Final Draft: The Others

Final Draft: The Others

Updated Dec, 27th 2012


Okay, so I realize this is a day late, but I think some leniency is in order for someone who celebrates Hanukkah and Christmas with three different branches of family AND whose partner has a birthday on Dec. 26, the due date for final drafts. 

To Grace: I have tried my best to incorporate your feedback to give the audience my intentions more clearly and earlier on, and I have also tried to add some action. However, I'm still at 600 words, and this after having revised ruthlessly. Perhaps this is what we can discuss when we talk? Thanks again for picking me, by the way. Super stoked! Talk to you soon!

Okay, no more disclaimers; here it is.

FINAL DRAFT, The Others

 

“There are others.”

Sarah’s words ricochet between my ears.

Others?

Of course, I couldn’t ask, lest I ask her to betray the trust I had, just moments before, put in her when I’d confessed that the cute Filipino who stops by my office with food is not, in fact, a student.

But I had to know, and if I couldn’t ask Sarah, I would find out another way. But how, and how did I miss them in the first place? Is my Gaydar off—rusted stuck from years of relationship contentment, or are these people so stealthy that they slipped right under? It’s possible. I mean, I’ve been told more than once that I could “pass.”

I envisioned a secret society, its members wandering the halls of higher ed. in their cloaks of invisibility, waiting to let me in with a knowing look, a lingering handshake, a magic word: “roommate.”

Well, I was not to be excluded from this exclusive club. Professors’ schedules are a matter of public record even if their sexual orientations are not. I would seek them out, uncloak them, one by one. It was time to fire up the Gaydar.

By great coincidence, I “ran into” Dr. Carter next to his mailbox: Pressed shirt. No ring. Fingernails, immaculate. Check the shoes. Shit. Sneakers. And worse, dirty. Diagnosis: Like an arrow. Gotta book it if I’m gonna make my “meet” with Dr. Shinall in the ladies’ room for her morning mug rinse.

I find her bent over the sink: Short-cropped silver hair. Oxford shirt. Looks promising. Check the watch. BINGO. It’s huge— digital, too. Short nails, unpolished. Ring? Damn. Diamonds. In the fluorescent light, they shine like beacons of heterosexuality. I mistook a comfortable mom for a lesbian, understandable.

Finding Dr. Korn was no challenge: She was nicknamed “The Hair-icane” for her perm, circa 1995. Its frizzy halo is mesmerizing the student she’s chatting with outside her office. She’s notorious for those back pocket-less mom jeans, too. Could go either way. Both ways? Possible. Check the hands. There’s a band, but no diamonds. What’s on her fingernails? Shit. Manicure, French. Pas gay.

Panting, I “happened upon” Dr. Green across campus in the student center for his Comic Club meeting: Normally the full beard clears him, but I think that’s a thing now, “bears” and all that. He’s showing a student a giant Mothra tattoo on his forearm. Unlikely, but not impossible. What’s that on his shirt? A stain? No…that’s food—hardened. Chocolate? No matter. There’s probably a Princess Leia poster on his bedroom ceiling.

Dr. Orr’s shiny new Mercedes made him an easy stake-out, even through dense shrubbery: Perfectly groomed with the posture of a trained dancer. No ring. Looks promising. Wait. What the hell is he smiling at? I follow his gaze across the lot to Dr. Watkins. And she’s winking at him from her Camry. Never mind.

Dr. Watkins: Cleared.

Only one more suspect, Dr. Nunes, our respected Chair, and the easiest scan yet, thanks to his open door policy. We’ll see how “open” his door is: Goatee could put him in either camp. He’s well dressed, smells good, no ring. He’s got kid pictures on his desk, but no women. Could it be?

Sarah, his loyal assistant, is just outside the door. Surely, if I reveal my suspicions, she’ll at least give me a nod, a look.

But after a limp-wristed impression of a gay mime, and a gesture towards his office, she just laughs.

“Seriously? I can’t believe you’re having such a hard time figuring this out. I mean, we all knew you were gay on day one.”

She points down and whispers, “It’s the shoes.”

 

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

“There are others.”

Sarah’s words from last night ricochet between my ears. I see her lips moving, shooting tiny shards of tortilla chips across the table like shrapnel, my Corona frozen in midair.

Others?

Of course, I couldn’t ask who, lest I ask her to betray the trust I had, just moments before, put in her when I’d confessed that the cute Filipino who stops by my office with food is not, in fact, a student.

My partner hadn’t shared my shock.

