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Five Stages of Lesbian Heartache

Any breakup can be ugly. There are feelings to hash out, possessions to separate, and blame to assign. Breakups are understandably no fun for anyone. But in the world as I’ve experienced it, there ain’t no breakup like a lesbian breakup.

Perhaps it’s the way two women intermesh their lives, often very (too) quickly, that makes the eventual going-of-separate-ways so much uglier. Maybe two women feel a greater sense of panic than MM or MW couples feel at the thought of facing a future in which you have to get naked in front of an entirely new person. It could be the fact that buying a fresh set of sex toys with each new relationship is cost-prohibitive in this economy, yet it’s tacky and a tad unhygienic to just wash and reuse with each new GF. Or maybe it’s because you can never decide who gets the cat.

In any case, most, if not all, ugly lesbian break-ups go through five distinct, predictable stages of heartache that run the gambit from hysterically funny to insufferably tragic when viewed from the comfort and relative security of a committed LTR or sweet singledom. Please, allow me to illustrate.

Stage 1: The (First) Breakup

There’s a long-standing joke in the LGBT community that you have to break up with a lesbian more than once before it sticks. This is absolutely true. The first breakup is a non-starter. After all, “I hate you, get your shit out of my house/apartment/condo/organic farm co-op before Monday” is par for the course every Saturday night at dyke bars across the country, and it’s hurled about with ease with the understanding that it is basically the (really) serious way of saying “Stop flirting with that bartender because she’s younger/hotter/has nicer tits/more ironic tattoos than me.” No one takes the first breakup seriously.

Stage 2: The Social Media Venting of So Many Feelings/Division of Facebook Friends

One or both of the parties to the breakup will take to social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to air all their grievances, and I do mean ALL, down to the minutia of “She never shaves those hairs that grow on her big toe, and it’s sooooo disgusting!”

When Tumblr is involved you can expect postings of old pictures taken during happier times featuring captions that read, “That was THEN, b4 my life fell apart!” At this point the former couple’s mutual friends will be forced to choose sides, or engage in careful tweaking of their privacy settings in order to keep one from knowing they’re still talking to/being supportive of the other party. Let’s get real, it’s easier to choose sides and ALL their friends are mutual friends, so this stage effectively slices each person’s “friend” pool in half. Which is probably not a bad thing until you go looking for your next relationship and realize your potential pool of datable lesbians, which was previously the size of a puddle, is now the size of Dixie cup.

Stage 3: Telling Everyone Who Will Listen Your Ex is an Alcoholic

Gay people, lesbians included, drink a lot. This isn’t a good thing but it is a general reality, most likely stemming from social stigma and poor decisions related to coping with the stress of being an ostracized minority. It’s also because gay bars are only tolerable when you’re intoxicated. So in any case, the drinking thing unfortunately comes with the territory. And most likely, both halves of the former couple have their fair share of stories involving 2am projectile vomit sessions, sleeping it off in the backseat of a parked car, and trimming their bangs while under the influence only to wake up looking like Stephanie Tanner from Full House.

But, during the breakup at least one party will decide their ex was the one (the ONLY one) with a drinking problem and will spread this information to everyone who will listen (and many who won’t) via Facebook posts, text messages, iMessages, and Tweets that read, “Hope that bottle loves you as hard as I did, God knows you love it more than you loved me!”

Stage 4: We Can Work This Out in Couples Counseling and The (Second) Real Breakup

Most WW couples invest a ton of emotional energy in relationships, even those that have only existed for about three months. Thus, when a threat of breakup looms, many go willingly into couples counseling in the hopes of not wasting all that energy, and also in hopes of not having to get naked in front of a new woman ever again.

This never works out, because if the couple has reached this stage the (second) real breakup is coming. This is when at least one of the two sees the stark reality that this relationship is neither healthy nor strong having been built in less than a week on a foundation of shared love for raw cookie dough and reruns of The X-Files. One woman then conducts the (second) real breakup, arrangements are made for a begrudging division of possessions, cat custody is worked out, and online photo albums are deleted/cropped/edited. It’s really over.

Stage 5: Parting Crazies – Stalking Your New Place/New GF/New Hangouts, and Restraining Orders – “They’re Not Just For White Trash!”

Even after all is (supposedly) said and done and the couple has separated their lives into two distinct spheres of influence including houses/apartments/condos/organic farm co-ops, friends, and bars, one party will definitely not be completely over the relationship and will feel like she has the right (need) to know everything about the other person’s new life. She will send texts that read “If you start dating someone new you’d better tell me about her first.” She’ll take detours to/from work and also at 3am in order to drive by the other’s place just to see if she is home, and to look for any unfamiliar cars with HRC bumper stickers parked in the driveway. In particularly serious cases of the crazies, the ex who has failed to move on with her life will sit parked in her car, chain smoking for over 5 hours, while the other woman and her new lover lay on their stomachs in bed, peeping through a crack in the miniblinds wondering when she’ll run out of cigarettes.

