Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Plan

I’ve spent my freshman year at Skidmore trying to identify any lesbian at all at this posh women’s college and failing utterly. I have worked up the courage to ask a student if she was gay, in as subtle a way as I could. I use the old lesbian organization Daughters of Bilitis as a code word, further encrypting it down to “DOB.” “Do you know if there’s a DOB around here?” She looks at me as if I were speaking Greek—as, in a funny sense I am. It turns out she and her girlfriend go around hugging because they like each other and think it’s funny. She is neither unkind nor defensive, but, no, they’re not lesbians. I write this about the experience.

Polly and Pollyanna
It’s her own fault for walking
around kissing her
dark, cold, come under my
soft white wing
friend in public.
How was I supposed to know she was

I’ve been to the college psychologist to ask if she knows of other lesbians—yes—and if she could put us in touch with each other—no.

I’ve gotten it on with my only friend at Skidmore and she has dumped me just weeks later.

Now it is my sophomore year, and I am not going through another year like that. I formulate a desperate plan.

Since there is no lesbian organization around for me to join, and since the psychologist cannot or will not help, I will have to start my own organization. People post all kinds of notices in the mail room, and on the bulletin board by the cafeteria. I will post notices. We all have numbered campus post office boxes. I will use that as a way for people to contact me. I test it out. Will they deliver to my p.o. box without a name? Yes, my little envelope comes back to me in my box the next day.

This is before Xerox became a household verb, and Kinko’s is just a twinkle in its inventor’s eye. I will hand draw some signs and post them in the mailroom and by the cafeteria. I anticipate they will be torn down, so I make extras. I keep them rolled up in my desk.

I draw a cartoony closet door swung open a crack and three pairs of big cartoony eyes inside looking out. The text is about Skidmore Sapphics (lesbians seem to go for alliteration, I later learn) feeling all alone in the closet. My p.o. box number goes on there with encouragement to write.

Late at night, after 11pm, I take up skulking around in the mailroom with a couple of posters in my hand and some tacks in my pocket, waiting for an opening to post. This goes on periodically for several weeks.

I never hear from anyone.

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