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.
“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.
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.