I had a trip down Memory Lane yesterday while driving. When I was a naive eighteen-year-old working at a big government office in the city, I was on the hunt for a single guy. One day I spotted a cute, new guy at work and pursued him. He was shy and clean cut which was rare during tumultuous times of war protests and the ‘love generation’. He was tall, slim with thick wavy hair, and I was definitely attracted to him. Within a short time, he asked me out.
He picked me up at my parents’ home, and we double dated with his older brother and his guy friend. That was the first clue. I’d never gone on a double date with two guys and was not on board. But was shy myself and didn’t say a word.
We then went to a club in the city where Barbra Streisand’s sister was singing. That was the second clue, but I didn’t realize at the time. When my new buddies and I walked into the club, I immediately felt like a fish out of water. I was the only female in the club! I felt like running out and escaping my date but instead I sat down with my new buddies as if nothing was the matter. I felt conspicuous and embarrassment colored my face red. I didn’t eat or drink or converse with my new-found friends. There was nothing worse to me at that time in my youth than sticking out in a crowd for any reason. I felt like the whole crowd was staring at me. I even remember pulling on my mini-skirt under the table to make it longer.
I rationalized that this singer just had a big male following. No shit Sherlock! And keep in mind this was way before females starting hanging out with gays as ‘their pals’. There wasn’t a big gay population yet. Most hadn’t “come out” or even congregated there yet. Needless to say, my date and I drove home in silence and there was not a goodnight kiss at the front door. I was pissed, mainly because he brought me to a weird club that made me feel uncomfortable.
The next morning, my suddenly worldly and intuitive, mother asks, “Where’d you find that guy?”
“At work, why?”
“He seemed…a little…different,” she carefully worded. Gotta love my mom.
“Don’t worry we won’t be having another date, Mom.”
But really, how did my homemaker mother who never really held a job in an office anywhere know anything about any guys? She could be critical of my dates, so it didn’t bother me.
Two weeks later my shy date from the office “came out of the closet” donning makeup and dyed hair. I was flabbergasted. A myriad of questions ran through my mind: Why did he ask me out? Was it to impress his brother? Was he on the fence at the time? Why did he take me to a club full of guys? Am I attracted to gay guys? What’s wrong with me? How did my mother know and not I? Mother knows best?
From that day on, I developed a sort of paranoia syndrome what I now call PTGD–post traumatic gay disorder whenever I got asked out. I would secretly give guys a gay test in my mind which is now called gaydar. If they had muscles-gay. If they wore tight pants-gay. If they were too close to their mother-gay. If they were too cute-gay. If they drove too slow-gay. If they ate quiche-gay. If they were too shy-gay. Some of my reasons were becoming ludicrous. No telling how many good suitors I dismissed for fear of going out with a gay and being humiliated again.
Then six years and a two ‘real’ boyfriends later, a guy with movie-star looks hit on me at a party. My gaydar immediately came up when he said he was an actor/model, but he looked and flirted like a legit heterosexual. I was smitten. We had a few good dates where he was very polite and mannerly and opened the car door etc. But no romance yet. Hmmm! Was politeness a gay trait that I wasn’t aware of? Then he took me to a bar in the city that was packed with all guys, again! I instantly got deja vu, developed a case of PTGD, and clammed up. Our dates got fewer and farther between after that, until I met someone else at work (four jobs later).
Eleven years later when I was married with children, I was surprised to see that same handsome polite actor co-starring in a blockbuster movie (ironically starring as a bad-boy ladies’ man). My kids, to this day, think I’m obsessed with that movie, but they don’t know why.
I often wonder when watching his movie again (as it is one of my favorite thrillers), if he was the one that got away or was he really gay. I don’t think he was, but my PTGD didn’t allow me to find out. And for all I know, the bar he took me to could have been a sports bar full of guys. Not sure, as I was instantly blinded by PTGD.