In summer of 2005, Lila Peterson slept with Paul Chambers. She was one of the Girls and the kind-hearted of the entire group.
He was the Chester College alum who figured himself a modern-day Casanova. He wasn’t extraordinary to look at, nor did he offer an engaging conversation. He wasn’t exactly memorable, either.
Yet, as urban legends go in The Private School Kingdom, we wouldn’t forget him.
Some say Lila went out looking for sex that night. That she was on a foolish hunt for a brief fling with one of the guys we socialised with and could ‘trust’. The Chester College boys were always around. Sleeping with one of them would be easy.
Other says Paul wanted to forget the girl he recently broke up with and was targeting lookalike Lila. He wanted a replacement.
Whatever story you believe, both of them should have stayed home and left the sex to those who could emotionally handle it.
There Is Always A Physical Encounter That Starts The Assumption
Their tryst began at Frostbites on Chapel street. Much like Paul, there wasn’t anything special about this place during the mid-2000s. The only exception was the cheap drinks and a convenient location to home.
Despite being the elite Melbourne private-school-kingdom, we were still teenagers at heart. We squandered the money our parents gave on cheap drinks.
The money leftover we used to buy dresses to wear whilst buying the drinks. So when a bar offered cheap drinks and a place to wear the dresses, we were sold.
Lila and I shared a taxi from my house (another cost-cutting measure), before meeting Olivia, Kate and Anne at the bar when we arrived. Paul was already there with Vincent, Olivia’s ex.
Next to them was Johnny, who Julie was sleeping with for most of December and the first week of January. Complication followed these boys.
We didn’t know Julie had invited them to meet us. She deserted us at the last minute, bailing at the eleventh hour. A part of me always wondered why especially as sleeping with Johnny had been her favourite pastime.
The Chester College boys were entertaining, but arrogant beyond comprehension. With every opportunity, they flexed their superiority. Tonight’s shameful display involved shouting us three-dollar champagne. I couldn’t complain. I humoured their bravado, and drank for free.
Lila wasn’t so lucky, falling for their display. Or conceding this is what she needed to do to get laid.
By the time the four dollar vodka shots replaced the champagne, Lila’s dreamy eyes became fixed on Paul.
He asked her to dance, and she enthusiastically accepted. This was the way to get the man she wanted.
Dance close upon him. Roll your hips. Let him know you want him. The more obvious, the better.
After some time, I caught Lila hanging off his neck. Paul thrust his hand down her skirt. It seemed he wanted her too.
The cheap ‘happy-hour’ drinks ended at ten. We didn’t mind, as we needed to be at Seven nightclub by midnight. It was the place, and we couldn’t arrive any later. The line would be too long, and everyone would be too drunk.
We piled into a taxi and Lila sat next to me, pulling at her twisted underwear from underneath her skirt.
“That was one hell of a kiss!”
I didn’t admit that I found it impossible to look away at their dance floor display when I probably should have. “I had no idea you had a thing for Paul.”
“Yeah, it was nice.” She seemed almost blase about him. “I don’t have a thing for him. It kind of happened.”
She was lying.
We arrived and didn’t wait in the line, bypassing the confused teenagers cued up out the front. That was the joy of knowing the security. The boys arrived ahead of us, commandeering a booth in the club’s corner.
I watched Lila circumvent the dance floor and the bar, hurriedly b-lining for Paul’s lap. They kissed intensely while his hands danced over her breasts and thighs. When it was time to go home, Lila slipped into a taxi with Paul and went back to his house.
Then The Truth Comes Out
Two weeks later, their casual encounter was all that anyone could discuss. Their seemingly forgettable encounter was passionate. And we were surprised by that.
Paul was the adoring lover, making her cum repeatedly before insisting they lay together. He twirled her hair in his fingers, fawned over her soft skin, and asked her to dinner the next night. Lila described him as ‘smitten’.
For the first time in her sexual life, Lila didn’t feel like a dispensable object while in bed with a man. It was possible Paul was good for her.
Or maybe not.
