“I’ve definitely had attractions to other women,” she says. “Had sex with them, sure. But I’ve never really dated one.”
I grip my coffee cup in my hands more tightly, feeling the warmth of the drink spread through my fingers. I idly think that she’d be a good girlfriend. She’s pretty, fun, smart as a whip. I could imagine dating her myself. She’s a catch. But I don’t want to freak her out, so I just smile and wait for her to continue.
“I guess it just doesn’t seem fair to a woman to have her be my experiment. Know what I mean?” she says.
I do. I nod. “Most of my girlfriends have identified as straight. Same concerns going in. I call them ‘baby bis.’ In a way, I’ve been a lot of women’s experiment.”
I tell her, sure, sometimes it’s been stressful when baby bis realize that reality and theory can be quite different. Or that they don’t emotionally connect with women as easily as they do physically (or vice versa). But other times it’s been really rewarding. And I’ve learned over the years that it’s nothing that I can’t bounce back from. That really there’s been only one incident that got to me.
Bye, Baby Bi
It had been a fairly normal party until a trashed friend, likely on some kind of medication not playing well with the alcohol she’d ventured, announced suddenly in my kitchen, “Page, I’ve never been with a woman before, but I want you to be my first. You seem like someone who would be safe to try.”
And I’m not sure why it hit me crosswise. Maybe it was because I wasn’t attracted to her — put off by months of erratic behavior and what seemed to be relentless attention-seeking. Or the sudden escalation where previously she’d never flirted with her eyes or her words, making her pronouncement seem profoundly disingenuous. Or maybe it was the way she stumbled, a state of deep intoxication that later in the night resulted in her getting sick all over the basement rug.
But it bothered me.
I laughed, told her that was a matter best left until we were both sober. Excused myself to the bathroom. And once I was alone in front of the mirror, I cried. Deep sobs that shook my shoulders.
I had been many women’s introduction to bisexuality, but it was something at that point in my life that I rarely talked about. Those experiences had meant a lot to me. It was a kind of an honor to expose so many women to new sides of themselves they’d never seen. To be part of the self-actualization of others, even if those affairs hadn’t turned out to be Forever Things. But the cartoonish overture in the kitchen had cast a profane light on it all, and I didn’t like the harshness of the image.
Gripping the sink, I began to question my perceptions of those past experiences. Had I been wrong about the women that I’d loved? Had it all been a game? Was the connection I felt during those times one-sided, illusory? Were they using me?
Hello, Baby Bi
That sober followup conversation never happened. And this friend perpetrated further outlandish behavior over the years to a variety of targets, until a large enough rift formed between my partner and her (she was primarily his friend) that they fell out.
But the harshness of that one night still clung to me, more than I would have admitted to anyone else at the time. And it wasn’t until I was again afforded the opportunity to date an incredible woman who had never dated other women that I was confronted with it.
But this woman was so different than the train wreck in my kitchen. Authentic, sincere, earnest. She wasn’t looking for a bisexual merit badge or to make out in a bar to attract guys. No, she was concerned about letting me down. Making me her experiment.
I set down my cup, smiling at the woman across the table. “For what it’s worth, my girlfriend is a baby bi, too. Everyone has to start somewhere.”
As I’m walking home from the cafe, I think about how I should have told her that her doubts are the surest sign she’s on the right track. That she’s taking things seriously. Views any woman she would date as a real person and not just another stop on her bucket list. That the best we can ever do is be agnostic to experiences and keep an open mind. That she’s blown me away with her honesty.
But I don’t. I text her a meme instead. Because she’s so beautiful that she makes me a little nervous.