By Karis Waller, Contributor
I was tense. Bars in general weren’t usually my thing. It wasn’t my Baptist roots that turned me off drinking (I could hold my Jack Daniels with the rest of them, thank you very much), it was the people. The men that strutted over, trying to be debonair with their pick-up lines. One of them tried to cop a feel at Christy, and I punched him in the mouth. Needless to say, we got kicked out of the bar, and I had a good, long talk with God about my temper.
“But God, he started it…”
“I know. I should’ve kicked him in the—”
It was a very long talk. Yes, I’m not a big fan of bars. And if I thought men hitting on me was bad enough, I was not eager to undertake woman-to-woman flirtation. Oh Lord, I thought, staring up at The Third Sex’s door, what the heck am I doing?
I jumped. In front of me was a young woman with chipper blue eyes and silky brown hair. She shot me a wide smile, and whether it was flirtatious or friendly was hard to interpret. First time? How was I supposed to explain? My brain started smoking from the effort.
“I’m straight.” I wanted to smack myself. “I mean—I’m sorry—my name’s Olivia. You probably don’t care if I’m straight—or maybe you do—I mean, you’re probably gay—Or you don’t have to be—But we are standing in front of a gay bar—or is it lesbian—”
“This really is your first time, isn’t it?” she giggled. She probably smelled my brain charring.
“Yeah,” I babbled, “it really is.” I shook my head and laughed uncertainly. “I’m sorry. I’m just…” I lost my words. Sighing, I buried my face in my hands. A split second later, I felt a hand on my shoulder. She stood there with me, patient through my silence. It took a minute before I pulled myself together, then I glanced up and smiled.
“No problem hon. Now, who’s the girl you’re looking for?” she asked, interlocking our arms and walking me inside. It was a pretty sweet place, better than some of the other bars in town.
Walking in, the first thing you saw was the huge mahogany bar, surrounded by velvet-cushioned stools. Behind the bar bottles of alcohol glittered. Posters from old 1950’s lesbian magazines papered the walls. A dance floor and a DJ were to the right of the bar, while tables and chairs littered the floor to the left.
Women (and a couple of men, either there with friends or to watch) chatted in corners and kissed in dimly lit booths. One woman was whispering huskily into her partner’s ear, a sexy smile splitting her face. Two women in the corner were fondl—I renewed my interest in the bar’s artwork. Then someone caught my eye—
Another young lady was chatting up the bartender. A fresh wit twinkled in her grey eyes. Her smile was wide, frisky, her fingers absentmindedly twisting her straw into an origami-ish crane. I gulped.
This was going to be harder than I thought. I whispered a thank-you to my guardian angel who had disappeared onto the dance-floor. I closed my eyes. Oh God, help me, I thought. How do I tell her?
I stumbled over to Christy. This was nuts. This was crazy. I didn’t even know what to say, or maybe I didn’t know how to say it. Did it matter? No, of course it did. How you say something is just as important as what is said.
“I love you.”
Christy stared at me, jaw to the floor. Her eyes shot to twice their size, titanic in their shock. The bar tender’s glance flickered from me to Christy, then back again.
“This is awkward,” the bartender stated casually, “Want a drink?”
I shook my head, eyes locked onto Christy. The bartender shrugged and began to fix someone another drink.
“Christy. Look.” My hands were shaking. I gripped the bar for better support. “I love you. That doesn’t mean I think that this—that this is right—that this is what God intended for you, that this is the best thing for you.”
“Then why are you here?—” Christy cut in quietly. I exploded.
“BECAUSE I LOVE YOU!!!!” I hollered, slamming my fist onto the table as my whole body began to tremble. Christy flushed.
“Olivia, you’re making a scene,” she whispered. Blurry faces were staring at us.
“I don’t care.”
“Could you care for me?”
I bit my lip, then pulled up a chair. The faces returned to their conversations. Christy was silent.
“I love you. I know I can’t fix you. It’s not my place. Whatever you decide is between you and God. I get that. But…that doesn’t mean I don’t love you. That I don’t want to see you happy.”
I hiccupped, holding my head in my hands and a sob in the back of my throat, “It’s all very confusing …”
“Keep going,” Christy whispered softly.
“I don’t know what to do from here. I know I haven’t been the best friend, or Christian. I’ve tried so hard to wrap my mind around religion, that I loving God means loving my neighbor too.”
“Can it.” I glanced up, forcing a smile. Christy snorted and fiddled with her crane. Things became quiet again.
“Can we do this?”
Christy was the one to ask the question. I studied the floor. So many memories chained us together, wrapped around us, prisoner to each other. First day of kindergarten, how a kid called me “chunky face” and Christy told him to lay off. Christy tutoring me in algebra until 3:30 in the morning, me teaching Christy how to play racquetball. My mom’s funeral, Christy holding me in her arms. I glanced up.
“I hope so.”