I hadn't intended to come out to my client at dinner while she
had a mouth full of amuse bouche, it just happened.
It is not that I mind clients knowing I'm a lesbian, I just don't
want to be the one to tell them. It's not conducive to small talk;
nothing is more guaranteed to create conversational whiplash than
announcing that your partner is actually a 'SHE'. It's always out
of the blue for them, as if they've asked you where you live and
you've replied 'I decapitated my childhood rabbit'.
This week the situation was made worse because the client in
question was a French woman. French women always strike me as
completely man-centric; they might be adventurous eaters but women
are always off the menu as far as they are concerned.
Difficulties arise almost immediately. 'What does your partner
Here we go. Prepare to enter pronoun purgatory.
'THEY work in the city'. I felt like I had given those four
letters pantomime-esque emphasis.
Her questions are relentless I am now playing a sort of
high-octane pro-noun ping-pong. As quick as she can ask questions
I'm batting them back just as fast with a 'they' or 'we'.
"WE went to Spain. THEY get on well with my family. WE both like
cooking. THEY take care of the garden."
It was exhausting; a linguistic Olympics.
Then, after four successive THEYs in a row I realize I'm running
out of pro-nouns.
Oh god, I have backed myself into a conversational cul-de-sac,
unless I refer to my girlfriend as 'it' I'm going to say
My lips have formed around the 'Sh' but my confession is
temporarily interrupted by a waiter, offering some veal tartare.
The client pops one in enthusiastically but I refuse (I don't eat
veal and I'm about to drop a she-bomb).
I try to sound casual 'SHE's, …'.
She is staring at me in abject horror. "You're not a…'
Oh God she's not going to say it. Is she? I brace myself.
What? Did she hear what I just said?
It turned out she had indeed heard but her concern over my
vegetarianism had eclipsed my big lesbian reveal. Relieved to hear
I wasn't 'one of them' my vegephobic was happy and order was