Wednesday, July 02, 2014
We met in a college class, the semester prior to graduation. It was an elective credit in communication studies, one which I could have managed at least a B if I’d put the effort into it. We were asked to use a particular software program called Quark to lay out a front page newspaper headline of our own creation. Nowadays, I’m sure such classes are rarely taught anymore, though for a time they provided useful simulated newsroom experience, especially for graphic designers.
Today, I wouldn’t put up with her the way I did back then. Her number one priority was herself, not her young daughter, not her parents, and not me. What we shared in common was writing ability and an appropriately snooty taste in film, which is what attracted her to me in the first place. Though I was going through my openly and unapologetically queer phase, I’m not sure when I clued her in to my sexual orientation. Knowing me, It was probably very early on.
If I was assumed to be gay, I instantly won the sympathies of the women around me. When I was taken for straight, their attitudes towards me were a little gruffer and more were defensive. Few knew much what to do about bisexuality and bisexuals, except others who were LGBT themselves. I try to write with great description on this concept because it remains an identity that confuses many.
For two years, I wrote a daily blog on a website. My sexual orientation was a regular topic. Most of my regular readers were women. In my company, they often acted like a mother hen. Due to the drama that was my life in those days, I felt that reading my journal might have come across for many like a daily viewing of a soap opera. I appreciated the attention, but never wanted to be the designated, tokenized queer blogger.
My friend invited me over to her apartment following class. She’d used her daughter as a litmus test of whether or not visitors were good people and could be counted on to be trusted. I passed with flying colors, but I admit that being in the company of even a single kid usually makes me uncomfortable. In my fevered worries, there’s always something that could go wrong, some potential ER visit, broken bone, or gash that needs stitches. Seeing a cousin of mine come down with a nasty compound fracture on her arm has stayed with me.
My friend asked me to rub her feet with lotion on long Friday nights. We very rarely left the apartment because her young daughter needed constant supervision. I was a homebody, so I had no issue with staying in, whether talking or watching a movie. I can’t honestly vouch for this, because I could always be wrong, but it was my opinion that she found the foot rubs I provided to be sexually arousing. She would call out my name as I performed it. If she felt this way, then I was not willing to get in the way of an existing relationship she was keeping with another man. I put on the brakes sharply because this was a particularly cruel form of torture if it was, in fact, genuine.
Another time, she wanted me to rub her buttocks, provided I didn’t touch a particularly intimate area between the glutes. I complied, with great difficulty. That was the most difficult process of all, almost as bad as the time she invited me into the bathroom when she was only partially dressed, and my eyes got big as saucers. This was a tease, only a tease. She loved attention.
We didn’t always stay close to home. Once she plucked the nicest dress from her closet, the night she intended to head out to a club not far away. She had the precise body type for it and got lots of compliments. One of the running jokes she made at her own expense involved criticizing the size of her breasts. She took no offense whatsoever, and the humor usually provided a chuckle or two.
We climbed a flight upstairs. Music was playing loudly and powerful light was beamed all over the place.
Within minutes of arriving, a nattily dressed black man asked her to dance. I took my typical spot in introvert’s corner, and began observing what was going on from one end to the other. What I didn’t know is that my friend was using me as a decoy.
You see that man over there, she’d told him. He’ll fuck you up. He’s my bodyguard.
He didn’t last for long and I had no patience to find my own dancing partner. I’m a very awkward dancer and didn’t feel like showing that off before the rest of the crowd. I encountered a local loser, some friend of a friend who was dancing by himself. As I recall, he worked at a gas station somewhere else in town. Protectively, he wanted to intervene, assuming my girlfriend was seeking distance from me. I told her that we weren’t together and that she was welcome to dance with anyone.
The two of us didn’t stay very long. Where we lived, the dancing scene usually incorporated bottom-feeders and the lowest common denominator. In those days, my preferred environment would be an indie rock show or some gallery showing, a place where it didn’t matter whether or not I had any dancing ability. This was an experiment for her. We would never return.
I was worth much more to her than she would ever concede. Her child liked me, even with my standoffish attitudes. She felt that my writing was skilled and would only improve with time. She rated her own writing evenly alongside my own work, as she wrote a weekly column for the college paper. One night, with tears in her eyes, she conceded that sex was a drug for her. She’d never smoked pot or even a single cigarette. She didn’t drink much, but she found it difficult to say no to men when they grew amorous and forceful.
If we ever talk again, I’ll be surprised, but I’m not bitter. She was indeed beautiful, and as is the case for many men, having her on my arm was an ego boost. We never dated, but she and I acted like lovers, and that was enough for some to form their own conclusions. Having a child at 17 forever changed her life, one I imagine that motivated many of her decisions. When it came time for moving, even her father noted that his daughter could be selfish and obsessed with herself. That's how it ended.