K, I wrote too much more but it has some potential to get moving:
It could've been worse though. Generic and semi-cool-three-years-ago though the Reichstag's clientele were, there were none of the clownish, cartoonish caricatures that Rich had encountered in Camden and Shoreditch, none of the desperate failed androgyny by hooknosed anti-mannequins; the ironically over-expensive attempts at post-war glamour made by over-weight women with nasty dimpled cellulite way before their time; the boys, hell-bent on spending all their disposable income on appearing both bland and inoffensive and like they were trying way too hard to achieve that effect.
Mid-sized towns like this, pointless though they often were, seemed to be spared the worst excesses of hipsterdom. No-one here could really kid themselves that they were at the cutting edge of style, the forefront of fashion's whimsical tropes. So it was comforting, a refuge almost, to show up and know, rather than pray, that you were the coolest person in the room.
Not that Rich didn't thrive on competition. ****ing was too easy (without ever quite being easy enough) to just do and do again, without embellishment or theatre, and over the course of the last few years he and a few male friends had developed a highly stylised code of conduct to apply to their exploits in carnality. It was purely informal, but in essence the "game" involved screwing each other over in the most imaginative ways possible, while still being just within the realms of acceptability - the "victim" did not have to like it, but the group as a whole had to at least exert enough peer pressure that he'd grin and bear it.
It had, in retrospect, been rather low-key fare. Screwing Daniel's girlfriend and ex-girlfriend, in one night, in Daniel's bed, as just one example, had more to do with pride and bravado then any sexual thrill - neither girl had been particularly attractive, and the former had had to be gotten so drunk that she was barely capable of doing anything, let alone anything sexual, nor anything well - and since Daniel had only faked any emotional attachment to either girl, it was actually rather tame.
And that was then. Now, knowing that the group of friends, seen around campus as so quintessentially inseparable, had fissioned within a few weeks of their courses' completion, barely even maintaining Facebook contact now, it was rather pathetic to think that they'd ever imagined they were getting under each other's skin. How could they have? Daniel had disappeared into marketing, Dan had ended up getting engaged and dropped off the face of the earth. Scott and Jamie had gone home and never been sought out since. James (as distinct from Jamie, just as Dan was distinct from Daniel, fully named James Weston-Rhodes) was the only one of the self-styled "****ing Legends" with whom Rich bothered to converse since the Christmas after graduation, and that was sparse, sparing, and rarely face-to-face - the two had found out that they got on a lot better when they didn't have to look at each other for any prolonged period.
It had been James who had first introduced Rich to the Reichstag, back when the name had resonates with the long-since-replaced décor. That hadn't lasted, unsurprisingly, but the name had stuck with the locals, several of whom had over the past 18 months been added to Rich's "body count", to use a ****ing Legendsism.
The downside of a mid-sized town's lack of cool was that no-one local would be especially impressed by someone staying at the cutting edge of fashion that wouldn't even reach them for another year or so. But in a way that had helped, since Rich could use his physical attributes - the sports-team body belying a creeping beergut, and dark eyes that smoldered independently of the cold insensate bastard they were attached to - without coming across as foolish. In short, chicks were still impressed by that ****.
He recognised Lydia, long-backed and ruby-lipped with an unfortunate laugh that tended to carry even across crowded rooms, from last time. He had used her to gain access to her friends twice now. The girl seemed to thrive on naïve company. Rich wondered if her relationship with them might be similar to his own, that she gained something from them and cut and ran before she was expected to give them anything back. Not that Rich imagined the long all-fours mounting of Lucy in a puddle of discarded clothing on the floor of Lydia's spare room, nor the not-short-enough upright **** of Vicky against the cold metallic partition in the rotten-egg-smelling toilet stalls of the club, were ever less than perfect for the girls. He was not, typically, a considerate lover, rarely considering the act at all once it was guaranteed to happen, except on the odd occasion that it was likely to be do***ented or recounted later. Lucy had been hilarious, snuffling and grunting through the rudimentary bit he had made from her fishnet stockings, and on that occasion, he had made every effort to get as much noise out of her as possible to sicken Lydia's then-girlfriend. Vicky, by contrast, had merely been there, and while he hadn't consciously gone in for a quickie, there'd been little reason to stick around either, and the possibility that getting it done early in the night would allow him to pick up something else before he left. It hadn't happened, but he didn't regret it.
Tonight, Lydia had entered the bar with a little gaggle of humanity, at least by local standards. Two young men, one in a brown leather jacket, the other in a blue one, both sporting flat caps and ironically unfunny T-shirts and both deeply ginger, flanked her, chuntering to one another in a typically banal way about anything but the club, the music, the people, making references to people in not-actually-that-obscure-really bands by their first names to imply familiarity, the heterosexual equivalent of theatrical luvvies. He also recognised Adam, the housemate who had been ****ing Lydia on his second visit, a bearable enough Normal Guy with whom he had got on with quite well, due in part to the fact, because that he really disliked Rich for being shallow, self-absorbed and rather dull, the conversation had stayed as far away from that subject as possible. It was hard to tell whether they were still attached, but Rich guessed not. In tow, because Lydia would've known better than to be seen out with solely male company.