I've never been good at confiding. It's easy to assume that most of my straight friends (and queer friends too) don't want to hear about the mesmerizing girl in my physics class. Sometimes its fun to talk with a particular straight guy friend who thinks I'm a novelty - he likes that I can identify with the problem of a distractingly beautiful girl keeping you from being able to follow the dry lines of dusty equations creeping across the blackboard.
But I can tell YOU. So I think I will.
I don't know her name. I have no idea who she is or what she does. I just know that she has dark, discerning eyes.
Not too long ago, we had to give class presentations in this astrophysics class. I love public speaking. I'm good at it - articulate and a natural performer. But the very best part of speaking is finding those one or two people in your audience who you can actually give your speech to. Those people will lock eyes with you and lean forward. They will engage with you, and you can draw your stamina from them. They make you feel like you have the power to continue to talk. However, I had never found an audience member who made me feel more than powerful - made me feel sexy. Imagine - feeling like a sex god while talking about extrasolar planet atmospheric biosignatures. When those eyes that lock with yours belong to a mysteriously beautiful woman, your passion for atmospheric methane becomes almost inspiring. And you blush and grin, and if possible become an even better public speaker.
You skip to a slide whose heading is "atmospheric methane" and whose background is an adorable cow. She audibly giggles. You move your arms to demonstrate a vibrational mode of a carbon dioxide molecule. She seems to eye your biceps. You ask rhetorical questions. She silently mouths the answers to you. She makes you feel like a sexy, studly public speaking god.
After the presentation, much of your spacey class is staring off into . . . well, space. But a few people have good questions. And the dark-eyed brunette has an intelligent, interesting, and relevant question. She poses it almost as a challenge to your authority and your poise. Her voice is low and smooth. She gives you a crooked smile that dares you think on your feet . . . and to tear off all her clothes. Or maybe you are just imagining that second part. Maybe she really does care about the net oxidation state of atmospheric carbon compounds necessary for life to persist on a habitable planet. Or maybe she wants a reason for me to speak directly to her.
Is it possible that those beautiful, attentive eyes and coy, crooked smile really did care about the physics? Yeah . . . it is. In retrospect, I have to concede that is was more than likely. And of course I don't have the courage to meet any part of her implicit challenge other than very clearly explaining that the overall oxidation state of carbon compounds on Earth averages out to about 0. When I sit down after speaking, I break eye contact and become shy again. I was probably just imagining that fantastic spark of chemistry. On the way out she grins at me, "hey, great talk" and I mumble a blushing "thanks." Then she pulls up her hood and vanishes into the snow. With all her clothes on. And I'm left to sort out how I could have felt so sexy under the gaze of a beautiful, straight woman who simply appreciated learning some astrophysics from a competent teacher.