Another Year Wiser



It was my birthday this weekend, I am now 36. I have had fleeting thoughts about being on the wrong side of 35, but who says it’s the wrong side? I have heard many women say that your 40’s are the best years of your life. I have absolutely loved my 30’s, and I’m still loving my 30’s, they have been way better than my 20’s, and anything is better than your teens. Every year that goes by I feel like I become a better  version of myself. I spent my 35th birthday with Callum at Ballie Ballerson. Lalaletmeexplain didn’t exist yet, I was just Layla, a big confused wasteman adopter. But it was then that I had this epiphany, a load of little fireworks were sparking off rapidly in my head, I was making connections between my behaviour and the type of men that I was allowing into my life, and everything changed. I stopped looking for men, male attention, dates, potential husbands,  friends with benefits, I let go of the need for male validation which is what I had been seeking for my whole life. My Dad never gave it to me, I was never good enough for him, I idolised him and I went to great lengths to make him proud, but he never, ever was. When I got a 1st class honours in my degree he told me that I could have done better if I’d have listened to him when I was younger. How can you do better than a 1st? He didn’t come to my graduation despite being invited.

I always chased men who hung me in the balance of not knowing how they felt about me. Men who made me feel amazing on one day and completely confused the next, just like my Dad. I was just chasing a feeling of being wanted and loved but I sought it for the wrong reasons from the wrong people. I realised my worth on my last birthday when Callum wet the bed. I realised how far above Callum I was and how I had been selling myself so short by stooping down to his levels. It occurred to me that since my last long term relationship with my son’s Dad ended in 2010, every man I have met has been not right in some way and I realised that it was because I was coming to them from a position of not being right myself. My desperation for love and validation would make me alter myself for every man I met, for example, I would pretend that I really loved watching Motorbikes race round and round a track if the guy I liked loved bikes, or I’d post a load of Buddhist quotes if I knew he was a bit new age, or I’d put other women down to boost myself and to agree with his negative views about women, or I’d tolerate repeated ghosting or other maltreatment because if I said too much I’d risk scaring him off completely. I compromised my identity to fit into what I needed to be to impress that man. I suddenly realised that I was good enough. That it wasn’t my looks or my personality putting people off. It was my anxieties and neediness, both of which stemmed from being desperate for a man to make me feel good about myself and to constantly reassure me that he liked me. Lat year I learnt to like myself.  As soon as I realised that I don’t need anybody to validate me because I can validate myself, I fell into a really comfortable and settled place, and I haven’t looked back. I am open to meeting men but I am not about to chase them or search for them, I truly do not need a man, a good one would definitely add value to my life,  but right now I am just happy and content and my friends and family provide me with the love I need. If it took me to reach 35 to figure that out, then I am excited by the wisdom and knowledge that I am going to have by the time I turn 45.

I don’t have one big group of friends, I have a few little groups, and I learnt a long time ago that it’s better to celebrate over a few weekends with each individual group rather than gathering the whole lot together. Having 20 people at a restaurant is just long, you can’t interact with everyone, there is always drama about bill splitting, and you feel like you have to look after the one person who doesn’t know anyone. The same goes for nights out, one person doesn’t like the music, another gets so drunk that you have to stick her in an Uber, and someone always goes missing. I’m not patient enough for it all so I have been doing several small things for a while now. I have a few friends who don’t make a big fuss out of their birthdays but I do, well not a big fuss, but I always celebrate with as many people as possible. Birthdays are special, you have stayed alive for another whole year, which considering the ridiculous decisions that I have made over the years, is quite an achievement. So for part one of my birthday bonanza I met up with my best friend Grace, Becky (with the good hair), and Katie, we are all single and we wanted an excuse to get out for the night and mingle. Everyone came to mine for drinks and we did a new moon ritual which involves writing down your intentions, wishes and desires, reading them aloud under the new moon and then burning them while giving thanks and gratitude for the things you already have. It was a really nice way to start the night. We all felt happy and positive and it was lovely hearing what my friend’s dreams are and feeling like we can achieve them together.

