Phantom Lesbian

In the mid-'80s, a couple I knew got me holiday work stringing Christmas lights in a warehouse. The manager of the warehouse, Bill, had a crush on me. I was not attracted to him. He was at least 10 years older than I was and totally conservative. A few days before the job ended, Bill invited the couple and me to a concert, saying he had free tickets. I wasn't interested, but my friends kept pressuring me into going, mainly because Bill knew their parents. It wouldn't be that bad, they said; we would be in a group. After a lot of hesitation, I finally agreed. But the night of the concert, the couple came down with the flu, leaving me stuck going out with Bill on an actual date. When Bill arrived to pick me up, he was dressed in an Izod shirt and Dockers. I prayed silently that I would not run into anyone I knew while I was out with him. Bill seemed nervous as we drove to the concert. He wanted to know why the walls of my apartment were painted in such dark colors: "You aren't, uh, satanic or anything, are you?" I explained that I was into gothic music and decorating, but he still seemed confused. After the show he took me to a Chinese restaurant. Leaning across the table, he whispered, "I find you incredibly sexy and attractive." Struggling to think of an excuse that would make him lose interest, I told him that I didn't date men because I was a lesbian. Bill was nervous once again. "I just can't believe it; you don't look like a lesbian." When he dropped me off at home, he tried to hug me goodbye. Once I was inside my apartment, I breathed a sigh of relief. At 2 a.m., my phone rang. It was him. "Since I dropped you off, I've been thinking ... how would you like to have a man in your life?" Feeling sleepy and irritated, I said, "I have a girlfriend. It's very serious." "Well, I don't mind sharing with her," he said as he breathed heavily into the phone. I hung up on him. Years later I was at a family gathering. My mother steered me over to her new boyfriend's daughter and son-in-law. "This is Trish and Bill. Can you believe they live right down the street from you?" It was the same guy! I am not married, so he probably still believes I am a lesbian.

— Lana, 38

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