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?

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Why Nigel Farage is hoovering up all the women I know

Beware young fogeys.

I can’t remember where I was when I first worked out that I was older than Nigel Farage. You’d think after that bombshell went off, you’d still be able to locate the crater. Anyway, there it is: the cut-price little Oswald Mosley is about a year younger than me.

I mention this not because I want to dwell on the nasty piece of shit, but because I’ve been having to face, at one remove, so to speak, the problem of young fogeyism. It seems to be all around. And not only that, it’s hoovering up women I know.

The first time it happened was with B——. She was going to come round last weekend, but then emailed to cancel the day before, because she was going to watch rugby – apparently there’s some kind of tournament on, but it never seems to end – with her boyfriend. How ghastly, I said, or words to that effect; I’d rather die.

She then made the Category One mistake of saying, “Rugby, cricket, all the same to me,” with a cheeky little “x” at the end of it.

I replied thus: Rugby is a violent and brutal game (the coy term is “contact sport”, which means you get to – indeed, are encouraged to – injure the opposing team as often as you can, in the absence of any other tactic) loved by fascists, or, at best, those with suspicious ideas about the order of society with which I doubt you, B——, would wish to be aligned. Also, only people of immense bulk and limited intelligence can play it. Cricket is a game of deep and subtle strategy, capable of extraordinary variation, which is appreciated across the class spectrum, and is also so democratically designed that even the less athletic – such as I – can play it. [I delete here, for your comfort, a rant of 800 or so words in which I develop my theory that cricket is a bulwark against racism, and rugby, er, isn’t.] Both are dismayingly over-represented at the national level by ex-public-school boys; cricket as a matter of historical accident (the selling-off of school playing fields under Thatcher and Major), rugby as a matter of policy. Have a lovely day watching it.

Two things to note. 1) This woman is not, by either birth or ancestry, from a part of the world where rugby is played. 2) You wouldn’t have thought she was one of nature’s rugby fans, as she considers that Jeremy Corbyn is a good person to be leading the Labour Party. (True, thousands of Tories think the same thing, but for completely different reasons.)

That’s Exhibit A. Exhibit B is my old friend C——, whom I haven’t seen for about five years or so but suddenly pops up from the past to say hello, how about a drink? I always liked C—— very much, largely because she’s very funny and, let’s be frank about this, something of a sexpot. She seems keen to bring someone over with her who, reading between the lines like a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, I deduce to be her latest partner. The thing is, she says, she’s not sure he can come, because he might be going beagling.

Beagling?

Well, she does come round (alone, thank goodness) and she’s looking even better than I remember, and is even funnier, too, and she shows me some of the pictures she has put up on her profile page on some dating site, and they’re not the kind of photographs this magazine will ever publish, let’s leave it at that. (One of them even moves.) And, as it turns out – and it doesn’t really surprise me that much – the young beagler she is seeing is a good thirty years-plus younger than she, and his photograph shows him to be all ears and curls, like a transporter mix-up between Prince Charles and the young David Gower. Like B——’s young man, he is not called Gervaise or Peregrine but may as well be.

What on Earth is going on here? Can we blame Farage? I can understand the pull of the void, but this is getting ridiculous. Do they not quite understand what they’re doing? Actually, C—— does, because she’s had her eyes open all her life, and B——, her youth and political idealism notwithstanding, didn’t exactly come down in the last shower, either.

So what is it with these young wannabe toffs – one of whom isn’t even rich? “You’d like him,” C—— says, but I’m not so sure. People who go beagling sure as hell don’t like me, and I see no reason not to return the favour.

Well, I can’t thrash this out here. C—— leaves, but not before giving me the kind of kiss that makes me wish Binkie Beagley, or whatever his name is, would just wink out of existence.

Nicholas Lezard is a literary critic for the Guardian and also writes for the Independent. He writes the Down and Out in London column for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 16 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times