I Enjoy Being a Girl
We had a mutual friend who assured me I would find Jasper handsome and funny; he was right. We laughed and chatted throughout appetizers. I wasn't naming our children yet, but I was starting to think how nice he would look on New Year's Eve.
[I know. Cut me some slack. I was twenty-two, fresh out of a two year relationship and still hopeful. In the dating world, I had that new-car smell.]
As our entrees arrived (Caesar salads for each of us), Jasper leaned over and gently took my hand. He leaned in further and said intently, "I just want you to know how nice it is to see a woman wearing a feminine outfit. I get so sick of seeing women in pants."
I looked down. I was wearing a flippy sort of skirt and a sweater. I'd chosen this outfit for cuteness, sure, but I can't say the adjective "Feminine" came to mind. Since I wore pants 90% of the time, did that mean I was usually masculine? I smiled a little weakly but, luckily, I didn't have to say anything because he was off on a tangent about how a real woman wears a nice skirt, a ruffled blouse, pumps. A brooch. I tried to remember if I had ever seen anyone in that outfit whose husband wasn't running for the Senate.
We talked fashion for a while; he had very strong opinions about women's and men's fashions. It seemed that each gender should be recognizably male or female from a very long distance away, possibly from Neptune. Unconsciously, I was chewing a little faster now, trying to bring this date to a close. Yes he was funny and he was lanky and pale in the way I found appealing (Ideally, anyone I dated should have kind of looked like they were haunting me), but there was something strange going on. To get him off the subject of how women should never wear sweatshirts, I said, "I never asked. Where did you and Mark meet? College?"
Jasper got very still. He finished swallowing, carefully wiped his mouth, took a sip of wine. Took another sip of wine. "Well," he said, looking deeply into my forehead, "it's funny you should ask. I...dated his brother. But I'm not gay."
We all enjoyed the silence. I grew up in a gay neighborhood, went into the entertainment industry and was a ballet-dancer in my teens; I knew gay. One the markers of being gay was dating someone who had the same parts as you. But, according to my date, this had made him not-gay.
I went with the always-classic, "Oh?" and he nodded vigorously, seemingly relieved that I hadn't flung a plate of anchovy-glazed romaine lettuce at him.
"My analyst and I have discovered that because my mother worked full-time as an engineer when I was a kid and my father wrote from home, I didn't develop a full identification with being a traditional male. For years, when I thought I was attracted to large, masculine men, I was wrong. It wasn't that I wanted to have sex with them but that I wanted to be them."
I nodded. Jasper smiled, pleased. I wondered if I could get his analyst's name and possibly report him to someone. I wondered if I could sneak off and beat our mutual friend to death for assuming that I was the kind of girl who hangs out with gay boys who always secretly wanted to date one. Jasper took my hand and looked more deeply into my forehead.
"I'd love to go out with you again. You're exactly the kind of woman my analyst has been hoping I'd meet."
Now, there's a phrase which never grows old. On the plus side, if I could just ignore that he was a big old gay homosexual person, we'd have a lovely life together. Jasper was very successful and would keep me in all the ruffly dresses I wanted and our house would always be full of exquisite furniture and perfectly-made dinners. Of course, we'd have no sex and eventually I'd catch him in the guest-house with the yard-man. But he would buy me something cloyingly feminine and I'd have a bottle or two of wine and we'd sit down at watch "The Women" and tacitly agree to never speak of it again.
But, wait. The children. The children I wanted to have, the children Jasper and I would never have because touching me in a reproductive way would cause Jasper to cry and hyperventilate into a paper bag. The children we would have to adopt, to whom I would say things like "Mei Mei, please don't touch Daddy's nude Roman bronzes." And "Oh, those noises? Well, Daddy is just working out with his private trainer in his private exercise room. Which we never go in to. Ever."
Yeah, too much work. And ruffled blouses did something weird to my neck. I politely passed on dating him. But I did give his number to an acquaintance of mine who was funny and attractive. Best of all, once when she was drunk, she confided in me that she didn't care if she ever had sex again.
They dated for months.