Having endured over 30 years of alternating waves of adversity and prosperity, I thought I had figured out at least a few things–particularly my sexuality. While I appreciated the dynamic nature of sexuality, I also felt my sexual orientation had essentially congealed by that point. In other words, I thought I pretty much knew where I stood along the sexuality spectrum.
But the more I got to know Rachael, the more aware I became of the most painful irony: as my biological clock began to chime, I grew exponentially more attracted to women.
NARRATOR: Law school, even “the ideal law school for the 21st century,” has a tendency to bring out the worst in people, particularly as finals approach (which basically applies to every day (except maybe during orientation). Although I made a lot of lifelong friends and opened many doors, law school became quite a struggle, especially during the final semester. The most common problematic themes I witnessed during my three-year stint were entitlement, lack of self-reflection, hidden insecurities, “Mean Girl” behavior, and . . . oh yes . . . greed.
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BRAD: Thank you so much for meeting with me, Ricky. I really appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule.
RICKY: No problem! Actually, things are super chill this year, what with my federal clerkship and firm job taken care of. I don’t even bother to go to any of my classes. What are they gonna do . . . not let me graduate and help boost this school’s graduation rate and reputation?
BRAD: That’s exactly why I think you’re the guy to talk to. I mean, some of the 3Ls have positions with A-/B+ firms. But Remington, Orr, Young, Gibson, Boyd, Irving & Vance is an A+ firm.
RICKY: Well, you’re right about that. Quite frankly, I didn’t come to law school to work 80 plus hours a week for an A- or—God forbid—B+ firm. Besides, the A+ firms have the deepest pockets. [winks]
[dollar signs flash in BRAD's eyes]
Nicole Mitchell was her name. All of the girls at our high school called her “Nicole Bitchell” because, as I often overheard, she was a “heinous bitch on wheels.” I didn’t know Nicole well enough to confirm the accuracy of all the rumors that surrounded her, and I didn’t care. All I know is that she had an exceptional voice.
I was a freshman. She was a senior. We had dress rehearsal the night before the opening of the spring pop show, and all the choirs were practicing together for the first time. The freshman show choir had just finished our final song, and we sat on the risers instead of leaving the stage. We cleared a path in the middle for Nicole, who planned to begin her performance of “River Deep, Mountain High” right after our number ended. Our choir director told us to pretend we were at a concert with Nicole as the main attraction.
Nicole entered the stage at the top center of the risers as the fog machine began to gently huff. She wore a white, strapless dress that was so tight you could practically see the outline of her ovaries and so short you could . . . Her curves spilled out of both sides of the dress, and her tangerine stilettos added nearly half a foot to her petite stature. The background music began to play as Nicole slowly strutted down the risers. I gazed upward at her, as instructed by our director, as she drew the microphone to her plump lips.
When I was a little girl
I had a rag doll
The only doll I ever owned
Now I love you just the way
I loved that rag doll
But only now my love has grown
Nicole paused on the last step. She tilted her neck back.
And it gets STRONGER in every way
And it gets DEEPER let me say
And it gets HIGHER day by day
Nicole arrived at the front center of the stage just before she began singing the chorus. Her chestnut hair cascaded down her back, ending at the top of her ample backside.
And do I love you, my oh my?
River deep, mountain high, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH
If I lost you, would I cry?
Oh how I love you, baby, BABY, BABY, BABY!
When she began the next verse, I felt a sensation—foreign yet familiar. I don’t remember the rest of the performance. I just remember feeling giddily nauseated by her white-hot aura.
The apprehension festered in the pit of my stomach. I read down the page to the important part:
Whenever you use our services, we aim to provide you with access to your personal information. If that information is wrong, we strive to give you ways to update it quickly or to delete it – unless we have to keep that information for legitimate business or legal purposes.
A rigid lump welled up in the back of my throat. The broad scope of the language made me dizzy. I scanned the rest of the document. The policy was concise, so I quickly memorized it. Of course, I could have summed it all up in one sentence. But let’s not go there yet.
As I drove toward The Dalles, the following language kept playing in the back of my mind:
Where we can provide information access and correction, we will do so for free, except where it would require a disproportionate effort. We aim to maintain our services in a manner that protects information from accidental or malicious destruction. Because of this, after you delete information from our services, we may not immediately delete residual copies from our active servers and may not remove information from our backup systems.
“Edgar, I want you to be perfectly honest with me—do I emasculate the men I go out with?” I sat next to him on his sofa. I had just returned from another abortive attempt at dating.
“Not on purpose.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Wait, let me explain. To the extent that your actions or personality/aura make men feel intimidated or even emasculated, it’s not your fault. And I’m not saying they’re justified in feeling this way or responding problematically, I just think it’s something out of your control.”
“So . . . you’re saying I do emasculate them. This is all really ironic.”
“They feel emasculated, subordinated by me. And yet it’s out of my control.”
“Look, it just means you’re gonna have to have high standards. As you should. Here’s the thing: you are more woman than they will ever have and more man than they will ever be.”
I took a moment to process what Edgar, my seemingly gay best friend, had just said. “You’re totally right. Did you come up with that?”
“No, but I wish I had.”
“Well, it’s absolutely the kind of thing you would come up with. You’re the best! I love you so much, man!” I pulled his face toward mine and kissed him passionately on the cheek without thinking about how that might make him feel.
I didn't mean to be mean
When I screamed, when I wept
I didn't want to be wanted
I just needed to be kept
I'm so used to being used
Your pure intentions
If you'd struck me, if you'd fuck me
You're like the others -
Cold but lucky
It was simple being easy
So I blame you…