“Did you see the news today? About the debate?” I asked as I swirled my wine in its glass.
“Yeah, I thought it was a good debate. I tend to agree with most of what Tanner says,” Jacob answered.
“Oh, really?” I stopped playing with my glass of wine and looked up at him. “What views do you agree with him on?”
“I just think that America needs to re-work their budget and money, which is one thing that Tanner says he will do if he gets elected. I also agree with his stance on illegal immigrants. I don’t think it should be so easy to get into this country and live here without legal documentation.”
I nodded. These were fair points and I agreed with him. America does need to focus on the budget a little more. But this wasn’t the topic that I wanted to talk to him about. “I see,” I said.
I looked around the restaurant. There were quite a few tables filled with people, most of them couples as Jacob had brought me to a fairly fancy restaurant for the third date. I looked back at him and then asked the question that would hopefully lead to the conversation that I most wanted to have. “So, what do you think about his other stances? Like his ideas about LGBTQ rights?”
I really needed to know his feelings about the gay community if I was ever going to be able to tell him that I am bisexual. It would be fine if he didn’t fully understand the idea of bisexuality because I would be able to teach him about it. The only thing I was worried about was if he completely disrespected me. I wouldn’t be able to stay with someone who couldn’t respect that side of me.
“Sorry about the wait here,” the waitress said. She was dressed in a black v-neck shirt, pants, and apron. She interrupted our conversation before Jacob could answer my question. “My name is Vanessa and I will be your server for the night. I see we have already gotten some drinks, so are we ready to order?”
“Uhh, I think so,” Jacob said. “I think I’ll have the steak medallions.”
“And how would you like that cooked?” she asked.
“Let’s go with medium rare.”
The waitress nodded, writing his order down on her notepad, and then turned to me, saying, “And for you, dear?” Vanessa moved closer to my side of the table and leaned down slightly, her dark hair falling over her shoulder.
“Well, I’m not completely sure. I’m trying to decide between the chicken parmesan pasta and the shrimp linguine,” I said.
“Oh, honey, you should definitely get the shrimp,” she said, placing a hand on my shoulder. “It is so much better than the chicken, and the shrimp are seasoned perfectly.” She smiled.
I smiled back at her and said, “Alright, yeah. That sounds great.”
“Beautiful,” she said and wrote down the order on her notepad. “And might I suggest the clam chowder soup to go with that? It’s the best soup we have here in my opinion.”
“I love clam chowder!”
“Perfect.” She wrote the soup choice down on her notepad as well and then said, “Alright, well I will go put that in right away for you guys.”
“Thanks,” I said as she walked away. She turned around and smiled at me before disappearing into the kitchen.
I turned back to Jacob and smiled at him, but he was busy taking a sip of his wine. When he set the glass back on the table, he looked up at me and said, “Anyway, what was that question you asked me before she stopped by?”
“Oh, right,” I said. “I asked what you thought about Tanner’s views on LGBTQ rights.”
“Well, I don’t agree with him on his views of marriage, if that’s what you’re asking. I say let gay people get married if they want to, I guess.” I nodded, smiling at him. This was really good to hear. It sounded like he might kind of support the community.
“I just don’t really want to see it all the time, you know?” He continued. “I’m getting kind of tired of this new trend where everyone comes out as gay.”
“Oh, I see,” I answered. The elation that I had felt at first deflated a little bit.
I started playing with my wine glass again and bit the edge of my lip. I liked this guy. He was attractive with dark hair falling across his face, a perfect smile, and a cute little freckle on his right cheek. He seemed sweet and he was nice to talk to. We agreed on a lot of things and he even liked dipping his Oreos in peanut butter like I did.
The first two dates had gone very well as we learned more about each other and discussed many different things like our opinions on otters, which happened to be our favorite animals, and even our opinions on flowers. We didn’t always agree, but it was nice to talk about random things with someone and not have it be a huge deal.
But his answer caught me a little off guard. This was the biggest thing in my life and if our relationship was going to work out, I needed him to support the gay community. From what he was saying, he probably wouldn’t like it if I told him that I was bisexual. But it was the third date and I figured that if we wanted this relationship to go any further, he should know that. Maybe I just needed to talk to him a little bit about it so that he could understand.
“Did I say something wrong?” he asked. His eyebrows bent down into a frown as he looked at me.
“No, you’re fine.”
“Well, what are your views on gay marriage?”
