26 Mart 2023

Bi All Means

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She called his number. It had been almost a year since he’d given it to her; he an attractive stranger at a party who didn’t know who she was, or he probably wouldn’t have pursued her in the first place. It wasn’t often that Anna left her insulated world of feminism and women’s groups. She had been invited by a distant friend from the S/M scene to a party and, since Shane was in the States for a week, she had said yes. It had been a long time since she’d been to a party filled with eligible bachelors, and even though she wasn’t available, she had talked and flirted with them anyway.

It was a breath of fresh air really, to be seen through a different lens. None of the men at that party, including John, whose number she had taken, thought twice about her sexual preference. It had been refreshing to be seen as a woman who would flirt with a man. That was only a small part of her, of course, but for the past two years she had been viewed only as part of a unit, Anna and Shane, Shane and Anna. Anna who majored in women’s studies and spent her days defending gay marriage and her nights sleeping with a woman.

She heard the ring tone, the soft crackling of her cell phone connection. He picked up. A muffled, “Hello?”

“Hi, John?” she said, “This is Anna, Anna Sawyer.” An awkward pause. Anna sighed, “You probably don’t remember me. We met at Taylor Caniglia’s party last June. You asked me to call you…”

“Oh. Of course I remember you,” he chuckled—mellow, “You know, I was hoping you’d call last June, I didn’t mean for you to wait a year.”

“I know. I’m sorry about that. I was just—well occupied for a while there. You must think I’m crazy.”

“Maybe a little,” he said. She thought she heard him smile on the other end of the line. “In any case, what can I do for you, Anna Sawyer?”

“Umm.” What the hell did she want anyway? What was she doing? ” I was wondering if you’d like to go out. Tonight.”

He laughed out loud. “Tonight? You wait 11 months to call me and you want to set a date for tonight?”

Her cheeks flushed and she was struck with relief that he couldn’t see her. She almost hung up on him when he said, “Absolutely. I’d love to meet you tonight. There’s a bar right around the corner from me. ‘t Arendsnest. You know the one?”

“Yeah, Herengracht, right?”

“Yep. Meet you there at 9:30?” he chuckled again.

“Sure. 9:30,” She replied.

“Ok then, bye.” And that was that. She flipped her cell phone closed and held it to her forehead, letting out a sigh. Really, what was she doing? It had been only a couple of weeks since Shane had left for San Francisco. They had moved to Holland together, on an adventure to find the most liberal, gay-friendly place in the world. But Shane could only put law school off for so long, and when she had asked Anna to come back to the States with her, Anna, for some reason which now escaped her, had said no.

Was she honestly this crazy, to call up a complete stranger whom she hadn’t seen in a year? She thought yes, and then the voice came back to her, “You don’t really still consider yourself bi, do you?” It was meant to be rhetorical, a comment made by a friend of Anna’s earlier that day while they were out for coffee. Seeing the shock on Anna’s face, her friend had tried to justify herself, “I mean, it’s just that you were with Shane for so long. And everyone knows you’re a big women’s studies dyke.”

“I had a boyfriend in high school.” Anna had said, a weak defense to her friend’s barrage.

“Well, didn’t we all?” her friend had rebutted. “You didn’t have sex with him, did you?” Instead of answering, Anna just played with her tiny coffee spoon.

She tried not to let the comment bother her. She knew women in Holland who would go along with a statement like that totally unfazed. Women who knew themselves as bisexual but allowed people to call them lesbians without a blink. Perhaps it was her childhood in the red states of the US that made her so picky, but Anna just couldn’t deal with being mis-named.

She had been thinking of calling John anyway. The worn slip of paper with his number on it had been sitting next to her phone for a week now, daring her to call it. That comment was all she needed to be motivated. Not that she felt she had something to prove, but it had gotten her thinking about herself, about her identity, about all the sexual experiences she’d thought she would have and hadn’t had yet. It made her think it was about time to start having them.

As she was getting ready, Anna studied herself in the mirror. She tried to imagine how John would see her, how he had seen her at that party. She was so used to Shane’s expectations, not to mention the expectations of all their queer friends, that it was hard to imagine how John would see her. When she had cut her hair last winter, Shane and her friends exclaimed, “Finally!” where Anna’s mother, and her high school friends, when she visited, made awkward comments or harangued her for giving up her femininity. beşiktaş escort Would John react the same way?

