1. I played with dinosaurs instead of Barbies.
Brontosaurus was my fave.
2. I was always trying to kiss my friends.
At the age of seven, I kissed my neighbor Adriana on a trampoline. My idea.
At age 10, on a road trip to Big Sur, my friend Alice and I practiced kissing in the backseat while her mom drove. We put our hands between our mouths as a shield. The hand shield was her idea and I didn’t like it. I just wanted to kiss her. Alice’s other idea was to imprint fake hickeys on each other’s necks using the hotel shampoo bottles we’d emptied out. Our hickeys were perfectly circular.
At age 12, sitting cross-legged inside a closet — yes, a closet — I kissed my friend Sharon. We refer to this episode now as “heads or tails.” The first coin flip told us we would not be kissing. I said, “Three out of five.” The coins landed in my favor after that. Before we dove in, we said, “I hope our braces don’t stick together.”
3. I hated kissing my first boyfriend.
He licked my whole face like a dog and that’s why, horribly, I called him Dog-vid instead of David. (David, if you’re reading this I’m so sorry.) Getting David to be my boyfriend to begin with felt like a chore, and it wasn’t even my idea. In sixth grade, my friend decided we should get boyfriends. She went through the yearbook and picked them. Then she announced we would invite them to a pool party and make out with them. She made a time table and everything. I wanted to eat more pizza instead of kissing David, but carrying out the task seemed necessary. Later, David turned out to be gay.
4. My second boyfriend also turned out to be gay.
I remember him talking about how he wanted to get his belly button pierced, but on the bottom, not the top. I wonder if you ever did that, Rod.
5. In middle school, I had a huge crush on Bernadette Peters.
After seeing “Annie Get Your Gun” on Broadway, I bought all her CDs and listened to them on repeat and imagined Bernadette in various scenarios in which she was noticing me and then saving me.
6. I also had a crush on Alexandra Paul, the androgynous lifeguard on Baywatch.
7. I had crushes on my swim and soccer coaches.
8. Swimming was my least gay sport, becuase I also played water polo and soccer and every lesbian’s favorite: softball.
9. Now that I’m thinking about this, I’m realizing my list of early female crushes is kind of endless.
There were all those girls at school. I’d write the first initial of their names on the shower door, then wipe them off with my hand. A was for Ashley. I don’t remember the rest.
10. After those first two boyfriends in sixth and seventh grade, I didn’t have another boyfriend until — oh wait, I never had another boyfriend.
11. A dude I hooked up with when I was a teenager (he was my ecstasy dealer) asked me a question in bed. “Are you gay?“
Actually, a bunch of people asked me this question.
12. I was also asking it myself.
Now I know that if a person is asking the same question over and over and over again, it probably means something.
13. I hooked up with guys only when I was wasted.
This gave me an easy out every time. How could a person form conclusions about their sexuality when all their sexual experiences happened in a brown-out? For a girl who wasn’t ready to come out, this was a convenient way to live.
14. In high school, I mastered a favorite doodle.
It was either a hairy spider with only four legs or it was the back of a woman’s head going down on someone, and I might have imagined that someone to be another woman. I drew it really small in class so no one would see, then scribbled it out just in case.
15. I had a lesbian affair (duh).
When I was 17, I met a former stripper and self-named exhibitionist at my hair salon. She was the receptionist, and she was 25 and married, and she liked me touching her. We did a lot of drugs together and also a lot of heavy petting. One time, my high school doodle turned into a reality. During the time that I knew her, I remember telling my friends, “Don’t put me in a box.”
16. Sometimes I’d tell myself I found a man attractive from afar.
But then if he got closer and talked to me, I was over it. Too much hair.
17. I found something wrong with every man in existence.
Not enough hair.
18. My roommate in college used to say that her favorite part of a man’s body was where the abs met the hip bones.
Like when their board shorts are riding low, you can really see it. I didn’t relate to this at all.
19. Meanwhile, I had a huge crush on that roommate, and we slept together when drunk for many years.
It was a nighttime-and-cocktails-only relationship, the perfect kind to have when you’ve got one toe out of the closet.
20. I called my siblings and said, “I’m gay!”
But right after that, after I’d sobered up, I went back into confusion. I continued dating men — or trying to. It would take me 4 more years to make a list just like this and go, “Oh.”
21. I avoided all lesbians in existence because they scared me.
22. When I went to a gay club for the first time, I cried on the dance floor.
23. In my dreams, during the day and at night, there was always a woman and never a man.
24. When a man wanted to have sex with me sober on a Sunday afternoon, I almost had a panic attack.
Then went to the store and bought a bottle of vodka.
25. We didn’t sleep together, obviously.