“Uhm, I think that gay people should be able to do everything that straight people can do. They should be able to get married, adopt children, not get fired from their jobs just because they are gay, and all of that stuff.”
“You think that children should grow up in homes like that? I would be worried that the child would get picked on for having parents of the same gender, you know? Kids can be really mean sometimes.”
I nodded. That was a fair assumption. A lot of kids did get bullied if they had gay parents.
“Well, yeah. I don’t think parents of the same gender would love their child any less than parents of different genders, though. And I think they shouldn’t be telling same-sex parents that they shouldn’t adopt because their child might get bullied, but instead teach children not to bully others because of their parents.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s true,” he said, nodding a little.
Maybe I was kind of getting somewhere with this. There was a moment of silence as I tried to think of something else to say that would be on topic. I looked around the room at the other couples again. Most of them were talking with each other and smiling. Some were simply holding hands across the table as they searched the menu. I wanted a relationship like that. I looked back at Jacob. Maybe I could have a relationship like that with him.
“And here is that amazing bowl of clam chowder for you, hun,” Vanessa said as she set the bowl down in front of me. “You’ll have to tell me what you think of it.” Her hand dropped to the back of my chair.
“Oh, I’m sure it will be great, just like clam chowder should be.” I smiled up at her. She nodded and walked back to the kitchen.
“Do you like clam chowder?” I asked Jacob.
“It’s not my favorite, no. I’m more of the traditional chicken noodle soup kind of guy.”
“Chicken noodle is a classic,” I said.
I ate half of my bowl of soup in silence and then excused myself to the restroom. I didn’t know what else to ask him, so I decided to take a minute and think in the bathroom.
I walked into the restroom and saw Vanessa washing her hands. Her hair was held in a ponytail and falling down her back as she leaned over the sink. She was incredibly beautiful.
When she reached over to grab a paper towel, she noticed me staring at her. She smiled. “Hey, darling. How was that clam chowder soup?”
“Uh, it was great, thank you.” I walked over to the mirror and checked my makeup, making sure everything looked good.
“So, is that guy out there your boyfriend?” Vanessa asked.
I turned to her and said, “Well, no. This is our third date.
She nodded. “Oh, that’s cool. How are things going? You must like him.”
“I do, I guess.” I shrugged.
“Well… I just don’t like some of his views, I suppose.”
“Oh? Like what?”
“Well, the one that really bothers me is his view on the LGBTQ community. He says he’s tired of the ‘trend’ of everyone coming out as gay.”
Vanessa laughed. “Well, you can tell him that it isn’t a trend. Trust me, it isn’t easy being gay.”
“Oh, I know that,” I said as I placed a hand on the counter and leaned into it. “I’ve been trying to work up the courage to tell him that I’m bisexual and it isn’t going so well.”
“Really? Well, honey,” she said as she placed her hand on top of mine. “If you can’t tell him that, then maybe you shouldn’t be with him.”
“I know.” She was staring at me, her dark brown eyes seductive and soft at the same time.
“Well,” she said, breaking the silence. “If you ever want to talk, you should call me.” She took out her notepad and wrote her number on one of the sheets. She ripped the piece of paper out and handed it to me. “And I mean it. You should call me.” She winked and then she walked out of the bathroom.
I stared down at the paper for a moment, memorizing the number and the way she wrote her a’s with a small curl at the end. Finally, I folded the paper, stuffed it into my jeans pocket, and walked out of the restroom.
I got back to the table and a moment later, Vanessa walked up with two plates of food in her hands.
She gave the steak medallions to Jacob and the linguine to me, asked if we needed anything else, and left when we confirmed that we didn’t.
Jacob and I each took a few bites of our food and then I said, “How’re the medallions?”
Jacob shrugged and said, “A little bit too rare for what I would like, but it’s alright. How’s your pasta?”
“It’s good, really good. I think Vanessa’s recommendation was a great choice.”
He nodded and we ate in silence again for a few moments.
I looked up from my food again and saw that he was watching me.
“Is everything alright? You seem a little quieter than usual,” Jacob said.
“Uhm, well, yeah. I guess something has been bothering me a little bit.” I pushed my linguine around on my plate with my fork. I didn’t want to look up at him.
“Really? What is it?”
“Well, I was wondering if we could return to the conversation we were having earlier?” I still didn’t look up at him.
“Of course. Which conversation was that?”
