Who doesn't love a workplace romance? Surreptitious encounters by the water cooler, overly affectionate emoticons over email, knowing glances during cunnilingus — it all plays out like a high-stakes romantic comedy. I'm a busy young woman, and it's hard to find the time to meet potential scissoring partners. But the one place I do get to regularly meet girls is work.
Relationships with co-workers can be awkward, and it's even more confusing when having sex with a co-worker is actually part of the job. I have a crush. And even though I've had sex with this girl several times, I'm still not sure if she likes me back. In my line of work, nudity and sex often come far before the first date. Don't get me wrong, getting paid to have sex with girls I have crushes on is awesome, but it doesn't necessarily get me out of the all-too-familiar "friend zone."
This struggle is not new to me. In the ninth grade, I was cast as a boy in the chorus of West Side Story. My girlfriend in the show was played by an impossibly adorable preacher's daughter with the voice of an angel. We held hands during the "Dance at the Gym" number and I loved the way it felt to put my arm around her waist and lead as we danced around the stage. I got to play at flirting with a girl and even having a girlfriend. As it turns out, I liked it.
A highly committed high school drama student, I had already chopped all my hair off for the role anyway, so I figured I might as well try dating girls offstage as well. I went on to fall in love with girls throughout high school. With boys it was simple: I had a crush, I asked him out, and he either said yes or no. But I found my relationships with women to be endlessly more complex. I'd get a crush, we'd become best friends and spend all our time together. We'd platonically cuddle during sleepovers and I'd try not to blatantly stare at her when we changed in the locker room. I'd suggest lesbian romantic comedies for movie nights and hope she'd realize her true feelings for me. I'd pray that someday we'd get caught in a game of truth-or-dare and she'd be forced to kiss me and realize we were meant to be together forever. I've heard straight men complain about being caught in the "friend zone." They have no idea.
I continued to date both boys and girls throughout high school and on into my adult life. Boys continue to be simple. As a sex worker, I seduce men for a living, so I get a lot of practice. But even after almost 15 years of dating women, inside I still feel like an awkward 14-year-old with a bad haircut when I try to flirt with a cute girl.
Even here in the Bay Area, the mecca of gay pride, where I can boogie my sequined hot pants off almost any night of the week at a host of queer dance parties, I've never managed to perfect my lady-getting swagger. As a femme who loves makeup, high heels, and cock, I often get read as entirely straight, which leaves the responsibility of courting largely in my hands. My go-to technique for bedding ladies is still the "let's be best friends and hopefully we'll get drunk enough to fuck some night" method. It worked in high school, but now I think it makes me seem like an asshole.
At work, I can fuck a girl with my fist, make her squirt, and call her "Mommy," but that first off-the-clock kiss is still full of butterflies and high school fear. It's hard to figure out how to proceed once the camera stops rolling. Just like in West Side Story, we go back to being just friends when the curtain falls, painting each other's nails and giggling about nothing. There's a part of me that wishes I could make an "It Gets Better" video for my young queer self, saying, "Don't worry little nerdling, someday you will get paid to eat pussy." While that is technically true, I continue to be completely intimidated by women I'm attracted to, and I end up in the "friend zone" about as often as I did back in high school. It hasn't really gotten better. The more useful advice I'd like to send my 14-year-old self, as well as my current 28-year-old self is: "Just kiss her already."