Lesbian Lady Love at Bourbon Steak, Part One

In honor of Valentine's Day next week and in the wake of her recent married man disaster, our Love Bites gal Riki Altman is sharing a love story of a different kind--the homosexual kind. Enjoy.

A friend of mine wrote in an e-mail: "I've got someone perfect for you! Fun, attractive, really different--I know you'll have a blast. Just tell me which restaurant you want to hit and I'll set up the blind date."

Explicitly trusting said buddy--perhaps for the last time--I told her since "Sam" lived in Delray, she should send him down to Aventura. I hadn't been to Bourbon Steak for a while and found myself craving a mound of duck fat fries.

Since my Biltmore blind date turned out to be a pleasant surprise, at least at first, I thought it best not to ask too many questions about Sam. I assumed he was someone Palm Beach-y, maybe even preppy like my last date, and probably moneyed. But when I finally arrived at the bar--45 minutes late, I should add--he was nowhere to be found. So I sat. And waited. That was especially strange since he just got done texting me that he had brown hair and was wearing jeans and a striped, long-sleeved shirt.

"I'm here! Where are you?" I wrote.

"@ the bar. Where r u?" he responded.

"Bourbon Steak's bar?"

"Y. What r u wearing?"

"A brown vest, grey pants and brown boots. You?"

Then out of nowhere, the girl sitting a few seats down takes the last sip of her cocktail, gets up, walks over, smiles and says, "I'm Sam."

Still not registering what was happening, I brainlessly reply, "Um, hi. Do we know each other?"

"You must be 'Rick,'" she responded, using air quotes. "I think our mutual friend [who shall remain nameless] is playing a trick on us."

It took me a moment to realize that Sam was lesbian. She didn't look like Sandra Bernhard or Jane Lynch. She was really cute, like Carey Mulligan, and her voice was more Natalie Portman than Melissa Etheridge. (Sweeping stereotypes, I know, but those are straight girl go-to references, so forgive me.)

"Oh gawd," I replied. "I'm sorry, but [nameless friend] knows I'm totally hetero. This was really cruel of her. My name is Riki, by the way, not Rick." And once I regained my composure, I continued, "But listen, if you're up for it, why don't we have dinner together, anyhow? I do this dating column and I'd love to share details with the readers about dating lesbian-style. Are you up for the Jewish Inquisition?"

"You're Jewish, too?" she responded. That was just about the last ethnicity I would've guessed for her. Obviously she got that reaction often because she quickly responded, "My mom is Chinese and my Dad is Jewish. Bet I'm the only Chinese Jewish lesbian you'll ever meet. Ha. Let's eat."

We had a good laugh about that as we were escorted to a candlelit corner booth. Even though I wasn't thinking about romance anymore at this point, Bourbon Steak's leather-and-glass environs always have a way of making me soft. And the smell of chocolate soufflés and smoky steaks made my stomach whine with desire.

"So, let's pretend we're on a lesbian date then," I instructed. "Who does the ordering?"

That's when we got into a whole discussion about tops, bottoms, and middles. Yes, it seems lesbians also have tops and bottoms, just like gay men, but these translate to more "butch" versus "femme." And "middles" are gals who like to switch it up. (Wikipedia labels them "versatile," but let's take my source as the gospel.) After asking me a few questions, she determined we were both "middles," which makes role defining in the dating realm even more challenging.

According to Sam, myriad challenges exist for these lady lovers, not the least of which is determining whether the target of their attraction plays for the same team or is just a straight gal looking to live out her Katy Perry fantasy for a night. Not all lesbians like to be labeled, either. But for her, if the classification isn't obvious by the time she and her potential lover are on their first date, a discussion has to be had regarding which category they consider themselves. Butches will probably ask for the date. Femmes will wait for the invitation. For middles, it's anyone's game. And when two middles go out for the date, it's anyone's guess who will do the paying.

"I always try to pay the bill," Sam informed me, "regardless of who did the asking." If she doesn't win the right, she feels the proper thing to say is, "Thanks. I'll get it next time."

I told her us breeder females are often caught in the crosshairs, too, since women have become so accustomed to offering to split the bill. Some men consider this a welcome gesture. Others are insulted at the thought and are left wondering if their gal thinks he can't afford the meal or perhaps that this is her way of saying, "Let's just be friends."

We shared a moment of mutual understanding, all the while scarfing down the complimentary fries with a trio of sauces, then opened the menus and decided we were going to split as many plates as our stomachs could handle. We began the eating orgy after I took the reins by ordering a honkin' Maine lobster pot pie, which was decapitated tableside and shoveled expertly out of its copper pot onto shiny white plates.

Check back next week to see if I kissed a girl... and liked it.

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Riki Altman