Backstories are important. Speaking of, let me get back to my story. People often think I’m gay. Which, honestly is fine by me. With the way many white straight men behave, I’d rather not be associated with them anyway. Now that I think about it, the way a lot of white gay men act is also terrible. Get it together, white men, we have to do much much better. Now where was I? Oh right, my ambiguous sexual orientation.
I don’t know if it’s because a) I work at an LGBT center and the ‘T’ is invisible that leads people to assume I must be a gay man. Or if b) it’s because I’m a more feminine man and we as a society use that as an indicator of someone’s sexual orientation. Either way, it’s become fairly normal and regular. Now, I might have zero issue with people assuming I’m gay, but I get extremely uncomfortable when I get hit on by men. Or women. I get uncomfortable when anyone flirts with me. I don’t know what to say or do. My palms get sweaty and then I don’t know if I should put them in my pocket or behind my back. When someone flirts with me, I tend to get weird.
Because of my job I attend a lot of LGBT conferences. Over the years I have found I frequently find myself getting hit on by very nice (and I’m sure very attractive) men while at these conferences. Of course my ego loves this, I mean who doesn’t want other people to find them attractive? I just never know what to say or how to politely and quickly exit the situation. I have thought about yelling “LOOK! CHER!” or “OHMYGODMADONNA!” and then running away. But I’m not sure that would help convince anyone that I’m not gay. So one day, I thought of a brilliant plan; a fake wife! I would wear a fake wedding ring so that people just thought I was taken. (If you are already laughing and mumbling under your breath “that’s adorable that he thinks that will solve his problems,” you, my friend, are more insightful than I am.)
Before I left for my next conference I found a cheap wedding band and slipped it into my suitcase. What? I wasn’t going to put it on before I arrived at the conference. What if my future real wife sat next to me on the plane? “Oh, no, I’m not a cheating jerk! This ring isn’t real. I mean it’s a real ring, but I’m not really married. See, people think I’m gay and so I use this as a cover—this sounds worse. You know what? I am married—but it’s open?” As it turns out, a sweaty and balding business man who had no interest in even talking to me, sat in the seat next to me. That’s my favorite kind of passenger—not necessarily the sweaty kind, the ones who’d rather pretend you weren’t even there.
When I arrived at the conference, I almost forgot to even put the ring on. This whole plan was not off to a strong start. I dug through my suitcase and found an uncapped chapstick, 3 quarters, and finally, the ring. “My Precious.” I slipped the ring on and went to my first workshop with a pep in my step, probably from the excitement of being newly hitched to my wife, Faux-phia (not really her name.) I arrived at the workshop early and took one of the empty seats. I was reading the conference program trying to figure out when lunch was because I am always thinking of food, when a man in his mid 30s, maybe mid 40s (I’m terrible at guessing ages) sat in the empty seat to my left. “Hi, I’m Brad.” He said, sticking out his hand. I was holding my phone in my right hand so I awkwardly offered my left in a weird unnatural angle. “Hi there, Brad. I’m Jay.” I added. He then let go of my hand, and I was about to return to the program when he spoke up again, “When did you and your husband get married?”
“HUH!?!? HUSBAND!?!?!?” I asked confused. How had he jumped to a conclusion like that? Now I’ve gone from being mistaken for a young attractive single gay man to an old married gay man!? Turning thirty is the worst.
“Oh, sorry! When did you and your wife get married?” He corrected, questionably.
“WIFE!?!?” I began to ask when I remembered the ring! “Oh, right…” I laughed as I pointed to my wedding band. “My wife! Hannah! Who I just VERY recently married. Still forget sometimes.” I awkwardly chuckled, wondering if any of this was believable. Before I could make up any more ridiculous cover stories the presenter began. And just like Zach Morris, I was saved by the bell.
After this interaction I realized that I needed a strong backstory. Who was my fake wife? How did we meet? What kind of relationship did we have? What was her profession? What was our last fight about? Did I like my in-laws? Did my in-laws like me? Oh no, what if I had a terrible relationship with my in-laws? I wish Barb and Harold would stop wishing Hannah had married Gerry—he wasn’t that great of a guy, even if he was a successful lawyer that made sure Hannah knew he specialized in divorces. I hate Gerry. I wonder what Hannah is doing at home without me? I should text her…huh, I don’t have any Hannah’s in my contact. I bet she’s listed under some adorable nickname.
When I got back to my hotel room, I decided to create a fool proof backstory. So without further ado, here is the love story of my wife Hannah and I. It will not be the next Nicholas Sparks novel.
Hannah and I met in the most unexpected way; a movie theater—can you believe it? It was 2013 and in a typical move on my part, I headed to the movies by myself. Who needs company for an activity wherein you are supposed to sit in silence? (side note: I never understood movies as a good date option, unless you had zero desire to talk or get to know your date at all. In that case, excellent selection.) Anyway, I decided to see the critically acclaimed film; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Oh? What’s that? You don’t remember that movie? That’s because it’s awful. Please don’t let this admission lead you to believe I have terrible taste in movies. I have very adequate taste in movies, I’ll have you know.
As I entered the theater and looked for my seat, I couldn’t help but notice that the theater was empty—just the way I like it. I took my seat and pulled out my menu (this was one of those movie theaters that served you food and drink) to decide what would best pair with Steve Carell and my pure delight to having an entire theater to myself. And just then a woman walked in. She had brown curly hair that danced on her shoulder as she walked. Her eyes were brown and seemed to smile all on their own. She was wearing a Stanford sweatshirt and jeans with approximately 3,412 holes in them. There was no denying it, she was beautiful. As she walked towards the seats I prayed to the social anxiety disorder Gods that she would choose to sit as far away as possible from me. She sat directly in front of me so that I could not even hold onto an illusion of being alone. She was the worst. I hated her. She turned around, smiled and winked at me. She was the best. I liked her.
When the credits began rolling, she turned around once more and said “That was THE WORST movie I’ve seen this whole year!” I started laughing and agreed that it definitely was the worst.
“I’m Hannah.” She grinned as she extended her hand towards me.
“Hi Hannah, my name is umm Jay.” I choked out as I took her hand in mine. Neither one of us remembered to shake, so we just stood there holding each other’s hand with locked eyes.
“So do you always choose to go to terrible movies by yourself?” Hannah asked.
“Only when I know, I’ll meet a beautiful woman.” I replied. (Shut up! This is MY made up story about how I met MY fake wife, so I can write myself as a suave guy, okay?)
Hannah smiled and we locked eyes again. “Do you want to grab some drinks and debrief how terrible this movie was?” she asked.
To be continued….(in the book—yep you’re going to have to buy the book to hear the rest of the greatest fake love story that should have never been told.)
 This is a reference from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy wherein Frodo Baggins has the One Ring and is supposed to destroy it. Along his journey he runs into Gollum who is also Smeagol who once possessed the One Ring…you know what, I’m a nerd and let’s just leave it there.
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