A few years ago I had a position for a local company that involved training the employees of our clients. I hate being so vague, but you know, anonymity.
Most of the people I trained were pretty young. Once I walked into a client's place of business and saw a pretty, young girl sitting at a table, waiting. Being the fine, upstanding gentleman I am, I immediately started thinking about how I would strike up a conversation before my work was over. I talked to the owner of the place, and he said, "We only have one person for you to train, actually... she's sitting out front." Awesome.
She was 17 or 18, she was extraordinarily pretty and let's call her "Rowena." Rowena had dark eyes, elfin cheekbones, and a luscious mouth that showed a row of beautiful straight teeth when she smiled. She was a bit on the short side — positive points in my book — with a natural curve in her spine that made her lower abdomen push out in front and her rear in back. It's the kind of physique that screams sex without huge breasts or long legs.
I'm not sure how I kept it together so well during that training session. Because when she came into our place of business for the customary follow-up session, I almost totally lost my cool. I was showing her how to perform some basic operations, and I kept leaving off mid-sentence, totally unable to remember what I was trying to say. It went like this: Looking her in the eyes and seeing her looking up at me with that "teach-me" expression, looking back to the work and beginning my explanation, then suddenly forgetting everything I was trying to say, stammering for a moment, then looking back at her and saying... "Um..."
I did this at least three or four times. The training lasted a couple hours. It was afternoon on a bright, sunny summer day. I told her I was gonna go walk around in the park with a coffee and that she should come with me. She agreed, and after a while we ended up sitting on the grass. I can't quite remember exactly how I made the move, but I know it came naturally at the time. We kissed there on the grass, and after a while, strolled to my place (nearby), where we made out in the kitchen and on my couch.
She was a strikingly attractive girl, one of the three or four most naturally beautiful women I've been with. It didn't hurt, of course, that she was so young, spilling over with charm and sparkle and freshness.
I never saw Rowena again that summer. It was, in fact, a little over a week before I was to leave that job and that city to move to New York. I had already told her my situation (i.e. I didn't just up and leave without a phone call or anything like that). I contacted her once when I was home visiting my family for Christmas but she never got back to me.
Flash forward four years. I'm back in that city once again. I go into a local business — in fact, that same local business I used to work for — and there she is behind the counter. I recognized her, but couldn't place her at first. Her hair had changed, four years and many women had gone by in the meantime...
Many women. You, dear reader, don't yet realize how true that is. I'm getting there.
One thing I noted with dismay was her awful hipster hairdo. She still looked very cute, cute enough for the hipster pigeon's nest to be the self-handicapping of the natural beauty. But there was a general rattiness about her appearance and an incipient general slovenliness.
Back to many women. You see, on a return visit, I finally placed her. (Is your name Rowena? ...Yes, and you're Dogen). I pointed out a charm she wore on a chain around her lovely neck.
"That's a nice charm."
"Thanks. My partner gave it to me." She paused and gave a slow nod, as if to say, Yes, that's exactly what it sounds like.
"Ah! I see," I said. We both smiled and she seemed to blush a little.
"She has a matching one," said Rowena, just in case I didn't get the picture. After a moment, finding myself flat-footed again (what was it about this girl?) I ended by smiling and saying, "Well, it's lovely."
I see Rowena from time to time, but never in a social setting. Once I had a chance to get over her new-found lesbianitudishness, naturally I reverted to my default charming self. You know the drill (or you should): eye contact, a smile, teasing, general friendliness paired with the occasional withdrawal of my approval. I saw the flame of attraction in her eyes, but the opportunity to act on it never came up, and her self-proclaimed lesbian taken-ness complicated the whole thing.
Just the other night, I ended up having drinks with Rowena and some mutual friends. It wasn't a planned outing, just happened to run into each other. We spent some time talking one on one. We went outside for a cigarette. She mentioned casually her girlfriend, to which I said, "Oh yeah, how's that going?"
"It's ok. I mean, it's still going. I just, you know, it's not that serious."
I nodded, offering nothing.
"What about you?" she said after a moment. "You have anybody special."
"Nah, not really. I mean, it's complicated." I smiled.
"Ahhhh! You're giving me that look again," she said and laughed nervously, and looked back. That was the moment, the moment to go in for the kiss. But to my shame, dear readers, I didn't.
You see, I left out one complicating factor. Among our little group that night was her co-worker. This woman, somewhat pretty but nowhere near Rowena's league, is a true-believer ACLU, feminist, suspicious of all happiness or success. She always gave off a vibe of monitoring Rowena's behavior, making sure she didn't break with the sisterhood or anything. Classic cockblock.
Here's my read: Rowena had invested a lot of social capital in her "identity" as a lesbian. It's the kind of thing that is met with wild approval in towns like this one. People call you brave, forgive your every shortcoming, and generally fall over themselves to be friendly to you, if you simply announce you are gay. By not just fooling around with girls, but getting a "partner" and wearing her partner's charm, Rowena had publicly claimed a gay identity.
Here she is now: 21 years old, having doubts about her "partner", most likely having doubts about being a "lesbian," but surrounded by waves of people that call her brave for being gay, by people who show open bitterness and resentment of mainstream culture (like her coworker), and also surrounded by waves of the most mewling, pathetic, shoegazer betas you could imagine (those of you who have spent time on the West Coast or in North Brooklyn know what I mean).
And here she is now, one of the crown jewels of American women. An easy 9, only 21 years old, with an easy laugh and a naturally friendly personality. America may not have many truly worthwhile women left in her decaying corpse. But it's a big corpse, and there are bound to be a few. And here's Rowena... the 21 year old beauty, with her mixed blood, her bright eyes, her friendly demeanor, her sweetness, her wonderful little body, her attraction to men.... and she's chosen this cocoon-like lesbian existence from which there are few escapes. And everyone is telling her she's done the right thing, happiness be damned.
I may not be the right guy for Rowena, she may have only a casual and passing interest in me. Obviously she's attracted to me (we did make out, after all). But the way is very nearly cut off for her. Me, a guy who normally loves to charm women and make them happy in the push-and-pull of seduction — I was hesitating and temporizing because of the various roadblocks she has thrown up and now probably regrets. It's like the institutionalization of beta. You can fight it, but you better damn well pick your battles well.
I may run into Rowena alone tomorrow... we may get tipsy and get kissing and get naked for all I know. Or it may never happen, and she may become more and more entrenched in her social role, throwing away the most beautiful years of her existence as a female (she's 21 now), getting fat, getting covered in tattoos, getting bitter and becoming more and more reliant on the "community" of people that really just wants to claim her as one of their own and not offer anything back in the form of lasting happiness or love. If it's all an act (and that's only my suspicion, not an established fact), she'll realize it when she's already ruined goods, and start fishing for a beta to take her in before she completely hits the wall.
It's a little tragedy for me to not have kissed that girl the other night. It's another little tragedy — slightly bigger but still a blip in the big picture — that she may have very few chances to turn back before it's too late.