It's amazing how something so seemingly insignificant can become a life goal. I'm not talking about people who aspire to be janitors, garbage men, and high school guidance counselors. I'm talking about life quests. Things that can occupy your mind every waking moment and most of your dreams. Sounds very epic and romantic, huh? Sorry, this is not a holy grail kind of quest. This is where the word 'insignificant' comes into play. See, there's this guy at school. . . okay, wait! Don't skip to more relevant columns yet. Bear with me here. This is not going to be a purely hormonal rant. I can't swear that I will refrain the entire time from such expressions of lust but I have a point to make.
This whole thing started last year. It was my third day of college. I was sitting in my 8 a.m. Anatomy class, coffee in hand (Instant person: Just add coffee!). Then he walked in. Err, shuffled in. He had the whole alterna-guy thing going. It was the eighties revisited: white T-shirt with green ringers and odd green Adidas shoes. He made it look the epitome of cool. His brown hair was tipped with blonde, which tends to melt me into a small puddle. The shuffle, which would have reminded me of incontinent old people any other time, worked for him. He told the teacher his name. It was an obscenely long and difficult name. I can spell it without even thinking about it. His eyes were what did it though. Cornflower blue, his eyes sparkled between long dark lashes. It was impossible. God does not make eyes this lovely. It had to be eyeliner, I decided. Suddenly, I had attained a quest. I didn't have to slay a dragon. I certainly couldn't care less about a damsel-in-distress. I needed to know if HE wore eyeliner.
It sounds insignificant. It sounds simple. Neither of these is wholly true. See, I couldn't get close enough to check his eyes. The few times I did, I forgot about my quest and just lingered in his aura of cluelessness. I'd be in a situation that seemed to provide an easy chance. Instead of securing the information, I walked away thinking "he has totally lickable biceps." I tried to send other people, figuring that they might not succumb to his fatal cute-beam. This sounds like a good idea until you try to explain to someone why you care about some guy's eye makeup. Inevitably, I got "Eww, he wears eyeliner?" and "No way. That's freaky!". I didn't see why this was such a detestable thing. On the right guys, I'm a big fan of well-done eyeliner and nailpolish. He was the right guy.
At Denny's one night, I mentioned my quest to two friends that go to my school. The girl was intrigued and promised to try and get a glance. The guy, hereafter known as Chris, was disgusted.
"Oh my god. You think he wears makeup!?! " he exclaimed. I shook my head and tried to explain that, in my opinion, wearing just eyeliner doesn't constitute makeup. Chris ignored me.
"I bet you're right! I bet he does. I mean, he always did seem a little. . . " Chris trailed off, giving a limp-wrist gesture. Unbelievable.
"First of all, eyeliner, even makeup, does not constitute a case for homosexuality," I told him. "I've met more straight guys that wear nail polish and eyeliner than gays. Second of all, he's not gay. I'd know if he was. Thirdly, you can say 'gay' or 'homosexual' instead of using that gesture." The lecture was mostly lost on Chris.
"Yeah, I guess he's not like that," Chris agreed. "I mean, he's on the soccer team." I stopped. There was probably a good thirty second pause. There is no way that Chris thought. . . well, this is Chris. Safest thing to do is ask.
"Hold up there. Are you saying that being on a sports team means that you're straight?" I asked, incredulously.
"Well, for guys. Obviously not for girls," Chris answered happily, proving that ignorance is bliss. I decided to stick with the basics.
"Chris. Gays can play sports just like straight people," I said in my best trying-to-teach-a-two-year-old voice. Again, Chris did his best to not hear me.
"But, with this eyeliner guy, you have to keep in mind one thing," Chris whispers conspiratorially. "He doesn't get a lot of goals in soccer." He sat back as though he'd said something mind-blowing.
"So. . . " I said, waiting for the conclusion.
"So, he might be gay." Chris says, triumphantly. Amazing. Truly amazing. My words have totally rolled off of him like drool off of my two-year-old baby-sitting charge. I basically gave up. He wouldn't understand anything I said. I changed the subject. (In retrospect, I think he and Jennifer -- from my November column -- would be perfect together.)
After that term, I didn't get to see the object of my quest anymore. Soccer was over and so was my Anatomy class. I tried to run into him in the quad or the computer lab but wasn't wholly successful.
Spring brought new hope. Not in terms of growth or sunshine, but baseball season. His talents lay not only in eyeliner application and soccer, but in hitting homers. The problem was, most of the games began in the last half hour of my Sociology class. The girl sitting next to me in Soc was lusting after the second baseman so we used to cut out early to sit on the bleachers and ooze wantonness. One day, she and I were talking about the guys during a game. We referred to them by their baseball numbers, though I don't remember why. Such comments as "Check out the butt on #28" and "Would it kill #4 to look over here once?" were issued. We mostly focused on our favorite eye-candy, my quest and her second baseman. When eyeliner boy was on deck waiting to bat, we hushed our comments for a few moments. He was standing about five feet from the bleachers (and us), separated by a chain link fence. Turning, he seemed to be looking at us as he began to talk. Then I figured it out. The girl sitting next to us was his girlfriend. My eyes widened. I imagined her listening to our comments and mentally filing them to tell him later. I looked at her, to see if she seemed the vindictive type. She gave me a half-smile. She had to have heard all of it. Horror of horrors, I was to be found out before my quest was complete.
I stopped attending baseball games after that. Nothing ever came of my comments and thank goodness for that. Interestingly, Chris had been following the baseball scores as well. One day, about a week that fateful baseball game, Chris greeted me excitedly.
"Julie! You were right. That guy is straight. He's got a girlfriend. And he's practically the best outfielder that the team has. He practically hits a homer every time he's up to bat. I guess that's all cleared up." he exclaimed with relief. I listened to him babble on a little bit more while thinking about what he could say. Baseball prowess and a girlfriend were enough to prove sexuality to Chris. If eyeliner were that easy.
This year, I have another class with eyeliner boy. I've only managed to sit close to him three times so far, but then who's counting. That time period was quite fruitful, however. I managed to check his lower lashes. No eyeliner there. The top is a little harder to see. It's frustrating. I turn into a puddle of Julie whenever those beautiful peepers aim in my general direction. My little stakeout has even secured his underwear color and brand. How hard should an eyeliner check be?
It seems like a pitiful quest but it's something I need. I've grasped on to a tiny thing that has become this guy's identity for me. As much as I want to condemn Chris for his reactions, I've realized that I'm just as bad. For Chris, clear sexual orientation is a must. It is everyone's identity. He can tell race and religion fairly easily. Sexuality has eluded him. His checklist for gay or straight includes such things as girlfriend, athletic prowess, and makeup usage. I can't set him straight (no pun intended.) No one can. He has placed an importance on attaining a knowledge that is often out of his reach. He'll do anything, even lie to himself about the significance of stupid things, to fulfill his quest. Maybe, if he didn't really want to finish his quest, he'd less quick to judge. Suddenly, I don't want to know if my center fielder is wearing eyeliner. I'll continue to "run" into him and shoot sideways glances when I think he's not looking. I'll put all my heart into it, but I'll try not to get an answer. It's very important that my quest not end.
Julie, nineteen, is a 'straight but not narrow' college student in Illinois. Not really into sports, she has had a sudden rush of school spirit and has all ready picked a seat for the upcoming baseball season. Drop a line to MazzyMae@aol.com if you have a comment.