Ouch?

I am bisexual. Yeah, I know, I’m used to it: “Pick one.” “You’re not really bi, you’re a straight girl/lesbian, and the sooner you realize it, the better.” “Can I watch?” “Will you do my girlfriend while I take pictures?” I’m sick of those comments. I’ve been sick of them for a very very long time. One of the reasons why I don’t tell many people is because… well, they are the inevitable response from somebody within earshot. Conversations about it are never private, unfortunately.

So, I was expecting something to happen the other day at the coffee shop when I asked the barista out. Now, I have a policy of not returning to a place where I’ve asked out the employees and been turned down. Mainly, they don’t have a choice about being there, and I do– I really don’t want to make them uncomfy while they work. Good coffee is hard to come by here, but she was really cute– her whole way of moving encapsulated this presence in the moment. She knew her coffee inside and out, and spent time with each customer talking to them about the books and games with which they were each involved, and spoke sparking animated gestures, with a deep resonating laugh. She especially liked comic books. She wore glasses. I was crushing hard.

It took some work up: I avoided the counter for a little bit. Okay, so, how do I phrase this so I don’t look dumb? Like a creepy older person?– oh wait, people still mistake me for 18. And I’m only 27. Right. She’s 23? Okay. Good. Ummm… what about my hair? Okay, it’s as managed as I can get. How do I come off all friendly without any pressure? Ummm… ummm… okay, GO!

And I stepped up to the counter. You really don’t need to know the whole heart-in-the-throat description, or the nervous shaking. We’ve all been there before for something. I didn’t stammer, though.

“Hey.”

“Hi! Do you know what you’d like?”

“Umm… how about a breve, medium, extra espresso shot, and a little bit of the hazelnut syrup?”

“No extra extra white chocolate today?”

“Nah, you gotta switch it up, some time! Hey– I was wondering. I think you’re pretty cute. Would you like to hang out sometime, maybe after you get off shift?”

My blush set the context, I’m certain. “Ummm… I’m not really interested, sorry.”

“My apologies. Thanks for the excellent coffee, though.”

And that should have been that. I didn’t hear any comments on my failed date request, no snickers, no weird cat-calls from the men in the shop. I was starting to congratulate myself for handling it so nonchalantly, so confidently, so unstutteringly, moving toward the end of the counter where my drink would appear, when I realized that there was a short female-shaped body blocking my way.

WHACK!

My face throbbed with a new hand print. “YOU FAT UGLY DYKE WHORE!!!” It came from the small frame before me. She looked perhaps 15 or 16, heavy make-up, and her brown curly hair was moussed or gelled back in its tight ponytail. I blinked owlishly for a moment, standing above her. The blood taste in my mouth gave me a clue as to how hard she hit me.

And just like that, she turned on her heel and stalked off. I took my coffee cup, and left the building, amid awkward stares from onlookers.

Honestly? A week later, and I still don’t know what to do with that, but I think that may just have been the strongest reaction to my bisexuality yet.

Night Owls

It is eleven o’clock at night. 23:00, EDT. I am not quite right. I’ve been Doing Things all day. Things to make the house livable, painting, tiling, gardening. The gardening is the only thing that feels like it’s changed anything. I am not quite right. I tell the roommate I am going out.

But it’s 11:04, he tells me. I tell him that I know. People in their right minds don’t go out at this hour, he insists at me. I don’t say anything back, because I am not right. The door closes and I can still hear him sputtering.

Some months ago, a cop stopped me on the street and told me people my age weren’t allowed out at this hour. Last I checked, the only curfew is the one that bans those under 18 from driving at this time. I had showed him my ID, and he uncomfortably told me that decent folk don’t go out at night. I guess that means I’m not decent folk, that I’m not right. I have proof.

If I were right, I wouldn’t sing to the waning moon (it’s not even full), or steal through empty lots to the banks of the canals to watch silent birds hunt fish in the shallows. I wouldn’t go arranging the pieces of broken bottles into sunbursts and spirals on the side of the road or ponder the deadness of US 41 at 11:26 pm. US 41 is dead. I can count to 80 between cars. 146 between cars. 312 between cars. I stop at 600. Decent folk don’t find whole neighborhoods of cats to follow them through the streets at night: an orange tabby, a blotched black and white, a smoke grey kitten, a dun-colored spotted one. They are completely silent except when I pet them: they purr. Good citizens don’t take hunks of limestone and scrawl obscene limericks on the sidewalk. I suppose, at least, that I am a good citizen, because it was a half-hearted sonnet instead. Good girls don’t yell at the bums on bikes who get grabby as they cycle past, but I do. I swung at him, too, my mouth brimming with cuss and venom, but he staggeringly pedaled on.

If I were right, I wouldn’t be restless, they tell me. Restlessness is wrong. Wrong, wrong. Shame. Do you want to be mistaken for a whore? Do you want to stroll right into danger? Do you want to end up dead on the side of the road? All of these right thoughts are born of fear. Knowing one’s narrow place. I know my place. It’s wider than that. It’s on the street corner at midnight, trying to tie a prayer ribbon to the light post 7 feet up. It’s in the tree down the road trying to coax the screech owl to my hand. It’s along the street two down from mine, planting pretty cats-eye marbles in rows along their driveways, and then melting into the night. Because I can. Because no one else will. And these are small necessary things.