So on Tuesday last week, perhaps Wednesday – it’s hard to pay attention when your whole life is stuck in midweek – I’m sat at my desk staring at some computer screen, maybe the wall, and I overhear some guy a bit further down the office (Guy 1) asking some other guy (Guy 2) something about squash. And I should point out that there are squash courts at the bottom of the building where I work.
I don’t think much of it, because I think maybe I’m hallucinating, so I let it go.
And on Thursday last week, perhaps Friday, I hear the same guy down the office (Guy 1) asking some third guy (Guy 3) something about squash. And this time my concentration is better (am I not on sedatives? I should never be) because I manage to deduce that yes, my worst fear has come alive: Guy 1 is setting up a work squash tournament and he has asked every other bloke in the office apart from me.
Obviously being a gay disqualifies me from being interested in sporting activities of any kind, even if a) these activities are squash (i.e. one of the gayest sports in existence) and b) I am actually the fittest looking person on this floor.
So I decide to take huge offence at this – partly because I have nothing better to do – and I start planning, scheming and stewing (in my anger).
Firstly, I decide to email Guy 3 (who I’m most friends with) and say: “Hello Guy 3, So I understand that Guy 1 has asked every other male under 65 in the company about the squash tournament apart from me, even though I am the most physically fit person in here. Can you speculate on any non-offensive, non-degrading reasons on why that might be?”
Secondly, I decide that even if I am asked now, I do not want to take part because I’m offended.
The next day, Guy 1 sends me an email asking if I might be interested in the squash tournament (Guy 3 has told him I’m feeling left out), so I reply that yes, I’d love to play and when do we start.
My first game is on Friday at 1400 and for this game I am going to wear: white Ralph Lauren polo shirt, black Ralph Lauren mid-thigh length shorts, white Nike wristband on left wrist, white socks, white squash trainers.
I am bound to fit in.
At this point I am choosing to ignore A Girl’s comment, a malicious comment that says: “I can’t wait to hear the results. I can almost picture half the office gathering around the stands watching this match. Please don’t forget the wristband and take a picture of you in your outfit if at all possible”.
On Thursday this week at work I’m emailing Brendan and the conversation steers towards Superman (or rather I grab the wheel and drive it there head on) and Brendan speculates that if I walked into the gym one day and saw 1) Superman happily working out with a gay boy that I don't particularly like and 2) wearing that boy's torn t-shirt instead of his own, that I would have a psychotic moment like in a David Lynch movie where I black out and end up in a parallel dimension.
And on Thursday afternoon in the office, I’m so mind-numbingly bored that I’m willing to hallucinate this scenario Brendan has presented, just to kill some time, time that will take me to 1800 and Superman faster.
So on Thursday after work, I get to the gym, anticipation killing me because I’ve decided to talk to him…
…where over the next hour, I pretend to do back and abs, going through the motions really, because Superman is not there. HE, is not there.
As I watch the minutes go by refusing to give up hope, time turns to 1830, 1850, 1915. And on this Thursday evening, it seems that He has given training a miss.
As I walk through the gym with my heart ripped out, I don’t consider it a coincidence when The Ex Factor by Lauryn Hill comes on my iPod through shuffle. And as Lauryn Hill sings to me…
“no one loves you more than me and no one ever will / is this just a silly game that forces you to act this way / I keep letting you back in, as painful as this thing has been, I just can’t be with no one else / care for me, care for me, I know you care for me / cry for me, cry for me, you said you’d die for me”
…I realize that fate is playing a cruel game with me and that fate is not done yet. Fate wants me on my knees, broken, shattered, alive.
When Violet by Hole comes next on shuffle and Courtney Love shouts in my ears…
“go on, take everything, take everything, I want you to”
…and Superman is still not there, it becomes painfully obvious that he won’t go on, he won’t take everything, and he doesn’t want me (to).
I shower. And I leave.