At the nth party (a social obligation) someone comments that they've never seen you with a female partner. Then someone else will sensibly point out that you've never been seen with a male partner either.
Somebody will have the nerve to ask you the ‘i-word’: "We never see you with a partner, are you impotent?" Once, the answer would have been your drink sprayed over him, but nowadays it's, "No, I'm just asexual", wryly smiling. Soon there’s a huddle, just out of sight. Some knowledgeable person who knows everything about kinky sex (there’s always one) will give them some gyan, to colour the rest of your evening’s socialising.
There’s the ‘h-word’, to see if you’re a closet homosexual, and someone surreptitiously looks at you salaciously, notwithstanding bristling moustache and bulging paunch, inadvertently outing himself. Then your expert in kinky sex, baulking at something as lame as gay sex, will raise the ‘p-word’: "You know, we've never seen him in adult company, perhaps he is a, p..".
Stifle your rage. Later he's going to 'accidentally' get hurt in the groin. He raised the stakes, now somebody brings in the ‘b-word’. You know you're accused of bestiality because of the juvenile tittering and chatter of sheep, cows, giraffes, rhinos...
Knowing what a respectable image you cut in corporate circles, somebody will raise the hated ‘c-word’. They abandon their perverted imaginations and choose a bakra to ask me what must be answered at all costs.
You say coolly, "I'm asexual, not celibate. I am not a candidate for Pope, Dalai Lama, not even the RSS Sarsanghchalak. I have taken no religious vows ".
Then you hold your breath, while already holding your nose, and step out of the closet: "I am, in fact, an atheist."
Double whammy. They still don't know your sexual orientation, and you're not afraid of their gods. They huddle again: you abandon an interesting discussion with Subramanian from Accounts to eavesdrop. Your kinky sex expert is still flogging his ‘p-word’ theory, but the balding, paunchy ex-college casanova holds center-stage. "It’s simple. He's just L for loser who gets by with M for masturbation." Cue guffaws and backslapping.
Since denial is confirmation, the only solution is seductive flirting with the proponent’s wife. It is sinful to make a nice woman feel hot under her blouse, but it can't be helped. Her party ends as panicky hubby rushes her home: one more social triumph against the petty, snivelling bastards.
The investigators huddle once more. Kinkyman tries again, but the action has shifted to the inevitable resident Freud. He's holding forth on the ‘t-theory’.
"Perhaps some trauma or disease in childhood has made him like this."
"You mean he was, like, sodomised by his uncle?"
"Or led astray by an aunt because of which he has repressed his feelings."
You think of your relatives, all vicious gossips incapable of doing anything kinkier than begetting all those pesky cousins of yours.
You tell the next bakra that you had a normal childhood, suffer from no physical or hormonal deficiency, and are unashamedly willing to share your endocrinologist's number with them. Oh the resentment when they realise that you, the self-proclaimed asexual, subtly questioned their libido!
Dr. James Watson brings out the ‘G-string’ theory: "He may lack some genes for empathy. A condition makes some people unemotional, which is why he is like that." - promptly seconded by several people willing to attest to your ruthless and unsympathetic behaviour in professional settings, which you thought was just a businesslike, suffer-no-fools-gladly attitude. Sighing wistfully, you look back on the loving relationships you have with your parents and siblings, and your deep and meaningful friendships.
By now you feel like publicly calling them politically inappropriate names, but you're not homophobic and empathise with the mentally challenged. You know they are W for wankers, but you can't upset them. So walking out of the party is ruled out. And by now you are the life of the party, the main topic of (huddled) discussion.
Except for kinkyman soldiering on, the hypothesis field is wide open. You might hear the N-J hypothesis: you have a Jashodaben stashed somewhere, a rash marriage in early youth, or a wife of the wrong caste/religion/state/country who might get in the way of your career. Alas, without a detective it cannot be verified. This least interesting of all the hypotheses so far makes you want to thump the proposer’s back.
The ladies step in, wondering why the men have been in a huddle for so long. They roll their eyes, they bitch (mandatory) and finally they produce the ‘Oliver Barrett hypothesis’, bless their ponytails: the strong, silent, suffering hero mourning a lost love, and remaining faithful to her.
So where are we now? The huddle went nowhere; the ladies have a hypothesis that pleases them but makes no sense to the men. Surely someone from the past would remember a Jenny? No, this is too queer, not LGBT queer, but queer as in the ‘Queer Case of Benjamin Button’.
That leaves you with K, X, Y and Z to fill in your dictionary, but the issue of your sexuality awaits another party.
It doesn’t exist, but they nevertheless ask. They always ask.
(Views expressed in this piece are the author’s own)