Unsolicited lesbian discounts make economic sense for this single mom

I have to come out of the closet about something. I’m straight. But I’m not above letting people think I’m a lesbian if it involves saving money.

And I’m not sure if it’s wrong.

In my own defense, I have long supported gay rights, and I had never really thought about gays and lesbians receiving these random financial benefits if they reached more parity. Also I have many gay and lesbian friends (and am hoping this confession isn’t offensive to them).

I even have a decades-old pact with a gay friend that, should we continue to fair so poorly in our relationships, we’ll eventually have a platonic marriage, so we don’t have to grow old alone and never married. The timeline for the pact has changed over the years. Fifty used to be the deadline because, in our 20s, 50 seemed pretty old.

Now that I’m knocking on 50s door, and he’s already on the other side of it, we’ve moved it back to after 65. But I digress.

Back to my pseudo-lesbianism. It started innocently enough several years ago.

My friend Laura (she’s straight, too) and I were taking our kids to a local beach/park, and when we got up to the counter to pay for our admission, the clerk told us the price for family admission. For a split second, we were both confused and gave each other sideways glances.

Not all Maine beaches are rocky, Drew Magary.

Pixabay photo

In a moment that can only happen between close friends, we realized he was assuming we were a lesbian couple. With a final glance at each other, we mutually agreed to go along.

We were both pretty broke that day, so it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. She gave the clerk the money, and, as he rang it up, I whispered in her ear that I didn’t mind pretending to be her lover, but I was drawing the line at holding her hand as we walked away.

She choked on her contained laughter as she took the change and thanked the clerk. I can’t remember exactly, but I want to say we saved at least five bucks.

And a cost-savings trend was born.

In our mutual defense, it’s not something we do frequently, nor do we openly lie. It’s not like we are the lesbian version of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who openly professed that she was black and even procured opportunities as such. We do let people make assumptions and, if their assumptions result in cost savings, we’re okay with it.

Like the other day when Laura went to buy a membership at a discount store. The clerk told her that the membership covers two people and asked if she had a husband or anyone else to sign up. She asked if she could sign up a girlfriend. As she said, recounting the incident to me, we are actually girlfriends. She didn’t say lover or wife, just girlfriend.

She said the clerk raised his eyebrows, but said yes, so she gave him my name. Now I have to go get a photo ID, and, soon, somewhere in a database for a discount chain, there will be documentation of our friendship most likely being interpreted as something more.

Whenever it happens, we have a debriefing discussion about the morality of what we are doing. This conversation starts funny, but it always ends on the serious subject of the harsh financial realities of single motherhood. It’s a survival-of-the-fittest situation that has brought us each to our knees many, many times.

Laura and I could both write extensive books about the stuff we’ve done and the stressors we’ve managed over the years in our attempts to keep our families afloat. So it’s hard not to view these random, unsolicited lesbian discounts as occasional pennies from heaven.

I hope that’s not wrong!

Correction: This post originally referred to “Rachel Dolezol.” The correct surname is Dolezal.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.