Monday, December 22, 2008

Beers with some straight guys

I can never decide whether it's better for one's banking career to try and stick with one employer, or to change banks regularly so as to keep in touch with the job market and ensure that one is properly rewarded for one's efforts. For much of my career I've followed the latter path, switching bank every few years. However I've noticed that sometimes the most successful guys are the ones that stayed with an early employer, building up their connections within the bank over the years, and sticking it out through the difficult situations that inevitably arise in the course of any long career.

Pub imageAnyway, one of the benefits of switching employers regularly is that one builds up a network of contacts at other banks, so last week I went out for some beers to catch up with a couple of guys who I'll refer to as A and B that I used to work with in one of my previous jobs :-). We agree to meet in a pub not too far from The Bank of England after work. A is on his own when I arrive, half way through his first pint of beer, so I offer to buy him another one while I'm at the bar getting one for myself.

"Thanks GB :-)," says A as I hand him his pint, "so how's life treating you?"

"Well I've survived the recent cull :-)," I say, "but who knows what'll happen next year! How about you?"

"Did you know that I took voluntary redundancy last month?" replies A. "The bank seems to have decided to try and exit complex products as much as possible. I'm sure that they'd like to sell my old trading book if they can, but I doubt there'll be any buyers in this market!"

We chat about the markets for a while, and A tells me about all the problems that he experienced on his trading book over the year. It's interesting to hear about what's been going on, because although I was a trader for a reasonable portion of my career, these days I focus on other things. Of course, the original problems that caused the current financial crisis were in the sub-prime and then the credit markets, but the things that A tells me confirm that even in markets that are not directly connected to those areas there's been a huge increase in risk aversion. The result is poor liquidity which causes all trading books problems, whatever instruments they're dealing with. We're still chatting about the markets when B arrives.

"Hey, B, there you are :-)," says A when he spots B walking towards him. "Get me a pint while you're at the bar mate :-)."

"Errr OK!" replies B accepting the inevitable, "do you want another one GB?"

"Sure, thanks :-)," I reply, taking a gulp of the one I bought myself earlier to try and make sure that I don't slip too far behind.

"But if you end up out of a job, you'd be all right wouldn't you," asks A, once B's returned from the bar and replenished our glasses, "you don't have a mortgage any more do you?"

"Actually I do have a small mortgage now," I admit. "I split up with ex-boyfriend S earlier this year so I bought him a house to live in, because he wouldn't have had the resources to do that himself. So I took out a mortgage on my main house to help pay for it!"

"You did what?" replies A, with an expression of disbelief on his face, "Why on EARTH did you do that, mate??"

"Well, we'd been together for over eighteen years and it seemed like the right thing to do :-)," I explain.

"You clearly don't understand the point of being gay!"

"Which is ... ?" I ask, looking at B in case he can give me any clues as to what A's talking about.

"Which is that you can have as much sex as you want with as many people as you want, and you don't have to explain yourself to anyone, and you certainly don't need to buy your ex-shags a house!"

"Referring to my partner of 18+ years as an 'ex-shag' is an interesting way of looking at things," I laugh, "but luckily I think I've got a better sense of perspective than you have mate!"

A's conversation is typical trader behaviour, pushing things too far to see how it feels, and to see what the reaction is. But I'm used to this playing around of course, so I don't let it bother me.

The evening continues in much the same fashion. It's good to see them both again and to hear their news. When I'm in this sort of company the beers slip down very easily, but after three or four more pints we're all feeling a bit hungry.

"Do any of you guys fancy getting something to eat?" asks A looking at the two of us. We both nod our heads eagerly.

"What shall we go then?" asks B.

"Well, a curry is traditional after all these beers!" I point out.

The tradition for straight British guys to go out and drink too much beer and then pile into an Indian restaurant to see who can eat the hottest vindaloo curry isn't one of the country's finest cultural achievements, but unfortunately after one has consumed too much beer it usually seems like a good idea! So we drain our glasses and head out onto the street to find a cab to take us to the nearest curry house.

During the course of our curry and lager supper, the conversation slips onto the subject of A and B's wives and children. I decide to test out my relationship ideas in a straight context to see what the reaction is.

"Tell me," I say while we're waiting for our main courses, having eaten all the poppadoms that we'd ordered, "if you continue to look after your wives and children and put them first all the time, would it really matter if you sleep around and have other women on the side?"

Luckily neither A or B have any food in their mouths when I ask this because they both erupt at this suggestion.

"Have you EVER had any relationship with a woman GB?" asks A immediately, "In fact, have you ever even slept with a woman??"

"Rude isn't he!" I say, talking to B and shaking my head.

"Basically, once you've had kids, marriage is WAR!" continues A, forgetting his two questions. "You both want the best for your kids, and it's great if you agree on what to do, but it's always a nightmare when you don't agree!"

"But why does that mean that you can't have a mistress?" I ask.

"Because she'd be seen as a potential threat to the marriage, and hence the future of the kids GB," answers A emphatically, "so I don't play around like that!"

"What about you?" I ask B, who'd been keeping rather quiet throughout this whole conversation.

"Um, oh yes, neither do I :-)," says B after a pause. However, something about his body language suggests to me that he might not be telling the whole truth! After all, I only wanted his opinion on the whole conversation, but it seems like his guilty mind focussed on the infidelity issue before finally summoning up the courage to deny everything!

It was a very enjoyable evening, although all the beer, lager and curry made me feel a bit tired the following day. Even if my relationship ideas don't appear very useful in a straight context, I reckon A's ideas about gay life are a bit warped too!


Sir Wobin said...

Unlimited hot sex is all well and good but we all need affection. My life would be so very much the poorer without The Husband and being able to snuggle up together on cold winter nights. Someone with whom you can put all your barriers down and just be yourself relaxes one and restores the spirit.

Straight guys have had mistresses and concubines throughout history. It comes and goes with fashion and social class.

The Honourable Husband said...

First, if you were straight and said that you'd bought your ex-wife a house, there would be no comment whatsoever.

Second, I think A is in a bad marriage and won't admit it. I have seen many women change their emotional priorities when kids arrive--that's fair, and men do the same, to a degree. But I have observed several marriages where the mix has turned unhealthy. Fathers become strangers inside their own families.

For a father to display an emotional need or weakness of any kind is somehow seen as a betrayal of his family's safety and well-being, it seems. That includes the need for emotional intimacy from time to time--not even sexual intimacy, necessarily.

Needless to say, the woman in such a family feels emotionally betrayed and unupported by her husband. And in many cases, she's justified--some men don't have the emotiopnal resources for parenthood.

But I do wonder if the modern family, with its obsessive, neurotic kid-centricity, assumes that parents cease to have emotional needs of their own, once kids arrive.

What a sad, unhappy emotional landscape we travel across, nowadays!

Ken Skinner said...

Okay, so that title just put me in mind of an incident yeeeeears ago when I was having beer with a straight friend that I'd always thought was incredibly hot (I shared a house with him once and he used to loudly bang his girlfriend in the room next to me...)

Aaaaanyway, so we were having beers, really drunk and he was bemoaning the fact that his relationships with girls never seemed to last so recently he'd been concerned that maybe he was subconsciously gay.

More beer was had and he basically put it to me that maybe we should shag so that he could find out for sure whether he was straight or gay.

I didn't have the heart to tell him that although he looked great, that he really wasn't that interesting of a person, which was why he kept being dumped.

I turned down his offer...



Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas GB! Today's weather is cool and grey. Reminds me of London, only not as cold. Interesting post about sensitive helmets. :)