Updated: Apr 17
I was going to write a very articulate and insightful piece today about drinking during the pandemic and how 70% of all Australians are drinking more. (I had to look up how to spell articulate) But you can read about that on in The Guardian. I don’t want anyone feeling guilty or full of regret about drinking when reading my posts. So, I thought I’d cheer you all up and tell you about the time I had Goldfish sex.
I was wondering around La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It’s a Roman Catholic Basilica built by Gaudi in the early 80’s. It’s tall spires and wobbly looking doorways melt over this bustling city. When I travelled I always went alone. I thought this was perhaps because I was fiercely independent but really, it’s was so could get up to mischief without anyone ever finding out.
I loved pounding the cobbled streets of unknown places. I never planned my days, I just stepped out and let the road lead me. I spent my mornings soaking up the sunshine in parks, reading and afternoons wondering around museums. After a long siesta I tracked down hidden tavernas where I perched my bum on a high stool and nibbled on tapas accompanied by cold Cerveza’s. I loved being sunk into a different culture.
I remember being inside that magical building looking at a very modern painting. People do that in Europe. They just stare at paintings for ages, pretending to be all arty, knowing what the meanings and how the artist felt when he did that bum print on the canvas. I stood with them, staring too.
‘Hello, do you like this painting?’ A lovely Canadian accent wafted into my ear.
‘Oh hello, erm yes, sort of. But personally, I would have used a paintbrush rather than my arse crack’
He was handsome with sun bleached hair, bright blue eyes and a cheeky smile. Perhaps a few years older than me. He was wearing a faded t-shirt and had headphones dangling from his shoulders.
‘Fancy grabbing something to eat?
‘Sure’ I said, pretending to be cool and nonchalant when in fact I was doing a secret fist pump, thinking ‘Score!’
We spent the afternoon chatting about our lives while taking in the sites. He was staying in the same Backpackers as me and was travelling Spain for a month while on break from University. He was polite, opening doors and offering me his towel to sit on at the beach and by the time the sun was setting I found myself daydreaming about how we would manage our long-distance relationship. (Girls do that. We can’t help it. If someone is even a tiny bit nice, we rush home and start practicing writing our signatures using his surnames and looking up wedding dresses. It’s sweet really, we’re hopeful souls).
We went our separate ways after arranging to meet later on in the evening for dinner. It felt like a date, so I turned my knickers inside out, brushed my hair with my fingertips and slid into my smartest flip flops. I felt excited waiting at the lively restaurant. Maybe I’d met a nice one for once? We did get on so well, he was funny and seemed kind. That was all I wanted.
We were both a bit shaky and nervous at first but as the beers flowed, we got closer. I touched my hand on his knee when I laughed and he told me he thought I was lovely.
‘I like you’ he said.
‘Well, I like you too’ I slurred back.
‘I must not have sex with him’ I kept repeating in my head’
‘He is nice, don’t sleep with him on the first night’
but those eyes....
The beers were disappearing as quickly as myself respect and after a stumble back to the backpackers I found myself climbing the ladder to the top bunk.
It was a dorm room. There were people asleep in the other bunks. We were being quiet. Drunk quiet. Tripping over, giggling and banging into things.
I hopped up on to the bed hoping to have a long passionate movie kiss, but ended up having a very awkward wriggle around.
I was too drunk to consider saying no. I did this a lot, I got to a point in my drunkenness where once I had stepped over a certain line, I felt I had to go all the way. Like I had no choice anymore. Stupid.
The snogging was substandard, all washing machine and spitty. Being on a single bunk also had obvious limitations and there were people telling us to ‘SHHH’ but we managed to contort our bodies like two snakes in a bag and not make much noise.
With an undoing of a belt and a pop of a bra he was ready. Expecting me to have sex with him. I obliged without thinking. That’s what drinking did to me. It took away my ability to make smart decisions.
This is where things get fishy.
He manoeuvred himself on top of me and placed his arms down by his sides. Yes, that is correct. Down by his sides, like fins. He then flapped around like a goldfish that had leapt out of it’s tank and was squirming around on dry land.
His arms were still flanked to his sides, unmoving. He rocked in a see-saw motion with his legs and chest raised in turn. His eyes were closed.
Then a noise started to come from him like a dying dolphin. A high-pitched squeal. I’m wasn’t sure what was happening and just lay there (like a stunned mullet) and let him finish his strange display. Just when I thought a pack of hunting dogs might appear in the room running towards the high-pitched whistle he declared,
‘Well,’ I thought, ‘isn’t that just lovely’
It was the most unromantic, uncaring and frankly most undignified sexual experience of my life. This kind eyed Canadian had got what he came for and I was left staring at the ceiling just like I had started at those paintings earlier on in the day. I had no idea what ‘that’ was.
I sat up, grabbed any clothes that had been removed and scooted down the ladder.
I said nothing as I slammed the heavy door and I never saw him again. I left that hotel early the next morning and headed to my next destination.
Plenty more fish in the sea.
During my ten years of travelling around the world I had many humiliating experiences like this. I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I was naive in thinking that if I slept with someone that meant they liked me. Wrong.
Alcohol had a huge part to play in my promiscuity. It tricked me, made my judgement skewed. I gave in to sparkly eyes and compliments too easily.
I confused casual hook ups with potential relationships and was broken hearted when my hopes of a love story were shattered. I seemed like a slag when in fact I was a hopeless romantic.
It takes a lot of failures and a lot of weird experiences to find the right person. So, even though one nighters made me feel shitty at the time, they set me up to find the right man in the end. I certainly knew what I didn’t want by the time I met my husband.
I took things slowly with him. I didn’t drink as much and I acted in a more lady like manner. I wanted to come across as more feminine, more mature. Not some bum scratching ape looking for a mate. It took me 25 years to realise meeting men in bars wasn’t a good basis for a relationship and not having any self-respect meant that men had no respect for me.
But I must admit, I was a little concerned when I went to my fiancé’s apartment for the first time. I entered the kitchen and sitting pride of place on the kitchen table ...was a goldfish tank.
‘I think we’ll have to get rid of him’
‘He reminds me of something. I’ll tell you once we’re married!’