Once Upon A Time
Once upon a time, a little girl played with Barbie dolls and used teddy bears and wind-up toys as the Ken dolls her mother wouldn’t buy her.
“They’re all smooth down there, anyway,” her big sister said, “Not like the real thing.”
So the little girl played with her dolls and had her Arthur plush rescue Barbie from the terrible kidnapper Teddy, and forgot all about what was meant to be in men’s pants.
Once upon a time, the girl’s mother sat her down on the couch.
“You must never sit on a man’s lap,” she told her, “You’re too big for that now.”
The girl nodded. She knew she was too heavy — her father had stopped giving her piggyback rides.
Once upon a time, the girl overheard a cute boy in her class dare his cousin to touch her butt. All the girls in her elementary school had to wear skirts or skorts, and this game the boys played wasn’t uncommon.
“Don’t you dare!” she yelled. The boys scattered, caught out. Then and there she decided boys were dumb, and not worth the effort it took to turn them into the princes she read about in books.
Once upon a time, the girl stood with friends waiting for homeroom to start. The girl’s friend poked her — hard — in the stomach. The girl took it silently, and then frowned at her friend.
“What?” she asked.
“You’re supposed to make a sound,” her friend said, “It’s the sound you make when you’re in bed with a guy.”
The girl shrugged.
“You always ruin the fun,” her friend said. She poked someone else, who grunted in surprise and laughed when the friend told her what it meant.
Once upon a time, the girl taped her mouth shut. She carried a card from class to class that read, “LGBT students are often harassed into silence because of their identity. Think about the voices you don’t hear today.” Her best friend had come out to her as bisexual not long before that and slowly she and the girl amassed a group of mostly gay students as friends. The girl considered herself a loyal ally, and brushed off the whispered jeers of “I knew she was a lesbian!” from the boys at her high school. The girl knew it was because she’d never dated. But who wanted to be in a relationship for two weeks before it blew up, anyway?
Once upon a time, the girl waited for her roommate to go home for the weekend before opening her package. The object inside was double wrapped for “ultimate discretion!” The girl had a great weekend every week thereafter.
Once upon a time, the girl found her prince. He loved the same movies she did and played the same video games. They talked for hours, day and night. He was patient when she said he was her first relationship, understanding when she said she hated pet names, kind when she said she didn’t like public affection. He was perfect.
The girl dumped him two months later.
Once upon a time, the girl learned the word lithromantic: a person who feels romantic attraction towards others, but doesn’t want the attraction reciprocated. She learned that a lithromantic may begin and enjoy a romantic relationship before suddenly finding their attraction disappears. The girl thought of her ex-boyfriend, and realized that what she wanted from him was platonic love, but with the commitment of a romantic relationship. It made the girl feel selfish, but relieved in the knowledge that there was a word for her affliction, for other people like her.
Once upon a time, the girl caught herself flirting with her coworker, and cut herself off. No, she thought to herself, give it two months and it will go away. It went away, and the girl and her coworker remained close friends. Still, she wonders if maybe he might have been the one other women have been telling her about — the person her heart has been waiting to fix itself for. She wonders if she just needs to lower her standards a little more, be more patient. She wonders if her ex-boyfriend is happy without her.
Once upon a time, the girl explained asexuality to her sister.
“But,” her sister said, “You have so many toys.”
“Yes,” said the girl, “That is true.”
The girl could tell her sister didn’t fully get it, but was at least supportive. Her sister didn’t understand why the girl found men attractive at all. The girl shrugged and said, “I like the art at the Louvre but I’m not gonna fuck a painting.”
Once upon a time, the girl met another asexual.
“Holy shit,” she said, “This has never happened to me before. It’s like meeting a unicorn!”
The other asexual said, “Yes!” and “There’s another one in our grad program too.”
Once upon a time, the girl’s friend sent her a picture from their latest group outing together. The girl realized that all five women in the picture were queer: three asexuals including herself, a lesbian, and a pansexual. The girl stared at the picture for five minutes, racking her brain for the best ‘five queer women walk into a bar’ joke she could think of. She came up with none but saved the photo to her phone anyway. She looks at it from time to time and thinks: At last, a happy end.