The great Stephen Sondheim once said, “There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit - and the vermin of the world inhabit it - it goes by the name of London.” Oh - thank you, Stephen. I am so glad I chose London, England as the third stop of my “Get-my-shit-together Bootcamp in Europe” trip.
After my little drug-threesome in Glasgow with my Scottish husband Roddy, I take a train along the eastern coast of england and arrive in London on June 7, 2016. When I walk out of Kings Cross train station I see the breathtaking views of a few random money exchange kiosks, an overly crowded Starbucks, and two McDonalds literally within 2 blocks of each other all under a very dooming grey blanket of clouds that tells me… “Michael, it’s going to rain so you better choose something before Hurricane Queen Elizabeth shits on your face.” It is in this moment that I realize Stephen Sondheim may have been right about this city.
I walk into one of the McDonalds, order my #4 McDouble with fries - medium combo with a Diet Coke and post up in a corner booth to feast and figure out where I am going to stay in the city. London was one of the cities that had very expensive hostels and airbnbs so I resorted to a site called Couchsurf.com where people offer their couch or spare room to travelers for free or on a trade basis. A german girl named Julia (looks like Julia, but pronounced “Yu-lee-uh” - she’s from Germany and has been living in London for 3-months on an internship) approves my request to stay with her but says she works until 6pm. So that’s like 16:00 military time, right? Got it, I can entertain myself until then.
The rain had settled as I exit the McDonalds headed toward Waterloo Station where Julia works. I look around me, taking in my soppy surroundings as a red double decker bus passes by and everything feels so… English and I love it. Until it starts pouring rain again. I put the hood of my measly rain jacket over my head and act like it’s not a big deal. Then it starts to get harder, and harder, and louder, and a crack of thunder, and a flash lightening, and I realize that this is not chill. As everyone around me scrambles to get to shelter, I enter a red telephone booth and wait for the rain to calm. A telephone booth… how London of me. When I realize the rain does not subside, I just fuck it all and accept a wet defeat.
Since I have some hours to kill, I find touristy things to do: I walk to the Parliament building which ends up being covered in a massive white tarp because of construction; Big Ben - its a clock; the London Eye - it’s a ferris wheel - how groundbreaking; and I make it to Julia’s work a little before 16:00. She’s not here. I quickly realize my mistake. 16:00 is 4pm… not 6pm. I was still getting used to 24-hour time so I end up just waiting 2 more hours for her in her lobby.
18:00 (or 6pm) rolls around, and I meet Julia. She’s about 5’4”, fucking adorable little face, wears a tan rain jacket over a white tee, grey jeans, and black flats. She has a very calming tom-boy type of energy which I like because I didn't it feel weird for me to stay with her - she seems very easy going, and also a little lesbianish. Love it.
After a short ride on the train, we arrive at her apartment which is basically a hallway with an 8 by 8 bedroom at the end, a tiny alley kitchen to the right, a bathroom up a steep staircase as well as 2 more small bedrooms. In Julia’s room, she has a bed, a side table, a closet, and an air mattress propped up on the wall for me - my home for the next week.
After settling in, showering, and changing clothes, we eat a quick rice and chicken dinner I make and Julia decides she wants to show me a good time in the gay neighborhoods of London on my first night, so we head over to a neighborhood called SOHO around 10pm. We walk into a bar we choose at random - it’s called G-A-Y which is laughable. We get drinks, vodka sprite for Julia, double vodka on the rocks for me with 3 lemons which I have never gotten before so IDK where the hell that comes from. The inside of the bar has cement floors, cement walls, and is lit up with colors of the rainbow. It was definitely gay. We go upstairs to check out the dancefloor, and Julia wants a cigarette so we find a smoking room in the back that is packed with people. I notice a guy eying me a few steps over in the room. He’s bald with a slight handle mustache and a good set of teeth - potential suitor. His friend beside him notices me too. He has a great set of hair and a not so great set of teeth, but we’ll see where the night takes us. They come over to us and start chatting. I flirt with both of them a little smiling at practically everything they say trying to hide the fact that I virtually have no game. I talk about the fact that I am from America which the boys both love - I’m pretty sure they both grab my arm at the same, squeezing my biceps in excitement that I’m a foreigner and also trying to feel me up. They invite us to another bar down the street and around the corner. Julia and I go to the bathroom, go back to the smoking area, and the boys are nowhere to be found. They left without us. Freaking out, we search the whole bar for them, outside the bar, then down the street, then around the block, then try and remember the directions they gave us but “down the street and around the corner” can literally be anywhere. We missed what could have the best night of our lives and my FOMO (fear of missing out) is through the roof, and by this point I'm terribly sober. Julia, however, is fucked up to no extent, and I decide it’s probably time for us to go home.
