Yesterday, Facebook rolled out a new feature which describes Facebook photos to blind people. While this could be seen as a great step forward for accessibility and equality, in practical terms, all it means is that now blind people will have to endure hearing about superfluous, pointless crap such as, “photo of average looking lasagne; photo of fairly generic looking spaghetti bolognaise.” In the past our screen readers would have simply ignored the photo, but not any more. So I’m all for technology making the world more accessible and equal, but at the same time I am a not too happy about being dragged into this whole new world of tedium. There are few advantages to being blind, but being able to skip pointless pictures of people’s meals was certainly one of the rare bonuses, and now Facebook have taken that one consolation away from us, the evil bastards.
Today is a very special day for my housemates Ben and Elsa, as they are taking their relationship to the next level. They have bought something called a Love Chair, also known as a Snuggle Chair. They are both playing this purchase down, claiming that it’s merely a compact, practical chair, but I think that this is clearly a major step in their partnership. They have reached the snuggling stage of their relationship. Who knows, give it a year and they might be sleeping in the same bed. But for now, I don’t think they’re ready for that quite yet, and so naturally, Elsa will be continuing to share my bed with me until she is ready. It’s important for them not to rush these things, as I am at pains to remind them. But I am really happy for them both that they have reached the snuggling stage, and that they have expressed their love for each other through the medium of chair-purchase.
Elsa has been at work all day, so Me, Ben and Sean went in The Young’uns van to pick up the chair, which was at someone’s house, as Ben had found a good second hand deal on Gumtree. The three of us went into the house. We each had a sit in the snuggle chair, and it was very comfortable. But the husband and wife who had owned the chair insisted that two people needed to try it. “It’s a snuggle chair,” she implored, “designed for two people to sit together, and it’s much more comfortable when two people are sat on it, as opposed to just one person.”
Ben and I both sat on the chair together. It’s essentially a chair designed for couples, and it’s quite intimate as there’s not much space. The cushions also sink down quite low, and the way it sinks causes the two people to recline together.
“You both look very homely on there,” the lady said, sounding pleased. I think Sean and I had both started to realise that the husband and wife had obviously assumed that Ben and I were gay, in the way that they were looking at us and interacting with us. I don’t know why it even mattered what the old couple thought about us, but for some reason I started to try and explaine to them that I wasn’t Ben’s partner, I just happened to live there.
“Oh no, I’m not Ben’s partner,” I said, as I got out of the seat.
Ben still hadn’t cottoned onto the couple’s assumption, as he was too busy assessing the chair, checking that it didn’t have any blemishes. Ben turned to Sean, patted the seat and invited him to sit next to him. This made the couple assume that if I wasn’t Ben’s partner, then Sean must be.
“Ah, yes, you both look very homely on there,” the wife said, sounding even more pleased, as if trying to overcompensate for her previous mistake. Last time she’d said that Ben and I looked “homely,” before discovering that we weren’t actually partners, so this time she presumably said “very homely” and delivered it with extra relish so as to placate Sean, in case he felt jealous by the couple’s previous assumption.
Sean, like me, for some reason felt the need to correct the woman’s assumption about us being gay and in a relationship with Ben, and so he also pointed out to the woman that they were not a couple. He explained that me and Ben lived together and that he was just a friend. Ben, for some reason decided to add some extra information to that statement, mentioning that although technically me and Ben lived together, me and Sean probably spent more time away with each other than I spent at home with him. This was simply meant to be a casual throw-away statement about me and Sean being away gigging, but without the inclusion of the gigging element, it merely seemed to make the couple more confused, as they tried to work out just who was with whom.
“We’re away playing together quite a lot,” I began, about to add the fact that we were in a folk group, but seemingly the pause between that next fact was too long for Sean, and so he hastily interjected, “in a band, he means. We’re in a band together.”
“A folk band,” I added. In hindsight, I think it’s safe to say that the line, “we’re away playing together quite a lot,” although intended as a harmless statement, did seem a little suggestive, given the thoughts that appeared to be running through this confused couple’s heads. Sean had instantly realised this, which was why he’d interrupted so quickly to point out that when I said “we’re away playing together quite a lot,”I was referring to playing in a band. Sean’s hurried comment about being in a band made me realise how my original statement must have come across. Therefore, in order to make up for my previous accidental euphemistic line, I decided to furnish them with more information to help give more credibility to our explanation. So I added, “a folk band. It’s a folk band.” But I think this probably sounded to the couple like I’d added this extra bit of information because I’d realised that our cover-story wasn’t sounding particularly convincing.
There was a bit of a pause. The wife cleared her throat, and the husband asked, “so … er … what instruments do you play?” The wife cleared her throat again, maybe because she was picking up an awkward atmosphere, and wished her husband hadn’t asked this question, as now we’d have to manufacture more lies and develop this already fragile cover-story.
Sean and I both spoke at the same time. I said, “I play accordion,” and Sean said, “it’s unaccompanied singing.” We were both correct, as we do a mix of unaccompanied songs and also play with instruments, but to someone who didn’t know our band it sounded like two completely contradictory statements, as if we were both just continuing to badly busk our cover story, trying to hide the fact that we were in a gay three-way relationship with Ben.
There was another pause, and the wife cleared her throat again. Sean and I realised how ridiculous this whole thing was becoming and started to laugh. Ben had begun to register what was occurring and he also started to laugh. This only made the three of us more embarrassed, and no doubt look even more like we were in a gay three-way relationship which we were completely failing to cover up.
When we’d stopped laughing, we all decided to just give up our attempts to explain that we weren’t in a gay three-way relationship, as it was clearly a lost cause. Ben hurriedly handed over the money and we took the chair out to our van, helped by the husband. As I’ve mentioned before, The Young’uns van is meant to be a three seater vehicle, but in reality it’s more of a two and a half seater, as the three of us have to squash in very tightly together. I don’t think seeing me, Ben and Sean squashed up very close together in a tiny van did anything to disavow the couple of the notion that we were in a gay three-way relationship. They probably assumed that we’d bought the van deliberately because of its intimate size, which is why we’d also bought an intimate snuggle chair. They probably assume that the three of us drove home in our intimate van, got the chair in and spent the rest of the day snuggling together. Which is of course not what happened at all; we only spent half the day snuggling, because Sean had to go home to his “fiancée” to sort out things for their forthcoming wedding, which let’s face it, is clearly a smokescreen to distract people from Sean’s real relationship with me and Ben. Oh what the hell, there’s no point denying it. And before you ask, no, there is absolutely nothing going on between any of us and Michael; we’ve not stooped that low.
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