Eventually, the non-crazy woman will be totally creeped out by this behavior and will call the cops, then have to explain to Homophobic Officer Jones that her “ex-roommate” has been watching her for over 5 hours and she feels threatened. Homophobic Officer Jones will direct her to file a restraining order against the crazy “ex-roommate”, and then he’ll go home to tell his wife about how he had to deal with more of “them damn Godless gays causing trouble” on his shift.

And with that, another relationship bites the dust and one, maybe two, women are freshly single for the next three days, or until Friday night, whichever comes first.

We’ve spent a considerable amount of time this evening discussing whether the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is actually something we’d want to experience. Here are some of the highlights of our discussion, as I wipe away the tears of laughter.

On Workshifts
D: You know they require you to sign up for work in addition to buying a ticket.
B: Seriously? How much are tickets?
D: Not cheap, like $400+.
B: Then screw those hippie vaginas, I wouldn’t work AND pay that much.
D: I don’t think you have a choice. They walk you into the tent while you “volunteer” for work.
B: Could we work together, at least? I wouldn’t want to work somewhere without you.
D: Maybe we could tell them we have codependency issues, and HAVE to work together.
*few moments of hysterical laughter*
B: But then they’d force us to attend one of the Womyn’s therapy sessions.
*more laughter*

On Chem-Free and Chem-OK Status
B: Can you bring beer?
D: It’s unclear. I think maybe you can, but other womyn can give you “gentle reminders” about your “chems”.
B: “Chem?” That’s offensive. It’s not like you’re dealing smack if you have a couple of Bud Lites.
D: They do provide support groups for those who wish to be Chem-Free. And you get to sit in the good seats at the shows when you’re Chem-Free.
B: Do I need to sit closer to know God-Des and She suck? No.
D: True. And if anyone gave you a “gentle reminder”, I think you’d likely knock her into next Tuesday.
B: True.

On Clothing Optional Events
D: You know they don’t make you wear tops at this thing.
B: That’s fine as long as I can give the womyn with fun bags hanging down to her knees a “gentle reminder” that bras aren’t just for burning after she gives me a “gentle reminder” about having my “Chem” around her recovery group.

On Whether This is Our Scene
D: Maybe we are Dinah-style circuit party lesbians more so than granola festival lesbians?
B: All signs point to yes.

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The Vegetarian Restaurant that Made Me Want to Club Baby Seals

I’m still reeling from our first foray into Seattle’ vegetarian dinner club subculture.  Thus far, we’ve had good experiences at local veg restaurants, and have found standard restaurants here to be quite accommodating and innovative when it comes to veg cuisine.  So, we were very much looking forward to our dining experience at Sutra in Wallingford.  I did a fair amount of online research and found an overwhelmingly positive response to the establishment from both veg and non-veg alike, so I thought we were in for a treat.  As context, we’ve both been veg for 14+ years, and over the years I’ve become a reasonably competent amateur home cook, so our standards are high but realistic. 

Sutra is set up as a dinner club with two seatings per night, four nights per week, and a four course pre fixe menu consisting of fresh and mostly locally-sourced ingredients.  Their menu rotates every week, and is posted on their website.  So far, so good.  I felt we knew what to expect - an intimate dinner with top-notch food and perhaps the chance to make some new friends.

Upon walking up to the restaurant last night, I was slightly taken aback by the fishbowl look to the place.  Being no larger than a living room, it has a full front wall of windows with the overhead florescent lights blazing into the surrounding dark night.  The table and chairs, sorry stools, were the cheapest stuff Ikea makes, so you could tell comfort would not be on the menu. 

And, with the cornea-searing overhead lights it was clear this was not going to be a cozy, relaxing experiences.  I felt my first tinge of reservation as we waited for the staff to unlock the doors for the 9PM seating.

When we were allowed to enter, the hostess/server took our name for our reservation, then directed us to sit right next to another couple at the 12-top communal table in the center of the restaurant.  I asked if we could please have bar seats looking into the kitchen instead, as I wanted to watch the chef prepare dinner.  The server replied those seats were reserved.  I reminded her we had a reservation, so didn’t that make our seats reserved, too?  She said someone had specifically requested those seats, and I decided that was fair enough as being a repeat customer who was in-the-know must have some advantage, and I made a mental note to request a bar seat should we decide to return in the future.  We did, however, decline to sit next to the other already-seated couple, as they appeared to have not showered recently, and I take personal exception to dining less than 8 inches away from a 50-year old with waist-length dreadlocks that may or may not be hosting a colony of lice or other unsavory wee beasties. 

