“You’re going to be mistaken for a lesbian couple” Sula’s* mom told her upon learning that I would be attending the banquet of Sula’s scientific conference as her date. Prior to this comment it had never occurred to Sula that someone might assume we are a couple.
Tragically my actions and words did nothing to dispel this potential rumour. For starters while watching Sula get ready, the words “You always look beautiful to me” may have come out of my mouth multiple times, thus leaving her lab mate Joel** wondering whether after the professional function, we were going to retire to our room and have naked pillow fights then cuddle.
Also, Sula wore a gorgeous red dress which attracted a lot of attention. In the cocktail groups that formed, men would work in the comment “You look stunning by the way” at which point Joel would quip, “you’re like the tenth person to say that” then I would eagerly add “but I was the first!” To add to the mixed signal fire, during dinner, Sula and I discussed our shared dream of running away together and raising our love child.
I don’t think these comments and discussions helped our platonic relationship cause. Luckily Sula has experience with wrongly assumed roles. One Christmas, she and her brother decided to have photos taken together for their mother’s gift. At first everything went smoothly; Sula found a studio in the mall and showed up with her tall, good looking brother. This was the part where things went off the rails. The photographer kept asking Sula to touch her brother in the photos and lean against him in the poses. It was only when they were lying on the ground on top of one another that Sula’s brother intervened “You know we’re brother and sister right?” he said. The direction of the photography session changed drastically after that.
Having heard this story before arriving at the conference, I unabashedly shared my love for Sula with anyone who would listen. Happily, she wasn’t too embarrassed. However, only time will tell if I’m invited to attend another of her work functions.
After spending two glorious days together, Sula and I were dropped off at the airport by a twelve year old boy who was responsible for driving the shuttle. “What were you doing in the city?” he kindly asked Sula and I. “She had a conference and I was her date.” I answered. “Because I love her” and “She was the best looking lady there” may have been added in there too. This prompted the young man to ask “Did you go on any other dates while you were here?”
Mark one for effectively convincing a stranger of our couple status.