It did not occur to me that since Nasim is from Iran, and only halfway fluent in English, that she might not know what a homosexual was. However, it DID occur to Samantha. Nasim had been very uncomfortable with men living in the house, and Samantha did not see me as any less of a threat… and good for her. It’s not that I thought I would ever hit on Nasim, but I might unintentionally make her feel nervous even with a compliment such as, “you look nice today.” Because for someone who doesn’t know what a homosexual is, they might be prone to think that I am a predator. I am inappropriate, loudmouth, and rarely think before I speak (and even when I do, see “inappropriate” for details). To someone who comes from a country where they kill people for being gay, Samantha thought it was easier to talk to them early. And by “them,” she meant both Nasim and her best friend Sahar, because she was originally living in my room, moved out to live with her boyfriend, and is now moving back into Courtney’s room (or at least, tentatively she is taking over Courtney’s room. At this point, it’s not solid.). Sahar is as lively and funny as Nasim, and it is hilarious to see them together. At first, ironically, I thought Nasim was gay, because Sahar stayed in her room overnight and I didn’t know that straight girls did that. I mean, at 14, ok. As adults? Not so much. But no. It would never occur to them to have sex with each other. First of all, they’re straight. Second of all, they’re Muslims. When Samantha told Hayat that she needed to talk to them, that’s when she found out that they were completely oblivious to me.
I could have “played straight” unknowingly for years, depending on how long it takes me to get over the two rabbits I was chasing and the grief when I realized I’d never catch either one, because they ran in opposite directions. I am talking to a Sri Lankan nursing student on Tinder, but at this point, it’s just a few lines of chat a day. No forward motion is happening, and I like it that way. I am looking for jobs, and she is in finals hell. It just feels good to have someone to text “good morning” that also texts back in kind. I have gotten used to being single, and at this point, it’s what I need more than anything. She’s ten years younger than me, and Samantha said, “you DO like ’em young.” I said, “I just swipe. It’s not dependent on who I like. It’s dependent on who texts back.” She said, “point well taken.” My age range on Tinder is like, 27 to 47 or something like that. I don’t care about age. I care if you’re a dumbass. If you can’t hold my attention intellectually, please take your fries and drive through. The thing that got me with this girl is that I asked her what her last final was in, and she said “pharmacology.” She passed the “not a dumbass” test with flying colors. We shall see what we shall see, but again, I’m not looking for anything but the first and last text of the day. Anything other than that is just icing.
If you think that I am moving on fast, first of all, shut the hell up. Second of all, I mourned Dana for the last two years of our relationship, because I could see the changes in both of us and how we were both letting go of each other while I was wrapped up in Internet crack. By the time I called it, we were still best friends, and even still attracted to each other, but being married was a whole different endeavor. Besides, remember that Dana is the one that when I’d calmed down after our fistfight enough to see reality again, didn’t want to get back together in the first place. She could see the horrible fighting patterns we’d developed just as clearly as I could. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with flirting with other women, because I am well enough to know my own limitations. I cannot start a hot and heavy relationship until I can really say that grief is at least almost behind me, and not an ever-present deluge.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
Hayat and Samantha did not know I was gay when I arrived, or if they did, they did not say anything to me. That is because our neighborhood is easily 40% homo, and it’s just not a deal. Yes, that’s right. I randomly picked a place to live and ended up in the gayest neighborhood in town. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a gay person from our porch (well, maybe for the purposes of this essay, that was inappropriate………… see “inappropriate” for details). Because of the neighborhood, it seemed implausible that Nasim did not know what a gay person is. However, because she doesn’t have a word for it, she would never even think that someone wasn’t a heterosexual to begin with. It tickles me that Rhonda & Ann come over to our house and sit on the porch with us and it still doesn’t click, because if you look up “dyke” in the dictionary, it’s just a picture of me and Rhonda. Thank God Samantha was on her toes.
Hayat’s approach was to tell them not to look at me as bad or wrong or anything like that, because I would be able to pick up on their distaste. She said, “Leslie will feel the same way you do when you wear your hijab in public and people stare at you.” It was the most perfect conversation ever, and I wish that Samantha had recorded it, because I would have liked to hear that sentence in Hayat’s voice. But no, Samantha and I were on the front porch shooting the shit about anything and everything, watching the dogs and the gay people and the straight people all together.
Because together, “we all fruit.”