ALMOST HOME has humor:
Later, Paula and I were planning a film-noir movie night on the phone. We were discussing which movies in particular to watch when, out of the blue, she changed the subject.
“You know half the family thinks I’m gay.”
“Well, aren’t you the funny one? I’m sixty-three and I’ve never been married. Oh hell, like it would make a difference to you anyway. You wouldn’t care if I was straight, gay, trans … or … er … ah … kirkalizer!”
“Damn, Paula. I haven’t heard that word since we were in the second grade coloring in a Cinderella Giant Coloring Book.
“It’s because we can spell turquoise now.”
“Speak for yourself.”
In the second grade, we could read words like red, blue and green. So we would say, “Pass the red” or “Pass the blue”, whatever color we wanted. But there was this blue-green color with a name we didn’t recognize, so we invented a word for it. Kirkalizer. I asked for it a lot. It’s still one of my favorite hues.
“I’m a little surprised, Paula. Since when did you care what other people thought about you? Especially considering sexual orientation.”
“Other people can take a flying leap. I’m talking family.”
“Oh, wait––I get where this is coming from. You’ve never walked down the aisle. Damn, Paula. When we started out as teachers, male teachers made more money than female teachers because they were the so called, bread-winners. At the time most men weren’t fond of liberated women.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s the second “L” word people use when they want to shut down a conversation they have no moral argument with which to support their positions. ‘Ooh, you’re a women’s libber.’ Like name-calling would shut me up anyway.”
“Paula, it takes a confident man to appreciate a confident woman. You were a threat. You helped break a lot of glass ceilings, girl. Look up. There are still some to shatter. Glass shards never bothered you.”
“I know, Shellie. I guess I just feel like I’ve missed out on something.”
“Paula, you remember when we were little girls and Aunt Elinora would look at us, smile and say, ‘God has made somebody special just for you’ and we believed that happily-ever-after bullshit? Bought it hook, line and sinker. News flash, Paula. They are called fairy tales for a reason. Fifty-eight thousand Americans died in Vietnam. Most were men in our age group. I don’t know. Maybe God did make someone just for me, but instead of riding up on a white horse looking like Troy Donahue and carrying me off into the sunset, he died in a rice paddy in an undeclared war half a world away.”
“Sounds like you’re a little touchy on the subject, too.”
“I never found Mr. Right, either, okay. I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of good men in this world, but they’re home with their wives––”
“Well yeah, there’s that, too. But my dear cousin, a lot our age have been thrown back three and four times. And you and I never were ones to settle. So Paula, back on topic, are you attracted to women?”
“I don’t know. Maybe?”
“Now, listen to you. I think you’d know by now if you were. But hey, maybe it’s time you found out for sure.”
“You’re probably right. I would’ve at least had a clue by now if I was. Women have come on to me before but I never was interested. I did end up with some new good friends though.”