He Loved Sappho

We were room mates in a rent-controlled flat on Haight Street. It was one of those walkups above a body piercing shop—small and drafty with a gas wall heater that was hell hot to the touch but curiously failed to warm the rooms. I was working on my first chapbook of verse, and Paul was studying Greek mythology at San Francisco State.

He had a singular habit of dating attractive lesbian girls, which, at the time, made no sense to me. It wasn’t until some six months later, when I moved out, that he divulged his motives.

The first one was Clarisse, and she was something to look at. She was petite and doe-eyed. Her black hair was clipped short, and I’d have easily mistaken her for a young man before I saw her strip off her t-shirt and walk around the apartment topless. She had small firm breasts with penny-sized nipples. Paul dated her for about two months, and I’d swear she teased me the whole time. When I loaned her my k. d. lang disc, she let her fingers linger on the back of my hand a little longer than was necessary.

The next girl was Barbara. She was what you might call a lipstick lesbian—very feminine. I thought she was heterosexual at first, what with her long blond hair and the red and yellow dresses. One time she came over with another girl, though. Her companion was something of a truck stop dyke, complete with tattoos, Italian t-shirt and a big mouth.

Barbie and the dyke went at it on the couch while Paul watched from a chair. I peeked out around my bedroom door and was surprised to see Paul looking right at me like he was expecting me.

The last girl he dated while we shared the flat was Diane. She was bisexual, and I believe that she and Paul actually slept together once or twice.

The problem was, she was the loveliest of them all, and I couldn’t keep my hands off of her. She had a slender build, wavy hair and large blue eyes. Every time I passed by her in the kitchen or the short hall, I’d let my hand wander over her buttocks, just lightly, as if by accident.

I guess she appreciated the attention, because one night she slipped into my bed. We made love with a quiet sort of urgency, trying not to wake poor Paul.

I decided to move out and live with Diane full time, so we could work on our relationship.

Naturally, Paul was wounded and he told me.

“I did it all for you, bringing them over,” he said. “I love you, Annie.”


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