Happy? Not After
What goes up, must come down. So it is with romance, as Barry Lowe recounts how a passionate love affair became a bitter row.
Last week we left Jaime and me at Doddy’s coffee lounge deep in the throes of ‘romance’ after he dedicated ‘I Loved You Once in Silence’ on the jukebox. It had a certain poetic inevitability that a song conceived for the ill-fated love triangle that was Camelot should be Jaime’s choice for our relationship.
Jaime’s revelation floored me. I had no inkling of his feelings, although the depth of them was only truly revealed when he whisked me back to his room in Paddington where we flip flopped away the remainder of the night. Unlike with his previous disastrous non-mating with Brandon, Jaime did encourage me to top him.
We settled into that early period of love when you can never get enough fucking. He moved into my one-bedroom flat next to the cinema in Glebe and for the next few months we settled into a lazy routine of sex, work, more sex, having lunch while making gooey eyes at each other, and, did I mention sex? We tended to stay home a lot.
Our one extravagance was our once a week at Chez Ivy’s where we danced our butts off. We both loved the place.
Petula, my closest female friend at that time, was a woman around my age with whom I worked in advertising. She lived in fear of her former husband, who threatened dire retribution if he ever caught her with another man. Her parents vetted me as a suitable male ‘substitute’ because I was unabashedly gay. I made the mistake of inviting her to join Jaime and I for our weekly dance sessions. Our little love duet suddenly became a threesome. Pet insinuated herself into our lives in a way that should have made me highly suspicious. We did everything together, until it came time to close the bedroom door.
I thought nothing of it, secure in my affection for Jaime and his ability to make the best frozen lemon cheesecake I’ve ever tasted. It was only years after he’d gone back to the UK, settled in London, changed his name to that of a now much more famous television personality with a lisp, and segued his career from haberdashery into make-up, that Pet admitted they had carried on a brief clandestine affair.
By that stage, I cared little. Jaime had written to me from London in his impeccable copperplate handwriting – I still have his letters – detailing his unhappy love life, including his two attempts at suicide, once with a similarly depressed companion. After two such missives, the correspondence stopped. I often wondered if he’s succeeded on his third attempt.
It was hard to forgive him. Not for his cheating with Pet, I didn’t know about that at the time, or for his obvious cheating in general, even though I had been monogamous all through the relationship.
No, the killer to our relationship was the night Jaime came home later than usual because he’d been to the doctor. As soon as he came through the door he began a savage attack on my morals, my cleanliness, and my hygiene. It was a brutal first strike. I was as gobsmacked as the night he played ‘our song.’ I didn’t understand his vitriol until he dropped the bombshell that the doctor had diagnosed a rather serious venereal disease which necessitated almost daily visits to his surgery for penicillin shots.
That night Jaime moved to the lounge to sleep, moving out shortly after. We both attended the same doctor, who did confirm that Jaime had infected me. Small consolation. The repercussions were long-term because I had a rather large medical bill to pay off over the following year. I wondered how Jaime was managing on his considerably lower wage than I was getting. Retail haberdashery was not the career choice of those aiming for a quick buck.
However, Jaime, it transpired, went to the doctor’s home on weekends to get his shots, even for a few occasions after the disease was cured. I had to go to his surgery.
And they say romance is dead.