Kim was the first person that I was aware of being homosexual. Her father owned the convenience store across the street from where we lived, and she would often work there as a clerk.
I don’t remember how I knew that she was gay, but it might have been from something I overheard from my parents. Mom had probably referred to her as “funny,” which she apparently thought was a more polite term to use than “gay.” She had a certain way of phrasing the word so that the listener would have no doubt that being “funny” was an undesirable thing to be.
Anyway, Kim was in her twenties and very athletic-looking. She had what we would now refer to as a mullet, but it wasn’t an entirely uncommon hairstyle for the time period, which would have been somewhere around 1985. She usually wore a t-shirt that advertised some tobacoo product, manly jeans, and tennis shoes. She was butch in every sense of the word, and I adored her.
I don’t know what it was that drew me to her since I had practically no understanding of my own sexuality at the time, but perhaps I was already feeling different and needed someone that I could somehow identify with. I don’t remember ever having a real conversation with her aside from small talk when my parents would send me across the road to pick up a gallon of milk, but I do remember listening and observing when my dad would take me along to hang out with the regulars. We’d all pile in behind the counter and feast on deep-fried potato wedges, chicken strips, and sodas, and I’d listen wide-eyed at the gossip and profanity.
Kim soon met Sarah, a tall, slender blond with an outgoing and flirtatious personality. They quickly moved in together and even adopted a tiny dog. Sarah would walk into the store with the puppy cradled in her arms and declare, “This is our baby!” Looking back, I think they were both pretty brave.
Kim had a Pontiac Fiero, a small vehicle with two seats, and it wasn’t long before I decided that I would have one when I was old enough. I cut an advertisement out of one of Dad’s auto magazines and dreamed of the day that I would have my own Fiero, just like Kim. That is one of my childhood dreams that actually came true, although it was several years later when I was seventeen.
We moved out of town and away from the little convenience store, and I don’t think I’ve seen Kim since. I would occasionally hear things about Kim and Sarah (like when they broke up), but what really surprised me was the news that both had went on to marry men and have children. I just couldn’t understand how two women could move on with their lives as if they had never been attracted to the same sex. But then, I’ve never been able to understand why gay people suppress their sexuality and marry the opposite sex.
In a way, I guess Mom was right… people are funny.