Why are lesbian dates so much like therapy sessions?

There’s something about drinking coffee with a woman I’m trying to have sex with that urges me to talk about That Thing from my childhood where I accidentally swallowed a piece of Lego and wet myself, and how it moulded me into a stumpy, neurotic, hirsute

‘‘Are you going to sleep with that?” My mum is looming over my bed, looking both troubled and tickled. I am clutching a bag of pasta.

“Leave me,” I say.

I’ve been watching back-to-back episodes of The Borgias for three days and am finding it difficult not to speak like an emotionally diarrhoeal Renaissance lady who has taken to her bedchamber because her lover was run through with a pike. Maybe that’s where I went wrong on my date. That said, my suitor did show up late, looking decidedly less like Botticelli’s Venus than she did in her OkCupid picture.

I’m not sure why lesbian dates are so . . . feelings. And, yes, as a lesbian I have a licence not only to wear knitted jumpers with cats on them non-ironically, but to use “feelings” as an adjective. There’s something about drinking coffee with a woman I’m trying to have sex with that urges me to talk about That Thing from my childhood where I accidentally swallowed a piece of Lego and wet myself, and how it moulded me into a stumpy, neurotic, hirsute dyke of a 24-year-old. I tend to mistake potential girlfriends for therapists. My actual therapist has told me to stop doing this.

“How was the date, Knaidel?” the looming woman asks. For those unfamiliar with Yiddish, my nickname means “matzo ball”, a type of dumpling that you eat in soup. Every time my mum uses it, I feel like I’ve been floating around in chickeny water for my entire life. And although she named me after one with the cocoonish affection of a thousand Jewish mothers, I can’t help wondering if in fact it’s Yiddish for “adult who lives with her parents in a dire state of prolonged adolescence”.

“Leave me,” I repeat.

I turn over and lovingly spoon the bag of pasta. After the feelings-fest date, I got a serious carb craving and came home with fusilli and a frown. I decided, almost angrily, that I’d spend the rest of the day eating and masturbating.

While unpacking my shopping, which also included a pound of carrots, which I’ll probably never eat, I realised I was knackered and got into bed with the pasta. And here I am now, clutching food and wondering if I even have the energy for a wank.

“Come on,” I say to myself, “I bet Lucrezia Borgia always had time to pleasure herself, even in between bouts of being a badass femme fatale.”

It would be a lot easier with a vibrator, though – the slob’s aid to onanism. Mine recently died on me and I’ve been waiting for a new one to arrive via Her Majesty’s Royal Mail. I like to think it will be presented to me on a red velvet cushion, amid a trumpet fanfare, by the Queen herself. Maybe she’ll even knight me with the Lovebuzz 2000, or whatever it’s called.

While I’m fantasising about royalty and sex toys, something lands in my lap.

“I think that might be for you,” my mum says. She’s standing in the doorway with a cup of Lady Grey in her hand.

“FYI,” she continues, “it doesn’t ’alf look cheap. How much did you give for it?”

I shake the open jiffy bag over my lap, and out drops some vaguely cock-shaped silicone. The package is addressed to the ambiguous “Ms Margolis”.

Damn my feminist principles. Mum clearly thought it was for her. And what does she know about vibrators all of a sudden? I start to panic at the thought that she might be an expert. I bury my face in my pillow.

“Leave me,” I say.

A mass giveaway of vibrators in New York's Meatpacking District. Sometimes it's altogether more satisfying to stay at home with a sex toy and a bag of pasta. Image: Getty

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

This article first appeared in the 30 October 2013 issue of the New Statesman, Should you bother to vote?

Photo: Getty
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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.