I might be gay. I said the words once again in my mind as Steve ordered coffee for both of us. Could I reveal that little secret that had been preying on me? To Steve of all people?
You might think it strange that I'd chosen Steve to tell, being my ex-boyfriend. I'd started worrying about it after watching a movie. It was just some sexy b-movie a guy had brought over and forgotten to take, but it had this one scene that had gotten to me. It was a woman, by herself. It showed her masturbating, first her whole body, and she was pretty, then her face. And it wasn't a quick scene, it took its time, watching her for minutes on end until she'd reached the moment, then returned to earth, so to speak.
I vaguely remember the first time I saw the scene, but the thing was, the next night I decided to find the scene and watch it again. I did it again other nights and soon realized I had sort of an obsession and I can't say how many times I watched it. No, I didn't touch myself or anything, and for a long time it didn't seem to be arousing me. I did sometimes recall moments from the scene, the pretty woman losing herself to sensation. And finally, I did start to feel the need to touch myself, and then came the time I realized my hands had been "sneaking" over my body.
And that brought me up short. I admitted my obsession to myself and began to wonder what it meant. And wondered who I could possibly talk with about the whole thing. I found myself afraid to watch it again.
Theresa was no good. How do you tell your best girlfriend that you're wondering if you're lesbian? Mom--impossible. I found myself wishing I'd had a sister yet wondered if that would have solved my problem. I guess it was inevitable that I should think of Steve.
You see, we'd managed the impossible. We'd broken up amicably, realizing we weren't right for each other, then stayed friends afterwards. We didn't hang out or anything other than seeing a movie together a couple of times when we were both unattached, but we were always there for each other and there were occasions when it was really good having a guy you could trust to talk to about a relationship problem. And so there I was, but despite all, I still wondered whether I had the nerve to say it.
The coffee came. "So," said Steve in a questioning tone. I realized the small talk was through.
I think I'm gay. I recited the words once again in my head, still unable to voice them. His face still looked questioning. "This is hard," I said.
"Now you have me wondering," he said. "Look, I can see you have to get this out."
I took a deep breath. "Do you think I could be lesbian?"
He smiled in genuine amusement. Maybe I looked embarrassed or something because he suddenly looked solicitous. "I'm sorry, but I'm guessing you've made up worries out of thin air again. Tell me about it."
Well, he did look serious, and I certainly knew him to be trustworthy, so I did as he said, briefly, but honest about the way that scene had me captivated. "You say it doesn't actually arouse you?" he finally asked. The one thing I had left out was the feelings I'd started to notice and I guess knowing I'd kept quiet about that made me mute at that moment. "You're having trouble telling me this, aren't you?" he said.
"I guess so."
Then he said, "Have you talked to Theresa? This is probably a better conversation to have with someone--female."
"That's the problem," I said, and explained.
He thought for a moment. "Why don't you talk to Julia?" Julia was his current girlfriend. Not that I saw her a lot and we certainly got on all right, but there always had to be something a little bit strange when I interacted with his girlfriends. You can't suppress every bit of the past. "Really," he added. "She's cool. And she can be objective. Yep, talking to Julia is definitely the right thing to do."
I can't say the idea appealed to me. Like I said, Steve and I were friends and I got along with Julia all right but in the real world, you really don't like to admit confusion to the woman who is dating your ex. But there was some sense to it too, and I had to admit, there was something comfortable about talking to someone not quite so close to your own life.
So it was the next night that I found myself in the same coffee shop, facing Julia. She listened patiently while I told my story, I'll give her that. And she never smiled at me. "I think I understand your confusion," she said.
I didn't answer, but soon wondered what I was looking for. Would she say something that would solve all my problems? "So now what?" she said, "Am I supposed to tell you whether you actually are lesbian?"
I smiled. "I'm sorry," I said.
"Why don't I watch the scene?" she said.
Obviously I was careful not to touch myself. I glanced at Julia a couple of times but felt if I got caught that it might look weird. She stared at the screen the whole time. I shut it off and we were both quiet for a minute, Julia still staring straight ahead. "Well," she finally said, "that really was something."
She still stared at the empty screen, but finally turned to me. "Does she look like your friend Theresa?" she asked.
"The friend you told me you were afraid to talk to."
I felt Julia was way off. "No," I said. "Well, they both have brown hair. But..."
"Do you have a picture of her?"
I thought about it. No, I'd never imagined the woman was Theresa or anything like that and I no, I wasn't sexually attracted to Theresa and it seemed Julia was off on a tangent. But I had asked Julia for advice so I decided to go along with her and I found a snapshot of me and Theresa. Julia looked at it. "Have I met her?" she said.
I seemed to recall some occasion when they'd both been around but as I said, Julia and I didn't really hang out together or anything like that. Julia stared at the snapshot the whole time I was explaining. "She's pretty," she finally said. It was beginning to bother me. I didn't know where her mind was going but it seemed way off. Finally she looked up at me. "Let's watch it one more time."
I was decidedly uncomfortable. Yet it didn't seem too much to ask. There was something about the way she'd suggested it though that made me worry. I got the remote and started running it backward. "Maybe we could have something to drink first, a beer--or wine?"
"What?" I was shocked.
"Well it's obvious you are getting all uptight about it all. You need to relax." To relax while I was watching the video? She smiled. "See? You're way too worried about all this."
I found myself thinking fast. This was all just a little bit weird. "I don't think..."
Something in her face brought me up short. It was as if I were demonstrating exactly what she was talking about, whatever that is. "Relax," she said. "You've got some wine around, right?"
"Sure," I said, but I'm sure my voice had more questions than answers.
"Good," she said and waited, obviously for me to get it. And I gave it up and went hunting for it, still completely unnerved by it all. And wondering exactly what Julia thought. She smiled when I returned with glasses and a bottle. "You look like it's your own funeral we're preparing for," she said. "You definitely need a drink."
She took the remote and started the tape once we'd each had a sip. "Now she knows how to relax," she said as we watched. The first time, we'd both watched in total silence and the fact that she'd actually say something unnerved me all the more. The woman in the movie began to run her hands up and down her body, over her breasts. Of course it was all so familiar, I knew each moment. "Let's unbutton our blouses," said Julia.