I don't really count myself as half a man anymore, but the reference is too apt not to use. For my purposes it's better if I think of myself as all-woman, and yet maybe that's not true either.
One night after Rafe and I had sex, we got to talking - it's rare, but it happens and honestly when he feels chatty we do have a good chemistry. I was talking about some of my negative experiences in dating, and he said it wasn't surprising that I couldn't find a match.
Slightly offended, I asked why.
"Well, don't take this the wrong way, but... you're kind of like, basically a dude."
I stared a hole right through him. Of course I knew what he was talking about, but I didn't want to.
"Is that so," I asked.
"Yeah, I don't know what it is about you, but you're the opposite of every girl."
"Why, because I like sports and don't love shopping?"
"No - you actually do like shopping. And you cook and clean."
"And these things are usually considered girly..." I said.
"It's your attitude. I've been taking sociology classes. Gender studies. It's like you weren't socialized like a normal chick. You seem like you could hardly give a fuck about relationships and intimacy and communicating, you're more about straight-up facts and details. You're a little more masculine, a little colder and harder than other chicks."
"First of all," I said with annoyance, "It can't be right to stereotype a whole gender like that." I was trying desperately - maybe ironically but here's where we're at - to downplay the idea that I am a guy inside.
"Maybe," Rafe admitted, "But there's something unusual about you, and I bet after one date most guys can sense it, and they decide you're too much trouble. Or like, dating you would be too much like dating a guy."
"Isn't that what most guys want?"
"They think they do," he said, "but then they have it and it's like... oh, shit, this is weird."
"And it's not weird for you?"
"I'm not dating you," he noted pointedly. "Or maybe I'm a little gay, I don't know."
"Me neither," I said, and quickly got us off the topic.
It was a few weeks into my new casual non-relationship with Rafe. Things were going about as well as could be expected. I was still hanging out with Kevin, although there was a definite change in our relationship. I didn't feel the need to tell him I was sleeping with somebody else - being that he had passed up every opportunity he had, I figured I didn't owe him an explanation, and at the time I still wasn't sure if Rafe and I were a thing worth mentioning.
I've been doing my best to keep things separate. On Halloween, for example, I let it slip to Rafe that I didn't have any other plans that night. I haven't met Kevin's kids yet because, well, I'm not "that person" and it doesn't seem fair, to any of us, for the kids to get to know me if this isn't really a relationship. It's something we've spoken about over coffee, during our many soul-searching chats.
Rafe seemed a little "off" when I proposed we do something for the night. It struck me that he may have thought I was trying to back him into a, god forbid, boyfriend-girlfriend type situation. So I scrambled to explain, which I probably shouldn't have had to do, that I really just mean I would be up for doing anything and it would be best (ie, I would feel more comfortable, as a single woman) if there was someone there I knew.
He stifled his irritation and we made some plans, but I was regretting it. I was flashing back to the previous year when I was starting to pin some boyfriend-type expectations on him and he made it clear he wasn't interested in the role. I wondered if I was putting myself through too much of a wringer again.
The night was fixing to be a shitshow of epic proportions. He insisted we arrive separately. He didn't wear a costume, which made me feel silly for wearing a cowgirl getup, with Daisy Dukes and my boobs basically all the way out under a gingham shirt, in my one industrial-strength pushup bra. But whatever - I looked cute and hot at the same time, and he looked like a dope because everyone else was in costume.
He made it clear he wasn't there to keep me company, chatting up every girl he could meet - and striking out with pretty much all of them. I'll admit I felt a twinge of jealousy. It's hard to say why. We're not exclusive. I give lots of my time and attention to a whole other guy. It's unfair to expect Rafe to only be with me. And yet the idea of him going home with anyone but me really bugged me.
I hated feeling that way. So I downed some tequila and hit the dance floor.
I can't stress this enough - I cannot dance. Whatever rhythm women naturally possess was not handed down to me when I became one. But I have hips and other parts that are fun to shake awkwardly, and men are usually just impressed enough by the sight of a woman in motion that talent doesn't really play into it.
Men started to chat me up. Because of the walls I keep around myself, I guess, it doesn't happen often - it's not like I hit the clubs in my spare time, it's not like I seek attention usually, but when I want it, I get it.
Only problem is, when I got it, I found I really didn't want it. Men can be such a nuisance. Few of them have anything interesting to say, mostly they're just looking for ways to compliment your body and impress you with their job or their money. Then it's so hard to get away it feels like you're stuck. I like them better when they're shutting up and getting physical. So I danced with a few guys, which made me feel less claustrophobic. With enough liquor and the right atmosphere you kinda don't notice they're starting to get bolder, take liberties, put their hands in places where they wouldn't with the lights on. You don't mind, it's all in fun... but your mind starts to wander.
One guy was dressed as Dustin from Stranger Things - no, not interested in making out with someone dressed as a child. Another guy was he grim reaper, but the face paint was off-putting. Every guy, there was some reason not to cut loose.
I checked on Rafe. He was having fun but it was clear he was giving up on the game. So when I came back to him, he was more open to it. I asked him if he wanted to get out of there, and he said of course, and that was how we ended up back at my place for the night.
That was when we had that conversation. It's been ringing in my ears ever since. It bugged me enough to be told I seemed like a guy - I know I'll never be someone who was born to be a woman, but I like to think I've grown into it and pass nicely as one. It actually hurt to hear that wasn't necessarily the case.
I definitely thought things didn't work out with any of my dates because I had rejected them - because I'm at a point in my life where the directionless boys I was attracting didn't meet the standards of what I wanted to be with. But none of them seemed too driven to be with me either.
I think that's why I like being with Kevin. He's the only guy I've met in this life who is older and more experienced than me, and I guess feeling young brings out the girlish youthfulness that makes me feel feminine. I feel like I'm the person I really want to e when I'm around him. I feel like I'm taking care of his emotional needs in a way I never thought I could, and he does the same for me, in away - but at a distance. It hurts and yet it makes me feel good.
This shit is complicated. No wonder why I need sweaty, unemotional sex with Rafe to ease my mind.
Between the two it really feels like I have it all, and yet... it never seems to come together.