It had been so long, Anna hardly knew how to be attractive to men. She looked through her closet, at first wondering if each piece was too dykey, too radical, too masculine. That’s enough, Anna. She thought. If John found her attractive a year ago, he would find her attractive now, and who was she to change her appearance for a guy? Feminist sin it was. She chose a slinky red top that tied in the back and black pants. She wore makeup and dangling red earrings but spiked her hair in a “fuck the patriarchy” kind of way. She loved this part of herself, she thought as she caught a glimpse of herself in the entryway mirror, the subversive, political, rebellious part. Then she realized that this was the exact outfit she would have worn for Shane anyway.

Anna walked into ‘t Arendsnest at 9:45. She had planned on being early so she could settle in before John showed up, but then she always planned on being early and always ended up being late. She was afraid she wouldn’t recognize him. She glanced around the bar anxiously upon entering, but within a second she had spotted him. She recognized him immediately. Blue eyes with a teal ring around the iris, dark brown hair immaculately styled with that hint of metropolitan, Euro-chic. A five-o’clock shadow shading his strong jaw, muscular arms, large hands and impeccable taste in clothing. Anna suddenly realized how much she must have been in love with Shane to pass up such a prospect.

“Well, hello,” John said as she approached.

“Hi,” she said, blushing. She hated that. She was always blushing at exactly the wrong moment. “I’m surprised you were free.” He pulled out a bar stool for her and she sat next to him.

“Hey, I said I’d like to go out with you. I haven’t changed my mind. You cut your hair.”

She touched her head. “Yep. Wanted a change, you know.”

They talked about their mutual friends, about work and movies and George W., about the things they missed about the US and the things they loved about Holland. Then he asked. “So why did you wait so long to call? Why now?”

She had known it was coming but suddenly she didn’t know what to say. She hadn’t come out in such a long time. She’d been so obviously queer in college, and in her women’s organizations, and with Shane, it was a shock to not be read as a lesbian. But then she never was read for what she was.

“I was actually in a relationship at the time,” she said, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, I just really liked you and well, it was impossible…” The loose edge of the label on her beer bottle suddenly became very interesting to Anna.

“So you kept my number for all this time?” He asked, putting his hand over hers, gently wrestling the bottle away from her.

Their eyes met. What beautiful eyes. Like the ocean in an ad for a Tahiti vacation package. “Well yes. I found it in my wallet a couple of weeks ago.”

“After you broke up with your boyfriend.”

“No. Well yes, I had just broken up with my girlfriend.”

“Oh. So you’re… bi?” he paused. Anna took the chance to smile confidently at him. Hell, she thought, that’s exactly what she was. And proud of it. “Cool,” John finished.

“No better way to be,” she smiled, and grabbed the bottle back.

As they walked to his apartment, he put his arm around her. It was so heavy, so strong. “I’m glad you kept it,” he whispered to her.

“Kept what?” she asked.

“My number,” he said. “Even after a year I was glad to spend an evening with you.” She smiled and snuggled in to his body. She could smell the scent of his deodorant, of his aftershave and his cologne. She loved the way men smelled.

She remembered the way her first boyfriend had smelled, like soap and smoke and Old Spice. He had known that she was bi, and had taken advantage of it for his own purposes. She blushed as she remembered kissing her female friend in the back seat of her car, her boyfriend’s idea of course. “Aren’t you jealous?” she’d asked him. “Of course not,” he’d said. “She’s a woman.” As naive as it may have been, she thought that she would marry him, that they would be high school sweethearts who stayed together forever. But after less than a year he proved her wrong. Heartbreak. She put her arm around John’s waist, under his jacket. Heartbreak was not something she needed to think about.

“Well, here it is,” he swung open the door, switched on the light, and set his keys on the console table.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. He looked at her, his gaze lingering. “Would you like a drink?” he asked.

“No, I’ve had plenty of those,” she said. He took her jacket, letting his fingers slide down her bare arms as he removed it. She turned around, touched his cheek with her fingertips. She kissed him.

