Dottie tends bar at our local pub. She and I have hit it off since the word "go". She's a super person, smart as several whips, lissome, beautiful... and, perhaps above all, wonderfully funny.
A couple of weeks ago I asked if I might hitch a ride with her when she headed to Fremont after her shift. Sure, she said, so we met at the bar a few minutes before the end of her stint. Apparently, one or two folks said to her, speaking no doubt from the corners of their mouths:
"Erm, you do know who he is, right? And his lifestyle? Just a friendly word in your ear." Yeah, she replied: she did, it's fine, and he's okay.
And okay I was. We had a beer and a chat in Fremont, then I took the bus home after a doing a bit of shopping. But since then, I've felt a bit awkward that Dottie might have thought I was hitting on her. So a few days ago in the pub, when the subject came up almost by accident, I set the record straight. I told her that, although I certainly wouldn't recoil at the idea of taking things further, I wasn't such a prick as to presume so. In fact, I said, it's an occupational hazard of being openly polyamorous that some people assume that I'll chase anything female.
"Got it," she said, "and I'm not dating right now, anyway. Need a break."
Because it left me with a nagging feeling that I hadn't quite said everything. So, wriggling in my seat, I continued:
"All the same, I did hitch a ride with you for a reason. I think that... what I'm trying to say is... I like being around you an awful lot because we just get on so well, and you've had your challenges and I've had mine, and swapping stories with you is hilarious. But I feel as though I'm just a customer, and you're just serving me. But it..."
She kinda nodded and looked away. Then glanced back again.
"Yeah," she murmured. "And I liked you from when we met. It was great talking in the car. Thank you for telling me some stuff you told me. It was... it was nice."
This conversation was like trying to put on a pair of jeans three sizes too small.
Long pause. Then she reached under the bar, pulled out a paperback dictionary, flipped through it, and pointed at an entry.
"I think," she concluded, "that what we might be saying is that we want to be this kind of thing:"
Friend: (noun) - a person known well to another and regarded with liking, affection, and loyalty; an intimate.
Light-bulb moment for both of us.
"Gadzooks, professor!" I exclaimed. "I do believe you've hit the nail on the head."
What cracks me up is this: we'd dispatched the dating-and-sex issue in about five seconds flat. But trying to articulate that we wanted to be pals had taken us back to being fifth-graders, shifting around each other's gaze like one of us was picking bubble gum out of a mouthful of braces, and the other was scraping dog pooh off their shoe.
So, beaming by now, I asked good old Dottie whether we could now officially count ourselves as friends.
"No," she smiled, "go fuck yourself."
She was kidding about that last bit. Right, Dottie?... Dottie?
Dottie has probably just gone away to change a keg.