Don't you hate it when writers say "to be continued" and then don't finish it the next day? Me too. But you have to admit, for a blogger who only posts about once a month, I'm doing pretty well.
Anyway, there was a key detail that I forgot to mention in the first part of this story. I'd left my purse in Jan's car when we got to Tribute, and stuffed my license and my check card in my pocket. All of these blogposts are first drafts unless I go back and edit them, which doesn't serve me well if I'm telling an actual story. I should probably save it once I write it, go back and edit it, and all that stuff, but it's too tempting to hit that button that says "publish" when I'm done. I have atleast two books that I've been trying to get published that I would love to hit the "publish" button for, but alas, it's not as easy as blogging. So if I ever do get parts of this blog published, remind me to go back and add the purse-in-the-car detail to Part 1, ok? Thank you, thank you, you're a beautiful audience.
So where was I? Oh yes, I was a bisexual in a lesbian bar, pushing myself further towards the brink of sobriety with an ice cold water in my hand, watching people dance and feeling awkward when two good looking people caught my eye, and one of them returned and held my gaze. Why does this kind of thing only happen in a bar, I wondered, and not, say, the zoo? You're at the seal tank when a beautiful, dark haired young woman notices you at the same time when you notice her and both of you drop your popcorn. Then one of you approaches the other, and you remark that they shouldn't make popcorn bags so slippery and then you get to know each other. You know why that doesn't happen? Because neither of you are sure that the other one is gay. So if that happened to me at a zoo, I would stand aghast at the beautiful person before me, think to say something witty, grow doubtful, and then walk off with no popcorn to find the lion exhibit. But at a bar that is accepting of gay or even half-gay people, your chances are greater of asking someone to dance and not being beaten, or worse, handed a church pamphlet. So why aren't there gay zoos? Where do the sober, nerdy, non-dance music ones go? They're driven to fund raisers at bars when their movies are sold out...remind me to start editing these things. Three paragraphs in and I'm still standing there, drinking water. I hope I'm not boring you guys. For all I know, this whole narrative is boring and I should stick with writing about how remote control buttons confuse me.
But in any case, the lean, pretty girl lowered her eyes and turned to hug someone who just walked in, and the cute dancing guy kept dancing. Lucy noticed him too.
"What do you think is his deal?" she asked, pointing at him with her gin and tonic, my old signature drink.
This was her way of asking me "why is a young straight guy here in a room of gay women?"
"I don't know," I said. "Maybe he likes girls who like girls."
She shrugged. "Probably."
"Maybe he's just having a good time. He's cute."
"Yeah. How does he move like that?" she asked as he fell backwards, touched the ground, and popped back up. It was like watching Keanu Reeves dodge a bullet on "The Matrix."
"I don't know. He must practice at home. So do you recognize anybody?"
Lucy has been out much longer than I have and I thought she might know someone.
"Not at all."
"Wanna shoot pool?" I asked.
There were six unattended pool tables lined up two by two on the side of the room.
"I suck at pool," she said.
"So do I. Hey Jan! Wanna shoot pool with us?"
She walked over from the bar, sipping an icy, brown concoction. "I suck at pool," she said.
"Awesome," I replied. "Let's do it!"
"How do three of us play at the same time?" Jan asked.
"We play Cut Throat. Three people can play that."
I explained the rules and Lucy said, "How do you know an actual game?"
"I used to play with my guy friends. I got good at it for a while, but I'm rusty now. I don't know if I can hit anything in."
"Genevieve," Lucy said. "I don't know if I can hit the white ball."
After some grumbling and groaning they agreed. My logic was, it was better to suck at pool than at not talking to people.
Lucy hadn't been kidding. The pool stick slipped passed the white ball on her first shot. But as she drank, she got better, and out of the four games we played, she ended up winning one of them.
What was great about shooting pool was that none of us really knew what we were doing. I'd remembered on the bare bones rules of the game but that's it, so we just made up the rest.
"What happens if you scratch on the white ball?" Jan asked me.
"Um..you can only hit a ball with the color white in it for the rest of the game."
"They've all got white. Even the eight ball."
"Oh. Then red. You can only hit red, and you have to shoot with one hand."
"No. But give it a try."
Playing like that for an hour took the edge off of my nervousness. And I could still gaze at the blue tank top girl and the dancing boy, and appreciate their beauty without having to do anything about it. The guy was in his own world anyway, except for when one obese woman with black framed glasses started gyrating next to him. But Blue Top would always look back at me when I looked at her. It made me feel good even though we weren't talking.
