But that's not really what this is about. This is about last night. I bumped into a guy called Jermaine. I don't know him at all but we got on pretty much immediately which, as anyone who knows me will tell you, is pretty much unheard of. It never happens. But Jermaine just seemed one of those positive people that, I dunno, you just get swept up in their positivity. We were having a brilliant time. I couldn't tell you if we had anything in common because it wasn't about that. It was just two people meeting at the right time at the right place, I suppose. Honestly, we just clicked. I'm normally straight out the door when it comes to talking with a stranger but Jermaine isn't like that. He put me at my ease. In no time at all I was having a laugh and I liked him. Then he said something a bit weird. He said "We don't have to take our clothes off to have a good time".
I didn't respond at first because it was just such a bizarre thing to say. Not bizarre, but inappropriate. I mean, in as much as us taking our clothes off had never been mentioned. It just wasn't on the cards. At all. I felt completely awkward now and felt like leaving but Jermaine clocked that I had taken things all wrong. He said "We can dance and party all night".
Fuck. I felt terrible. Why had I just leapt to that stupid conclusion, I thought. Jermaine's a nice guy. When he said "We don't have to take our clothes off to have a good time", he meant that guys like us don't have to go around chasing women and being dicks to justify ourselves. You can have a good time without using someone. You can hang out with your mates and, like Jermaine said, dance and party all night. And I like that. I like that a lot. You can just have a good time by having a giggle with your friends. I suppose that might sound a bit innocent to some people but I genuinely took to what Jermaine had to say. I don't know why I'd been so weird before, even homophobic. Stupid. Especially as I don't have a problem dancing with a man. It's just dancing and having fun, isn't it? I get what he meant about taking clothes off now (he didn't mean us together) and if he fancied a dance, I'd gladly dance with him. He's a friend and it's a laugh. "We can dance and party all night" and he was right. Then he said "and drink some cherry wine".
I looked at him for a second too long before I realised I was staring. "Yes.", I said. "We could drink some... Some cherry wine". I'll be honest with you, I've never heard of cherry wine and, to me, it sounds disgusting. It sounds like the name of a wine someone would give to their home-brew wine when it had gone wrong. But he said it was lovely and I said "Brilliant. That's brilliant" but I didn't mean it... Well, not at first.
You see, I started thinking about Aldi Malibu. When I first heard about Aldi Malibu I was nearly sick in my own mouth but when I tried it, it was fine. Maybe this is all happening again? I never would have drunk Aldi Malibu before but I listened to a friend and just decided to be a bit more open minded. A bit more adventurous. And it paid off. Despite one tiny second of weirdness (probably on my part), my night with Jermaine was going great so why fuck it up by saying no to some cherry wine? If Jermaine likes it, I should at least give it a go. "It's my round", I said. "Some cherry wines, yeah?" Jermaine agreed and I went off to the bar.
The barman asked what the fuck I was talking about. I mean, I'd said some cherry wine to him 4 times now, I didn't know any other way of ordering it. He said he never heard of it and said it sounded rank so I suggested to Jermaine that we just got a couple more pints but he was determined that we got some cherry wine. Right. Well, I thought we'd best go to the bar round the corner. "Or we could go back to mine? I have a bottle there", he said but I just couldn't let Jermaine down. He'd been kind enough to me to want to share some cherry wine with me so I was determined to find some in a bar nearby and not ruin his night. "Or I have a bottle at mine", he said again. That's Jermaine. A lovely, kind man. But some cherry wine had become my responsibility. I had to find some and share in this bit of Jermaine's life by not ruining the night and just ending up going back to his.
Every pub we went to just laughed in my face. "What the fuck is cherry fucking wine?", they said. Of course, I didn't know. It was Jermaine's thing. That's what he wanted to share with me. He'd sat through my stories of living in Lewisham and photos of my dog and me telling him that I used to know Jimmy Carr, all those things I shared with him and the one thing that in his life that he wanted me to experience, the one thing, was some cherry wine. I couldn't even do that for him. After being laughed at by bar staff time and time again, I just gave up. I faced Jermaine and apologised. This had been a great night and, although I find it hard to make friends, I genuinely felt that I had made one tonight. The only thing that would have made it perfect is for the two of us, great mates - good lads, to sit down and banter over a couple of glasses of some cherry wine. I tried, I failed. "There's always the bottle at my house", he said.
I felt like a prize cunt walking to Jermaine's flat. I'm sure there are loads of places that sell some cherry wine but because I never try anything new, I didn't even know where to start looking for it. He told me not to worry. Well, he would, wouldn't he?
When we got to his, he immediately got a bottle out and poured two glasses. "Some cherry wine", he said, proudly. "Uh-huh".
I raised my glass to him and reminded him again of what a great night it had been and when I said cheers what I really meant was "thank you". Then I smiled and took a sip of some cherry wine.
