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the whole story (as told to marie)
of course, i've unscrambled it a little, substituted 'marie' for 'you,' and left out all her interjections. i also type 'gay,' but telling it to her, i said 'bad' or just 'that word.' so here is the answer to the question: how did you come out of the closet to christine and jim?

it started back in april 2001, i guess, when i found out jim liked me. i didn't like him back because i don't like guys. because news spreads like wildfire at that store, before long, everybody knew that jim liked me, and not long after that came the news that i didn't like jim back, although that part was a little more selective in who it reached. it did reach terrie. i hardly knew terrie, but when i would talk to christine about jim, terrie would always ask me why i didn't like jim, and insist that there had to be a reason. any lie i could tell wasn't good enough for her, so eventually, i became convinced that she knew i was gay and hated me for it. i thought she wanted me to admit it so she could spread it around, or do something terrible to me. i was terrified of terrie.

finally, summer came. in a lot of ways, i was sad to leave, but i was also relieved to get away from terrie, and i thought some time away from jim would do us both good, too, because he still hadn't gotten the idea that i wasn't interested in dating him. over the summer, i did get away from terrie, but i didn't get away from jim. he emailed me all the time, which was fine with me... except for that he was always complimenting me in these emails. i don't mind compliments, but i started to get the feeling that he was expecting me to say something in return. no matter what he said, though, i ignored the compliments and replied to the rest of the email. finally, one day, he sent me an entire list of everything he liked about me, and then asked me to please comment on that. my comment was something like 'i'm glad you think so highly of me; i think you're a good friend too.'
he sent me an email back, saying that was great, but he really meant that he wanted me to date him, and did i think i could? i didn't know what to say, because i didn't want him to think there was anything i didn't like about him. jim was a great guy, and i didn't want him to change anything, or to feel like there was something wrong with him. the problem wasn't him; it was me. i didn't like guys, and that wasn't his fault.
so i told him a half-truth. i forget exactly what i said, but it said something about wanting to date him, but just not being able to. sort of like i had a boyfriend, but not exactly. i figured he wouldn't figure out that i was gay from that; he would just think i was confusing. when he got the email, he said that was fine, and then he continued to email me for the rest of the summer, and never again mentioned dating me.

summer ended and i came back to work. i was still terrified of terrie. i felt a little better about the jim situation, knowing that he understood i didn't want to date him. then christine got fired. then jim told me that christine was bi and terrie was a lesbian.

i was still terrified that terrie knew i was a lesbian, but with this new knowledge, i realized that even if she knew, she wasn't likely to hate me for it. maybe she still hated me, but it sure wasn't for that reason. knowing that, i decided that if terrie knew i was a lesbian, i wanted to know about it. i still didn't want her to know, but i wanted to know where i stood, so if she didn't know, i could finally relax, and if she did know, i could know for sure and get over it. of course, i couldn't just ask her if she knew i was a lesbian, because if she didn't, she would know the second i asked the question. instead, i came up with a plan. i figured that i had first suspected that she knew when she talked to me about my feelings for jim. i just had to get her to talk to me about them again, and hopefully, that would get us somewhere. i'm still scared of her, though, so instead of talking to her directly about jim, i wait until a night that she and jane work. when there's nobody else up there, i go up and ask jane if jim still likes me. i don't care about the answer to this question. i just picked a question that would get us talking about jim. just as i had planned, terrie jumps in with her two cents. unfortunately, she answers the question i asked, and tells me all about how jim feels about me, but understands my perspective. the whole time, she talked about how he felt about me, and never mentioned how i felt about him. i felt like the entire plan was a flop.

