Hello, my name is Apathy, and I'm a lesbian. Apathy Brown. Not that being gay is something that needs a 12-step program -- it's just vital information for this narrative. My parents were hippies. 'Were' being the operative word. They aren't dead or anything, just not hippies. Dad's a stockbroker, and Mom is a DEA agent. Dad invests drug money, and Mom arrests drug dealers. She even arrested my dad once, but that's an entirely different story. Dad still won't use bar soap.
I don't really want to get bogged down with background information, but I suppose some is necessary, or this won't make sense. It might not anyway, but we can't have everything. At least, I don't think you can. I could be wrong -- after all, I did think the New Kids on the Block were cool for a brief period of time after an unfortunate incident involving Super Glue and a dead frog (don't ask).
Anyway, I came out a couple of months before my twenty-first birthday. My dad was a bit uncomfortable for a while, but he came around pretty fast. (I think Mom threatened to arrest him again.) Mom was like, "That's nice, dear. Pass the salt."
Shortly before then, I began dreaming of a girl with sunset hair and eyes so green you could electrocute yourself with them. I had the sense I'd meet her soon. I looked for her everywhere, but couldn't find her. I'd always been a fairly happy person -- well, as happy as a person can be with a name like Apathy -- but after the dreams started, I felt empty and alone. So I started researching gay hangouts in my area. Not surprisingly, there weren't any close by. I suppose I should mention I live in Kansas, which isn't exactly a hot bed of open homosexuality. The closest gay bars were in our fine state's capitol, Topeka, ninety miles away. When I turned twenty-one, I drove up to Topeka and began making the rounds -- a different club every Friday and Saturday night.
On the fourth night, I found her at Hunter's Moon, a popular bar and grill. She was sitting alone at a small table near the dance floor, nursing a bottle of something and reading a book. I felt something shift inside me (it was probably gas, but dammit, this is my story and I'll be sappy if I want to) when I saw her, and I knew it was the woman in my dreams. I had to get to know her.
The next few bits of this story are extremely embarrassing to admit to. I'd never had a girlfriend -- or even a boyfriend -- before; not even a crush, so I had no idea how to approach her. I'd spent ages writing pickup lines -- I'd heard my parents and their friends talking about their misspent youths. I should have listened closer. I probably would've saved myself a lot of embarrassment.
I went up to the bar and ordered a nonalcoholic beer. Gathering my courage, I went over to her table with a lot more confidence than I actually felt. I tried out a line I'd heard never failed. "Hey, honey, what's your sign?"
Without looking up, she replied flatly, "Occupied."
For once I was glad my mouth kicked in without consulting my brain because my mind was blank. "Mine too. Do you mind if I sit here occupying myself with staring adoringly, but silently, at you?"
"I'm seeing someone," the other girl said.
I smiled charmingly. "Of course you are. I'm standing right here."
She looked at me for the first time. "You aren't going to leave me alone, are you?"
"Sure I will, if you really want me too. But give me an hour or eighty to dazzle you with my charm, and if you still don't want me, I'll leave you alone," I bargained hopefully. Things were *not* going as well as I thought they would. She was supposed to fall for me as quickly as I fell for her. (Well, my parents always said I was clumsy.) But surely she'd like me once she got to know me. I just had to be persistent, yet patient.
"I'm three-quarters done with my book, and I kinda want to finish it before I have to go. If you really want to watch me read, I guess you can sit down. But if my girlfriend comes in before you leave and pokes out your eyes, don't come running to me," she said impatiently.
Well, it wasn't a declaration of undying love, but at least she wasn't telling me to get lost. It was a start. "Okay," I replied, sitting down. She went back to her book, and I quietly sat and watched her. I could wax adolescent about her perfection, but you probably don't really care and I sound pathetic enough as it is.
We didn't speak again. She left an hour later, I guess to find her girl, if she really had one. I hoped I ran into her again. I was afraid to ask for her number or if she'd be back next weekend. I didn't want to be totally shot down. She had been barely tolerating me as it was.
I couldn't stop thinking about her all week I planned out what I'd say if I saw her again, and kicked myself for not saying more when I had the chance.
I went back Friday night, and she was there. She was at the same table, but reading a different book. I got a beer and approached her cautiously. I wasn't at all certain what sort of reception I'd get.
"I must be dead, cuz you look like an angel," I said softly.
"How do you know I'm not a demon?" She replied, not looking up from her book.
I wasn't quite sure how to respond, but bravado hadn't failed me yet. "You don't have horns, but don't worry. I'm horny enough for both of us;" I leered, then blushed furiously. "God, even I can't believe I just said that. I'd blame the beer, but it's non-alcoholic, and I've only had three sips anyway."
She looked up. "You come to a bar to drink non- alcoholic beer?"
"I have to drive home."
"Why don't you just call a cab?"
"I live in BumFuck, Egypt ninety miles away."
"You drive ninety miles just to go to a bar?" She asked incredulously.
"There aren't any gay bars closer. If I wanted to get pawed by some asshole guy, I'd chain myself to a prison's gates. I'd probably get a better one."
For the first time, she laughed. It was the best moment in my life to that point. I am *so* pathetic.
We followed the same pattern for the next two months. Every Friday and Saturday night she was there when I got there, and I approached her with my best lines. She'd pop off some smart remark or simply laugh -- or both. Sometimes we talked a little before she went back to her book. While she read, I looked around or stared at her. Her girlfriend never came in.
The ninth weekend, I slipped in a song lyric, just for a change. "If I told you you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?"
