Bruce R. Magee.
“Lesbians and Me —
A Straight(ish) Love Story”
“So why do you hang out with lesbians?”
“Did I ever tell you about my last date?”
Lesley shook her head.
“It ended in the cleaning products isle of the Natchitoches Wal Mart when I wouldn’t help her shoplift a Swiffer Sweeper.”
Lesa, who’d heard that part of the story, laughed.
Lesley said, “Wait, what?”
“What can I say? She likes clean floors. And it isn’t even that I’m above the whole Bonnie and Clyde thing. That’s kinda hot. But it would have to be something more than stick a 5-foot mop in my pants. Maybe something with diamonds? You know, a real heist.”
“But why did she want to steal a Swiffer Sweeper?”
“Maybe she’s working her way up to a vacuum cleaner. You know, start small.”
“Ah....soooo.....you drove from West Monroe to Natchitoches to give a woman a ride to Wal Mart?”
“Well, we went to supper first. It was either Mama’s or Papa’s on Front St., and that part went fine.”
“And then you took her to Wal Mart?”
“We were going to a bar after supper to dance and have some drinks, but she asked to stop by Wal Mart on the way.”
“So if you were taking her shopping, why not get her the mop?”
“Could not make myself do it. They wanted $60 for a piece-of-shit Swiffer Sweeper that doesn’t even clean the floor right. Plus I had bought her some stuff already, and I wasn’t feeling generous. I offered to get her a regular mop for $7, but she wasn’t interested in that. Looking back, she probably didn’t want the mop anyway — just to get the refund later.”
“And you just left her in the store?”
“Oh, yeah! I blocked... Shit! I can’t remember her name. But she kept giving me different names.”
“Angela! It was Angela. Maybe. Sometimes. I blocked Angela’s number on the way out of town and was laughing by the time I got to the interstate. I screened some calls from Natchitoches for the next several days, but they tapered off. I still have one message on my phone. I can’t bring myself to listen to it or delete it. So it just sits there.”
Of course it was never lesbians. It was lesbian. Lesa had sat down beside me on the first day of my first class at LSU in 1988. Or maybe I sat down beside her. It was still the era of Farrah Fawcett hair in the South, with whites and pastels making the Baton Rouge sun more bearable. Lesa wore black, lots of black. She sat with her ankles crossed and tucked under the desk, her Audrey Hepburn pixie cut accentuating her long neck. I found her elegant. She found me annoying. After a year, she finally warmed up to me, when I would walk her to her car after our night class. Thirty years later, here we were, together longer than we had been with any of our wives and lovers.
“Of course Jimmy Buffett was right — the Swiffer Sweeper Incident was my own damn fault.”
“How’s so?” asked Lesa.
“I knew how it would end the moment I laid eyes on her. Well, not the Swiffer part, but I knew it would be something like that.”
“¿Qué?’” Lesley inquired.
“Okay, so here’s what happened. Three weeks earlier I was in Natchitoches for a conference on the Underground Railroad in Louisiana. I went to the morning session, and it was really interesting. I used to think slaves had to escape to Canada, which would be really far for a slave fleeing Louisiana. Down here, they could go through Texas to Mexico, escape to the Caribbean, or sometimes just settle with local native tribes. So we walked down the hill to eat lunch at Maglieaux’s on the Cane. The air was nippy, but we sat on the deck in the sun and watched the river. It wasn’t long before a saw this woman sitting at the next table. She had a narrow face, shoulder-length brown hair, blue eyes, a gray t-shirt, and a striped jacket. But the main thing I noticed was how efficiently she was working through several boilermakers. She would hold her nose, throw back the whiskey in front of her, shiver all over, and then laugh. I think it was the laugh that got me.”
“So was it love at first sight?” Lesley laughed.
“It was something at first sight. I felt like I was watching myself put the moves on her. I didn’t know that I could still move that fast. Before I knew it, I had moved over to her table.”
“How’d you manage that?”
“It doesn’t hurt to pay for the drinks. The rest of the lunch is kind of a blur. What I do remember is how much I hated to leave Maglieaux’s and head back to the conference. It was like when Dorothy left Oz and woke up in Kansas. The color was somehow gone from the Natchitoches Events Center. I couldn’t focus on the program; the speakers sounded like teachers in Charlie Brown cartoons — wah wah wah. The conference was just as good that afternoon as it had been that morning. What was different was me. It was an interminably long 15 minutes; then my phone vibrated. Angela was texting that she was outside the Center.”