As we’re walking down the street toward the train, she gets the craving for another cigarette but can’t find her lighter. We walk up to a random man and woman leaning against the outside entrance of a dingy bar to as them for one. As I lock eyes with the man handing us a lighter, I immediately know that I am going home with him. He was cute, basic dark features, thick hair in a pompadour, wearing a leather jacket or something all black.
“Heyyy, how’s your night?” I say.
“Oh fine, were sober right now which sucks.” He says back.
“Yeah same, and I was really hoping to go home with someone tonight. I’m from America and this is my first night in London.”
“Oh my god! You were looking to hook-up with someone tonight too!” His friend says, hitting him against the chest.
“Oh WERE you…” I say, locking eyes with him again. I step back, check out his body - “I’m down.” I say.
With a chuckle, he says “Oh and how do you know I want to?”
“Oh well, you don’t. But I’m just saying we’re here, sober, we both want to fuck, why NOT?”
He smiles, and laughs, kind of embarrassed and says, “Okay, I guess. But you should check on your friend over there.”
I look back and Julia, this bitch, is already getting into a cab by herself. After living here for 3 months she still doesn't even know her address so I grab my new man and hop into the cab. After dropping Julia off, new boy and I go to his apartment in a neighborhood called Putney. The whole cab ride he keeps asking himself what he’s doing. I ask him what’s wrong and he tells me hates Americans because their accents are so annoying and they’re so dumb and all this ridiculous bull shit that makes me believe he thinks every American is a Kardashian.
“Then why the fuck did you get into the cab with me if you hate Americans SO much?” I ask him. He responds by grabbing my hand, shoving it into his crotch and rubbing himself over his pants while leaning over to make out with me. I pull back.
“So you’re going to tell me how much you hates Americans and that were basically useless and then just eat my face? You’re a fucking mess, dude!” I say to him.
“Well, I’m drunk,” he says - news to me because I thought we were both stone cold sober.
We get to his apartment, pay for the cab which ends up being like 115£ which is absurd, and go up to his room. He takes off my clothes, kisses my body, and we fuck. After we finish, he tells me that he just got out of a 4 year relationship a couple months ago….. FUCK. What did I just do. We wash off the cum, drink some water, chat a little bit more about our lives, and then fuck again an hour later. It was good sex… this time, though, in a thrust of passion, he leans over my body and whispers in my ear “Don’t leave. Stay with me,” I don’t say anything. We both finish, wash up, and as he’s sitting on the bed with me standing between his legs, he says again looking up at me, “Stay here. I don’t want you to go,”
“Joe-” His name is Joe by the way, it took me a long time to even find that out, “Joe, don’t.”
He frowns, shrugs it off not wanting to accept my answer, and pulls me onto the bed with him. Laying on our sides, our torsos inches away from each other, lacing our fingers over our hips, we stare into each other’s eyes. He’s probably thinking how much he loves me and enjoys my company and doesn’t want me to leave… meanwhile I’m thinking, “Jesus Christ, Michael, this dude is a fucking mess. He just got out of a serious relationship, he hates Americans, you’re completely sober, he’s not, we’ve already fucked twice, and I’m still trying to figure out if that means I’m taking advantage of him or not. What are you doing?” Then I notice he starts snoring and I thank the Lord he fell asleep.
I wake up the next morning, turn over and look at Joe - this poor lost, broken-hearted soul and realize I should go. Unsure where to go from here in all aspects - directionally, emotionally… I take a shower, use his beard trimmer without asking, and make a game plan to leave. I go back into his room as I’m drying off to find him awake sitting up in bed.
“Want to get breakfast?” He asks me, as if nothing happened.
I look at him a little longer wondering if he knows everything he said last night. “Sure,” I say, shrugging it all off.
He takes me to his favorite diner down the street- buys us both coffee and a standard english breakfast of eggs, baked beans, bacon, sausage, and other random english meats. He tells me what a great a time he had last night - I guess he does remember. Shortly after breakfast, he walks me to the nearest train station, hugs me, kisses me on the check, wishes me luck on my trip, and watches the train as it leaves his side.
About the author...
Michael LaVallee is a Chicago native singer/songwriter and actor. A lover of music and marketing, he is teaching himself to produce his own music to share in the near future. He lives his life embracing every moment and learning from all his surroundings in hopes to inspire living life to the fullest.
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Check out the first installment of When I Woke Up In Putney: A European Sexcapade Series - Glasgow from our First Impressions issue!