“Uhm, I wanted to know more about your views on LGBTQ rights.” I glanced up at him, he looked concerned.
He shrugged. “Well, what else is there to say? I think they can live their lives however they want, but I just don’t really want to see it or be around it. I’m not homophobic or anything like that, I just think they shouldn’t flaunt it in front of everyone. I don’t go around telling everyone that I’m straight, you know?”
“But that’s kind of the definition of homophobia,” I said. I stopped messing with my food and looked him in the eyes. He seemed confused.
“What? No it’s not. Homophobia is when you actively hate on gay people. I don’t hate them. I’m just tired of seeing all of the news being about them and their rights.”
I blinked a few times, trying to process what he said. “Homophobia is when you discriminate against people for being who they are, for being gay. In this case, you are essentially saying that gay people should keep their mouths shut about who they are because you don’t like hearing about it.”
“I can see where you’re coming from I guess, but I don’t feel like I’m being homophobic. They got their right to marry each other already which I agreed with. I’m not sure how that is being homophobic.”
I sighed. “But being able to marry isn’t everything. And being gay isn’t a trend, Jacob. I think that the media coverage of gay people is amazing because it shows children who are questioning themselves that they are not alone in this world. I never had that when I was growing up. I thought I was just weird and therefore alone."
“Why are you saying that? You’re not gay. Why are you talking like you are? You date men, so you’re straight, right?”
I took a deep breath and said, “No, Jacob. I’m bisexual. That’s what I’ve been trying to work up to telling you this entire night.”
“Wait…” he said. His eye brows came together making two squiggly lines on his forehead. “Bisexual? Is that even a real thing?”
“Yes, it’s real, Jacob.” Maybe he will accept it. Maybe he just needs some education. I can handle that. Just as long as he shows that he can still respect me. It’ll be fine.
“What is it exactly? The only time I’ve heard of it was in relation to threesomes. Are you saying that you would have a threesome with me?”
“No, it has nothing to do with threesomes, Jacob,” I said. I glanced around the room to make sure that no one had been listening to us talk. It seemed like everyone was paying attention to their own meals and their own dates. “This is not exactly the time or place to talk about that.” I sighed and tried to give him the best definition that I could to help explain bisexuality. “If a person is bisexual, that means that they can be attracted to people who are both male and female rather than just being attracted to one specific gender.”
“So you’re saying that you like men and women?” Jacob asked.
I nodded, my hope rising again as he thought about that for a while.
“I don’t know, Claire. That seems really weird.”
“It might take some time to get used to the idea. I understand that. But I need you to accept this part of me. Can you do that?”
He thought about it for a moment and then said, “If you like men and women, then how do I know that you won’t run off with another woman while we are dating?”
“Bisexual people, like myself, are just as loyal as any other person, Jacob. There is nothing to worry about.”
There was another pause as I waited for him to say something.
“I don’t think I can deal with that, Claire. I think that’s too much for me.”
I dropped my fork in my plate and stared at him.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“How’s everything going over here?” Vanessa said as she walked up to the table. She stood at the edge of the table closer to my side and I looked up at her. She looked down at me and I could see the slight concern in her eyes.
“Everything’s fine, thank you. I think we are ready for the check,” Jacob said. Vanessa nodded and when she pulled out the check, Jacob gave her the money in cash and then got up from his chair, put his coat on, and left.
I watched him walk away, out of my life forever.
“He didn’t handle the news very well, did he?” Vanessa said.
“No, he didn’t,” I answered. I stood up from my chair slowly and put on my coat.
“I’m so sorry, hun.”
She grabbed my hand and looked me in the eye. “If you every need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to call me, okay? I promise I will be there for you.”
I smiled at her.
“Do you have a ride home?” she asked.
“Uhm, no, actually.”
“Well, my shift is almost over. If you would want to wait, I could take you home.”
I nodded. “That would be great.”
“Okay, I’ll do my best to hurry.”
“There’s no rush.”
I waited for her for about an hour as she finished her work. During that hour, I thought about Jacob. He had been a good guy, amazing even. I had liked him so much, but this was something that couldn’t be helped. I couldn’t sit here and keep feeling sorry for myself.
I saw Vanessa walk by again and remembered how she had flirted with me in the bathroom earlier. She had liked me and I think I liked her as well. Maybe something could happen for us. Maybe I didn’t need to lose hope.