Friday, February 09, 2007

Another suitor leaves downcast.

This is Indy, Zara's brother and our next door neighbour in the hills. He decided to put on his fairy dress and do a concert for us. To the strains of Abba (where did he get THAT from?). It started out quite delicate and graceful but quickly morphed into a kind of haka.

"Yes," I said to the taxi driver, a cheerful jet-black Kenyan man, recently arrived from New Zealand.

He'd been telling me about his family's coffee farm, and how until he arrived in New Zealand, he had never had breakfast without giraffes present. "They're very friendly, and they like lettuce," he told me.
He said he rode zebra often.
"No one can ride zebra," I said.
"No, that is not true. If you catch it young you can ride it. I caught many zebra. It is like an ass." He sounded quite certain, but I'm sure I've read that it's impossible to ride zebra.
He told me that his father was a surgeon, educated at Oxford. That his family left Kenya because of the corruption, "but it is much better now." That he was a businessman, he owned this very taxi we were driving in, had a shop in African art and had bought his own house for $450,000 in the western suburbs of Brisbane.

Then, as we were pulling up outside my hotel, he asked me if I was married.
In the three second gap - the maximum allowable between question and response before any answer, no matter how truthful, is going to come off sounding like a lie, I pondered my responses.

I hate being closeted.
I hate pretending Lovergirl doesn't exist.
It's not my job to educate a new arrival.
But it's someone's.
I don't feel like I'm in any danger if i'm honest.
But we are friends! I'm enjoying my conversation about Africa. I don't want to deal with that slight gap, that moment when the air opens into nothingness, just before the listener says, 'Oh, right, of course.' Or, 'I thought so.' Or, inevitably, and with slightly too much bright enthusiasm, 'Oh, my best friend/third cousin/ mother's girlfriend is gay.'
I want him to like me. I don't want him to disapprove of me.
Am I being patronising? He's obviously from a well-educated middle class family; they might have a thriving sophisticated gay scene in Kenya.
How religious are they in Kenya? Too late to ask now.
He's a taxi driver for fuck's sake! Why am I thinking about this so much?
And I thought, if I was single and heterosexual, in this situation I might say I was married anyway.

So I mumbled, 'Yes, I'm married'.

Then I felt like Peter. You know, how Jesus tells Peter that Peter will betray Jesus three times before the cock crows? And Peter says, no I never will. Then of course he does. That was me. Because I have the luxury of pretending to be something I'm not, when it suits me.


Anonymous said...

I'm straight, but here's my thoughts - just because you are a lesbian doesn't mean that that is the main thing that defines you, and that you have to make it your mission to educate the world. It is perfectly okay for you to keep it to yourself at times - if you felt you needed to disclose your sexuality to everyone that would become exhausing for you "hello, can I have a cappucino, and I'm a lesbian". "Half a dozen nectarines please, oh and I'm a lesbian". Be gentle on yourself, you aren't betraying LoverGirl or other lesbians by sometimes keeping it quiet. We all keep things to ourselves sometimes - I haven't told my husband that I have a crush on my dentist, for example!

elsewhere said...

That was well-written.

I hate it when people say 'are you married?', full stop, and I'm straight. Hate being pigeonholed, being judged by your marital status. I don't think you should feel bad lying in response to this question, esp to man who was probably hitting on you.

susoz said...

Yes, sounds to me like he was telling a few fibs so why not tell him one in reply? And you do think of yourself as married. I know unmarried het couples who occasionally refer to their partner as their 'wife' etc, just for ease of conversation among strangers (although that drives me crazy, for reasons you will understand).
Personally, I can't say "Yes I'm married' but perhaps in that circumstance I would have said something like "I live with someone" or "I have a partner".

Mikhela said...

Our conversation was code for:
Him: I'm great. Can I have sex with you?
Me: No

My answer is essentially honest when I think about it like that.