubles,” one of the friends chuckled and pointed at me and the two men by my side, “But it doesn’t look like it!”
And a hand disappeared from my shoulders. The gap between us went from non-existent to a few inches, which felt like a lot more.
“Let me just explain,” I muttered, “I do stand-up comedy. I gagged on a microphone.”
It probably would have been better if I had just claimed to have done a gangbang with the four guys. My prince moved away from me faster than if I had said my skin was infected with the purest AIDS. Both him and his friend started checking their phones. I was fuming, but had no idea how to deal with the situation.
Then Evelyn came back. She quickly noticed the change. The lights got turned on, as the bar was closing. Evelyn shrugged and I nodded and we grabbed our coats. We shook hands with the two men.
“See you around,” he said. I didn’t even bother.
Or as they say in Finland, “Tietenkin.”