Her passion took over. It was so different from the passion she had for Shane, which was nearly spent taksim escort by the end of their relationship. It wasn’t a bad thing, just comfortable. At the end of two years they knew each other’s bodies so well that passion had been replaced by comfort, laughter, love. They had been like an old married couple; at a certain point, getting along and having deep love and respect for one another was just more important than sex. Anna almost laughed at herself for how cliché she was being, but then she remembered what she was doing. Kissing John.

So many people had asked her what the difference was—Are female lovers more gentle? Did men use their tongues more? She couldn’t comprehend how to answer. Of course not. The roughest sex she’d ever had was with a woman (granted, it was in an S/M club) and some of the most delicate kissers she knew were men. John was right in between. He held her firmly in his arms, his right hand pulling her lower back into him, his left cupping her neck and the curve of her jaw. But his lips were so soft, and when she opened her mouth, his tongue slipped between her lips gently, as if he was trying to whisper a question to her. She took her jacket from his hands and dropped it on the floor of the foyer. Then she slipped his blazer from his shoulders. It fell on the floor behind him, a chocolate brown heap next to the soft black leather of her jacket. She smelled his cologne even more strongly now. She let her hands slip down from his shoulders to his chest. She felt the flat, hard strength of his muscles moving under his shirt.

She pulled at the top button on John’s shirt until it released, then the second and third came undone under her fingers. She ran her hand down his bare chest. Something about seeing the line of a person’s collarbones and the smooth skin below them always got to Anna. She remembered doing this very thing with Shane.

They had met two years earlier at a women’s discotheek. Anna hadn’t been looking for women, in fact at the time she had been totally hetero-oriented. She had gone because she didn’t like dancing at straight clubs. She felt safer in women’s bars because she wasn’t always having to avert the attentions of creepy men in whom she had no interest. Not that women couldn’t be creepy, but she felt that the ratio of uncomfortable conversations at women’s bars was far fewer.

She went to the discotheek with Afke, a close friend a big dyke whom she’d met at an organization for women’s issues in psychology. They’d hit it off right away over discussions of gendered diagnosis in psychotherapy, and Afke had gotten Anna involved in a lesbian activist group that became one of her favorite activities. Anna loved the people she met at the group, but she always felt a little uncomfortable there, like she was lying about herself. What if she got a boyfriend while she was going to the lesbian group? How would they react? It was a question that always ran itself through her mind on her way to their meetings. Even Afke was bi-phobic in her way, always referring to Anna’s high school years as her “straight period”.

In the discotheek, Anna had been dancing by herself, Afke having walked off with some Amazon-like femme, when Shane approached her. “Okay if I dance here?” she asked? Anna was struck. Shane was a beautiful woman; tall, blonde, with an angelically feminine face and green eyes. Her personality was anything but feminine. She wore a men’s button down shirt and jeans, as well as undeniable confidence, a trait that Anna couldn’t resist. Later that night, after Shane had agreed to come to Anna’s apartment, she had unbuttoned Shane’s shirt, one button at a time, exposing her soft white chest, the firm mounds below her surprisingly delicate collarbones…

John’s shirt may have reminded her of Shane, but his chest was different. Where the sloping lines of Shane’s smooth skin led to the soft curves of her heavy breasts, John’s chest remained flat and hard, the skin of his pecs more weathered, darker than Shane’s. She unbuttoned the rest of his shirt and opened it. She remembered a bisexual friend from university, Marie, who had mentioned that she was much more attracted to men than women. Marie had stayed away from lesbian groups and stuck mainly to straight circles, finding her female partners through swinger’s clubs and other forms of perversion. Anna had always respected her for her ball-busting approach to sexuality; Marie knew what she liked and couldn’t care less what anyone else thought about it. She was a person always open to learning more about sexuality (even though she was more of an expert on the subject than anyone Anna knew) and was always open to discovering new parts of her own desire. Standing in John’s foyer, their lips touching, their tongues dancing, and her hands pressed against the warm flesh of his bare chest, Anna understood what Marie was always going on about.

