“I’d spent most of my life thus far either ignoring my attraction to women or corralling that desire to the Google Incognito page I use for porn.” – Cat Damon on finally taking (Tinder) action regarding her fluid sexuality.
After our first date, I thought Rebecca was going to be the girl who got me disowned. When I first opened my Tinder preferences to include women, I wasn’t expecting to immediately match with a babe like her. She had pictures that were self-deprecatingly hot— perfect lips, grown-out bleach job. The way she texted reminded me of one of my best friends, and her wrists looked mouthwateringly tiny in pictures.
I can’t decide whether to identify as bi or just obsessed with beautiful women. Besides drunken “KISS ME ON THE MOUTH” encounters with 85% of my female friends, I’ve only had one relationship with a woman who is still one of my close friends. Adrienne is a coltish redhead from Durham with a penchant for leather clothing and fine dining. We would go to date functions together for her sorority, groping each other in front of her bored friends. She is beautiful and smart, loud and dramatic. When I finally kissed her in the twin bed of her basement apartment, I was scared shitless and unbelievably excited. I felt like a bold explorer of the female body, the first person to ever touch breasts and play with long hair. I understood why men were obsessed with women. I felt like a conquistador, even though I was a hungover 19 year-old girl. Adrienne and I still joke about the fact it was clearly A Very Big Thing for me, that she could tell my deep-breathed authoritative fumbling was as monumental to me as a high schooler seeing tits for the first time.
I’ve never been able to tell whether I didn’t go further with Adrienne because I’m not actually interested in women or because the big homoerotic block placed on me by my conservative Southern upbringing was too heavy to lift at that age. I know that she is the most sensual woman I know— I also know I had a frantic “let’s just be friends!” conversation the next day and an aborted threesome with her a year later. By then I was dating my ex, and four years with him didn’t lend itself to lesbi-friendships. But when I started dating again this past summer, and began having sex with polyamorous bird watchers, I decided that now could be a good time to explore my latent lesbianism.
I met Rebecca for hamburgers in a town an hour away from where I live. The bar where we met had bras hanging from wagon wheel chandeliers; it felt like an auspicious start. She was fifteen minutes late and had a raspy voice with a loud laugh. Her ankles were thin as ribbons, and she felt familiar and comfortable. She nudged me with her elbow as we were eating our food and motioned over to the older lesbian couple eating together at the other side of the bar. “Do you think that’s gonna be us in thirty years?” she asked. I broke out in a cold sweat.
I don’t know what exactly would happen in my family if I dated a woman, but I know it would be bad. My parents are good people, but the kind who insistently refer to Caitlyn Jenner as “Bruce.” They have conflicted feelings about whether or not gay people go to heaven (maybe?) and whether bisexuality is real (no). I have one gay cousin, marginally out, whose decision to bring his boyfriend to our family reunion was counted as disrespectful by my mom. “What about his poor grandmother? It’s a slap in the face,” she insisted. When I slip up and comment on a beautiful woman in a commercial, or state a little too emphatically the symmetrical perfection of my friend Nejla’s bone structure, I’m met with hostile stares. “But she’s a woman,” they remind me. “Very aware,” I want to reply, but instead I usually laugh nervously and mention an attractive dude I saw at Whole Foods.
I called my sister on the way back from meeting Rebecca; in our conservative family, she’s frequently my safe haven and joint-sharer, so I felt like talking to her about my date was a good step between texting my friends and hypothetically coming out to my parents. “You’re still interested in men though, right?” she asked in response to my palpable anxiety about the instant obsession I felt for Rebecca. When I said yes, I still liked men, she said, “well maybe just stick with them, then? So you don’t have to worry about this?”
I started laughing, because I could not and did not want to just stick with men. I tried to explain to her that I’d spent most of my life so far either ignoring my attraction to women or corralling that desire to the Google Incognito page I use for porn. I realized that my sister, as progressive she might be in comparison to the rest of my family, could be an ally but not an accomplice in my gay dating. Since she still frequently asks whether Adrienne and I will “be gay together” during our twice-yearly visits, she would likely not be egging me on to continue seeing women.
So I talked with my friends, and I talked with Rebecca. I kept thinking of the pressure of her hand in mine when she walked me to my car after lunch and her angular shoulders. I thought about her when getting off, and the threatening realness of her presence in my fantasies. My taste in men has always veered into the tatty ogre category, big sloppy hairy men who made me feel little and delicate in comparison to their tangles of leg hair and plate-sized hands. When I thought about fucking Rebecca, I couldn’t disappear into her gigantic arms because her arms were actually tiny matchsticks. My anxiety about dating her took on another dimension— how could I feel feminine and small if the person I was sleeping with was actually a small and feminine woman, the fragile sprite I had always wanted to be? On a good day, seen through bifocal glasses or proper medication, my body is dramatic. The surprise of my breasts and ass feels right when I’m stripped by a 6’2” gargoyle with stick-and-poke tattoos, but how would it feel to lie next to and on and in a glass-boned beauty?
I never answered this question, because our next date sucked. We met for a late lunch, which turned into early drinks. Being about 95 pounds soaking wet— which I remained the entire date, despite my terror— she got drunk after two beers. We were sitting at the bar of a nice restaurant in my town, and she proceeded to slur out “what kind of gay alcohol is that, it’s so gay” in reference to a bottle of liquor that caught her eye. The bartender visibly winced, and I invisibly canceled my plans for a tasteful fall wedding. Instead of imagining fucking her, or introducing her to my parents, I had a vision of her sloppy drunk at parties with my friends. My girlfriend, the lightweight, felt more frightening than having a girlfriend at all. And much more socially threatening.
Even though I decided we wouldn’t keep dating, I wanted to see what it would be like to touch her more intentionally than a lingering hug after a first date. Maybe it was a holdover from my college dabbling days, but I didn’t feel like suppressing my curiosity. I walked her to her car, and touched her hands before holding her jaw and kissing her. She kissed me quickly and without tongue, like it was a dare at a party in middle school and she didn’t want to be seen getting into it. I smiled and tried again, feeling cooly confident and ready to grope her in the streets of my small southern town. As I leaned in again, I decided it would be okay to have casual lesbian sex with someone who used “gay” as an insult, but she kissed me again without tongue or any real sense of excitement. I tried a third time, being extra slow and as sensual as I could be, but Rebecca was not going to open her mouth and I was not going to try again.
The combination of physical rejection and emotional incompatibility exhausted me. I was faced with the dilemma that exists in any dating situation, regardless of gender or affiliation or identification: how do you tell someone you don’t want to see them anymore without saying “I don’t want to see you anymore”? I remember pulling some shit about not being ready for a relationship, which she took surprisingly hard, but I heard from her over New Years when she thanked me playfully for Instagram likes and being pretty. I felt a quick kick of the maybe-should-I-haves, thinking about her raspy laugh and nasty sense of humor and perfect, tiny tits. I reminded myself of the gay jokes and tongueless kissing, and relegated her Tinder profile to the realm of late night, post-work jerk-offs.
Main image by Olivia Bee.
Read Cat Damon’s previous post for Slutever, about the “one who got away,” HERE :)