I have put on an outrageous amount of weight in the last few weeks, I have been going to the gym around 3 times a week and eating what I want. I used to train 7 days a week, 6 minimum, and I ate a bit more carefully, but dropping those 3/4 sessions has made a huge difference. All my clothes are a size 10 but I am now a size 12. I’m not fat, I’m just fatter, and it makes me feel uncomfortable, especially because I refuse to buy bigger clothes and now I am squeezing into size 10 jeans. I come home at the end of the day with severe red marks around my stomach. My boobs have gone up a size but I’m also refusing to buy bigger bras so I have major spill out going on. I look like a jumbo sausage stuffed into a chipolata skin. I just know that if I start buying bigger clothes I will end up a size 14 by Christmas and I cannot let that happen. I do not suit extra weight.  So basically getting ready for my night out was hard work. I tried on a load of outfits a couple of days in advance and nothing looked good. On Saturday I went to Zara, H&M, New Look, River Island, Topshop, and Primark and I found absolutely nothing that looked good, I ended up buying a Black jumper dress from a factory outlet store. I hated the dress but it was literally my last option. It had big ugly buttons all over it which I cut off. I looked like I was going to work on a cold day.

I felt so un-buff that there was probably no point in going out. I bang on about how looks don’t matter a lot, and they don’t, in terms of finding a partner, or in how attractive you are to people, but to me what matters is that how I look effects how I feel. If I look like shit on a normal day I don’t really care, generally I feel pretty comfortable in my own skin, but if I look like shit on my own birthday night out, that’s going to have an impact. And it did. I did the new moon ritual in my pyjamas and I was having a lovely time, but as soon as I got dressed I felt this mood wash over me. I should have used a bit of law of attraction to get myself through it, but I was tipsy by then so it was too late.

There was an event at a bar near Old Street that my friend suggested we go to because they were playing house and garage music and it looked like it would be up our street. It wasn’t. There was an upstairs and downstairs area, the upstairs was completely empty apart from a group of 6 women who seemed to be celebrating a 60th birthday doing Mum dancing to Dj Luck & MC Neat, so we quickly headed downstairs. Downstairs was packed but it was like being in a bar in a cheap holiday resort. The men were all in shirts and blazers with the buttons undone to show their chest hair, 70% of them were under the age of 23 and the other 30% were at least 55. The music was dreadful, it was all speeded up versions of RnB songs. They would play something like ‘Shorty got low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low’ but it sounded like an Alvin and the Chipmunks version because it was so sped up. It didn’t stop all the cheesy ravers actually trying to go low every time Flo-Rida said low though. I stood there trying to feel happy but as I looked around at the crowd twerking to a 220 bpm version of Rhianna’s Umbrella I just could not even muster a smile. I told my friends that we needed to find another venue but they told me to cheer up and wait it out. I was shouting over the music ‘I need something darker and rougher’ but they were ignoring me.

We went back upstairs where the music was better and the people were less dry. A group of three mixed race men came in and walked straight up to us. The main one had a lovely face, very handsome,  but he had tattoos all over his neck and a gold tooth and he was wearing pale denim jeans with a matching ripped denim waistcoat, and an off-key Moschino looking top underneath. He looked like a roadman from the 90’s. He introduced himself as Jason, both his friends looked like they had something wrong with them. George had really strange teeth, one protruded over his lip like Nanny Mcphee, and he was ever so slightly cross eyed. He was wearing a green jumper, jeans and grey boxers, I knew he was wearing grey boxers  because his trousers were half way down his bum. He looked ridiculous. The third guy, Guy (like Guy Fawkes) was chubby and had a mop of curly black hair and such fat cheeks that he looked like one of those cherub angels. He was dressed nicely in a shirt and trousers but he had black loafers on and no socks so you could see the skin on the top of his feet  and it just looked weird. He was very smiley in an ever so slightly creepy way. George and Guy didn’t talk much, they just stood behind Jason grinning. Jason didn’t know who to try it on with, he literally spoke to the whole group telling us each how hot we were.

Becky asked him why they had decided to come all the way from West London to this shit night and he said ‘I’ve been with my girlfriend for 4 years and I never go out because she kicks off every time, but we had a row tonight and so I thought fuck her, I’m going to have some fun’ Becky said ‘Hang on a minute, you’ve got a girlfriend and you are clearly trying it on with other women’ and he said ‘Well at least I was honest, plus if things go well, you might be my girlfriend by the morning’. At this point I intervened, I told him that he was a vile man and that we did not want to talk to the likes of him. The three of them did not get the message at all and continued to follow us around. We kept moving to other parts of the bar but they would come shuffling along besides us. In the end I told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to move the fuck away and so they toddled off downstairs.

