Correction. I'm a lesbian.
I'm enjoying a nice superficial conversation with my new client
when things take an all too expected turn. He assumes I'm straight
and refers to my "boyfriend". I politely, but swiftly correct him
with, "Girlfriend". Now I'm afraid I sounded like a pedant.
No matter how tactfully you do it, correcting someone's assumption
about your sexuality is tricky. You sound like a schoolmistress. My
client looks chastened, as if I'm going to ask him to write out 100
times, "I must not make assumptions".
We fumble through the next few minutes with him repeating, "GREAT.
GREAT", the way a fire-walker might say, "Cool moss, Cool moss", to
focus the mind before he steps out onto hot coals.
To make matters worse my cheeks are now burning and he's
blushing too. Seeing him rouge is making me flush even more. We're
just passing the embarrassment back and forth between us like a
If he was a stranger, I probably wouldn't have bothered. I'd have
let sleeping lesbians lie. But I've got to work with him. Telling
him down the line would have been far more embarrassing. He'd end
up resenting me for not being straight with him in the first place
- even though that was the problem.
It's not the first time this week I've had to correct someone. My
doctor asked if there was any chance, I might be pregnant and not
know. Not a sperm's chance in hell, lady. I replied, "No" but she
persisted. Was I sure? Was I absolutely positive? Sensing I was
seconds away from peeing on a stick I told her I was positive - I
was a lesbian.
People make assumptions because they're working with outdated
stereotypes. They expect you to look a certain way and when you
don't they don't see you coming. I get it. I've driven to London
using my dad's old 1960s road map, and the M25 was indeed a big
Now I have to somehow salvage the situation. I decide to play the
whole thing down so for the sake of his pride. I tell him it's
okay; lots of people make that mistake; it was probably my fault
anyway; people never guess I'm a lesbian; how was he to know?
Wait a minute. Why am I apologising? Why am I making him feel
better about his error. Now he's back on top. My strategy was
flawed. Oh well, we all make mistakes.