Last week, Simon said the grandmother of his best woman friend had "turned lesbian" - at the age of 70. Which got me pondering about "Sexuality not being fixed" and "Desire having no gender" and "What will the neighbours say?", so I took a Tylenol and forgot about it.
Three days later I'm at a screening of Gazon Maudi, a film about how it takes a single kiss to transform a middle-class wife into a diva dyke, how the lesbian who bestows the lip-lock ends up having a baby with the hausfrau's husband, and how said husband finally makes it with a man. I would have retreated to a darkened room only I was already in one.
Then yesterday Robert rang. After a lifetime of boys, boys, boys, he'd started a relationship with a woman. I hiss something obscene, hang up and hide under the duvet, waiting for the insistent throbbing in my temples to subside.
Cue Diana Ross: I'm still waiting. Well, there's a lot of whatever, thingy, it about. It being . . . Give me a second here.
We're not talking about bisexuality (I think). Bisexuality is as quantifiable as heterosexuality or homosexuality. Take dear, sweet, old-fashioned actress Drew Barrymore. In the past year she has married, divorced, gained and shed a new boyfriend, and is now, according to press reports, planning a baby with her lesbian main squeeze, apparently employing the white stuff extracted from REM singer Michael Stipe.
Now, Drew's domestic arrangements do aid and abet whatever, thingy, it. She's helping detonate the nuclear family, to break down monolithic categories. Gazon Maudit swims in the same meltdown: late-20th-century life is something you make up as you go along, as mood and circumstance strike. This can be viewed as liberating, a backlash against two decades of right-wing repression, or as the triumph of market forces. Imagine, sexual orientation - once considered a biological imperative and/or socially conditioned (or ideologically selected, as with "political lesbianism") - may now be a mere entry in the post-modern, multiple-choice menu.
Still, Drew has a label: bisexual. Simon's friend's grandmother wouldn't recognise the branding. She was straight and then she wasn't, just like the married couple in Gazon Maudit, and just …