Stephen went to the bar and when he came back he balanced four shot-glasses filled with Jaegermeister between his fingers, and then he went back and got four pints of Stella. It was then that I knew it would be one of those evenings, and I could look forward to spending most of the day after moaning and miserable at work.

The pub was filling up. Already it was half-full with the usual loud lads at the bar. We never got to the point where they started to strip and chest-bump each other, but obviously such a homoerotic display was just around the corner among these fine straight people at this very relaxed straight bar. It’s why we go there, after all.

The girls sat in the booths and watched the lads at the bar, no doubt waiting for the stripping as well. Stephen, I, Mark and Ian were in one of the booths. The music thumped to overwhelm out talking between ourselves, and we had to lean in and shout even monosyllabic grunts.

Stephen, being a generous sort because he has more money than sense sometimes, paid for our drinks, and that meant that I would have to reciprocate. In this balance of IOUs and quick five quid loans, I was down, and would have to rebalance at some point, and why not do it here? Then Ian would feel the same way, and Mark. And before long, we would be rolling under the table singing dirty songs with the rest of them. Or maybe we would be the ones who started to strip our shirts off to chest-bump each other.

Stephen, who spends more time preening and exploring his developed fashion sense, had coiffed his golden wheat locks with a hint of pink so he would have looked right at home a Pride Float shaking his rump. If he didn’t have a known taste for female breasts and things, he would indeed be more suitable as a representative for the Gay Crowd than yours truly. Or any of us three avowed homosexuals in the party. I say that with a hint of jealousy. It’s bad when your cute straight friends are better stereotypical homosexuals than I am. It’s almost as if I’m letting The Scene down somehow.

After drinks had loosened our inhibitions (particularly after the next round which I bought in order to balance those IOUs) we left the pub, and that’s why we never got to the point where the crowd started to engage in any homoerotic male macho displays. We went to a club and started to worry that we wouldn’t be let in.

Mondays are the big party nights for students in this town, so this Tuesday promised to be quiet enough for Mark’s anti-social tastes. The security guards looked more dour than usual, and seemed to take their orders, “Chekk ze paperrs”, very seriously. We ate too many fresh mints to quench the smell of alcohol on our breaths.

I have said before is that Stephen is our social calendar. It has many, many benefits to know the man, and count him among one’s closest friends. By the time we were the ones who would be subjected to the security detail’s scrutiny and vigilance, one of the security stopped looking as if we’d all called his granny bad names. He shone up, and started to brightly chat with Stephen, who of course reciprocated. It turned out that this guard’s brother was ‘a mate’ of Stephen.

Or to put it in more understandable language, the security guard’s brother was one of the thousands of people who Stephen has met one time, and filed away under some mental category, and can remember years later. We were allowed right in without any hassle, and could start to shake our gay booties to the bass of the club.

Unfortunately Stephen abandoned us soon after this point because he found a girl, and after a few dances he spent most of the time concentrating on breathing because he could only do so when they stopped snogging. Without the social kit of Stephen, Mark and I and Ian reverted to our usual roles. We stood on the side of the dance floor and looked lost, which is no fun way to spend an evening.

Once more, Stephen carried the badge out The Scene and swaggered around on the dance floor while we wall flowers stood on the side-lines and observed, desperately waiting for someone to come over and talk to us. Never mind any of us taking the first steps. I solved the dilemma by snogging with Mark, which made Ian feel even more isolated.

Only two of us ended up on the threshold at our house, since Ian excused himself and Stephen disappeared into the crowd like a mirage, and since Mark started to feel his usual anti-social urges. He wanted to go home, and so we did, and our night out didn’t end with us crawling in the gutter as I had suspected during the first drinks. I think I’ll be able to go to work tomorrow chirpy and chipper. If I can get out of bed in six hours. The problem is, the attempt at a night out has fired my batteries and light up my energies. Sleep looks like a remote possibility.

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