The previous ghey story is here. I might make a series of these, with all of my anecdotal material. No homo.
This happened several years ago on a morning commuter train ride. Human memory for detail is capricious, and in this case I remember what everyone involved was wearing. The dramatis personæ in this story are me and two women, in their mid-twenties, who were facing me in the opposite seat. Oh, they were a lesbian couple, which was obvious. I wore dress pants, a white shirt and a tie, and a long, open black wool coat. The seat next to me was empty, so I sat comfortably doing a newspaper crossword puzzle. A description of the two girls is also key to fully characterizing the three-way dynamic that was about to develop among us.
The two were a classic butch-femme couple, with a twist. The man-role partnerette wore suit-pants and a modest white blouse. Let’s call her “Ellen” on account of her resemblance to the showbiz personality, except younger and with a better face. I’ll add that there was an air of benevolent intelligence about her. She spoke with a husky voice, consistent with her butch presentation. I’m not attracted to mannish women, even less so if they are lesbian, but I found myself non-sexually liking her.
The femme wore a long, orange dress with a white floral pattern. In contrast with the crisp, in-control vibe of her girlfriend, this one was a mess. Let’s call her “Splotchy Sue.” Imagine a wreck of a young woman — needy, insecure, fidgety, with darting little passive-aggressive eyes — and that’s her. She wasn’t bad-looking as far as her potential was concerned, but her skin had an unhealthy, ruddy quality. She was thin, but with no muscle tone. Long auburn hair that hadn’t been touched by shampoo in months. I don’t think she liked me.
Technically, we didn’t communicate, as we said nothing to each other. Hadn’t even made eye contact. I was there with my newspaper, they carried a soft conversation, barely audible over the steady rattle of the train. I didn’t look at them beyond the natural, blank, disinterested glance one gives people immediately in front of him. They just as indifferently looked at me as they faced forward.
The point of this story, though, is that communication is subliminal. I was aware of their physical presence and of their conversation. They were aware of my physical presence and of the fact that I could hear them talk. Such are the signals that human beings, as social creatures, send and receive on a subolfactory level. But Splotchy Sue shifted things into second gear because she really didn’t like me. Maybe I was her platonic ideal of a privileged White Male Republican, a youngish and arrogant one at that. Or maybe I reminded her of the Chad who indubitably once made her his passing plaything and in doing so, sealed her fate as henceforth broken. That is, by they way, why some women become lesbian — the sweet formative pain that imprinted upon them the essence of man makes all other men disgusting by comparison.
Splotchy Sue was trying to get under my skin. This was evident in her shift of conversation with her partner from the mundane to the political. Left wing talking points, in case you were wondering. I don’t remember the specific subjects that she brought up, except that she delivered them like a bad actress reading her lines. Communication is subliminal, and if I were an aura-reader, I’d see a hostile, crimson glow around her, darkening. I did “see” it on the hormonal level. That sad, slovenly girl wanted to hurt me.
All of this made Ellen uncomfortable because there was absolutely no such vibe of unfriendliness between me and her. In fact, we each regarded the other as someone that would be cool to have a drink with.
Splotchy Sue piled it on. Ever so innocently, ever so cringe. Ellen shifted uncomfortably in her seat and feebly essayed to snuff out each of her partner’s new apropos-of-nothing political statements. Anything to make the Sloppy One quit embarrassing her. Even worse than Splotchy Sue’s statements, were her questions. “Don’t you agree that [social justice item X] is important?” Frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever previously or since witnessed a more blatant case of someone trying to get under another person’s skin, mine.
There was nothing for me to say, it was their conversation. But it was obvious that I knew that they knew that I knew that I am listening with detached amusement, along with a tinge of commiseration with Ellen, who was visibly feeling awkward.
Splotchy Sue was unsatisfied with the results of her efforts at poking me. So she slammed it all the way to fifth gear. The bitch meant business. She made a hard turn toward a gay-related subject. Ellen meekly, pleadingly humored her and replied with the briefest platitude possible. The subliminal communication among the three of us was now at deafening volume.
Splotchy Sue goes for the kill: “If I were straight, I could see myself being very attracted to African-American men.”
Ellen’s eyes popped out. If she were sipping on coffee, she’d have sprayed it all over our seats. She grasped for composure, stammering out syllables that didn’t form words.
Similarly blindsided, I looked up from my newspaper, for the first time getting a good look at the two girls. Splotchy Sue glowed triumphant. Ellen, whose face had turned a deep shade of red (she had lovely skin, by the way), made eye contact with me. I couldn’t help myself, and smiled. She did the same. We didn’t burst out laughing but it was a close one.