Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Last Person I'd Ever Expect

From my perspective, I don't think that truthful, accurate stories about bisexuality and bisexuals are very plentiful. They're often painted with a lurid, sensationalist brush. So, I suppose I'll just write my own. Might as well.

The Last Place I’d Ever Expect

“I never thought I’d see you here”.

Ex-girlfriend encounters could be safely expected at any number of places downtown. I knew to brace myself at the concrete and armpits dive bar, a biohazard, where everyone always wanted to go. While making my way from the parking lot across the same few familiar avenues and streets, the unexpected was always a possibility. I’d let my guard down for a few hours, expecting to focus on something very different. Of all the gay bars in all the towns in all the world, she had to walk into mine.

A moment. Let us lay our scene first. We now enter a universe where repression gives way to hedonism. This setting, a perpetually dark, smoky place where bad dance music plays around the clock is what passes for atmosphere. When you enter the establishment for the first time, the polite bartender asks you if you’re comfortable. He’s just making sure.

A large purple sign affixed to the main entrance screams out a warning in all caps. All those who would enter should leave immediately should they find the contents objectionable in any way. 

“You do know what this is, don’t you?” Few people have any pretenses otherwise, but he asks anyway.

His accent betrays his country roots. An effeminate inflection presented alongside a strong southern drawl sounds amusing at first. You have to make sure not to laugh, that is, unless his stated intent in speaking is to be campy and a little over the top. Sometimes even I can’t really tell the difference between the two, so I instead stay stoic and stone faced.

When you order a screwdriver, it is provided with possibly the weakest concentration of vodka conceivable. One is never sure whether the bartender expects you to have a low alcohol threshold or wants to make the hard liquor stretch a bit longer. In any case, I never found myself reaching anything remotely close to intoxication. It kept me on my toes, though I was much too inhibited to dance.  

Danielle was never one to beat around the bush. Her directness was one of the reasons I found her appealing in the first place. Auspiciously enough, we met in a human sexuality class while the both of us were in college. Asked to work together as part of a group assignment, we soon knew more about each other’s baser desires in three weeks than most couples learn in a year.

Labeling the parts of the female and male anatomy can be stimulating in strange ways. It wasn’t difficult for the more clinical aspects of sexuality to give way to the earthier variety. This may have been an unorthodox way to start out, but we went for it.

“So, I take it you’ve given up on women?”

One could probably make that assumption, being that I’d just had my arm around another man’s waist. Even so, assumptions should not be confused as truth. Danielle looked the exact same as she had when we’d last parted ways. Same blonde hair. Same blue eyes.  By now they were boring a hole into my own. I’d been asked a colossally awkward question that knocked me completely off stride. Though I could have dodged it, I decided to be honest instead.  

“No. You don’t ever stop being bisexual, as much as some might believe.”

This was an especially sore point with me. At minimum, two past girlfriends had been tremendously skeptical at the outset of our relationship. I had to use my best skills as a courtroom lawyer before suspicions and anxieties were set aside. Danielle wasn’t unsympathetic, but a part of her always had doubts. This may have explained why she married the very next boyfriend after me. She swung from one extreme to the other. He was about as heterosexual as a man could be, but to his credit, I knew him to be surprisingly tolerant.

“Did you know that Dan and I have a yearly membership here? He and I come to dance all the time.”

This I did not know. By now, she’d stopped acting like I was a character witness on the stand. She always had a way of being able to shift from intense to coolly detached in a half-second. It was a curious transition and even more curious to observe. I admit I had never fully understood. I wondered if her husband could make more sense of it than I. Danielle was a mysterious one. I’d stopped striving for comprehension a couple years before and found myself happier for it.

It was still strange to see her with an engagement ring. I feel the exact same way with every former relationship partner who is now betrothed. Ancient fault lines resurface. The dull ache of remembered rejection returns. Of course, we’d never progressed far enough along to even consider marriage. Our relationship had been conducted as though it had a 90 day trial in place. It concluded with the both of us agreeing to part ways without too much fuss or drama.

It wasn’t long before she moved on again, making her way to the outside patio, which served as a respite from the hyperactive energy going on in front of a set of huge mirrors. Walking a bit off balance, pushing her way through the crowd, she disappeared from sight. I last saw her sipping a drink with some difficulty through a tiny straw. I returned to what I'd been doing before, staring at the latest shirtless, sweaty exhibitionist considered a resident heartthrob.

And as always, I paused to reflect. In a perfect world, would I still feel sawed in half somehow? A part of me always got the shorter straw. Attraction never felt seamless or streamlined where sexual orientation was concerned. It was all women or all men, and this transition in particular was lumpy and difficult. For tonight, I knew where I’d stay and maybe even where I’d end up the next morning.

Thinking beyond the immediate present only caused pain and worry. The future was too daunting, too potentially injurious. And, in fairness, I was like every other man crammed inside, illuminated momentarily by the intermittent strobe lights. 

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