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The Standard Model



At the Hilton for a charity event with silent auction. Of all that I do in my present tired and cranky state, public socializing is most taxing. But, I know the organizers and I support their work. They'll help Ann later, so I feel obliged. I don't drink and never have, a nod to my passion for control, but now I couldn't even if I wanted to change a lifetime habit. Ann has four or five of these events around the holidays and begged off.

I circulated, receiving greetings from acquaintances who remember little about me except that I am sick. Most of them speak briefly with an unctuous tone that substitutes for real empathy. Having placed bids on several items that I don't really want or need, but will give to our friends should I win, I stood at the bar, sipping a ginger ale. Earlier, as I circulated, I realized that about thirty percent of the men in the crowd were gay. I knew this because I've met many of them in social settings.

A friend saw me and joined me at the bar. I've known him for a long time, and he knows Ann and the history of our somewhat unusual marriage. I thought I'd found a way to make the evening less painful until a gay male couple I know casually and my friend knows well joined us. My friend had obviously at some point mentioned to the couple that I'm bisexual. The couple looked at me as if I were an accidentally caught coelacanth; they couldn't quite see what place I had in a modern ecosystem.

One member of the couple was sympathetic, and, with a significant level of ethanol lubrication, tried to say that it must be hard to live as a pendulum. How do I know, the questioner almost tactfully asked, whether my compass needle is pointing to men or women at a given moment. Oh, the horror, the horror. I chose to regard the questions as born of genuine curiosity and not social incapacity.

Never one to avoid a moment of possible instruction, I waded in, suggesting that I was not a pendulum, but more like the quantum mechanics description of an electron. My general state of attraction could only be described by a statement of wave-form probability that always included both men and women in varying combinations, and that only at the time of a given observation, should I invite an observer, could the result of my state of attraction be precisely defined.

The couple was confused, and wandered away. My friend, unhappy with their obtuseness, said that the confusion served them right. I went home having won a couple of bottles of wine which were useless to me, but which friends will consume at holiday gatherings in our home, attended, among others, by a few other coelacanths.

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