Before I get into the heart of this post, I must comment on what it’s like to type the word “ain’t.” I use it occasionally in vernacular speech, if I want to sound blue-collar-cool, or make some kind of point. But I wonder if I’ve ever actually written it before. If I have, I must have been on my second martini, and even then I’m not sure…I asked myself, do I capitalize? (Yeah, because it’s a verb – DUH!) And then, where does the apostrophe go? (OK, probably between the “n” and the “t,” taking the place of the “o” in not.) But why? Because then that leaves the “ai.” What the hell is “ai”? Other than part of a melancholy mariachi song, or the lament of my Jewish grandfather (the one who fed me ice cream, not the one who fed me wine.)
But I digress…maybe because it’s easier to talk about “ain’t” than it is to talk about lesbianism…
To recap, in a previous post I told the story of how my mom discovered me engaging in girly kissy fun and asked, “Are you a lesbian?” I just plain didn’t know. It took a few years, but I would find out.
I’d always been interested in the opposite sex. There was my experience at age four with doing my first burlesque (by request, of course) for a couple of neighborhood boys. That same year in nursery school came my first “boyfriend,” a kindergartner who was undaunted by the chain link fence that separated us. Then there was my smooth paramour in third grade. So I definitely had a history of interest in the male sex. But after my mom’s question, I wondered, and I needed to find out. Only how?
Things got worse before they got better. The next boyfriend in junior high took me on my first actual date – to a school concert. Jimmy and I were both pretty shy, so the walk home was filled with anxiety about whether/when there would be a kiss. He didn’t wait for my doorstep. Instead, a forsythia bush in the local park became his Waterloo. Suddenly he turned to me, grabbed my shoulders and injected my epiglottis with his tongue. EWWW!!! I was in shock. When my mom asked if he had kissed me goodnight, all I could do was lurch to the bathroom. Several more walks in the park ended in the same result. I was pretty sure that I might be a lesbian.
Then there was Mitch, the teenage “Boy from New York City” that I met during a memorable summer in the Pocono Mountains. I was only 13, but somehow I ‘won’ him from another girl who was 15 and had actual boobs. But before we had our first kiss, tragedy struck: I was a passenger in a near-fatal car accident. My face and teeth were injured. The next time I saw Mitch, I had stitches, swelling, gold frames around my front teeth, and shattered self-esteem. He reassured me and even gently tried to give me that first kiss, but it left me cold. And then I was sure – OMG, I AM a lesbian.
I liked to kiss girls. And I didn’t like to kiss boys. I was hideously deformed. And right around the corner was high school.
(Licking the Spoon, my book in progress about food, sex and relationship, discusses how teenage terrors about sexual identity or body image issues can derail a person’s access to future pleasure and intimacy – and how she can recover, even years later.)
(To be continued, including the answer I was looking for…)