|Darby & Joan are the quintessential middle-aged British couple, characterised by knitwear, hours of scrabble, and a penchant for staying in on Saturday nights. Darby and Joan are, in fact, @calummcswiggan and me. Read the Darby and Joan back catalogue here.|
This time last year (because I’m forever playing that game, the “where have I been in this moment before now and where will I be in this moment next year TELL ME THE FUTURE PLEASE” game) we were reunited in a blaze of graduation diplomas and French family dinners and champagne that we didn’t pay for but knocked back like, woah.
Curious: the stolen booze thing is a bit of a theme in my life.
Also: remember how much crying I did that weekend? I used up all the tears. Hashtag overwhelmed.
How far we’ve come in those twelve months. It would have been unimaginable to me as we sat outside McDonald’s in Derby at 6.35 a.m., drunk and happy and miserable and full of achievement and sticky because we’d danced like loons, that today I’d type this from a Shoreditch café whilst sipping an antioxidant blend smoothie as part of a fucking JUICE CLEANSE and using a MacBook Air that my actual paying job gave me, and you’d be living in Spain and working as a bingo host for the Internet and meeting all the boys as you recover from a 52-cities-in-a-year trip.
Everybody I know asks me about you. They do it kind of concerned, worried for me. “And can I ask… How’s Calum? Do you talk often?” and I’m always like CAN YOU ASK ABOUT CALUM? HELL YEAH YOU CAN! YOU TRY AND STOP ME! And I explain that you’re saving up money to work with tigers in a Thai monastery in May and how I talk to you more than I do my own brother… and I live with my bro.
I find myself telling our stories to dates just so I can relive them. Hey, want some advice? THAT’S A MISTAKE.
Right before Christmas I emailed you to say: JUST HAD A LADY FORCE ME TO DO A PREGNANCY TEST, to which you were all, LAURA. COULD YOU JUST… JUST START AT THE BEGINNING BECAUSE JE NE UNDERSTAND PAS, which is our fake made up French for ‘I don’t understand.’
I explained to you I’d been at my new doctor’s getting a check-up and my necessary oral contraceptive prescription, and that it sort of came up that it’d been a while since my last period.
I really enjoyed telling you that, because even though you’re a gay you still can’t do thinking about my lady garden bleeding because WOMEN ARE JUST GROSS SHUT UP EWWWW I’D HATE TO BE A STRAIGHT MAN YUCK.
Anyway, I explained that I’d been all, “Lady, I’m not having a baby!” and that she’d been all, “But you haven’t had a period in seven weeks!” to which I was very calm about as I explained, “J’know. I have a very bizarre cycle and have also been the pinnacle of all that is safe.” The lady raised her eyebrows and got all, “Oh, so you’ve been doing sex then?” and I had to be all like, “…”
She handed me a cup to pee in without a word.
It was the weirdest experience of my life (also: dramatic hyperbole.) My tube of piss sat on the desk between us for the most exaggerated three minutes as she dipped in her swab and then we both stared at it in what became a complex traverse of every emotion ever invented.
Basically, you nearly had to raise a non-existent child with me.
Thing is, when I explained this to you, you reflected that we’d have the best child ever, because NO, SEBASTIANO, YOU HAVE TO STAY IN PHUKET WITH DADDY FOR A FEW WEEKS WHILE MOMMY GOES TO A WEDDING IN CHICAGO and then before I knew it I’d decided my unborn imaginary child would call me Mama LJ- for no other reason that I just think it’d be cool- and then you said that since we’re largely the same person it makes sense that we’d have an imaginary child together.
So like, okay!
It sort of escalated then. I started typing, CLEMENTINE TAKE OFF PAPA CALUM’S GLITTER WAISTCOAT, STOP DANCING TO YOUR REFLECTION IN THE OVEN DOOR, AND COME FINISH YOUR PAPER MÂCHÉ STEINER SCHOOL PROJECT TO FULLY EXPLORE WHAT YOU BELIEVE TO BE YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE AND DRIVE. YOUR GRILLED VEGETABLES WILL BE READY SOON.
At the mention of grilled vegetables you explained that our kids would eat meat when they were under your care, and you weren’t even sorry. I told you Clemmy would be all sick and sluggish, and the next time she came to visit she’d list all the reasons she decided vegetarianism is the best and most healthy choice and actually, can she show you a recipe for really cool soy smoothie Mama LJ did for her, and then you’d be all, “Clemmy, you’re four years old. Shut up.”
You told me Sebastiano loves steak, and that he’s sat on the naughty step because he threw Clementine’s soy smoothie on the floor and won’t apologise for it, and that’s when it hit me:
I’m going to be single forever because you've ruined me.
I love you still (nobody else will have me),
Your Joan x