Katie had invited her friend Zara along. I have known Zara for years and we have partied together several times but we are not friends, I like her a lot though. I had intended for us to leave as soon as we had finished our drinks but Zara arrived and ordered more and so we were stuck for a bit longer. Another group of guys walked in who looked more like our type of people. There was a tall mixed race one who looked like the Bo’Selecta version of Craig David, two short stocky black guys, a tall, fairly handsome, but young looking Indian guy, and another mixed race guy who looked a bit like David McIntosh but not as sexy. He caught my eye immediately because he was the only mildly attractive looking man in a sea of extremely unattractive men. He was the best of a bad bunch. He was wearing a cap and I instantly assumed that he must have a receding hairline. I pointed him out to Becky and Zara and said that I thought he was nice looking, Zara agreed. They went downstairs and so we stomached the bad holiday disco vibes for the sake of a bit of entertainment. Becky is an excellent wing man, she will just go up and start talking to the friend of a man you like. I had to control her a bit because she wanted to go straight up to the mildly attractive one and say ‘My friend likes you’ but I’m not down for that. If a man got his friend to tell me he liked me I’d be wondering why he didn’t tell me himself. Plus, at that moment I didn’t like him, I fancied him like you fancy some extra olives with your Nandos, you can take them or leave them.

Having a relatively hot man in the building did make things more fun, my friends had all begun chatting to his, and he was speaking to me and Becky. His name was Darius and he said he was 29. He spoke with a Liverpool accent which I absolutely love, but he was living in London because he runs a business here. He wasn’t giving off any vibes and we didn’t have much to say to each other. He bought me and Becky a shot of Patron and that sent me over the edge from tipsy into full on drunk, Patron gives you a different kind of drunkenness. I walked away to talk to Grace to let her know how fucked I felt and when I turned around Zara was grinding on Darius, they were talking and laughing and I was just like, OK then! I didn’t care that Darius was into her and not me, I was just observing the fact that Zara knew that I had fancied him and seen me talking to him yet had still whined her way over to him. But I cannot stress how little I cared, you win some, you lose some, and he was no loss. Becky had seen what had happened and she asked me if I was OK. I told her that I was fine, and she kept saying ‘Are you sure babe?’ and then Grace came over and I explained what had happened. Grace said ‘I really hope you are OK babe, I feel like this is a really horrible thing to happen on your birthday.’ I was beginning to get a bit irritated by having to keep explaining that I really did not care.

I went to the toilet with Katie and I told her what had happened and she, who was also very drunk, got it into her head that I was really upset with Zara and that this was a big deal,  and that I would be angry with Zara for stealing the man that I liked. I wanted to headbutt the toilet door. It was my fault for telling the story to Grace and Katie but I really felt like I was just telling the story factually, not emotionally. Katie was insistent that she would talk to Zara about it and I was like ‘NOOOOOO please do not, I DO NOT LIKE HIM, I FIND HIM MILDLY ATTRACTIVE.’ Katie told me that he was definitely a fuckboy anyway, she said that she can tell because he’s mixed race and he wears a hat. She told me that unless I change my type I am going to keep meeting fuckboys, but she has just been heartbroken by a White man who cheated continuously during their five years together. He convinced her that he had completely changed over the past year and she truly believed him. Then she caught him out again and this time it was the final straw. They broke up around 8 weeks ago and Katie is currently in an extreme man hating phase. But I disagree that changing the race of the men that I go for will mean I meet less fuckboys, it’s the type of man he is not his race that defines him. A mixed race man in a hat is not a red flag.  Grace’s last major relationship was a high level roadman fuckboy and he was Indian, Becky’s last fuckboy was Black, am I supposed to hold out for a Chinese fuckboy because we don’t know about them yet? I have women from all over the world in my DMs telling me about international fuckboy madness, they are not all dating mixed race men. Fuckboyism does not discriminate, it transcends borders and it effects everyone. Katie had made up her mind about Darius though and she was really angry with him. I begged her not to mention it.

