You know what they say about assumptions, don’t you? That they make an “ass out of you and me”? This is what my mama taught me, anyway.
Yet a staggering amount of people don’t understand it’s a wrong move — and even a harmful one — to make judgments about a person simply because they share something in common.
Britton was one of those people.
When I first met Britton, I swore he’d be my second husband someday. In this small town, LGBTQ+ people are rare. Everyone’s “old-fashioned.” Most mean well and are only curious, but the more woke they try to seem, the more likely they’ll say something horrifying. Smiling through these conversations can be pretty uncomfortable.
Then, there are the modern-day Casanovas who come to my table every now again. They like to call me an “old goth lesbian bitch” more often than my name. After the insults, they hit on me, imagining because I look like I “swing a certain way” apparently, I’m into some freaky shit.
But, like everyone else in the world, no one LGBT+ person is made the same. When it comes to sex, we all have different preferences and moods, no matter who we find attractive. Not a lot of people understand.
So finding Britton, a bisexual man in backwoods North Dakota, gave me the urge to hit the casino and test my divine luck.
“I understand you.”
The day I met Britton, I was running late for rehearsal. Newly divorced and desperate for something to do, I signed up for a local haunted house at the abandoned mall.
I’d walked through those double doors, and God said, “here, have a bone.”
When I skidded into the building, a handsome lumberjack of a man waited for me in the lobby.
As he came toward me, running a hand first through his ginger hair and then over his matching beard, I bared my teeth like a chimp in an awkward attempt to smile.
Please, God, tell me I remembered to wear deodorant, I thought, trying not to shudder as Britton’s hand come down on my shoulder.
“There you are!” he said as my eyes ran over his tattooed arms and broad shoulders. “I’m Britton. You and I will be sharing a room.”
Most of the days, we ran the haunted house were slow, so Britton and I had no other choice but to get to know each other. For hours, we’d chat on the blood-soaked sheets — Leatherface and his victim.
We’d rearrange the fake intestines on the bed like pillows, get comfy, and talk about anything and everything.
One of the first facts about Britton I learned and helped solidify our fast friendship was that Britton, like me, was bisexual.
As a person who has come to terms with their sexuality a little late in the game, it felt terrific having this ally at my side. When you’re navigating a complicated new part of yourself, companionship is everything.
“I understand you,” he’d tell me. “I get it.”
He also made it known he was single, and he didn’t have to tell me twice.
By the last night of the run, Britton and I had become good enough friends to exchange numbers without it being weird. Neither of us had made a move in a romantic direction, but we had fun together, still.
I’m cool with being friends; I’d reasoned, deciding to take what I could get.
But this choice lasted all of a few hours.
Bored and wanting to have a “big finish” on our last night, Britton and I came up with some impromptu choreography.
Until the last night, when we decided to do an impromptu rehearsal.
“So, maybe scream ‘no, no!’ or something,” instructed Britton, “and I’ll come through with my chainsaw like this…like this…dammit. This chainsaw is shit.”
As Britton lunged forward, the saw stalled.
“It’s flooded. Let me show you a trick I learned a while back,” I said.
I placed his hand on mine.
“You pump this, okay, good. Get ready to drop it…now.”
The saw lit up and began to purr. As Britton stared at me, I knew then and there he wanted a piece of candy from my dish. His intense “fuck me” eyes were unmistakable.
I decided to ask him out later that night.
After the haunt closed, we all went to our respective dressing rooms. Being a hermit by nature, I always chose to slip into the bathroom and change. To me, nothing is more uncomfortable than small talk while you strip in a room full of strangers.
Christie served as an alternate that night for the actor playing Leather Face’s mom, who’d called in sick. I didn’t meet her in the dressing room because I never went in. So, when I walked into the break room and noticed her standing beside Britton, my heart gave a painful lurch.
Whatever, I thought. Maybe that lady’s a friend.
Her unfortunate old age make-up job couldn’t hide the stank on her face when she shot me a glance.
I idled by the snack table for a while, counting the black and orange sprinkles on a spooky-themed maple log. Once everyone said their goodbyes and the room began to clear, Britton tapped on my shoulder.
