Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trannies are yesterday's topics. I'm struggling to come to terms with "exuals," those people inappropriately consumed with past lovers. One of them is lying in bed next to me.
OK, I've had a few dates over the past two years, but haven't slept with anyone since May 18, 2002. To my surprise, I go home with an old friend I meet at the theatre, Lisa.
Initially fearful I've forgetten how to have sex, I'm relieved to find that my hands and mouth and skin all remember what to do. Things are really heating up. Then I hear the shower running full force in the bathroom.
"What's that?" I ask.
"Oh, that's just my roommate. She's getting ready for her night shift," my one-night stand explains.
"Oh," I say, my mouth pressing against hers.
"By the way," she pulls her lips off mine, "that woman in the shower is my ex."
Suddenly, the moist place between my legs becomes the Sahara. "Excuse me?" I roll off her and turn on the light. She twitches her big hairy eyebrows in the lamplight. I squint back at her. Have I had done it again? Have I bedded an exual?
Exuals are those people who are physically, mentally and emotionally unable to separate from their exes, instead incorporating them into many, if not all, aspects of their lives and often referring to them as "family." I should know - I've dated enough of them.
Just when I think I've escaped the plague of the exual, another shows up.
Last month I dated a lanky pianist who spends every Thanksgiving with three of her exes. My date before her had her ex drop by for dessert at the end of a quiet, romantic dinner, without even warning me.
I wish my one-night stand had told me about the ex sooner, before we were bumping and grinding, before I screamed, "More, momma, more. You really know what I need."
If I'd known we weren't alone, I'd have left out the "momma"part.
I figure I won't be seeing Lisa after this, so I concentrate on making the most of our sex and manage to put the ex out of my mind. I lead Lisa back to my Sahara, and soon forget about the interruption.
The next morning we're laughing and talking in bed.
After 24 months alone, it's exciting to wake up with a gorgeous woman in bed beside me. She even makes me tea and toast. It's been a long time since anyone's done that. I don't want to leave. She must feel the same way, because she asks if I want to walk her dog with her. I'm pleased until she explains that we have to pick up her dog at another ex's place. I sigh. Shared dog custody is pretty standard for exuals.
I decide not to date Lisa again. I've been down this road before, and it leaves me feeling like one in a very long train of lovers. Lisa is a classic exual who calls her exes her family. I want to be with someone for whom family and the women she's had sex with are two different groups of people.
When she calls to ask me to a play, I stumble, explaining how busy I am.
She mentions that the play features one of my favourite performers. The next thing I know, we're snuggling in a dark theatre. During intermission, Lisa mentions that Jude, another ex, will be joining us at Slack Alice later. I begin to squirm, yet say nothing. I'm determined to be "cool," to go with the flow. I gulp.
I'm quite horrified when I meet Jude. Like me, she's a tall, curvy femme with shoulder-length brown hair. She even sounds like me, saying shit like, "I started bleeding today. I feel so relieved - it's nice to be around a bunch of women during my flow." She's a little nicer than me, smiling and telling me it's nice to meet me, while can barely hide my annoyance as I answer, "Yeah, real nice."
From behind, Lisa's ex and I are indentical. Lines from an old Melissa Etheridge song play in my mind, "Similar features and longer hair / well, if that's what it takes to get you through / go on and close your eyes / I will not bother you." I survive the evening grunting and snarling.
I make up an excuse about working early the next day and leave. I swear I will never again put myself in a situation I know I'll hate. I stomp over to the Yonge subway, mumbling about rebounders.
During the subway ride north, I wonder if something is wrong with me. I wish I could be as cool as other dykes about exuals. I notice a pale, unshaven guy swaying at the doors. I blink as I read his T-shirt: "Have you had ex today?" I know then that the universe is mocking my discomfort.
Days later, immersed in the task of rearranging my vegetarian cookbooks, I get a call from Lisa asking me out to dinner. I don't have anything in the house to eat, so I say yes. Looking at cookbooks has made me ravenous.
During dinner, I use a knife to slice my tofu. As I saw at the mush as if it were a steak, I realize the ex stuff is still pissing me off, and not speaking up is giving me premature indigestion. My silence makes things worse. Lisa tells me stories about what a great time she had camping last summer with her ex Paula, Paula's ex and their professor friend with whom they'd studied abnormal psychology. She obviously never taught them about exuals. Why can't Lisa leave her exes out of our dates?
I've just about sawed through my plate. When she starts talking about the cottage she rents with yet another ex, Joanne, I finally burst out, "Shut up about your exes!" She raises her eyebrows and stares at me.
"Haven't you ever read Dating For Dummies?" I continue. "Or any other book on dating? They'll all tell you about how stupid and romance-killing it is to talk about exes on a date."
Lisa remains silent. I'm on a roll. "You haven't dated Paula since 1987. Why the hell is she on this date with us?"
Lisa doesn't answer any of my questions. She doesn't talk for the rest of dinner. I take this as a cue to inform her that all her exes have very boring names and that she must be very insecure to need to constantly remind me of her other lovers.
After a while I feel relieved. The waiter seems in a hurry to bring our bill, and before I know it we're driving home in silence.
Lisa drops me off with a weak "See yah." I stomp up the cement steps to my apartment building.
When I look back, she's slowly pulling out of the parking lot, her big hairy eyebrows still pinned high on her forehead.