Tales of a 36 Year Old Virgin, Chapter 15 - This Woman's Work

"I don't know what it is, but, there's something that goes on between women. You men know that because it's the same for you. I'm not saying one sex is better than the other. I'm just saying, like speaks to like. Love, or whatever, doesn't always keep, so you find out what does, if you're lucky."

…Boys on the Side, 1995

My sister in law has a theory. She believes that you can say anything, regardless of how horrible it is, and get away with it – as long as you quickly follow up the statement with, "I’m just saying".

This concept, if practiced correctly, can provide hours upon hours of quality entertainment. But we’ll come back to that.

Wednesday afternoon, while still at work, I found out that Lo – who has the worst fashion sense I’ve ever seen, who loves monster movies and photographing pretty girls and any boyish technical gadget he can get his hands on - is gay.

It felt like I’d been hit in the face by the grill of an 18 wheel truck going full speed.

The details on this, the why and how etc, belong to the two of us alone, and will not be included here.

My vision starting to blur and spin, and all I could think was, there has to be some way to be unconscious right now – some way to not wake up until these waves of pain, crashing over and over, had ceased. But I was awake, at work, and trying desperately not to throw up, or cry.

It’s funny what some of your first thoughts end up being. Mine was, "There is NO way I’m going to Italy."

What saved me, in those initial hours, were all the exceptional women in my life. My coping mechanism defaulted immediately into thoughts of travel; Italy was off the table – so where could I go?

I could go to Mumbai. The incredible women I know in India would collect me at the airport, clucking like sympathetic mother hens, and would proceed to shower me with attention, feeding me curry and tea, and showing me a world I have yet to see.

I could go to The Philippines. My friend Lilly would be waiting for me, and we could drink coca cola, chain smoke, and explore some of the outer islands.

I have never been to Israel, by my friend Shir lives in Tel Aviv – and from there, I could head to Jerusalem for my own spiritual pilgrimage.

My dearest friend Rianna lives in South Africa – Rianna, who’s picture is displayed in the dictionary as the definition of wisdom and grace; she would take me to drumming circles, listen to me cry, and show me how to recover from this painful, humiliating mistake. I could see an elephant, or a lion.

But in the end, it was a visit to Cintia that I found the most tempting. Living in Sao Paulo, she would lead me to the warm summer sand of the Brazilian beach, and force feed me caprianhas until I just didn’t feel, anymore.

I made it through the last few hours of work. I don’t know how. I managed to get myself home, although I do not remember the drive.

I called my sister in law, who lives a few hours away, and through my sobs I read her Lo’s email – a long letter, filled with sweet words and love, until the cryptic last line, that was supposed to somehow clue me in on this hidden secret. The last line that I had not understood, until I had been reduced to begging him – begging him – to be honest with me.

"Screw ‘War and Peace’" my sister in law yelled angrily as I finished the letter. "What ever happened to ‘I like cock’??? That’s all he had to say!!

Tears of laughter began to mingle with the tears of pain on my face.

"And he ended it with a smiley face???" she yelled. "Is that his version of "I’m just saying"???

I laughed harder as I cried.

One of my girlfriends, an attorney in Los Angeles, was the only person that ever brought up the question on if Lo could be gay – she’d never met him, or known anything about him – it was simply a question asked, perhaps last April or May, based off of the fact that he was single, living alone, and 35.

"He seems too good to be true hon – you sure he’s not gay?" she had asked.

I assured her I had closely looked at that possibility, and that he was not.

Now, as I hiccuped on the phone to my sister in law, an email popped in from my friend. Her new law firm had inadvertently wiped out her blackberry, and she needed everyone to send their phone numbers back to her.

I hit reply, punched in my 10 digit phone number, and typed in the statement – "- and yeah, he’s gay. Good call."

I hit send and giggled again. It was just so ridiculous, so crazy, it couldn’t be happening – but it was.

It was happening.

Within 2 minutes my friend had replied back again with sympathy, and the promise of a phone call the next day.

I began to realize that I was going to get through this; and the way I was going to get through it, is with the help of all the women I call my friends. They would carry me through.

Yes, I had been hit in the face by the grill of an 18 wheel truck. Yes, it had hurt incredibly, and I was humiliated, in pain, and no longer wanted to be alive or on this planet. But all these amazing women were surrounding me now, helping me up off of the pavement, assuring me that they hadn’t seen the truck coming either, and that in the end, I would survive.

It’s been 4 days now since this happened. My sister in law drove up to look after me for the weekend. I haven’t showered in 4 days. This is the 3rd day in a row I’ve realized in the evening that my shirt has been on inside out all day. I’m not sure when I last brushed my teeth.

That is all going to change tonight. Once I finish this post, I’ll go and put myself under the shower until all I somehow feel clean again – until I somehow feel like I can breath without this blast of pain bursting in my chest with each inhalation.

Tomorrow, I’ll get up and go to work. I will breath in and out.

I will not cry. I will not try to contact Lo again, as I have already sent him the best communication I can, telling him that I was upset with him for handling this situation so poorly, but that I loved him completely, and would wait for him to feel ready to contact me.

In the next few weeks, I have to purchase my plane ticket – to wherever it is I am going. Maybe I’ll find myself with a ticket to the Holy Land – maybe I’ll finally travel to Africa. Perhaps it’s time for shopping in Manila, or maybe I’ll only feel up to sitting on the Brazilian sand, drinking caprianhas.

Or maybe – just maybe – the dust will settle, the earth will stop spinning madly in front of my eyes, and I will fly to Italy. My beloved, beloved friend Lo will come to collect me, and take me home. We will drink prosecco, and hug, and laugh, and I will be so happy and blessed to be with one of the people I love best in the whole world.

But I’m canceling the Italian tutor. Fuck that shit.

I’m just saying.


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