We went back out to the dance floor and Darius called me over and said ‘I’m sorry I caused a situation between you and your friend.’ I held my head in my hands, and shook my head in exasperation. I don’t know who kindly informed Darius of the situation but I was tired of having to explain to people that I was not broken-hearted over a Nando’s side Olives type of man who I had known for 20 minutes. I told him that there was no situation but I felt like a massive dickhead. Then he asked me if Katie was ginger, when I said yes he said ‘Is she single?’ I told him that she had been through a recent break up and that she wasn’t really on that vibe and he nodded. I went up to smoke with Katie and I told her that he was interested in her. Katie was really angry about this and said that it proved he was a fuckboy, she said that she had spoken to Zara about what had happened and apparently Zara said ‘Why does Layla care so much about a fuckboy, she goes on to everyone about fuckboys and now she’s chasing one’ My limit was close to being reached.

The rest of the night in the bar went by in a blur. I cannot tell you much about what happened between that cigarette break and the bar closing at 2am, all I know is that Darius and his mates invited us on to an after party at a warehouse that Darius was leasing out as office space in Kings Cross and we accepted, we traveled in separate cabs because there were too many of us. As we were leaving we noticed that Jason the 90’s roadman had taken off his shirt and was now partying enthusiastically topless underneath his waistcoat, he had found a woman who clearly didn’t mind his attached status and it looked like they were going to be leaving together. George and Guy were stood outside still grinning but this time they were drunk and trying to talk to us. Guy’s phone kept ringing and he kept looking at it and locking it off in favour of talking to us. Quite clearly Guy also had a girlfriend, who else calls you repeatedly at 2am?

By the time I got in the Uber I was in a foul mood. I had spent the whole night explaining to people that I was OK, that I wasn’t pissed off, that I didn’t care, but all of that had made me pissed off. I wanted to go home and smoke and wind down. I didn’t have my son until the following evening but I wanted to call it a night so that I didn’t have a Sunday of suffering, but the girl’s were insistent that we at least went there for half an hour and so I gave in. We were travelling there in the world’s slowest Uber, the driver had extreme paranoia about breaking the speed limit and so he drove just under 20 miles per hour at all times. The slowness was making everyone frustrated because the drunkness was wearing off and the hangover would soon begin if we didn’t get to the party soon. We eventually completed the 10 minute journey, 22 minutes later, and we were surprised when we got there to see that the boys had bought another two women back to the after party. They both looked about 19 but we got speaking to them and they were both 35. They were both very sweet looking White women, one blonde, one red-head, from Oxfordshire who had come to London for the weekend. They were lovely and it was nice to meet and party with other women.

The warehouse was big and impressive, the other cab had got there way before our slow cab and so the party was already in full swing when we arrived. Grace and Zara had gone home and so it was just me, Katie and Becky left.  The blonde girl, Sally, was sitting on the Craig David’ lookalike’s lap and her friend was talking to us. My initial thoughts of being pissed off about having to stay out subsided and I got into the swing of the party. Darius and his boys had also somehow managed to pick up a random man from the bar who nobody knew, he was an extremely posh White man called Charles who appeared to be providing copious amounts of coke for free to the people at the party who wanted to do it. Throughout the night I spoke to Charles and he told me the most insane stories, he said that he was a Pablo Escobar style drug lord and that he runs a production and supply line moving over 6 kilos of cocaine a week. I really feel like if you were running that kind of operation then you wouldn’t be telling strangers at warehouse parties about it, but anyway, I was drunk and it was entertaining and I quite like chatting to weirdos when I’m not sober.

There was no love interest between any of us and any of the guys at the party. Katie was very drunk but on excellent form, considering that she was still in a really shit place after splitting up with her boyfriend I was worried that she would have become an emotional wreck, but the environment was so chilled and everyone was so friendly, that she was on a really good vibe all night. I was proud of her. The fact that there was no sexual vibes or interest between any of us made the night all the more better, there were no pretenses and we all just let our hair down and danced in our socks. Darius and I ended up talking at length and it turns out that he’s actually a really interesting guy. Although the truths I learnt from him that night were a bit of an eye opener. Firstly, he admitted to me that he wasn’t 29, he was 34, but they had all lied about their ages because Craig David had liked Sally from the start of the night but he thought she was about 19, he thought that it would scare her off if he said that he was 34 so they all took a few years off their ages. I was very shocked to hear this. I think most women would look at a man who they thought was 19 and avoid him, rather than lying about her age to entrap him. I found this a bit sinister.

