Don’t Treat Your Friend Like a Handbag

by: Sarah Estime

There’s a girl who was years before me in high school. She was kind of douchey when it came to relationships, she dated girls who fell in love with her and then never spoke to them again. I always saw her happy. I thought it was some sort of trick. Her mother drove me home everyday after JROTC practice and they talked about dinner like two peppy college roommates. She had it all, from what I could see from the backseat of their car. She had her college essays prepared before Halloween, she had a general idea of what we were going over in AP Government. I have to admit that I admired her.

It was a statement followed by snickering amongst our friends. They each slowly came out whether it was directly or in passing and I lingered. I remember the epic oh-yeah- you-didn’t-know’s or the by-the-way-he’s-my-boyfriend’s. I guess they expected me to casually admit it, too. Or to one day take a deep breath and announce, “You guys.. you’re right. I’m ready to come to terms with the fact that I’m gay. I’m a homosexual. A lesbian!”  I didn’t and they pried into me, dragging me to Wilton Manors and telling the residents that I belonged.  They interrogated me about what I thought about the ladies in Imagine Me & You and Saving Face. And they questioned anything I wore that looked remotely like the rainbow and asked me to paint hypothetical relationships with another female out.  I wrung my palms, sometimes questioning myself because my mother insisted, “Dis-moi qui tu hantes, je te dirai qui tu es.”

But I wasn’t. I still liked the idea of a man and woman together. I was the only one who thought so. Sometimes sitting through their questioning, I found myself on the verge of exclaiming, “I like the fourth letter! I just do. I like men and their hard-rock abdomen. I like the bass in their voice. I like the grizzly in their beards. I especially like the ones who are immature and silly, but have a demeanor like they’re intimidating. I like men.  I have plenty of intercourse with them to prove it.” I was straight as a pipe; it just so happened that my social circle was dominantly gay.

I liked them because they were humorous like how I like people. They were genuine. They were not flamboyant and irritating but animated enough to get me to cry laughing. And my girl friends still liked “girl” things and my guy friends watched sports. Not to discriminate against the discrimination but I appreciate that nothing changed between us. They said gender and sexuality didn’t correlate. I respected that. I hadn’t become uncomfortable around their titty-attracted hormones; I hadn’t begun wearing the guys like a handbag or a sidekick. I never felt that strongly about Gay Rights and I still don’t, but if there’s one thing I oppose beside the word faggot, it’s the sentence, “That’s my gay best friend, that bitch!”

They were still my friends. My friends who were gay. I didn’t wrestle with the girls as many straight men fantasize about. I didn’t go shopping with the boys as many straight women claim they’re good for. Our personalities were constant and we sat at the same lunch table making fun of the group of kids who tossed their food around because they were rebels.

I was particularly glad with the one girl. I discovered she became a woman and learned about the technicality of lesbian virginity-taking. We roughhoused with words the same and did everything and anything around each other the same. Nothing was abnormal. She didn’t suddenly become special after our long walk to class, her words huffing and gasping, her hands trying to articulate. I stood in the doorway of my Chemistry class while she held the door open, muttering, “I’m gay.” I smiled a little and nodded, “Okay.” And that was that.

She was still my favorite. She was sarcastic and chipper.  She was deep; there was a dynamic to her that exerted itself through her watercolors. I always have her in mind to be smiling with her blonde hair layered, her white teeth like pearls, her tiny pale fingers presenting one of her characters. She was known for her octopi. They bled pink and blue. They reminded me of Mr. Fox and Ash and Badger. And I had never seen her angry.

We were different. We were the same. We collaborated and meshed well. If there was anyone more perfect for me if I was open to the idea then, it was her. And it’s embarrassing to even halfway admit that she was right in hindsight. But that’s the purpose of hindsight. The past was then and she’s probably at a stage in her life that I’m just going to be introduced to in two years because currently, I’m trying to figure out how to fall in love and ignore, fall in love and ignore. Her advice to me is to cross over and admit that girls are better but I can’t even find friends as amazing as her. And I could never see myself fondling breasts.

Sarah Estime is an aspiring writer and student in New York City. She has been published by Canadian literary magazine What If?, the African American Review, online literary magazine, and literary/photography magazine Burnermag. She also write reviews for Blogcritics and


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