“Before you say anything,” I managed to blurt, “I want to ask you a question. Will you go out with me?”
Britton blinked, his lips parted in surprise.
Oh, God, I thought. I read him wrong.
I started to back away with a grimace when Christie stepped forward. Dressed in a Goodwill frock and a George Washington wig, she sized me up.
“So this is Evie, huh?” she asked. Her gaze remained unbroken from behind a pair of Spirit Halloween spectacles. “I’m Christie,” she told me, “Britton’s wife.”
Placing a hand on my blood-spattered cheek, I stared at the man I’d fallen hard for, and the wife I didn’t know existed.
“I am so sorry, ma’am,” I said. “Britton didn’t tell me.”
Christie raised a powdered eyebrow and glanced at him.
“No?” she muttered, leaning in as she grabbed his arm. She gathered her dress, a nervous reaction. “You said you asked already?”
Confused, I shook my head, my fingers pressed to my temples.
Britton pulled me off into a corner.
“So, here’s the thing,” he said, his arms snaking across his chest. “I’m still married, but we’re struggling.”
“Why’d you lie?” I asked.
Britton stepped closer to me.
“I do like you, Evie.” He placed his hand on my arm. “I like you a lot, which is why I didn’t tell you. I needed you to get to know me first before I asked you this.”
I sensed Christie’s eyes on my back as Britton stared at her over my shoulder, smiled, and nodded.
“So, we’ve been trying to be more adventurous. Christie finally said she’d try a threesome to help spice up our marriage. We wanted to know if you’d join us. It’s legit; we can take it slow for a while.”
Britton moved his palm to the small of my back and pressed as if prepared to lead me away.
“Wait,” I said. “I didn’t agree to anything. We need to talk about this.”
Britton shrugged. “What’s there to talk about?”
“Let’s start with the fact I don’t want to sleep with your wife.”
“You don’t find me attractive?” asked Christie.
She’d come up from behind and now glared at me. If her ensemble included a walker, she might have beat me into the ground with it.
“Well, I can’t exactly judge your appearance in this costume, Christie,” I said. “You look like the granny from Looney Tunes, But even if I did, it’s not about that. Britton lied to me. Plus, he knows my feelings about group sex. We talked about it.”
Not the same
“I thought you liked me?” asked Britton, his raised voice causing several people to stop munching on pizza and look our way.
“What’s wrong with you?” I hissed, hiding my face as the anxiety started to set in.
“What is wrong with you, Evie? Can’t you help a friend out? You’re bisexual. My wife is a cute chick; finding her attractive should be easy.”
More heads swiveled from around the space.
“You know that’s not how it works, Britton,” I said.
“I figured if you liked me enough, you’d change your mind. You can’t tell me it would be hard for you, Evie, I’m bi, too, remember?”
My heart squeezed.
“That doesn’t mean we’re the same.”
He shook his head as one would at a sticky-fingered toddler and said the most backward words I’d heard in a long time: “You’re selfish.”
Selfish, he called me. As I sat in the parking lot, the word stuck in my head, the last car to leave.
Stunned into silence, I forgot to start my car until I heard voices floating by. Britton and Christie had walked out about fifteen minutes before. They didn’t notice me sinking into my seat as they passed.
After Britton imagined I’d sleep with his wife, I ran out of the room, crying all the way.
“That’s dramatic,” Christie muttered loud enough for her voice to follow me out.
But to me, it wasn’t.
Not every person’s the same.
There are two things I hope we can agree on:
- No one person (LGBTQ+ otherwise) is the same, and
- Sexuality is a complicated spectrum.
These are simple concepts, but this night made me realize a lot of people don’t understand LGBTQ+ people don’t fit under the same rainbow umbrella.
And people “like us” are not exempt from this cluelessness, because people are still people. And no matter their sexual orientation, many out there are tone-deaf.
That’s the a-ha moment that came to me in the Taco Bell Drive-thru, anyway.
Oh. And by building assumptions about a person you risk hurting them — that’s pretty important, too.
At least the haunt ended that night. Britton may have been as sweet as a Snickers bar, but he’d found his way to the bottom of my list.
I’d survive without him. Candy rots the hell out of your teeth, anyway.