When I first met Steven, we talked about the different video games we played. I immediately became aware that he was a cookie-cutter nerd: huge glasses, bald and scrawny, twenty-two year old. He wore a lop-sided grin most of the time, and the pitch of his voice suggested he’d never hit puberty. My coworkers at the gas station slash ice cream parlor and I were united on this, as we also never saw the shadow of facial hair.
It was his first day at the store, so I was assigned to help him out a bit if he had any trouble. After a pleasant conversation about comic books, we were both sent to the cooler to stock drinks. It granted much more privacy than I was comfortable with. As I began filling the Pepsi section, he grabbed my attention with a wave of his hand. I pulled out my headphones and raised an eyebrow.
“What are friends with benefits?”
I blinked. “Seriously?” I asked. Surely he isn’t serious?
“Yeah. My girlfriend said she wants them, but I don’t know what they are.”
And you didn’t think to ask your girlfriend that?, I wanted to ask, but I kept the comment to myself. My Creep-o-Meter suddenly skyrocketed. My starched shirt made my skin itch. We’d only known each other for half and hour, and he was asking questions like this?
“Well, friends with benefits are friends who…y’know, do it together, but they’re not in a relationship,” I explained, voice slow and awkward.
“Oh,” he said, nodding his head. “Okay.” I’m not sure how it segued into the next bit of conversation, but he was soon asking me if I was a virgin. My head snapped over to stare at him.
“Uh, yeah. I’m pretty sure I’d never want to be with a man,” I said, trying to drop a hint. I hoped it would be enough for him to stop being so weird. The longer we talked, the more I feared he was going to ask me to be his “friend with benefits,” and I surely wasn’t down for that.
“Really? Why’s that?”
I inwardly sighed. Was he obliviously stupid or just trying to lure me into giving away intimate details about myself? Either way, I didn’t care. I just really wanted to get this cooler done and get the hell out. “I’m a lesbian,” I replied, trying not to sound annoyed.
“Oh,” he said.
Since I had no sex to speak of, Steven decided to tell me about his own escapades. He told me about how he and his girlfriend had sex in a park once; it was a lot of fun, apparently. I tried not to listen. Once his story was done, I quickly turned the subject back to video games and was glad when the topic stuck.
After half an hour, I was finished stocking the soda, and I booked it out of there. Hoping to get away from Steven and stop him from talking to me, I decided to clean the parlor windows. It was a nice, open, public space and surely he wouldn’t ask such uncomfortable questions out there.
Three minutes. I had been cleaning those damn windows for only three minutes before he crept through the store, standing in the small hall that divided the parlor from the rest of the store.
“So, Paige. Can I ask you a sort of awkward question?”
Oh, boy. What could he ask now? What could he possibly ask now?
Given permission, he had no qualms about asking the question that must’ve been on his mind for the last hour. “So, how do you…Like, how do you lesbians have sex?”
Kill me. Kill me now. Oh, please, let some mighty god strike me down with a bolt of lightning. I’d known this guy for a total of two hours, and he was asking me how lesbians have sex?
Laughing awkwardly, I responded, “That’s what Google is for.” There was no way in heaven or hell that I was answering.
“Oh, okay. Sorry. It’s just that when I worked at Burger King, the guys said that I could ask them any questions, and they’d do their best to help me out. So, I figured it’d be okay to ask you that.”
“Well, this isn’t Burger King.”
Luckily (for me), Steven was fired two weeks later. The manager hated him, and after he flooded the entire store and enough of the girls complained about his weird flirting asking of sexual questions, she decided that it was probably best to let him go. When one of my coworkers told me, I sighed.
“Thank God,” I said, and the other girls nodded their agreement.