She began crying. I was startled, to say the least. I didn't think it was *that* bad. I've never been good with crying people. I awkwardly patted her shoulder. It didn't help. I kinda panicked. "Hey, it's all right. I won't do whatever it was again, if only you'll stop crying," I said desperately.
"Lindsay went fishing on our anniversary," she sobbed.
"Fishing?! She'd rather fish than spend time with you?! What kind of idiot is she?!" I exclaimed, amazed.
She sniffed, giggling a little in that it's-not-really-funny-but-I-don't-want-to-cry-anymore way. "Thank you for saying that. You know, you've paid more attention to me lately than she has -- and she's supposed to be my girlfriend."
"Then she's a fool. But maybe you should try talking to her about your feelings. She could just be misguided." I know you're probably calling *me* a fool for not taking the opportunity to tell her how I'd be a much better girlfriend, but I didn't want to play that way. She needed a confidant, not a suitor. Besides, I'd always had good luck with reverse psychology.
"I've tried, but it doesn't do any good. She thinks if we had sex, then everything would be okay."
Yes! She wasn't sleeping with the bitch. "I think that's probably a common assumption." I couldn't believe I was giving relationship advice. Talk about the blind leading the blind!
"Do you believe that?"
"No. But I've never been in a relationship, let alone had sex."
"Really? I never would've guessed," she said, surprised.
"I wanted to wait until I found The One," I explained, shrugging.
"That's it exactly!" She exclaimed, pounding the table with one small fist. Her face crumpled. "Before I met you, I was sure she was it, but now... I'm not so sure. No matter how much I ignore you, you drive, what, three hundred, four hundred miles a week just to try to get my attention. I complain about my current relationship, and you don't try to take advantage of the situation. Lindsay won't walk two minutes to see me, or listen to me for thirty seconds. She never says anything romantic, or makes herself look foolish, just to make me laugh. I never noticed that before you." By this time, she was sobbing again. "Would you hold me?" She whimpered.
I was reeling, but clumsily complied, murmuring back, "Of course." I was shocked at how thin and fragile she was. The force of her personality made her seem larger. I suppose I should mention I'm tall for a woman. I'm something over six feet; I've never bothered with how much over. I used to be a beanpole, so I started lifting weights to bulk up. It worked. A lot of people seem small to me, but the girl in my arms would probably seem small to more normal-sized humans.
I don't know how long she cried. Several people started to come over to see what the matter was, but I waved them away. I apparently had what she needed, whatever that might be.
Finally, she stopped crying. I handed her a napkin from the dispenser on the table. She wiped her eyes and daubed at the tearstain on my shirt. "I'm sorry. I hope salt water comes out." She gave a watery chuckle. "I've never cried like that before."
"That's okay. I've never held anyone while they cried before." I thought a minute. "Or at all, actually."
She smiled shyly, but seriously. "Is your offer still open?"
I was puzzled. "What offer?"
"You offered to take me home with you once. I've been fighting it, but you won me over that first night. I want to be yours, not Lindsay's."
All right! I knew patience and charm would win her. I love being right. "It's still open if you're sure that's what you want."
"It is. Can I come with you tonight?" She asked hopefully.
"Of course. I'll call my mom to make up the guestroom. I did mention I still live at home, didn't I?"
"No. Will I cause a problem?"
"Nope. Mom wouldn't bat an eyelash if we danced naked on the kitchen table. She'd just ask us to wash the footprints off."
She giggled. "My mother would slap me for *thinking* about doing that."
"I have a very odd family. I'd try to explain them, but they have to be experienced," I replied wryly. "Will you be all right while I call?"
"Yeah. I'll wait right here."
I gave her a final squeeze and went in search of the pay phone. It didn't take long to find it and call home. Thank God for phone cards. I explained the situation to Mom, and after a little teasing, she agreed to get the guestroom ready. Our guestroom is actually a walk in closet off my room I never use, so we wheel in a cot when relatives come for visits. It's actually pretty comfortable.
As I was headed back, I saw a tall blonde standing over my girl. She was obviously quite angry. I was sure it was the infamous Lindsay. I'd be angry too if I lost a girl like that. Hopefully, nobody will ever steal her away from me. It would be too ironic.
I hurried over and asked my girl what the problem was. "Lindsay came to get me and is unhappy I broke up with her."
Lindsay turned to me and yelled, "You stole my woman! I'm gonna kick your ass!"
I shrugged. "So? You obviously didn't give a shit about her, otherwise she wouldn't have been sitting here crying on my shoulder." So I'm an arrogant bitch. Sue me.
Lindsay lunged at me. I causally stepped aside, sending her headfirst into a metal pole. She collapsed, unconscious. I turned to my girl and asked, "Are you ready to go?"
"Is she going to be okay?"
"Sure. I guess that'll teach her to tackle people." I wasn't as calm as I pretended. I hate fighting, but I hate bullies worse.
"I doubt it," she replied, putting on her coat and grabbing her book.
"You're probably right," I agreed, putting on my own coat.
As we were walking out, she tentatively slipped her hand in mine. "You know, it suddenly occurred to me that we've never introduced ourselves. I'm Patrice Morehead."
"Apathy Brown," I replied, waiting for the odd look and questions.
She just smiled. It was shaky, but it was a smile. "If this is your apathy, I can't wait to see your caring side."
For once I couldn't think of anything to say so I just squeezed her hand. Her face glowed in the light from the neon moon on the front of the bar and I thought she'd never looked so beautiful.
I started the car and looked back at the place it all happened. Suddenly, the neon moon flickered out, then winked back on fast enough to make a normal person claim hallucinations. But I knew. It was winking at me.