Karissa McKelvey is a web developer, activist, and trumpet player with an academic hangover. After doing some research, she realized that “The System is Broken” and moved to Oakland, CA. She is a contributor to thequeerlife.org and lead developer of a new strikedebt.org project.
You can follow her on Twitter @karissamck.
5 out of 6: Adventures on the Kinsey Scale. First Meetings
“5 out of 6: Adventures on the Kinsey Scale” is a series of short stories about the constant readjustment and affirmation of identity from the perspective of a “mostly-into-women” bisexual cis-gendered female…
Her nerves crept up slowly as she entered the bar. The darkness seeped in from all angles as she looked at her phone, across the room, down again. Where was she? She didn’t even remember what she looked like. The profile pictures were not so fresh in her mind and the room was dark, so dark.
Kate sent a text. “Okay cool, I just arrived. I’m sitting at the bar in a flannel.. Of course”
Immediately, a figure, on the opposite side of the bar seemed to move off of their chair. Could that be her? Kate looked around and then back down at her phone, pretending she didn’t see that happen. She was so nervous that day, for some reason. It was odd to her because usually she didn’t get nervous meeting women. There were many blind-ish dates in the past few months, but none of them piqued her interest like this one had.
A young woman approached. “Hey.” They looked at each other with awkward faces that turned into awkward smiles as she stood at the bar. Kate wasn’t surprised she couldn’t find her at the bar earlier. She definitely didn’t look like her profile picture, or at least what she remembered of it. Cut her hair. Gained a couple pounds? Piercings. Queer.
Good, she thought.
She caught herself, immediately feeling guilty. Looks don’t even matter, anyway, she told herself. She wasn’t about to make that mistake again.
Pleasantries were exchanged. Hello, how are you doing? Great. Wonderful. The usual kind of thing, the kind of thing no one actually cares about but they pretend, just so they can feel like they’ve been accepted into greater society. Somehow that made it better.
They both looked away across the bar. Kate was determined not to say anything about the fact that its a little weird to have an outdated profile picture.
She stood up. She was pretty sure words were exchanged but it went by so fast and her inner monologue could barely keep up. Her mind often raced this way anyway, pacing, pendulums, mice running around in circles, the world crumbling every second over and over. The racing got worse when she was nervous.
Maybe I should offer to buy her a drink? Does she want to sit at the bar? I like sitting at the bar. Oh, she wants to sit at a table. I can do that. Should I get a drink first? Okay, so we’re going to sit down. Oh god, I feel so awkward. Why are you nervous? Snap out of it.
Kate barely could comprehend what the girl was saying before she had a response. She still wasn’t sure how that happened… how her inner monologue always decided to talk over her mouth, and how her brain seemed to always be flickering in and out between them. How did they get so disconnected? She wasn’t so sure.
“So, how do you feel about whiskey?” the girl said.
“Oh, you’re asking all of the right questions. One thing’s for sure, I really do know how to drink.”
“Well, there’s this drink I really like to get here, it’s got…”
As she explained the drink, Kate watched her hands, her mouth.
She moved fast. She’s nervous, too. Nice to know, I guess. She wished they could both just calm down.-----
“Want a beer?”
Kate took a sip and put it down. She looked around. Curtains, red, people, her head spinning a little bit. The music was too loud. She always hated the music, the way people played it in house parties. It’s always way too difficult to hear people. She guessed they do it on purpose to force one-on-one conversations and more awkward pauses so that you drink more. She never really enjoyed drinking that much, but she liked people. Drinking was just the common conduit so that’ll get them to loosen the fuck up. People are so uptight.
“How are you feeling?” Joe was a fine man-boy-child. He had good fashion sense. She looked at the collar of his shirt and wanted to grab it. He shaved, a little stubbly, had a nice jawline, tall. He was handsome. There were few men in the world that she found attractive enough to entertain dates with, and he was one of them.
“I’m great. This party is pretty cool,” she lied. It was actually only a half-lie, the kind of lie that doesn’t really matter, you just say it so people feel better about being around you. “What’s the occasion?”
“I’m not even sure, it’s someone’s birthday I think. My friend invited me.” He was a man of small words. Sucked on his beer. He looked normal, trying too hard. He kept looking around.. maybe he was a bit nervous but she couldn’t really tell if that’s just how he was most of the time.
He was definitely an introvert. No extravert could sit behind a desk doing web infrastructure work for three-plus years without some tendency to prefer being alone. She liked those people. Kept her sane, calm, and out of trouble. Except tonight, of course.
The party continued. People, chatter. Three or four women, mid twenties. They were trying way too hard to look straight and available. They always look the same. She wasn’t ever into that, but she couldn’t deny that they were cute.
For some reason she was always able to enter into these situations and make instant acquaintances. Business cards, emails, phone numbers. She never knew how she did it, it just happened. Something about reading people. Something about getting under the surface of what they wanted. How they felt.
The trick is everyone just wants to be loved. Everyone feels vulnerable. All they want to do is feel comfortable. Be comfortable. Vibrate comfortable. It’s all about the energy, and she felt it.
“Wait, does that say brony?”
“Yeah, this is a brony party….”
The group cracked up laughing. Joe was cool and calm, entering into the conversation boldly, making them comfortable. She could tell he didn’t want them to seem like he was actually into the brony stuff, even though he probably totally was.
“Well, it’s mostly a joke, you see.” He took a My Little Pony mobile that was hanging off of the ceiling into his hand. “Mostly no one cares, but …”
She just watched him.
He had nice hands, and a nice mouth.
I want to kiss that mouth. The way she thought of men she liked always focused on their bodies. She didn’t complain, though. They often did.