"It's hard to pinpoint exactly when I strayed from that course and ended up, at 27, single and perilously close to losing my virginity every other week. Perhaps it was the day I received my college acceptance letter from New York University. My mother was terrified. "Elna," she said nervously, "the first thing that will happen in New York is you might start to swear. Swearing will lead to drinking, and drinking will lead to drugs. And Elna," she continued, looking directly into my eyes, "what would you do if a lesbian tried to make out with you?"
My mother, who once referred to Manhattan as Babylon, sat with her arms folded, waiting for me to answer.
"I'd say, 'No, thank you... lesbian.'"
She rolled her eyes. "There's one more thing," she said. "There are clubs in New York where men pay women to dance with very little clothing on. Don't do that."
22 September 2009
From Elna Baker's story in October's Glamour magazine.