Once seated, the waitress approached us, obviously disappointed we did not sit next the other guests as she had requested, and asked if we had been there before.  I said no, Brooke could only make a horrified face, then she reached out and touched me, petting my arm while saying, “It will be alright, just wait until everyone has a seat and settles in and it will be very cozy."  I had a BIG problem with this.  First, don’t touch me, especially, don’t stroke me.  Second, telling me "it will be alright” is unbelievably patronizing and bizarre, although they obviously have this problem repeatedly by the way the server tried to “handle” it.  Third, don’t touch me.  This is the United States and our cultural standards for personal space and the integrity of our physical privacy should be well known to you, as you are also clearly an American.

Looking back, this is when we should have made a break for it, as things only went downhill from here.  As the rest of the (unsavory-looking) guests filed in, the chef/owner came out to announce he was ready to begin the “Supper Ritual."  (Um, what?  "Supper ritual?"  I was choking back laughter, but still, trying to give the experience a fighting chance.)  He explained we’d be dining on the bounty of Mother Earth, without bringing harm to our brother and sister creatures as this was to be a vegan experience.  He then struck a gong, chanted "ommmmmm” for at least 45 seconds, and offered a prayer of thanksgiving to “the farmers and the foragers, and to the whales of the sea."  I was thoroughly confused by the bit about the whales and the sea, but at this point it was just part and parcel to the entire surreal experience.

Still, I thought the food would save the experience.  After all, this is one of Seattle’s most celebrated veg restaurants.  I was underwhelmed when the server presented us with a list of the evening’s wine pairings.  We were to be offered four, two-ounce pours of local Washington wines, for the affordable price of $24.  This would have been marginally acceptable had they spent any time at all selecting good reserve wines from any of our local wineries.  There is no lack of outstanding reserves in the area, but as it was we were about to "enjoy” 8 ounces of the mass-produced stuff our local wineries sell to Wal-Mart. 

I’m sorry, you can’t pretend a 2-oz pour out of an $7 bottle of Chateau St. Michelle’s 2011 riesling is going to offer anything worth swirling, sniffing, and rolling on your tongue.  Although, plenty of our fellow diners did just that, thus demonstrating they are Supreme Grand Master Douchebags.  Side note, if they had offered Sprite, I would have asked for glass and made spritzers with this swill.

On to the meal itself.  Sutra seems to pride itself on overly-detailed, wordy descriptions of it’s dishes.  Here’s a real example from last night.  (I swear on my mother’s life I’m not making this up.) The first course consisted of “Nigella-Pecan -Quinoa Stuffed Ancho Chile with a Ground Cherry-Roasted Chioggia and Red Beet-Preserved Lemon-Mint Salsa finished with a Saffron-Rose Gastrique."  Holy hyphenation, Batman!  This was ONE dish.  If it takes you that many words to describe a dish, it had better be the most phenomenal thing that’s ever been in my mouth.  What we received was actually a tired-looking chile stuffed with undercooked (hence, way too tough) quinoa, and a runny salsa that tasted vaguely of mint and strongly of a bizarre mix of vinegar and simple syrup, which I’m guessing was the chef’s failure at producing the "saffron-rose gastrique."  The rest of the meal followed a similar pattern with unnecessarily complicated ingredients failing to produce cohesive and tasty final products. 

At the end of the night, I was disappointed we hadn’t stayed home and cooked.  It was two hours, $120, and a slice of my sanity I’ll never get back.  I wanted to like this place so badly, but in the end it turned out to be the personification of why omnivores ridicule vegetarians.  I am completely mystified as to why Seattle loves this joint.  I can’t believe it was just an "off night,” because in reading the (very few) less than glowing reviews it receives online, this pattern is clearly repeated every day of operation.  And it’s hippy approach to vegetarianism/veganism was off putting to me in itself.  It was like they were trying to become a caricature of what people expect vegetarians/vegans to be: gong-banging, whale-praying, dreadlock-sporting new age weirdos.  Had I know this, we would have avoided the experience all together, or at least worn our broomstick skirts and Birkenstocks.

By the end of the evening, we were still hungry and I felt the strange urge to dig an oil pipeline through Alaska, club a baby seal or two, and burn some fossil fuels just for giggles and grins in order to bring harmony and balance back to the universe.