I mentioned this on Twitter the other day, but 140 characters isn’t even close to enough for me, so here I am, ready to expound in excruciating detail.
The flight from Phoenix to LA isn’t really all that long- you’re in the air barely longer than 45 minutes; it’s one of those flights where the attendants run the length of the plane offering drinks, only to turn around and collect cups the moment they reach the front of the plane. I’m telling you this so you get an idea of the size of the plane- when I booked my seat in row 10, I thought I was going to be within spitting distance of the cockpit. Uhhhh, no. Row 10 of 17 isn’t near the front at all- it’s right in the middle of first-group-to-board territory. So the plane is small, and the seats are quite close together, and there isn’t an empty one on the entire flight.
Lord, does it take me forever to get to the point: small plane, full flight.
In any case, my seat mate was a well dressed older gentleman- I’d say 50-ish, judging by his graying hair. We exchanged the typical pleasantries of people forced to breathe the same air for the next hour, and I shoved my face into my trashy magazines, because if there’s one thing I’d really rather not do, it’s engage in chit-chat with someone I will never see again. This gentleman was undeterred by my reading, however, and started in with the questions- are you going home? where do you live? what do you do? how many kids do you have? any major surgeries I should know about? (I just threw that last one in to see if you were still with me). None of the questions were rude, or too prying, and I participated, because… well, because what else are you gonna do? My nose was as deep into my magazine as I could get it, and he still kept firing them at me.
Which, seriously: why does the world at large STILL not know that sticking your nose in a book or other similar reading material is a universal sign for “I am an antisocial creature and I’d rather not talk, thanks ever so much”?
Anyways- I thought once we got off the ground he might get distracted by the lovely scenery out his window, but he surprised me with this gem instead. As the wheels left the earth, my seat mate held his hands up towards the ceiling, said “Jesus, I’m in your hands now!” and turned to me, settling in for a pleasant chat. Whatever, I thought. Dude thinks Jesus is in charge right now, WHO AM I to tell him otherwise.
He used to be a professional boxer, he tells me, he runs his own gym now, and he’s in a hurry to get home to his wife. He’s in a hurry to get home to her, you see, because while he’s been away, she’s SURELY crafting a VERY LONG LIST of items for him to take care of once he returns. And he wants to get started on the list of chores she has undoubtedly made for him, because that is what wives do.
You’ve probably already gathered that this sort of statement didn’t exactly endear this gentleman to me. I mean, the Jesus invocation had already put us at odds, but now he’s making sweeping statements about the nature of womanhood, and well. Let’s just say I didn’t go to a women’s college on accident. I shove my nose further into my book, in a fashion that could be described as rude, because if there’s one discussion I don’t want to have, it’s about how all women make long lists of chores for their hen-pecked husbands. And then he turned to me, this gentleman, and asked me about the list of chores I surely have for MY husband. Because I have one, right? I mean a list. The husband part, he’d already assumed.
And here’s where I get all twisted. Because I don’t have a husband, I have a wife (and I don’t have a fucking LIST, either, but whatever, that’s minor at this point). And now I have to play a little game- what does my life look like for the next hour if I say that I have a wife? I don’t know this man AT ALL, other than he’s at ease calling to Jesus, and maybe I’m jumping to unfair conclusions, but it’s my experience that persons who invoke Jesus at the beginning of flights aren’t exactly KNOWN for their tolerance of my “alternative lifestyle.” Will he preach to me? Will he judge me and try and “talk me out of it”? Will he summon the attendant and request that I be ejected out the hatch immediately? None of these options are particularly enticing, but HERE’S THE THING. Neither is the alternative!
Suppose I tell him I have a wife, and instead of being horrified, he WANTS TO KNOW MORE? Maybe he wants to know if we’re legally married, and if so, where?, or if my our child is “really” hers (or “really” mine)?, or what sort of legal documents we have in place in case Jesus is BUSY right now, and our plane goes down? You can laugh all you want, but people I don’t know ask me these sorts of questions all the time, once they find out J is my wife. I somehow become some sort of Gay Ambassador, and if you think it’s hard to tell some asshole you don’t want to talk to him, try telling a SUPER WELL MEANING person you don’t want to talk to them.
You can also tell me there’s another scenario in which he’s properly embarrassed, and continues peppering me with questions about this list of chores I have (or does SHE have it???), only using “wife” instead of “husband.” Sure, I’ll concede that this scenario EXISTS among the list of ALL POSSIBLE scenarios, but we all live in the real world, where the chances of this happening are slim to NO FUCKING WAY.
So I do nothing. I stare at my magazine and hope he’ll change the subject because I ALREADY DON’T EVEN WANT TO BE TALKING TO THIS GUY ANYWAYS, and yet I somehow have to dodge both the husband and the list bullets and I am exhausted and we’re not even anywhere close to landing yet.
Which means I’m lying. I let him believe I have a husband, because I’m not in the mood for whichever reaction he’s going to have. And I don’t like lying about being gay, and I try my hardest not to do it, ever, but I also DON’T WANT TO BE TALKING TO THIS GUY ANYWAYS, so talking to him about being gay is even lower on my priority list, if a lower position on my priority list even EXISTS. I just want to read about Ben the Bachelor, you know?
I don’t even know what the proper reaction would have been; with a gay population somewhere around 10%, you’re probably pretty safe guessing a woman wearing a wedding set is married to a man. So maybe it’s not the assumption that I was married to a man that bothered me, as much as knowing what I was in for should I tell the truth.
I’ll tell you one thing, no one asked me about my husband when I looked like this: