author bio

imageKathy Anderson

Dip Me in Honey and Throw Me to the Lesbians

When she saw the baby, Jane was a little drunk from martinis at the art museum. Big martinis. Little baby. But not drunk enough that she imagined the little bearded baby, a girl in striped leggings and a raspberry dress, with curly blond hair on her head and on her face. Downy hair on her plump cheeks and tufts on her little chin. A hairy little beard on a little girl baby. The baby’s parents, a cool urban couple, were eating—the father holding her football style dangling over his arm; the mother keeping one eye on the baby, as mothers do, while leaning in the opposite direction to talk and laugh with her friends.

The baby was inches away from Jane’s elbow so she couldn’t say anything out loud to her friends. She turned around to send eye signals to Leanna, but Leanna was fixated on the dessert case full of cakes. They and five other friends were in line at a tiny art museum area restaurant fashioned out of a 100-year-old row house.

People were eating all around them in what would have been the house’s entryway and living room. The kitchen was off the back. There was a twisty staircase with sloping wornout hardwood steps leading to another small dining room upstairs. It was the kind of place where you literally stood in the aisle next to the tiny tables of the restaurant looking down on other people’s food. Those eating tried to ignore those standing and staring.

They had been standing there waiting for a long time even though they had a reservation. It was 10 p.m. They were starving. The hostess, who was usually stationed behind the dessert case by the door, had disappeared upstairs. She couldn’t face them anymore. She had run out of excuses, having used up “They’re clearing your table right now,” “Just a few more minutes, I promise,” and all the other usual delaying tactics.

Jane and her friends hadn’t eaten appetizers at the art museum event because they were saving themselves for this place afterwards. This cool little fabulous restaurant, the top rated one in a neighborhood full of cool little fabulous restaurants. They were foodie and winey lesbians; that was their thing. They went from restaurant to restaurant, tasting and comparing, and they roamed the city going to happy hours, benefit fundraisers, and museum nights. They were allegedly looking for other women but Jane thought the truth was they were all really happy being in a girl gang again. All of them had stopped doing internet dating once they found this group. She noticed that they didn’t reach out to each other for dates either. And as far as she knew, none of them were sleeping together. Without talking about it, they all knew what that would lead to eventually—an end to their happy social group and a return to empty weekends and no one to eat and drink with.

“If I pass out from hunger, I’m going to land right in that guy’s osso bucco,” Leanna said into Jane’s hair. She moaned, “It smells soooooo good in here.”

Jane took a chance and whispered back at Leanna, twisting her head around to get closer, “There’s a bearded baby. Right there. Look.”

“What’s that?” said Leanna.

Jane mouthed, “A bearded baby.”

“I don’t know what that is,” said Leanna. “Is that Australian slang for something delicious?” Jane had lived in Australia for a few years with her second ex and sometimes she’d break into Aussie talk. Leanna teased her about it regularly.

“No, it’s an actual bearded baby. A baby with a beard,” said Jane, trying to keep her voice very low.

“Not another name for a little tart? It sounds like a scrumptious little tart. Would you like a bearded baby? Take two, they’re small,” laughed Leanna. Jane thought, man, she turns into a dimwit the minute she starts drinking martinis. Pay attention, Leanna. I’m trying to tell you something.

Jane tried again. “Leanna, look. Red haired couple with the blond baby.”

Leanna searched through the diners. “Oh MY,” said Leanna when she saw them.

The mother felt the two women looking at her baby. You can feel eyes looking at you, she thought, it’s true. She was mightily sick of it. She wanted one night out with her friends, crunched together at a great restaurant over many bottles of wine. She wanted to walk home a little drunk with her husband and their baby and stumble happily into their house without anything making her mad. She wanted to be a regular mom with a regular baby. She felt like they were a celebrity family, the object of snuck glances, people mouthing things and rolling their eyes, whispering. Every time they went out in public, she felt like standing up and making a little speech –

My baby daughter has a beard. It happens. Every so often in nature, a baby is born with a beard. Some babies have birthmarks. Some babies have tongues too big for their mouths. Some babies are born without earlobes. My baby has a beard. I am not going to take a shaver to her precious face. I am not going to give her toxic medicine. I am not going to do one damn thing about it. I am going to have a happy baby girl grow up with a beard and see what happens when she gets older. Maybe it will fall off all by itself. Okay, everyone?Back to your dinner now. Thank you for your concernwhich is really intrusive and  insensitive voyeurism, by the wayand leave us the fuck alone.

Her husband said she should do it. If it was such a strain for her to feel the looks landing on her, if it felt like blows hitting her, if it felt so awful to her, then she should just stand up and give them a little talking-to.

He used expressions like that, a little talking-to. Who the hell talks like that? He was such a pedantic asshole sometimes, she thought. He sounded like an 80-year-old schoolmarm. She hated him so much for his laid-back nature. Jesus, he acted like having a bearded baby was no big deal. It was a big fucking deal, she thought. If I hear that story about his  niece Jammy one more time, how Jammy was born with a fuzzy back like a little bear cub and how all the fuzzy brown extra hair just disappeared—no problem—when she turned a year old. She wanted to scream every time she heard it. A face is not a back, you asshole. They could put clothes on Jammy and presto, just like that, she wasn’t a freak baby any more. What were they supposed to do, put a face veil on their baby, cover her beard like she was a little Muslim?

She remembered the night she met him, at a huge peace rally where people were chanting and banging on drums and the night air was full of angry speeches and insistent calls to action. And there he stood, grinning like a fool. And she thought, boy, that guy is a happy man even on the brink of a catastrophic immoral war. I want to be with him. I’ll pick up happiness from standing next to him. Anything bad that happens in our life together will go easier with a happy man like that.

Now she couldn’t stand him. She would give anything for a flash of anger from him once in a while, an acknowledgement that they had been dealt a terrible hand. My baby has a beard and it’s all your fault, she thought. Your genetic contribution made this happen. Not mine. My baby has flawless skin. Your baby was born with a fucking beard and it hasn’t gone away and she’s three months old now. I better stop drinking, I’m starting to swear a lot. That’s my signal.

But she poured herself another big glass of wine and gulped it down fast. Fucking lesbians. Why don’t you go stare at yourselves and leave my baby alone. She couldn’t stand lesbians either, ever since college when they were the cool girls and she couldn’t make friends with them because she was straight and she didn’t pretend to be gay like all those other girls who shaved their heads and wore T-shirts that said “Dip Me in Honey and Throw Me to the Lesbians.” And they were no more gay than she was, they just wanted to hang out with Shane and Astra and TJ and Chickie—God, she couldn’t believe she remembered all their names, those smoky girls with their tiny undershirts and tattoos and pierced everything, those girls who ran the literary magazine and the theatre, the girls who were going to do BIG COOL IMPORTANT things with their lives, you just knew it.

“We should leave,” said Kelly, behind Jane and Leanna. “This is ridiculous. We had a reservation. I’m going to grab pommes frites off somebody’s table if I don’t eat soon.”

“We’d have to start waiting somewhere else all over again,” said Leanna. “And it’s 10 now. Lots of places stop serving. I say we charge up those stairs and force the hostess to deal with us. We’re too nice. That’s our problem.”

Jane thought, I am too nice. That ismy problem. All my ex-lovers leave me for women with nasty mouths who make scenes in restaurants. And yet they stay together. They leave me and they stay with the nasty ones. This is an important clue to the mystery of my love life.

The hostess came tiptoeing down the stairs with a tray of wine glasses. A server followed her with two open bottles of wine. They poured very full glasses for Jane, Leanna, Kelly and the other women in their party. “I promise,” the hostess said. Leanna, dazzled by the free wine, flirted with her. “Oh, you promise all right,” Leanna said. “You’re a big promiser, aren’t you? How ‘bout delivering on that promise, babe?” The hostess laughed and poured her more wine.

Jane did not want to drink any more but she was so hungry she thought maybe the alcohol would take the place of food for a few minutes. She gulped down the glass and held it out for a refill. The restaurant seemed to get louder and now it was fun to be standing elbow to elbow watching other people eat, great to be out on a Saturday night with a crowd of good-looking women like herself. We are SO not losers, Jane thought. This is proof. Look at us, in a fabulous restaurant enjoying ourselves. Take that, ex-lovers. I hope you are all sitting at home wearing sweatpants and stuffing your fat behinds with pizza and beer and being utterly bored with each other and your lives.

The mother of the baby thought the lesbians had a lot of nerve. They were getting louder and louder and she couldn’t hear what her friends were saying. The whole restaurant seemed to be screaming but all she could see was mouths flapping and she was left out of the conversation. She turned to her husband but he was busy telling a long funny story to his friend. The baby was getting restless. She made a ack-ack-ack noise and wriggled and kicked her legs. Her husband put his hand on the baby’s cheek and stroked her absentmindedly, like he was petting a cat.

“Stop it,” said the mother. “Give me my baby. Don’t pet her like she’s a cat.” She stood up and grabbed at the baby. Her husband kept hold and gave her a gentle raised-eyebrow, one of those married-people looks meant to convey, Dear, you’re getting a little out of hand, sit down and knock it off.

She glared at him and sat down. Don’t give the lesbians more to stare at. Look at the parents of the bearded baby fighting in public. Look at them tossing her around like a hot potato. Suddenly she wanted to go home. She felt drunk and angry and surrounded by strangers. But the lesbians were clogging up the aisle. She couldn’t see any way to get past them until they were seated.

Jane saw the exchange between the parents, heard what the mother said. She sympathized totally with the father. When you love someone, you love everything about them, she thought. You love their hair, you love their smells, you love everything that makes them what they are. She thought it was sweet that he touched the baby’s beard. You need to touch her like that so she knows in her bones that she is perfect.

Jane remembered sitting in her grandmother’s lap when she was little. Her aunts, her Mom, her women cousins would be talking around the kitchen table and her grandmother would be listening and laughing and smoothing Jane’s hair. She remembered the bliss of being touched with love and being surrounded by the women who loved her and she smiled at the baby’s mother as if to say, Hey, lighten up, you have a good guy there, and in that instant the mother stood up and threw her fork at Jane. She dodged it and it landed at her feet.

“Don’t smile at me,” the mother said to Jane. “Don’t look at me and don’t smile at me.” She picked up a knife and pointed it at Jane. “You people.”

It seemed to Jane that the restaurant hushed instantly. The servers froze mid-service. The hostess stopped dead on the stairs. The other diners stopped eating, forks halfway to their mouths.

Jane said, “I didn’t do anything.” She looked around at the room full of strangers who looked like they expected an explanation. “I didn’t do anything to her. I was just standing here.” But in her heart she knew she had done something, something bad. She was guilty. She had pointed out the baby to Leanna like the infant was a freak show and not a little girl.

“You smiled at me,” said the mother, aware now that she sounded blurry even to herself. She tried hard not to be so drunk, to crisp up her diction. “Keep your fucking smiles to yourself. Nobody wants you here. You’re clogging up the aisle and you’re too loud and I’m sick of you looking at me. I am really sick of you.” The mother seemed to get a head of steam going the longer she talked. Now she slammed the knife down, stood up, pushed the table aside, and squeezed out next to Jane.

God, I wish I could let loose like that, thought Jane. I have never told anyone what I really think of them like that. I have never ever made a spectacle of myself in front of strangers. I have never thrown anything at my lovers, no matter how much I felt like it as they walked away, ripping holes in my heart.

Jane didn’t have time to be afraid, it was happening so fast. The mother bumped up close to her in the crowded space. She smelled the wine on Jane’s breath and the lemon shampoo in her hair. She saw Jane’s black bra in the gap between her shirt buttons. She thought why don’t lesbians ever let me be their friend? Why do they have to congregate in groups and push women like me away? Why can’t I go out drinking and dancing and having fun and doing cool things with them? She swayed a little, dizzy and dreamy, thinking longingly of herself as a college girl, no baby, no husband.

