violetcheetah: (butler)
[personal profile] violetcheetah
Okay, time to overshare. Nothing explicit, unless you count juvenile euphemisms that I wield as a shield.

Michele and I are taking the Red Line home to Quincy on a Saturday night. They are doing construction on weekends, so we have to transfer to a shuttle bus at JFK/UMass, and then back to the train one stop later at North Quincy. The platform is in the open air, and it's January, so everyone waits at the foot of the escalator inside the doors. Including the guy smoking the cigarette.

I hate making a scene, but we've just missed a train, so it may be 10 minutes till the next one. Still, it takes a good minute, with my heart throbbing against my ribs in dread, before my voice comes out, louder than I expected but as loud as I'd hoped.

"Are you illiterate, or just an asshole?"

"What?"

"Either you can't read the 'No Smoking' sign right beside you, or you just don't care."

"Ah, c'mon, who gives a fuck?"

Michele answers before I do. "I give a fuck, for one, so why don't you either put it out or go smoke on the platform, where it's also illegal, but at least you won't be bothering anyone."

He takes a slow drag, his eyes hooded just a bit more than before, then exhales bitter smoke at us with his words.

"You guys lesbians?"

"Yeah." The word comes from my mouth, and I am ashamed because it's a lie, and I don't like to lie, even to an asshole. I'm also flabbergasted at myself. Why the hell did I say that? But I don't have time to think about it, because I'm apparently not done talking. "What gave it away? The long hair and glasses? The hiking boots and leather jacket? The long skirt with the hiking boots and leather jacket? Or do straight girls just not dare to call you an asswipe when you're being an asswipe?"

"Hey, I got no problem with it, it takes all kinds." His eyes are no longer partly closed, and his hands are out a little, palms up, the cigarette still wisping upside down between two fingers.

"If you've got no problem, then why the fuck did you ask? What does my sex life have to do with you smoking where it's illegal to smoke? You hoping for a little three-way action tonight?"

"No, I just —"

"'Cause I gotta tell you, your chances of my fucking you are about equal whether I'm gay or straight. Odds are a fuckuva lot higher that I'm going to put that cigarette out on your fucking forehead."

"Shit, lady." He lets the still-upside-down cigarette drop from his still-palm-up hand, stubs it out with his boot. "You don't have to... I mean, shit."

I know I need to keep pushing, but I've run out of things to say, and the energy to say them, and thank god here comes the train. I lean over to Michele once we're seated and say, "Sorry about outing you in public like that," and she laughs, a gleeful cackle, and then opens her book.

***

Was I a lesbian? I'd never really given it any thought. I'd had boyfriends, or men that I'd slept with, at least. But not figuratively; I'd just slept next to them, sometimes naked, "played around," caressed them, let them caress me, but... well, other than Bret, I'd never even enjoyed kissing. Maybe with a woman...

I asked my shrink about it the next week. "Well, have you ever been attracted to a woman?"

"That's the thing: I don't know. I mean, I like women's bodies, aesthetically, but touching them..." I shook my head sharply.

"Is looking at a woman arousing?" Another sharp head-shake. "What?" he asked.

"I just, the word, 'arousing,' it's... I don't know."

"You seem repelled."

"I, maybe. But it's not women, it's the word, the idea."

"Arousal is repellent?"

"Yeah. But... xenophobia."

"Okay, what?" He was smiling, his head tilted with interest.

"Arousal is foreign. It's from a country I don't know anything about."

"Even with Bret, and Chris?"

"I visited the country, and it was exotic and fun, but I didn't understand the customs. Or even the language. I liked to visit, but, well."

***

At the time, I thought it would change some day. Some guy or girl would do it for me, and I'd, well, do it. I mean, I'd been molested, so of course sex was icky, and when I got over the abuse, and the dissociation, I'd feel stuff that normal people feel, and I'd understand the fuss. But, well, I'm pretty much over it. I can be in the same room as my brother and not see his pants unzipped in my mind. And I'm inside my body most of the time now, without wishing I wasn't. But there's still no there down there — not at the self-service pump, not even in dreams.

I don't know if I can call myself asexual. I mean, maybe I wasn't born this way, didn't come by it naturally; maybe my brother changed the wiring in my brain, irrevocably. I don't want to add to the stereotype that asexuals are maladjusted, mentally ill, in need of fixing. Am I in need of fixing? Another couple of years of therapy to make me horny? Third vibrator's the charm?

But I don't really feel like I need fixing. Which is kinda novel, because I don't remember a time when I didn't know I was screwed up, when I could comprehend a future in which I was unscrewed (so to speak). I read Lisa, Bright and Dark when I was twelve like pregnant women read What to Expect When You're Expecting. I used to stand back from the yellow line on the subway platform for years because I felt the possibility that one day, my mind would slip for just a second just as the train was coming, and by the time I came back to myself, it'd be too late. Even when I started seeing a shrink, the shrink, all I really wanted was to forestall myself enough to get something meaningful written before I did the final stupid thing I would ever do. Having an orgasm was pretty far down my list of priorities. Fooling around with someone didn't seem to make me any happier.

And now, I don't really feel like I want fixing. I don't yearn for a boyfriend, or a girlfriend, any more than I ever yearned for kids, or a goat. I've got cats, of course; what self-respecting spinster doesn't? I've got friends who love me; my last boyfriend has been one of my closest friends for approximately 64 times longer than he was my boyfriend. I know I'm missing out on something. But I don't miss it.


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Violet Wilson

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