We met where any two good lesbians in the 1990s would meet: the softball field. I had been living in Tallahassee for about six months at that point, and was seriously interested in leaving. I had gone out on some dates. I frequented the bar downtown when it had its "Gay Night" on Saturdays, and seen the drag shows, and left depressed each time because the bar wasn't exactly the place to meet Ms. Right. Or to meet anybody at all. Not having any family in Florida (save for my dad's uncle who was in a nursing home in Pensacola), I wasn't feeling Tallahassee was the place for me. And with no romantic interest, or any outside interest besides doing my laundry and trying to find a home in the very-conservative Episcopal Church in the south... well, let's just say Rochester, MN, was beginning to look like the next career destination.
Then I was introduced to a group of women, in their mid-thirties, who played softball. And there was this one woman on the team who I thought was very interesting. She played right field as if she were right halfback on the soccer field: she'd trap the ball rather than charge it, glove to ground to scoop it up and throw. She wore mismatched socks to all games and practices, and I quickly gave her the monniker "Two Socks". And she had a peculiar accent that wasn't American, but I couldn't place it. The fact that I could hear her accent at all was amazing to her. In the course of talking, I learned that she was a French native, but her father was an American, and she had lived in France, Morocco, Spain and the U.S; hence the untraceable accent.
"Two Socks", in the meantime, was blown away to discover that the quiet, stand-offish 23-year-old with a flattop was that voice she heard on the radio... a voice she knew had to belong to a woman who resembled Cokie Roberts in pearls.
Our first date, she thought I was trying to kidnap her. We were going to see a movie at the Tallahassee Mall. I offered to drive. And then I revealed to her, through my unusual route, that I am a direction-challenged individual. And little did I know that her computer brain which comes with built-in GPS was going into a meltdown when I took us about 10 miles out of the way because this was the only way I knew how to get from Amelia Circle to North Monroe Street... and it was via the interstate. (I didn't know any better, OK??)
We date our anniversary on the day that our team had to play two make-up games in typical Tallahassee spring weather: 90-degrees, beating sun, and rising humidity. I didn't know any better, and I wore my 50/50 sweat pants with my 50/50 Naiad Press team T-shirt and happily drank coffee and ate donuts before we started the games. By the early part of game #2, I was feeling faint, and I wasn't sweating. I knew something wasn't right. I went to bat, and swung as hard as I could, so that I would at least get the ball to a place where I could make it to first base. And there, I collapsed. One of the women on our team, a nurse with a reputation for getting women into the sack, took me in the dugout and insisted that I take my pants off now. I looked at her, and she said, "No, I'm not saying it for that reason! Get your pants off!" Another person brought a bucket with ice and I had women rubbing me down on my face and wrists. This wasn't erotic; it was necessary.
Before long, I was whisked away to a Patients First walk-in clinic where they had me lie quietly, drink water mixed with Gatorade, and more ice to the body. The girlfriend of the coach was with me in the room, and we were having a moment, trying to suppress laughter, as this very slow-moving doctor explained that I should drink more Gatorade. "It's like sweat, but it tastes better."
Meanwhile, Two Socks had followed behind to check on me, and fill out my information for the clinic. This is how many of the team learned that I was born in... (gulp)... the year they went to their first prom? The year they graduated from high school? The year they went to see "Rosemary's Baby" in the movie theater??
When I was released, this gaggle of women went back to my tiny apartment. They bought sandwiches, and ate with me, and continued feeding me more water with Gatorade. Eventually the party broke up and it was just me and Two Socks. We talked. We shared. We cried. And we discovered that we were more interested in each other than just being teammates or going to a movie.
That was 18 years ago today. Remarkable.