Jane touched her on the arm to steady her. She saw the three of them—mother, father, and little bearded baby girl—walking home later together to a house full of toys and happy noises and baby smells. She wanted to say something important to the mother, something to touch the anger and sooth it away, something to make it all right.

“There is no one,” Jane said. “I have no one to shoot me a look.”  She nodded towards the woman’s husband. “No one who knows me so well she can just look at me and I know exactly what thought she is sending me.”

“I hate when he does that. He drives me crazy,” said the mother.

“Lovers. What are you going to do,” Jane took a chance and smiled at her again, because Jane was a nice woman and nice women want to feel good and they want others to feel good and a smile usually doesn’t incite people to throw forks. A smile usually makes people smile back. She wanted to feel that being threatened with utensils was an unusual response to a smile and very unlikely to happen again.

The mother leaned even closer. She liked the steadying feeling of Jane’s hand on her elbow. Wheee, I’m a little dizzy, she thought. She liked the confiding tone of Jane’s voice. She forgot why she originally came over to Jane and what she was going to say. She felt like she was at a party and had met someone new to talk to while her husband was off in another corner. She said, “We haven’t had sex since the baby was born. I’m not really thinking of him as my lover lately.”

The other diners resumed eating, some of them looking up regularly to make sure nothing violent was going to happen. Leanna and Kelly and the other women made their way toward the hostess on the stairs, edging away from Jane and the mother. Jane heard Leanna say, “We’re coming up, babe, ready or not,” and they all clattered up the stairs towards the hostess, turning to gesture to Jane. She waved back to them that she’d be there in a minute.

“That’s easily fixed, isn’t it?” Jane said. “You could have a naughty tonight. You could go right home and fix that, couldn’t you?” Her Aussie crept out when she was buzzed. They both looked over at the father, who was dressing the baby in her coat and hat, getting her ready to leave.

The woman laughed and swayed a little more, “He’s so proper he probably wouldn’t. He’d say it’s more beautiful and special when you’re sober or some shit like that. And I am not sober, that’s for sure.”

“Take it when you can get it, that’s what I say,” said Jane. “Not that I do.”

“You’re kidding, a beautiful woman like you? What’s wrong with these women?” said the mother.

“You tell me. It’s all a big mystery to me,” said Jane. She liked being called “beautiful” even if it was from a straight woman. Lesbians at her age, in their 40s, with a few ex-lovers under their belts and bruised hearts, reminded her of shy dogs who needed a lot of coaxing before they’d stop ducking and shaking when you put your hand out to pet them. She was like that too. But she wanted a woman like an eager dog, a woman who got excited to see her, a woman who got in the play position and stayed there.

The restaurant got loud again. It was late now and everyone had drunk a lot of wine. Jane felt like she was leaning on a bar, having a great conversation with a stranger, one that she wouldn’t remember later no matter how hard she tried.

“You know what I really really really hate. He handles me. He is sitting here right now handling this situation from afar,” said the mother.

Oh, what the hell, Jane thought. She took a deep breath. “You know what I really hate,” she said. “A woman who doesn’t appreciate that she has everything. A woman who has never been so lonely she could eat her shoes.”

“What does that mean?” said the mother. “You’re that lonely?” Her husband approached, holding out the baby. The mother opened her arms.

“Yes. I am very very lonely,” said Jane, and the simple fact of saying the words out loud shook something loose in her heart. I am very very lonely and there’s a table full of women waiting for me upstairs and they are ripping bread apart and dipping it in olive oil right now and ordering lovely risottos and gorgeous salads full of special little treats and when dessert comes, we will all share the sweetness and I swear that before the night is over, I will sit on someone’s lap and lift her hair to kiss her neck and I will feel bliss again. I will.

Author Bio

Kathy AndersonKathy Anderson is an award-winning playwright and fiction writer living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her full-length play, FRONT ROW SEAT, will receive its world premiere in November 2010 with Philadelphia Theatre Workshop, where she is associate artistic director and playwright-in-residence. Previous productions and staged readings of her plays have been held in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Arizona. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her fiction, poems, and essays have been published in magazines, literary journals, and anthologies. Her website is

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