I am a hopeless romantic. I’m downright addicted. I own every Bogart and Bacall movie on DVD, and can recite the most flirtatious lines at will. I’m right with Audrey Hepburn as she falls in love with William Holden and Humphrey Bogart in Sabrina. I myself shamelessly fell for a former flame when I saw a cigarette hanging out of her mouth a la James Dean. I slink off early to bed every Monday night so I can watch the current, and always ridiculous, edition of The Bachelor in private.
Why am I so addicted to romantic blather? Lesbian or not, I was a girl who dressed up as a princess on Halloween and planned my future wedding by picking dresses out of the Sears Catalog. Thank God I’ve grown out of my fondness for lace and all things pink, but I still have a serious weakness for fairy tales. It’s a good thing I’m a card-carrying lesbian, or you all would start questioning my credentials.
There are some major problems however. I have found that real life has little to do with romance. In the most recent edition of The Bachelor, upon which I wasted ten Monday evenings of my life, one young woman’s most appalling secret was the fact that she had been married before. Ha! We lesbian serial monogamists have all had the equivalent of several divorces before we even hit our stride. Usually our girlfriend’s exes hang around and become part of the extended family to boot. I recently had to put my foot down at a family bar mitzvah — I would allow no more than one of Claudia’s ex-girlfriends to sit at our table. The others would just have to be content with sitting nearby.
Problem two — we lesbians have a knack for acquiring children. Some of us have them with men before we run screaming from the heterosexual world and embracing our queerness. Others of us go through all kinds of machinations to have children in our lesbian partnerships. Some of us choose to bear children alone, which we carry with us into our future relationships. And then there are those of us, like me, who adopt our children, which frankly, was as close to accidental parenthood as you can get. But that’s another story. My point is that children are to romance as oil is to water. As wet blankets are to fire. As chocolate cheesecake is to my girlish figure. You get the drift.
And then there is my girlfriend. Virtues she has in abundance, but being romantic is not one of them. She puts up with my addiction, but when I finally force her to sit down and watch Bogart and Bacall, she invariably falls asleep within ten minutes. Her idea of a great date is staying home together and cleaning out the basement. Early in our relationship, we had a fight that lasted three days when we had a Saturday to ourselves and I wanted to go to bed but she wanted to put up a set of shelves over the couch.
Couple this with her absolute unwillingness to admit that children can be detrimental to a romantic relationship and I’ve got a serious problem. She just simply won’t admit that our sex life will be any better once our kids have flown the coop. I, on the other hand, am well aware that the relationships of we lesbian parents can easily succumb to the legendary and horrifying phenomenon of lesbian bed death. Theories abound about this problem. My personal favorite is that we women are more emotional and less physical than men, so as our lesbian relationships wear on, and our emotions simmer down from the initial first falling-in-love excitement, the rest of us simmers down as well. I’m convinced that’s why a good fight can so often lead to a good steamy romp.
However, even fight-induced romps become fewer and fewer as a lesbian relationship gets longer and longer. The eventual results of lesbian bed death? Note the serial monogamy mentioned above. I’ve spent some serious money on avoiding lesbian bed death in the last six years, and all of it has had to do with removing the kids from the scene. (Okay, well, most of it… I did drop some dough at that store in San Francisco….) It’s no accident that in our family budget breakdown, I’m responsible for the vacations. First there are the hotel rooms. They run $150 to $300 a pop. Because God knows there is nothing sexy about a Super 8. And usually we need more than a night at one of these swanky establishments — it takes us a couple of days to forget we’re parents… oops, remember we’re lovers… before we can get in the mood.
But by far our biggest expense has been our house. Correction, our house addition. We’ve always lived in a tiny house. Being able to hear our children breathing in the night is a bit like being dipped in ice water. This fact helped Claudia convince me recently to sign on to a much bigger mortgage and buy a different tiny house, because, says my architect girlfriend, there’s room to build.
We had different priorities for this addition. Claudia wanted an honest-to-god laundry room on the second floor — no more crawling around in the basement. And she wanted a t.v. room, so she would no longer be forced to stay up late on Monday nights to avoid my Bachelor addiction. I, on the other hand, was dying for a guest room between my bed and the nearest child. Imagine the impact that could have on my sex life! Not to mention my checking account.
But I was soon to make an important discovery. Claude and the contractor stood poring over the second-floor plans on the dining room table as I was running around getting Saadia ready for school one morning not long ago.
“What’s up with this wall of the master bedroom?” I heard the contractor say.
“Right, that’s the extra sound-proofing,” said Claudia.
My head whipped around to see both of them looking up at me. Bob’s eyebrows were only slightly raised. And Claude…. well, she winked.