“So? Isn’t it like 1 in 8? Did you really think you were the only one? I mean, it’s the English Department, for crissakes. Nothing but hippies and gays.”

A fair point. Why hadn’t I considered this before? It had been two years, and I’d had some personal contact with just about everyone. Is my Gaydar off, rusted stuck from years of relationship contentment, or are these people so stealthy that they slipped right under? It’s possible. I mean, I’ve been told more than once that I could “pass.” I envisioned a secret society, its members wandering the halls of higher ed. in their respective cloaks of invisibility, just waiting to let me in with a knowing look, a lingering handshake, a magic password: “roommate.”

Well, I was not to be excluded from this exclusive club. This morning’s department meeting couldn’t have been better timed. The lights are dimmed—everyone’s focused on the Department Chair’s PowerPoint.

Time to fire up the Gaydar.

Terry: Pressed shirt. No ring. Fingernails, immaculate. Check the shoes. Commencing  pen drop. Shit. Sneakers. And worse, dirty. Diagnosis: Like an arrow.

Cheryl: Short-cropped silver hair. Oxford shirt. Looks promising. Check the watch. BINGO. It’s huge, digital, too. Short nails, unpolished. Ring? Damn. Diamonds. Even in this low light, they shine like beacons of heterosexuality. I mistook  a comfortable mom for a lesbian, understandable.

Kim: Nicknamed “The Hair-icane” for her perm, circa 1995. Its frizzy halo has obstructed my view in more than one meeting. She’s notorious for the back pocket-less mom jeans, too. Could go either way. Both ways? Possible. There’s a band, but no diamonds. What’s on her fingernails? Shit. Manicure, French. Pas gay.

Jeff: Normally the full beard would clear him, but I think that’s a thing now, “Bears” and all that. He’s a comic enthusiast, once showed me giant Mothra tattoo on his forearm. Unlikely, but not impossible. What’s that on his shirt? A stain? Nothat’s food—hardened. Chocolate? No matter. There’s probably a Princess Leia poster on his bedroom ceiling.

Jeff #2: Perfectly groomed with the posture of a trained dancer. No ring. Looks promising. What the hell is he smiling at? Misty. And she’s beaming at him. Never mind.

Misty: Cleared.

Only one more possible suspect, Mark, our respected Chair: Goatee could put him in either camp. He’s well dressed, smells good, impossibly white teeth, no ring. He’s got kid pictures on his desk, but no women. Could it be?

“That’s it, folks!” he chirps, stepping in front of the projector, which makes him glow in the semi-darkness. Behind him, a shadowy Mark-like figure mimicks his every move.

I go straight to Sarah, Mark’s assistant. Surely, if I reveal my suspicions, she’ll at least give me a nod, a look.

But after I go down my list and gesture towards his office, she just laughs.

“Seriously? I can’t believe you’re having such a hard time figuring this out. I mean, we all knew you were gay on day one.”

She points down and whispers, “It’s the shoes.”

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Idea #1: Recalibrating My Gaydar

After coming out to the department assistant, I am reassured that my secret will be safe and offered proof in the provocative statement that "there are others." This revelation starts an internal frenzy, forcing me to examine each of my colleagues under a new investigative lens and ultimately to question the accuracy of my Gaydar and the legitimacy of gay stereotypes in general.

Idea #2: Kicking It Old School

This past weekend, I played my first game of adult co-ed kickball. I had assembled a motley crew with the pitch that this would be a fun and carefree way to stay active during the winter months, not to mention a perfectly good excuse  to drink beer. However, when we got to the park, we faced an endless list of seemingly arbitrary rules, including a devastating beer ban, an unreasonably angry and highly literal 95-lb. referee, “imaginary” lines of demarcation, and an opposing team of humorless professional kickballers who mercilessly bunted, stole bases, and manipulated gender stereotypes to pull out a 6-0 victory.

Winded and utterly confused, my teammates and I were left to realize that the golden childhood memories, the ones that had propelled us to sign up for this, had somehow been blurred and Bedazzled by space and time, and that the confusion, frustration, and powerlessness of being a kid wasn’t something we were prepared to relive.

At least not sober anyway.

Idea #3: Convenience Store Clerk Manifesto

For six years, I worked as a convenience store clerk and endured abuses of all kinds from men and women of all ages, races, and income levels—and for six years, I resisted the urge to use my awesome powers for completely justifiable revenge. In this piece, I will enumerate the many ways in which any convenience store clerk could fuck up any patron’s day, in the hopes of making any would-be rude, careless, or just plain mean customers think twice before they mistreat the person on the other side of the counter.

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