I was also slightly traumatised  about the fact that Darius kept saying how surprised he was by us, he said that his initial impressions were that we were going to be lairy, brash, Essex type women and he was extremely surprised about how intelligent we were. He said that he did not expect us to be such strong, bright women based on how we looked. That really hit me because I thought that we came across as exactly how we really are, but it seems not. Darius revealed a whole lot of fuckboy information that night during the conversations we had with him. He asked why we had gone to the particular place we were at and I said just to party, I asked him the same and he said ‘Come on now, why else would any man go there? It’s a guaranteed place to pick up women to take home.’ I did not know this, and I certainly will not be going there again. He reeled off a whole list of places in Shoreditch, Hoxton and Dalston that are known for the same thing apparently. He also told us that him and his friend’s weren’t really bothering with us because we are clearly in our 30’s and it’s much harder to convince older women to fuck at after parties. He said that they were aiming for the younger ones because it takes no convincing at all. I told him that my friend’s had clocked that he was a fuckboy from the start and he said ‘Yeah I always get that because I’m mixed race and I wear a hat’ and I was just like WTF. What is the correlation with the hat thing, and how did I miss this red flag that everyone seems to be aware of? What are mixed race non-fuckboys supposed to do in the winter when their head’s get cold? Do I have to stop buying hats for my son? This is terrible news for the hat industry.

I was really enjoying chilling and chatting to everyone, and especially learning all these pieces of verified fuckboy information from Darius. We were chilling in the kitchen area and most other people were in the loft space where the music was playing but all of a sudden there was a mass exodus and the kitchen was packed. I didn’t know why until I had to walk through the loft bit to get to the toilet and there I saw Sally’s little pale naked bum staring me right in the face as she was bent over giving ‘Craig David’ an awkward looking blow job. I mumbled something about condoms as I discreetly shuffled past. When I returned from the toilet things had progressed even further and I ran back to my friends feeling a little horrified by what my poor eyes had just seen. I’m all for women making free decisions about who they sleep with, I wasn’t judging her for fucking him, but I think they should have found somewhere more private. I felt uncomfortable with it. I did not wish to see another woman’s fanny flaps during my 36th birthday celebrations, I’d had enough of that the year that I accidentally ended up getting a lapdance for my birthday.  I also didn’t want what they were doing to set the tone for the rest of the guys, the reason that the party had been so great is that there was no sexual undertone, we were just a group of people who happened to get on well, nobody fancied anybody and so it was safe and chilled. Now that Craig was getting his sausage serviced so publicly I was worried that the rest of the men might start to get ideas. Luckily, they didn’t and by the time that Sally and Craig had finished everyone was so tired and over drunk that the party vibe had disappeared.

I spoke to Sally while we ordered our Ubers and she told me that she hadn’t used a condom and she wasn’t on any contraception but she thought it was OK because she made him pull out. She said that she really liked him and she was really hoping that she would see him again. I think that is really doubtful, but I didn’t want to ruin Sally’s night by telling her that, I wanted to say to her that she is better than this scumbag who went out specifically to fuck someone, and who targeted her and her mate because they look young and therefore easy to fuck, and that he lied about his age which probably means he never had any intention of making anything work with her, and  that she should not beat herself up about any of this, as long as she’d had a good time at the time, then that is all that matters, but that she should learn from it if he doesn’t call tomorrow and she should make better, and safer, choices in the future. I told her to get the morning after pill, and I really wanted to tell her to follow my Instagram because I think it might help her, but I didn’t.

I got home as the sun was rising and I lay in bed and reflected on the night. It was fun, we made new friends who we will probably never see again and I learnt some stuff that I already knew but that impacted on me when hearing it directly from a fuckboy. The main thing that I realised though is that I really am too old for all of this. I have no interest in meeting men who are out for a good time not a long time, I have done my years of partying and I’ve had a fucking great time, but I cannot remember the last time that I went to a bar or club and had a really great night. I do not remember the last time that I went out at night and did not wish that I had stayed at home. I am still well up for festivals but the winter has got to be a time for nights out in restaurants or hibernation. I’m going to have to rely on meeting men just randomly at hospitals or on my roof like I have been over the last few months because I don’t think the drunken ones in bars are ever going to fulfill my needs, but I knew that, I just seem to forget it every time I arrange a night out. Anyway, I’m off work today waiting for the gasman to come and he just called to say he’s on his way. He sounds fucking fit, so lets see what happens……. x



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