It was fucking disgusting. Like sugary sick or lighter fluid with a Black Jack in it. Absolutely horrible. The worst thing I've ever put in my mouth. I thought I was going to spit it out immediately but as soon as I saw Jermaine's smiling face, I swallowed some cherry wine and said "Delicious". He was so happy I liked it. So happy that I instantly became horribly obliged to take another sip. If anything, it tasted even worse. Like someone had put a Berocca in their piss and given it to me a month later. And when Jermaine told me he'd been keeping the bottle for a special occasion just like this one, I took another sip. Holding back my own vomit. And another sip and another sip and another horrible sip. Each sip worse than the last. Like I had just drunk some semen-flavoured Vimto and the only thing I had to wash it down with was Blu-Tac. I took the last sip and put the glass down. When Jermaine picked up the bottle again, I put my hand over the empty glass.
"What's this?", said Jermaine. I just said "No".
"What do you mean no?", he said, looking sad.
I was nervous. I was. But I thought we were friends enough that I could just say I didn't like it. I didn't like some cherry wine. Actually... I didn't know if we were friends or not. Maybe I could just laugh and say "Just the one glass for me. Too much of a good thing and all that"... He'd never listen to that. That's not how Jermaine and I were. All night we'd been drinking and laughing and sharing... Stopping now would seem weird. I just looked at him, silently. Lost for words. Like I always am around new people.
Jermaine sighed and put the bottle down. He looked at me. His eyes told me that everything was OK. We just looked at each other for well over a minute. Silent. Staring. Not uncomfortable... But not good. Then Jermaine laughed and slapped my arm. "It's only 11", he said.
Yes. It was just 11. Not that late. But late enough. "Not sure I can dance and party all night now though", I half-laughed.
"No", said Jermaine. "That time's gone now. Dancing. Partying. All night. No. Not now. But there is the other option..."
I waited for him to finish but instead he just looked at me. As if it was up to me to suggest something. As if it was up to me to say where the night would go. As if it was up to me to make the next move. I got nervous. Eventually, I spoke.
"Yes", he said. "You know the other option".
After a pause, I replied. "I... I don't know the other option. I mean, it's only 11. There are loads of optio..."
"You do know", said Jermaine, his voice now stronger yet his eyes now not falling on me. "We spoke of it earlier".
I was baffled. "Watching Evil Dead?"
"No, Michael. Not watching The Evil Dead. The other option".
My mouth tried to make words but my brain refused them. What other option? What did Jermaine mean? If it was too late to dance and party all night and I didn't want any more cherry wine, what was there? Finally, he spoke and put me out and in of my misery.
"Take our clothes off", said Jermaine.
I laughed nervously and Jermaine repeated "Take our clothes off".
How had we got ourselves here? For the first time in my life, I decided that I needed to get out there and try new things but not this. Not this. Never this. It all started with wondering why my friend likes Aldi Malibu and it's ended up here, in a grotty one bedroom flat with a middle-aged man saying we should get naked. I liked Jermaine and maybe he thought this was the normal end of a normal night for him but it wasn't what I wanted. It's gone too far. I looked him in the eye and said "No".
"I understand", sighed Jermaine. "Anyway, there's always some cherry wine".
I took my shoes off. I didn't want to but the idea of another glass of sugar-sick was too much to bear. I lifted my jumper over my head and then took my hat off. It was an awkward order but I was nervous and not thinking. Jermaine smiled as he undressed. Somehow, his stare and his smile made it easier to look at his naked cock than look him in the eye. Soon I was completely without clothes.
Jermaine looked so happy. The two of us just feet apart, him staring at my body, me not knowing where to look. I waited for him to make his move. My mind completely understood what was to come. I waited. I waited because he made me wait. Waiting while he stared. Waiting and waiting. Waiting for what seemed like 15 minutes because it was 15 minutes. "So... Now what?", I said.
"Nothing", Jermaine replied. "Just this".
"What? Just this?"
"Yes", said Jermaine. "Just this. This is nice".
A minute of silence went by.
"Seriously, just this?"
"Yes", said Jermaine.
"Us just standing here with our clothes off. That's it?"
"Yes. I like this".
"But we're not doing anything. And you still have your socks on".
"I could take them off?"
"I don't care. This is just stupid. We're just two men standing together completely naked, well one of us is completely naked, in a room doing fuck all".
"I'm having a good time. Uh-huh".
"It's pathetic. You haven't even taken a sip of some cherry wine".
"No. I just poured that glass to make you think I'd drink it. I hate the stuff".
"Right. Fuck you. Goodbye".
I lifted Jermaine's glass and threw some cherry wine in his face. It burned through his eyes and he screamed while I got dressed and left.
And that's what I get for trying something new. For trusting people. The next day I got a DM from a friend asking "Did Jermaine try any of his shit on you last night?" Apparently he's been doing this since the '80's. He gives people cherry wine and it's so disgusting that he reckons people will just take their clothes off in front of him rather than have a second glass and I'm the first person that's ever fallen for it. Ever. Jermaine, if you're reading this, you're a sick cunt. Get some help because you fucking need it. And Kate, my lovely friend Kate, can I just say thank you. You're a true friend. You wanted me to try something new and you did it for no other reason than you thought I'd like it. You wanted me to try something new and I'm so, so grateful for that and your friendship. You said Aldi Malibu was lovely so I listened to my friend and I gave it a go. And you were right.
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