So, Friday night Marcy and I stopped at Cupcake Royale, the hipster cupcake place here in Seattle, to pick up dessert for the Girl Game. Marcy was just recently voted in to the Girl Game to replace a member who bailed on us. Most of the girls cook for the game, I, alas, do not cook. Or at least not often. So when we play at someone’s house that isn’t mine, I bring dessert.
Anyway, we get to Cupcake Royale last night, and we’re getting chatted up by the cute boy cupcake wrangler and barista. He was asking us what we’re up to that night. Marcy and I look at each other and answer, “Girl’s night.”
“Well, what do you guys do on ‘Girl’s Night?'”
“We hang out, have dinner, play games.”
“What kind of games?”
“Well, games, um, sometimes we play Rock Band.”
Yeah, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to tell the hot boy behind the counter that we were going to go roll dice and pretend to be zombie hunters for about four hours. There we were, two loud, proud Geek Girls, who engage in multiple gaming groups, go to gaming conventions, run games for people on the fly, and there we were, dancing around the subject of what exactly we were going off to do that night, because the boy doing the asking was hot and we didn’t want to scare him off.
All right, I lie, I DID say something about role-playing, but I also waited until he was grinding the coffee for my espresso.
Afterwards, after the gaming and the not-gaming and the talking, when I got home and crawled into bed, I replayed that little interaction in the cupcake shop, and cringed. I could not believe I’d been such a weenie about admitting that we were going to be role-playing. I mean, yeah, part of the hesitation to declare that comes from a desire to avoid having to explain what exactly role-playing entails. But a big chunk of it was, “Oh God, don’t freak out the hot normal boy!”
It’s a dynamic I’ve argued about with friends in the pagan, kink, LGBTQ and poly subcultures. I have a lot of friends who view being out as a moral imperative. “You have to show people that we aren’t just flakes calling ourselves ‘Starshadow Ravensfury.’ That we’re real people, too!” And to an extent, yes, they’re right. People are never going to get comfortable with queer, kinky, pagan, poly people unless they realize that “Bob” in the cubicle next to them, the really awesomely nice guy who’ll chip in money if you’re short for lunch, and who never expects to be paid back, has multiple partners, or worships Gaea, or likes to get beaten with a cane, or… You get the picture.
And, I mean, I am out to an extent at work. My co-workers know I’m pagan and bisexual, one or two of them know I have a girlfriend in addition to Mr. Geek Girls What Rules, and some of them even know I’m kinky and a gamer. But sometimes you want to have interactions with people without having to do spin control. You know, without having to field questions/comments like, “But you’re a GIRL!” or “You bathe,” or “You have social skills” or “But you have a sense of style.” Sometimes you just want to have a normal interaction with another human being without having to trot out the whiteboard and diagram the many facets of your subculture, and “No, we aren’t all mouth-breathing, moist-palmed, troglodytes living in our parents’ basements, and honestly, those are kind of the minority.”
So, yeah, maybe it’s a little cowardly, but mostly it’s just a desire to avoid having to play 20 Questions with someone you just want to flirt with a little before you tip them, take your coffee and cupcakes and go roll some dice.