“Whoa! What? How?” they both jumped in.
“My girl’s got mad stalking skills! Of course, it didn’t hurt that I’d told her where the conference was.”
“Did you also give her your phone number?” asked Lesa.
“Definitely. I also got her phone number. As least the first one. She went through 6 phones in the 3 weeks I knew her.
“And you thought that was normal?” Lesa said.
“I don’t do normal. Anyway, I never dreamed she would text so soon. I was out of that room so fast you could have felt the wind on your cheek.”
“So where’d y’all go?” Lesa said.
“We just sat on the curb and talked. But somehow the colors were back. We sat there until the meeting was over any my ride Stewart came out. Then I helped her break into her trailer.”
“Why would she need to break into her own trailer?”
“She was behind on her rent.”
“And you just broke in?”
“After I payed what she owed to her landlord. He didn’t have the key on him.”
“You paid her rent? After knowing her a couple of hours? How much?”
“It was more like 3 hours. I paid him $400.00.”
“Shit!” broke in Lesley. “What were you thinking?”
Lesa looked at Lesley. “I’m not sure whether to worry that Brice would take advantage of her or that she would take advantage of him.” We all laughed.
“I think she got the better end of the deal that day,” Lesley replied.
“All those burner phones cost money,” Lesa said.
“And the gloves can add up, too,” I responded.
“I didn’t mention the gloves? She always wore blue surgical gloves. I think I have one somewhere.”
“Gloves? She was wearing gloves? Why?”
“I’m not really sure. I asked her, and she said it was some kind of psychological problem. I don’t think I was really listening. I had just filled up my car and was getting back in when I asked her.”
Lesa broke in, “But you were aware she wore surgical gloves when you met?”
“Oh, yes. She was wearing them when she was drinking the boilermakers.”
“And she wore them all the time?”
“All the time.”
Lesley brought the conversation back around. “So why not date a regular straight woman?”
“I tried going out with a normal woman. It was soooo boring. I was ready to chew my leg off to get away.”
“So what was wrong with her?”
“Nothing. The real question is, what’s wrong with me?”
“So just what is wrong with you?”
“I guess my picker is broke. I’m not very good at introspection. Better to stick with a lesbian. Since I can’t trust myself not to go crazy, I need somebody I can trust. I’ve known Lesa for 30 years. I know without a doubt that she’ll never wake up one day and want to have sex with me.”
“So you want a woman who doesn’t want you?”
“Exactly! Well, mostly. I also somebody who can talk me down when I’m about to do something stupid. For instance, Lesa, I recently met a woman who’d recently gotten out of rehab for cocaine and meth. She’s doing better, except that she was having trouble getting the meds regulated for her bipolar disorder.”
“Uh, oh no no no Brice!! NO!!” Lesa said firmly.
“And I’m thinking, wow, that’s hot.”
“Did I mention she’s a hippie?”
“Well, that’s a deal breaker. Gross.”
“Oh, I looove hippie girls. They were the college students who babysat me when I was an impressionable boy.”
“NO! You can’t help her, and it won’t be fun. Find a hippie who has her meds sorted out.”
“And that’s how we do it,” I told Lesley.
Lesley said, “But that’s not all of it. Remember when my friend Amy and I met up with you at the Abolish ICE protest back in June?”
“How could I forget? That was the hottest I got this summer.”
“When we went shopping in the French Quarter after the parade, you were all excited about buying stuff to give Lesa when you went to visit her later in the summer.”
“Right! I found those fleur-de-lis soaps in the perfume shop. And some Zatarain’s Crab Boil to take. I wanted to boil some Maine lobsters in the Zatarain’s, but Lesa wasn’t having it.”
“Cooking lobster in spicy crab boil is just wrong,” Lesa laughed.
“Well,” Lesley continued, “When we were on our way home, Amy said that you were totally in love with Lesa. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before.”
“Wow. Amy’s pretty smart. I’ve been telling Lesa that for years, but I’m not sure she believes me. And Amy didn’t even know about the pearl earrings I got for Lesa’s and my 30th anniversary. Or the bust of Marie Antoinette I got her last Christmas.”
Text Prepared By
- Bruce R. Magee
Magee, Bruce R. “Lesbians and Me — A Straight(ish) Love Story.” Louisiana Anthology. Web. 4 Dec. 2018.