There is this girl in my yoga class, young, muscular, and green-eyed, who I sometimes look at the way an old dog will look at a rabbit. That’s mostly behind me now, chasing girls—I spend five minutes examining that adverb, taking it out, putting it back in. Mostly. The truth is, the reality of sex with girls is no longer something I have the energy for, but it was once so important to my idea of myself that I still sometimes feel flickers of interest. My body is haunted by bi-curious poltergeists, knocking quietly to see if I will knock back.
When I was adorably twenty, I was surrounded by all these gorgeous women, and there was something delicious about being the pursuer instead of worrying about whether or not I was being pursued. Not that I was shy around men (There was this one unspeakably sexy fry cook in the restaurant where I worked who only liked big girls and had no interest in my skinny ass, but I was always sidling around corners and trying to press my bones against his. I flat out asked him to do me in the walk-in after work. He declined.) With men, it all felt like a lot of waiting around, waiting for them to respond to my hints and suggestions. But with women, I spoke with fewer question marks. I was grabbier, more insistent.
Now, I have been on the pressured end of sex, the one who gets wheedled into having sex she doesn’t really want; Prickle-Dick comes to mind. But I have also been on the offensive line, pushing through hesitation for something that I wanted. This is not a comfortable fact, but it is a true one. I drew on an arsenal of guilt, flattery, and Quaaludes to get my way. For a time, I was even a member of one of the queer quasi-political action groups on campus. It was called, embarrassingly, BIAS. Short for: Bisexuals Achieving Solidarity. I find this acronym mortifying, by the way. Boobs I Am Seeking would have been much more honest. I went to those meetings to look for girls.
I went to the women’s college at Rutgers, so I knew plenty of lesbians, but they somehow knew to steer clear of me. There was a dyke bar down the road, and I borrowed someone’s ID to get in, but it wasn’t like the lesbian bars in the movies; it was just a lot of older women having a beer with their friends, laughing at me, the underage girl in hot-pants looking hopefully around.
Bisexuals are the agnostics of sexual world; I don’t think I have ever met one over the age of thirty. They have a tendency to drift to a side: men, for the women, and men, for the men. I find this depressing, because girls are awesome and beautiful and amazing and sexy. But it wasn’t even a consideration when I started online dating last year, checking off the boxes for what I am. Dating women now feels interesting but unlikely, like learning Mandarin or mountain climbing. I am not motivated enough to buy the gear and keep from hurting myself.
When I was an undergraduate, back before online dating was a thing, I once answered a personal ad in the Village Voice. I read the Village Voice mostly for the personal ads; I particularly liked the open-ended permissiveness of the “Anything Goes” section (“Anything Goes” is just code for threesomes, by the way. It was never, like, some dude looking to get it on with an octopus and a birthday cake). The personal ads thing took forever; you had to mail in a letter and a photo to the newspaper, and wait for the mailman to deliver you a response. I realize this is all sounding like a perverted version of grandma’s kids-these-days-don’t-walk-to-school-in-the-snow spiel, but stick with me. What I’m saying is that I think my brain was wired differently back then; it already knew that gratification would always be delayed, and somehow things ended up meaning more because of it. I went horseback riding with that woman whose personal ad I answered, and I still remember that afternoon, not because the date was so amazing but because I had waited weeks for it. Waiting is a thing that makes you remember.
How much of my interest in girls was about the reactions I got from men who heard I got down like that? Bummer was obsessed with my bisexuality, and even Kick, as recently as last year, wanted to hear all about it, and wanted me to talk slow. Sketch has been a notable exception; he goes with me to yoga and I introduce him to the girl I like to look at, and he raises a single eyebrow at me before dropping the subject.
Sketch isn’t working this week, so we head to Spa Castle for the day. Spa Castle is this Korean day spa in College Point; it has sort of gotten increasingly ghetto, but the series of saunas and hot tubs do leave you feeling perfectly out-of-body, and it’s nice to bask with Sketch on a wooden plank under an infrared lamp like a pair of French fries. He’s been begging me to slow down for weeks. We hold hands and I try not to look at my phone.
The place is weirdly sexy. Weird, because when you go in, they give you these oversized shorts and t-shirts, blue for boys and pink for girls. The uniforms, despite the gendered colors, are completely sexless, an invitation to a day of walking around with your hair in a sweaty ball and no makeup on. You can wear a scrunchy and eat sushi with your bare hands and no one judges you. But the place is sexy; outside in the pool in my bikini, I wrap my arms around Sketch and get why they have the sign at check-in about public affection. I want him, right here, right now; I wonder how many other couples are rubbing their junk together beneath the turbulence from the bubble-jets.
Downstairs in the gender-segregated locker-rooms, there are more baths, but full nudity is required. More signage here; the signs down here warn against competitive breath-holding. Why are women so frigging competitive about everything? That said, this is an experience I rarely have in my more buttoned-down life today, in which strip clubs and group sex no longer constitute my usual: communal nudity.
Communal nudity is kind of amazing. One thing that I get reminded of is that other girls have small boobs too; in the world of clothes, everyone runs around in padded bras and I think I am the only flat-chested woman in Queens. In all their chaotic variety, women are beautiful. I do look around; there is a pale blond creature who floats from whirlpool to whirlpool with her hollow little limbs and perfect lips. Exactly the type I once went for. But I don’t try to catch her eye, like I would have once, a lifetime ago. We share the water, and I do nothing. Doing nothing is awesome. I hang out with the girls, white bodies like ghosts, floating among strangers for a few minutes longer.