Here was the reality:
Paul was ‘in love’ with everything that night. Julie learned everything from Johnny during an afternoon romp. Paul’s smitten behaviour was artificially manufactured. He was up to his eyeballs on a concoction of illicit substances, dropping the first pill half an hour before we arrived.
He hid his trip well. Frostbites and Seven were both so dark we couldn’t see his enlarged eyeballs. And at his house, he insisted on leaving the lights off. It was impossible for her to have known.
If Lila had known, she wouldn’t have believed a word he said. She wouldn’t have flirted with him. Or kissed him. Or went home with him. She wouldn’t have entertained a second of his abhorrent behaviour.
Lila wasn’t the only one Paul was in love with that night. He expressed admiration for the pillows and the wallpaper too.
And after his tripping had subsided, and he returned to the normal world, Paul’s memory evaporated. He couldn’t remember planning dinner with Lila. He couldn’t remember any details of their dalliance.
But timing didn’t favour Lila’s. She had already messaged him the next day, asking when and where dinner would be that night.
When Paul received the assumptive text message from Lila, Paul labelled her a stalker. “Stage five clinger”, he labelled her. “Unable to contain her love for him,” he proclaimed.
She was screwed.
Paul also lacked discretion. He told everyone he knew in the kingdom about her ‘infatuation’. There wasn’t a single private school graduate from my year that didn’t know his version of the story.
Then Comes The Harsh Dose Of Reality: Theirs, Not Ours
When I saw him at dinner a few nights later at Roman’s Cucina, he stopped his meal mid-way to come over. He marched over to my table to discuss the “issues” with my friend.
“Why is Lila in love with me?” He was still chewing and holding his fork when he stood over my table.
“Has she said she’s in love with you?”
In reality, she had said nothing to me, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t mentioned the ‘L’ word. But Lila wasn’t stupid, nor was she thick enough to fall for a man this quick.
“No.. well… no… she hasn’t.” I’ve never seen such a confident man stumble over his conviction.
“So, why do you assume she’s in love with you?”
“Because she wants to go out to dinner with me.”
“So every time a woman wants to go to dinner with you, not even a date, just dinner, that means they’re in love with you?”
I waited for a cynical retort, but it never came.
“Anyway, I don’t know why you’re worrying. She’s sleeping with someone else now.”
I took a mouthful of salad while he sauntered back to his table. I ordered another glass of wine and wondered how he was taking the news.
Here Begs The Question: Why Do We Make Assumptions In Relationships, Sexual Or Otherwise?
Why do we assume there is love when the word isn’t said? Why do we believe there is hate when there has only been desire?
Lila never said the ‘love’ word, as it turns out. She didn’t even say she ‘liked’ him. Her only crime was asking a man to dinner only after he did first. So why does that translate into love? What made Paul believe this so vehemently, enough for him to act vulgarly towards the woman he slept with?
That experience scorned Lila for a while. She wouldn’t open herself up to anyone for a long time afterwards. She couldn’t trust that any interactions with a lover were genuine. Everything was fake until proven otherwise.
Lila swore off disappointment, heartache and public embarrassment by keeping her mouth and legs shut. Poor Lila. One guy and his intolerable ego ruined it for the years to come.
I wondered what happened to Paul after that night. I wondered how he survived relationships with his foolish assumptions.
After he left the restaurant, I finished my meal with a sense of pride. I felt like I had done a good deed for my scorned friend. And I wasn’t lying; she was sleeping with someone else.
However, when I asked for the bill, the waiter told me Paul had paid for my meal.
Assumptions really are the mother of all… well, you know.
See you the next time I open the Little Black Book…
Oh, hey there! Welcome to The Little Black Book!
That Time I Opened The Little Black Book
The sordid sex lives and fucked up relationships of the Melbourne private school elite.
I’m Ellen McRae, writer by trade and passionate storyteller by nature. My want is for a better opportunity for writers, especially fictional, in an increasingly technology dominant world. I write the stories that have formed my life and comment on the experience along the way.