A Guy and a Girl with Bad Boyfriends

by George Pringle

Excerpt from “Bible for a Lost Girl”  


Jay turned around the room with his shirt caught up in his nipples. He had the body of a snake. We were dancing to “Like a Prayer”. It was the only gay bar for miles. Jay and I were as vulnerable as the other. He had real problems. His face was all beat up from his boyfriend. He had a black eye. He’d woken up and his boyfriend was in the same room as him, cheating. I had no real problems by comparison. I had a boyfriend who seemed to hate me but beyond that, Jay held the crown. I was there for him tonight.

When you’re bonding over respective crises, it’s important to understand who holds the crown. It’s also important to understand who the fuck you are. I was a middle class ex public school girl in a working class gay bar in the West Midlands. That did not make me any more or less lost than Jay…perhaps I was another extreme, one that knows no identity. One that loathes itself and so resorts to the lowest low:  tourism.

My displacement had another quality which I couldn’t myself, understand. But we did work in this cafe together and we were both in abusive relationships. His guy had fists. Mine had words and scissors to cut off my hair. As such, this bond was stronger than any societal one, any encoding that could place us alike. But as sister and brother, we were facilitators of excessive behaviour.

In one another we recognised combustabilty. And it was magic. On the dance floor it came out, proud and defiant.

I liked it when he got crazy like this. He was able to take it further. I always sought these people. The ones who did the things I couldn’t. My impotence always sought the hard-core rebels. I had found plenty, lately.

But Jay…When he’d been on the tanning beds…when he felt great and belligerent. When he understood his certain power, had the confidence…When he got his power back from somewhere, wherever it was…a far place from the boyfriend and cajoled by Vodka Red Bull…Jay was incredible. He had a photo album on him, he carried it around in his bag. He’d pull it out and go “Bab, look at this!” It was him and his housemates in drag and they dressed up like proper ladies in neat and tidy pencil skirts with big bouffant hair and plastic pearls and girdles. They’d pose in the cul-de-sac like the Happy Housewives of Worcester.

I giggled and moved my shoulders to the taught poppy-house. The jukebox made an awful sound, distorting into the damp tudor beams. The disco lights flashed like prom night. A mobile disco, magenta, green…we loved it, though. The pub was totally empty. It was just us, doing our thing for a man with thick forearms at the bar.

When you mime to “Like a Prayer” your face takes on a certain kind of pain that is so sincire. It’s beautiful. It is the truest “mime”.

Worcester was golden for nights like these. If you were on the periphery…it was wednesday and you were high on “Reef”. You’d been to “RSVP” and consumed something that looked like de-icer. You’d end up in “T-ramps” or Terrys or whatever they called it, merry and popping like someone “Vogue”. My plastic beads flung up in my face and hit my teeth. My hair fanned against the back of my neck, reminding me of where my mane had been.



I cannot explain it any better than I was born in the 80s and Madonna was a big thing.