Anna felt John reach behind her back for the clasps that held her top. The back was etiler escort a mass of ribbons and ties. John pulled each one apart until a single tie held the top to her neck. He pulled it slowly, methodically, until the knot loosened and the shirt fell away from her body. John pulled back, looking into Anna’s face as he gingerly caressed the small of back, her stomach, her breasts. She touched him back, imitating his gestures, trying to feel him the way he felt her. He kissed her again, laughed, then picked her up. She laughed back, squished between his chest and arms as he leaned back so her feet wouldn’t drag on the floor. He carried her into the living room and laid her down on his couch. It was buttery leather, soft and warm against her skin. Nice.

“You know, I’m a little anxious about this,” he said.

“Why?” Anna asked, surprised. Generally, the men she met were anything but anxious about sex.

“Well, you’ve had lesbians for lovers. They’re supposed to be so good at this stuff,” he replied, matter-of-factly.

Oh, God. She knew something like this was coming. “Why do you assume I’ve had lesbians as lovers?” she asked.

He looked confused. “Well, you must have, right? Unless… well unless your girlfriend was bisexual.”

“Why is that so hard to believe?” she asked.

“Was she?” he asked.

“No, she was a big dyke.” His face was a mask of astonishment. Anna had to laugh. “It’s ok, I can say that. I am one.” She saw confusion again. This was not the time to explain the complexities of her identity to him. Still, how hard was it for a person to understand that a girl could consider herself both bisexual and a dyke, or even bisexual and a lesbian. She had gotten into the habit of calling herself a lesbian in reference to Shane while they were together. After all, she considered, she wasn’t in a ‘bisexual’ relationship, she was in a ‘lesbian’ one. The fact that the English language didn’t have a word for a bisexual involved with a woman (or with a man for that matter) was a pity, but Anna got to the point where it was just easier to refer to Shane and herself as ‘lesbians’ rather than ‘a bisexual and a lesbian’. She even enjoyed the word ‘dyke’. It held a political feel, and activist flare, that she identified with. No wonder her friend had commented on her apparent lack of bisexuality. Now that she was single again, her identity had started meaning more to her, which was probably why the comment had gotten to her that night. But it had led her to good things, so who was she to complain?

Ignoring the look of consternation on his face, Anna pulled John on top of her, feeling the weight of his body on hers. They kissed, long and deep. His leg was between hers and she could feel the heat in her body rise, the tingling between her legs begin. “Don’t worry,” she whispered, “I think you’ll do fine.”

Oh, boys. With that comment she saw herself as she acted around men, always saying things to massage their egos. She didn’t know if it was just the men she met that were like this, but she realized how different she and Marie were. Marie had always talked about how easy-going men were, how she could understand men so much better than women. She had said once that she thought her bisexuality was partly her manliness, her ability to think like guys and hence understand them better than she understood women.

Anna did not understand men. She liked men, and she was definitely attracted to them, but it seemed so much more common to meet wonderful women than wonderful men. Whenever people asked “Which do you like better?”, another question she found hard to comprehend, she said that she was equally attracted to men and women. But was that all that mattered, attraction? Certainly not. There were few men in the world that Anna could have a really good conversation with (just as for Marie, there were very few women) and there were even fewer men who didn’t offend her feminist sensibilities.

It was really so much more complicated than such a simple question, “Which is better?” For what? Anna always wanted to ask. It’s not like she just fucked every attractive person she saw on the street (although many people thought that was what bisexuality was all about). There were connections that needed to be made, conversations that needed to be had, and Anna seemed to find those conversations much easier with women. Besides, in her line of study, and with her activist nature, meeting straight men was easier said than done. It wasn’t that she wouldn’t have liked to have more relationships or more sex with men, she just hadn’t had the chance.

John unbuttoned her jeans, unzipped them. He smiled up at her as he pulled them off and threw them next to the couch. He kissed her foot, her shins, the inside of her knee. He opened his mouth and tasted her thigh, running his tongue all the way up to the line of her underwear. She put her hands in his hair, clasping the roots, trying to communicate through their skin. He kissed the elastic band of her underwear, then her belly, her chest. He ran his tongue over her breasts and she found it interesting that hers were the only pair in the room. She felt his desire for her body and it made her smile. She felt oddly in power as the only woman in the situation, as if what she had to offer was more valuable because of its scarcity.

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