Dateland: Just Like Them


I’ve had the same car mechanic for the past ten years. I’ve had him through two relationships. Over the past decade, my exes and I regularly drove each other to appointments at his shop and bickered in front of him over the price and necessity of repairs, just like straight couples do. Yet, in all that time, he somehow didn’t know I was gay.

I realized this rather stunning fact the day after the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is allowed under the Constitution.

I’m in a new relationship, but we’re not yet at the point where I can ask her for a ride home from the mechanic. We’re still in the dazzling early days when I’m reluctant to reveal any weakness, including the fragility of my car’s brake system. So, on a day when we weren’t together, I arranged to take my car to the shop and asked Stan, my mechanic, for a lift home.

“So,” he said as we headed out from the shop, “did you hear about that gay thing?”

“No! What gay thing?” I asked, even though I had, of course, heard about the gay thing. My eyes were still swollen from weeping over the SCOTUS ruling after it came down the day before.

“The gays!” he exclaimed. “They can get married now!”

It was at that moment that I realized that he didn’t know that I am one of the gays. I wasn’t sure whether to announce my sexual orientation right then or let the conversation play out a bit to see where it was headed. Since I was about 10 miles from home and unsure whether outing myself would mean I’d be kicked out of his car and have to hoof it, I decided to probe a bit deeper.

“Oh, those gays!” I said merrily, careful not to sell out my own people but also mindful of the odometer as it slowly clicked closer to my house. “They’re always getting into some type of madcapped misadventure, aren’t they?”

“They’re all really happy today, but they won’t be for long,” he said, staring ahead at the road meaningfully, nodding his head gravely to himself.

“OK, Stan, I’ll bite. What’s your problem with same-sex marriage?” I asked.

“The guys at the shop and I were talking about it this morning. We’ve got it figured out,” he said.

I’ve heard several theories set forth by the “guys at the shop” over the years. They generally involve alien invasions, alien abductions, and sex with aliens. Most recently, they tried to convince me that there is scientific proof that mermaids exist. I really like the “guys at the shop” and feared this new theory would expose their innate homophobia, and I’d have to stop liking them. I braced myself for a ridiculous conspiracy theory that suggested same-sex marriage would lead to toddlers being forced into arranged marriages with kangaroos.

“It’s a clever plot,” he said. “It’s a plot to make the gays miserable. Look at how much fun they have now? Dating forever! Going to parades! Not having to go to your frickin’ in-laws’ for Christmas dinner. Well, guess what, gays? Fun’s over.”

“Wait! So you and the guys don’t have a problem with gay marriage. You just have a problem with marriage, in general?” I asked.

“Right! We feel bad for the gays! They had a good thing going,” he said. “All those fancy beach vacations wearing Speedos. Now that’s over. Now they’re just like us.”

And, he’s right. We are just like them now. For better or worse. And just the thought of that made me tear up again.

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