a few days later, i discovered that jim was no longer speaking to me. for the longest time, i had no idea why he wasn't speaking to me. it was marie who eventually (after almost a month) figured it out for me. jim was mad at me because terrie had told him that i asked if he still liked me. jim thought if i wanted to know that, i should have asked him, not terrie. i felt bad, because that's not what i had wanted to know. i missed jim, and i wanted to make things right, but i didn't know how to do that without telling the truth. after a lot of deliberation, i finally decided that i would just tell him the truth. he was friends with terrie and christine, and they were gay/bi. i was 20 years old, and i felt like i ought to be coming out of the closet to keep up with the rest of the world. and i thought he deserved to know. so i sent him an email, telling him that i was sorry, and that i hadn't really done what he thought i had done, and that i would tell him the whole story sometime, if he was willing to hear it.

he was willing to hear it. the next time i worked with him, we took a break alone together, and he waited for me to tell him, but i realized that i couldn't do it. logically, it sounded like a good idea, but in practice, i just wasn't ready. i couldn't say those words. he tried to get me to tell. he promised he wouldn't tell anybody. then he added, 'i know you don't believe me, because i told you the same thing about some others, but that's different, because i knew they wouldn't care.'

he was talking about christine and terrie, and he knew i was gay. i went crazy. i left the break room, right away. i spent the next few hours literally beating myself up, mentally and physically. jim knew the truth and i couldn't handle it. the policelady watched me beat myself up, and repeatedly asked if i was ok.

molly came in with alana and her boyfriend, and they asked what was wrong. marie kept joking that i was in love with jim, and i kept punching her and getting upset. the policelady watched this too.

finally, i got a break. i told molly and them that it was over way before it actually was, because i wanted them to leave so i could think. i still couldn't think. i was beating my head against the wall when christine came out with the bank guy. they asked what was wrong, and i said nothing was wrong. the policelady came out and said if i wanted to go home, she'd tell them, and it would be fine. i still didn't know what i wanted to do, so i paced around for a while, punched some walls, and eventually decided that i needed to leave. someday, i'd be ready to be out of the closet, but it wasn't today, and it wasn't going to be anytime soon. i had to run away from jim, which meant leaving this job. so i went back and told the policelady to tell them that i was going home and not coming back. she said fine, but christine stopped her. she told the policelady not to tell them that, and then she took me for a walk.

it took her quite a while to get it out of me. i admitted that the problem was with jim, and that he wanted to know why i didn't like him, and that i had agreed to tell him, but i wouldn't say why i didn't like him. she knew, of course, but she wanted to make me say it. finally, she just asked me flat out if i was gay, and even then, i didn't say yes or no, but she knew. she knew before she even asked the question. she talked to me for a long time. she told me that her and terrie already knew. she told me it would be ok, and talked me through a lot of stuff. it helped, a lot. even now, i still hear her words in my mind. i'll think something, and then the christine in my head will have a response, straight from that night.

she asked me several times if i wanted her to tell jim for me, and i said no, because i knew that i should be the one to do it. but, as i was about to leave, i realized that i couldn't do it. if i couldn't even say 'gay' to her, when she was bi and she already knew that i was gay, there was no way i was going to be able to tell jim, and he deserved to know. hearing it from her wouldn't be the same as hearing it from me, but it was the only way he was going to be able to hear it, so it would have to do. i asked her if she would tell him, and she said she would.

the next time i saw jim, he ignored me. in fact, he ignored me for the next week, during which time christine frequently stopped by the store, and reassured me that it would be ok. she told me he was fine, and asked me to give him some time. she told me i should talk to him. she promised it would be ok, and told me to trust her. it was hard to believe her... it seemed to me like he found out the truth about me, and it caused him to stop speaking to me, and i didn't think time would change that, or at least not enough to make a difference.

but, after a week, jim talked to me again, and he explained the entire situation. he hadn't been speaking to me because he had been accused of sexually harrassing me. the policelady had somehow gotten the idea that jim was harrassing me, and she had written him up. it had gone to ann, and he had nearly gotten suspended over this, before somebody managed to convince ann that this was a big mistake. what shocked both of us was that jim would have gotten suspended, and nobody would have ever asked me if i thought i was being sexually harrassed...

so that's it. from then on out, jim was fine. for a while, christine still stopped by to make sure i was ok, and after a while, i was.