"You're a turner," Lydia declared, her voice carrying crisply despite the noisy crowd in Cafe Frais, my favorite SoHo teahouse.
Intrigued, I regarded her over the gold rim of my teacup.
Next to me Fiona choked on her Earl Grey. "Is that anything like a spinner?" she sputtered as she dabbed a napkin to her chin.
I wasn't sure what Fiona meant, but odds were it was obscene. Her mind lived forever in the gutter.
Carefully setting my own teacup on its waiting saucer without a clatter—some Southern manners were hard to lose—I considered the conversation leading up to Lydia's odd statement.
We had been discussing my romantic past. Not exactly my favorite subject, but with new beau Evan on his way to join us for brunch—meeting the girls for the first time—they seemed intent on rehashing history. I had just finished telling them about seeing my latest ex shopping at Gracious Home with his new boyfriend.
Sad, but true.
Which did not explain Lydia's bizarre declaration.
"What precisely do you mean?" I asked.
"Well," she began, resting her elbows gently on the floral tablecloth. "David is gay."
I nodded politely at her statement of the obvious. "Yes."
"And before David there was Jon. He's gay, too."
Also true. Two for two. With a sinking feeling about the direction of this conversation, I nodded again.
"Tell me, Bethany. How many of your ex-boyfriends are gay?"
"Just the—" two, I started to say. Then I remembered Tad. But that was all—oh. And Richard.
How was it possible that I had blocked out the glaring reality that my last four beaux had since burst forth from the closet? That was the sort of pattern a girl really ought to notice.
What did this say about me? Was I the kind of girl who only attracted men of uncertain sexuality and repressed urges? Was I a ... closet cleaner?
My face must have fallen, because Lydia leaned even closer and smiled sympathetically. "A turner," she repeated. "See what I mean?"
Yes, I did. All too well.
This was probably all my fault. How depressing. Oh, not that I made a conscious decision to only date un-outed gay men, but must have been signs. Little indications—or big ones, as in the case of Tad's "roommate" in his West Village studio apartment—about a man's true sexuality.
That I had overlooked these signs in the past might mean I was only looking for unavailable guys. I couldn't get hurt if rejection was beyond my control, right?
Sounded like something a therapist would say.
I read once that girls only sought out men either similar to or the opposite of their fathers. Since none of my exes were the strict, overbearing, ultimatum-giving type, I had to assume I was seeking out the latter.
I sighed, lifted the teacup of English Breakfast with two sugars, and took a fortifying sip. Over the porcelain edge I caught sight of Evan making his way through the crowded café.
A welcome sight.
"Evan's here," I announced as I set my cup back on its saucer. "He's different. Not a gay bone in his body."
Fiona snorted again, but turned with Lydia to get their first look at the new man in my life. Well, he wasn't new to me. We'd been dating for almost six months, but I kept him tightly under wraps. After my previous disasters I'd wanted to wait until I was sure before introducing him to the closest thing to family I had in the city.
Seeing me, Evan waved enthusiastically.
He dressed so well. In a non-gay, purely heterosexual way, of course.
Simple black leather jacket. Flat-front black trousers. Shiny black loafers. Lavender paisley shirt?
Fiona and Lydia exchanged a less-than-inscrutable look before turning back to me.
"Good luck with that," Fiona said.
Lydia added, "I'm so sorry."
I did not need sympathy. Evan wasn't like the others. Lydia had already found her Mr. Perfect. Fiona was working her way through the entire male population of New York before settling on a favorite. And I, despite my questionable track record and my friends' initial impressions, had found mine.
I was certain.
We talked about everything. He made little romantic gestures like leaving a single red rose on my pillow and sending me chocolates at work. The sex was—well, the sex was mediocre at best, but the rest of the relationship more than made up for that lack.
Just as I had that affirming thought Evan reached our table. He came immediately to my side and bowed down to kiss me on the cheek. As he leaned in I noticed the silver and leather jewelry adorning his neck and wrist.
"Evan, I've put a lot of time and effort into you," I said before I could stop myself. "If you turn out gay, I'll castrate you."