And as me, Lucy and Jan played game after silly game, I realized that I felt something good that I don't usually feel in a smoke-filled bar with pop-sexy music. I felt comfortable being myself. I was in a room full of Tomboys. I don't feel comfortable around other women. Usually I feel like I have to stretch to act like someone else, and it's exhausting. But I could be myself here, all of me, the Tomboyish and feminine parts of me, and relax. It wasn't because everybody in there was gay either. Jan's straight as can be. She just knows me, as I really am, a playful Tomboy. I don't get to be that playful Tomboy everywhere I go without getting strange looks. Nobody else played, though there were five empty tables, but when one of us made a shot, sometimes we got encouraging calls from a group of women sitting near us. I began to glow from that small camaraderie.
"You don't seem to be tired," Lucy said to me after a while.
"No," I said, smiling. "I'm having fun. Maybe I should get caffeine, though, just to stave it off."
"Can't hurt," she agreed. "You're the designated driver."
I went over to the bar, ordered a Diet Coke, and interrupted Rhonda in the middle of her talking to the woman next to her and texting at the same time.
"How's it going Rhonda?"
"Good, good. You having fun?" she asked, her eyes on her phone.
I ducked down, blocked her phone with my face, and grinned wide.
"Get outta here, jackass," she giggled, pushing me away.
"Look at me then, goddammit," I said. "Come shoot pool with us."
She set her phone on the bar. "I'll come down there in a bit. Y'all," she said to the other ladies around her. "This is Genevieve."
I shook hands with them, one middle aged couple and a bleached blond woman sitting to Rhonda's right who'd been talking to her before I wrangled her attention away.
"We're all going to L.A.X. in a few. Y'all should come," one of them said.
"L.A.X.?" I asked.
"It's across the interstate," Rhonda explained. "It used to be Angles."
Then I remembered seeing the sign as I drove passed on my way to work sometimes. "Ooooh, that place X-lax?"
Rhonda made a face. "X-lax?"
"Yeah, it's got a big 'x' and the 'l.a.'s are around it. X-lax. Terrible name for a club."
"It is, but that's not the name of it, you jackass, it's L.A.X."
I looked over at Blue Top, who looked back at me. "Everybody's going?" I asked.
"Yeah, in a minute. Go tell the girls."
I grabbed my Coke and went back to the pool table. Jan agreed, and Lucy, on her second or third gin and tonic, said "Sure."
Rhonda came over to us, all smiles, and said she was glad we were there. That confused me at first because we hadn't really hung out with her yet, but then I understood. It was the way I felt about being in that big room of people without talking to them, and the glances between me and Blue Top. It was just a feeling. It was why I agreed to go to the next bar even though it was 11:00 at night, and I had a long drive home.
It was also because of a little thing that happened when I was sizing up a shot at the pool table. I was walking backwards, studying the possible shot from every angle, and a woman in jeans, a polo shirt, boots, black short hair, and a tan, lined face walked towards me. She was not pretty and not handsome. She was not approaching me exactly, but was walking towards the bathroom behind me. Still, as I walked backwards, she marched forwards, we looked at each other and for a few seconds, it felt like a chase.
"I know you," I thought, as she came closer. "You look nothing like me, but you are me."
I don't know what she thought when she looked at me, sizing me up like I'd sized up that pool shot, and then passed me by, brushing my shoulder. But I thought two things: I feel like her inside, a Tomboy chasing something, and also, as I remembered the panther tattoo on my leg, I like to be chased.
In my purse that was stolen, was a phone list from a women's AA meeting I'd gone to a few days before. Out of a list of twenty women, there were only two that I'd felt comfortable enough to call, and really be myself with. I could to talk to them about the thoughts and feelings I sometimes wanted to numb. Especially my tendency to be attracted to and obsess over someone who is intense, wants me, and chases me, but doesn't really love me. And as it has been explained to me, that's not loving behavior from my end either.
"Goddamn, that's the last thing I need," I thought, after the mannish woman passed me by. "This is one more reason why it's good that I'm single."
That's the only contact I had with that woman at all, and it was barely anything. She was at the next bar too, but we didn't talk or acknowledge each other. Noticing her wasn't really about her anyway. It was something about me, about that boyish girl who I've kept buried inside of me, ashamed, for two decades, and what she likes. What does she like? Is it possible for her to like ANYTHING healthy? I'm still feeling that out.
The four of us walked out of Tribute and went to our cars. We found Jan's car untouched, and my purse safely inside. I thought about how I didn't really want a purse, I never had, but that it was a girl thing to do so I carried one.
Then we drove to X-lax. And this will be continued.