Singled Out: Chronicles of a Nobody Out and About in Los Angeles!
Entertainment publicist Mona Elyafi regales us with the oft, not so glamourous side of lesbian life in Los Angeles. This week, Mona cops to being a clean freak and to her need for control. But is she a top or a bottom when it comes to the bedroom?
I almost always never pick up my land phone when it rings. But when I do, I always -- and I mean ALWAYS -- answer as rudely as possible because 90 percent of the time it’s either one of those annoying telemarketers or credit card debt collectors. Ad for the other 1 percent well, we’ll call it a wrong number. So really what’s the point in answering?
Nobody ever gives out their home number anymore because everybody has gone cellular. It’s not just a matter of convenience and practicality, it’s an addiction. God forbid if we’d leave home without our cell, we’d feel naked, incomplete and handicapped. The irony is that in the process we’ve all lost our cells -- the brainy ones!
But the reason why, I occasionally, bother to pick up my land phone is because I find a certain pleasure in being terribly obnoxious to my interlocutor, not only because I can but especially because I can! It gives me a certain sense of control. If you hadn’t already noticed, I am quite a control freak. It’s a genetic disease.
As much I resisted the myth of “like mother, like daughter,” I am utterly shocked to realize that I have totally become the exact replica of my mother -- albeit a younger version. My mom’s claim to fame within our family is her uncanny obsessive compulsive need to clean -- in other words, she’s a clean freak.
I had long resisted the impulse, or at least I thought I did, but ever since I adopted my little puppy, Mister George Michael, somehow I am either holding the vacuum, Ajax, Clorox wipes or Windex. Much like her, I could spend hours extolling the virtues of a brilliant cleaning invention like Swiffer. And to say that I love my Swiffer is to put it mildly.
Also, much like her, when I’m done cleaning I ban access to my home to anyone for at least a couple of hours so that I may enjoy the feeling and scent of cleanliness. The same goes for my poor little dog after a bath. I sequester him in the apartment with no bathroom breaks for as long as he can hold it. Of course it’s never long enough for me to fully enjoy the rewards of my labor and to keep my dog snow white. Infallibly, he always pees on his paws. I want... no -- I NEED -- to have things including but not limited to my home, my dog and even myself sparkling at all times -- too bad my car somehow skipped the equation. More than symptomatic, it is a predilection or perhaps just the Courteney Cox “Monica” syndrome.
So I have a control problem! I can’t help it if I need to be on top of things. But isn’t it better to be on top than at the bottom? There goes another one of my philosophical reflections in my indefatigable pursuit of “who is I,” which brings me to my new found existentialistic dilemma: in an L Word world, am I Jennifer Beals’ Bette or Laurel Holloman’s Tina?
And who better to help me achieve this spiritual enlightenment in my womanly journey on earth than a man -- and not just any man: the one who understands me better than I thought I knew myself, namely Edward.
Honestly, I am not surprised that once again I got to learn about the facts of life from a member of the opposite sex because as much as this is Mona’s world, it truly would be nothing without my men and my gays!
I should tell you about the time when I was eleven years old vacationing in Italy, in the company of men, with my older brother and my uncle. Out of nowhere, God, with another one of his brilliant master plans decided to make me a woman. My mom had briefly given me the educational speech about “Aunt Flo” but of course I absolutely did not listen to a word she said. So there I was in the hotel room’s bathroom with a box of pads in my hands and totally clueless on how to use them. I just couldn’t figure out which side was which and thought it made sense to have the sticker part rest against my woo-woo. I had reasoned that it wouldn’t move that way. I said before, reading manuals was and still is not my forte.
Needless to say, I am deeply grateful for my brother who not only saved me from the humiliating embarrassment of buying the box of feminine diapers but, as well took the time to read the directions and instruct me -- from behind the door of course -- on where to place the adhesive side. Let’s just say that some irreparable long term detrimental damages to my womanhood were avoided. Even then, despite my vulnerable maxi pads mishap, I was very much in charge of the situation, controlling my brother. What can I say, I’m every woman… it’s all in my competitive me!
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When Edward called me from Paris last week, we somehow dedicated an entire hour of our conversation debating the Bette / Tina polemic. What we were mainly trying to establish was whether I was more one than the other -- meaning, am I the one in charge or the one who lets herself be taken in charge of? Am I of a dominant or submissive nature? Am I the active or passive one? Am I a top or a bottom?
He suggested that resolving this puzzle would help me better target the kind of women I should really be going after. I hate to admit it but he did have a point here, after all my dating track record has not proven to be extraordinarily successful so far and this is mainly attributed to my uncanny natural inclination to always find the wrong type of woman the most attractive. It might also possibly explain the reason why, more often than not, I never get the girl I chase. I guess I should be grateful that at least one of us is smart enough to realize you can’t start a fire without a match. My consolation in coming to terms with this revelation is that my flirting failures were never about being out of someone’s league as much as they were about being in the exact same league.
Truthfully I never thought of defining myself in those terms because I always saw myself as both. Yet according to Edward, one tangent has to ultimately prevail. That’s precisely when I had to remind him that I am a Gemini and that depending on which twin is taking over at a specific moment in time, I can be the giver just as much as I can be the receiver.
The only common denominator with my polar opposites is that no matter which personality ends up winning over, I without fail, become it to the extreme. This is where my confusion truly stems from, because the whole point of being gay for me is the freedom it gives me to transcend stereotypes with regards to gender identity and be able to alternate between both my feminine and masculine energy.
I never looked at the top/bottom dynamic as a negotiation of power or two distinctively separate entities and immutable roles. Why should I choose one over the other when I enjoy the flexibility of both topping and bottoming? I can see how it is of a primordial concern for gay men but for me transmuting the issue over to the Lesbian culture defeats the whole purpose of being gay. Is it a crime to be practicing the “Flip Flop” philosophy and cultivating the art of spontaneous reversal of roles? Am I breaking any secret codes of the lesbian sorority for my versatile skills to alternatively be a Bette and a Tina?
The problem, Edward suggested is not so much how I see myself as much as how people perceive me based on the stereotypical butch-femme expectation. Admittedly I send out more “topish” vibes than “bottomish” ones. But the fact that I like to be on top of things doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to be on top of people all the time -- if you catch my drift! Even the control freak in me knows that the one virtue of being on top of my shit means to know how and when to go with the flow -- because even at the bottom you can be the one on top. And if people have a problem with which I exactly am then that exactly is their problem.
Mona Elyafi is the author of “DisCOKEnnected” - a memoir, available at Amazon.com. She is also the founder & CEO of ILDK Media, a Los Angeles-based entertainment PR company – www.ILDKMedia.net.
Miss the last "Singled Out"? Read it here.