Some parties are frightful

A thick, expensive, embossed card came through the post. It seemed to be an invitation to a party of some kind: “bring your own fantasies”, it said. She was too short-sighted to be able to read the small print - something about a disclaimer for emotional damage - but she thought she might go anyway. It was in a part of London that she knew, there was a Tube nearby, she was adrift, she was looking for the love of her life: why not?

She got herself ready, and looking in the mirror, said “Child, am I in good face?” Reasonable face, anyhow. A sharp mind. Better not let that show too much. When she got there, she was appalled. A lot of folk were congregated in the kitchen, very nicely dressed. But when she went into the other rooms, people were not dressed at all, apart from the occasional gas-mask and some heavy-looking costume jewellery which swung from various parts of their anatomy. Judging from the squeals and wails, everyone was coming, every single one of them. It was one of those orgies that she had read about. Surely she wasn’t expected to take part?

She stood awkwardly askance, hidden in a corner, secretly alienated. To her, love was a tricky terrain, and pleasure an even trickier one: she could no more let go with one of these masked satyrs than fly in the air. Love was what she wanted, and this was a very silly place to look for it. She supposed she could lend a finger here, a lip there, to help the party go with a swing. But her heart wouldn’t be in it. No.

Then she saw him. He was standing on the other side of the room, and what drew her to him was his almost comical expression of dismay. He had run his hands through his hair, and it seemed to be standing on end with shock. She knew at once that he was like her, one of the walking wounded, and that he had a secret notebook in which he was mentally inscribing every detail of the scene in front of them. Then one of the couples in the heaving mass had a sort of mishap, and a penis came out of some orifice with a loud “pop”, rather like a cork coming out of a champagne bottle. She threw back her head and laughed and so did he, they caught each other’s eye and made a run for it, out of the door and into the quiet suburban street. They trotted on together till they found a bench in a park, where they could sit and talk.

And that was how it began, in shared laughter and quiet talk. The trouble was, they had the same distastes (that roiling, heaving mass!) and they were both shy. It is harder to give yourself than you think. But she had good hopes that one day they might be the same flesh. After all, love can make miracles.