My friend Carey walked up to the table I was saving at our favorite cafe, set down her purse on the table and announced triumphantly, "I'm becoming a lesbian."
I coughed as my sip of Diet Coke got stuck in my throat. "You're what?"
"I've been craving french fries all day," said another friend, Eva, as she approached the table. She set her bag down. "What are you guys getting?"
"A woman apparently," I said.
"I'm becoming a lesbian," Carey clarified.
"Ooh, everyone's doing that these days," Eva said, clapping her hands together excitedly. "Let's all become lesbians!"
"Everyone's doing it?" I asked. "So, it's like cool?"
"Oh, so cool. It's like acknowledging women as the goddesses that they are. It's the new feminism. And you know, guys think it's really hot."
"Screw that," Carey said. "I'm doing it because I'm sick of men. Life would just be so much easier if I were a lesbian. I wouldn't have to worry about stupid men and what they're thinking in their man brains."
"And," Eva said, "guys think it's really hot."
Is it true -- is lesbianism the new trend? At Berkeley, it seems more common to be in a same-sex relationship than not.
"It's a way of fighting the establishment," my same-sex-friendly friend Jessica explained. "The government is trying to control us by only allowing heterosexual marriages. Being a lesbian is a way of standing up for our rights."
"So ... do you actually like women?" I asked.
"Does it matter?" she replied. "After all, that's not really the point."
And while I've met lesbians who genuinely are attracted to women, I've met a surprising amount who explain their lesbianism by labeling it as "sexy" or "controversial," people who view lesbianism for more of its effect than its essence. Then there are those, like Carey, who are simply fed up with men, which brings us back to the cafe.
"So that's it?" I asked. "Poof and you like women?"
"Yup," Carey said. "I like women now. Because I'm a lesbian, you know."
"So you're going to date women?"
"Who would pay, I wonder?" said Eva dreamily. "And who would like, open doors and stuff?"
"Not me!" Carey looked horrified. "That's what guys do!"
"And kiss women?" I said. "You're going to kiss women now?"
Carey wrinkled her nose. "Well, no, I mean, I wasn't planning on that."
"So," I paused to think, "how exactly are you a lesbian then?"
"I'm a lesbian because I say I'm a lesbian," Carey said in a tone that allowed no room for argument. "Now, let's order french fries."
Such is the state of the modern world, where the label creates the reality, where lesbianism is as much a political choice as it is a sexual one. Carey's foray into lesbianism ended about a week later, when the guy who catalyzed her thinking that men are stupid apologized and asked her to meet for dinner later that week.
"He covered everything," she said to me later. "See? It pays to be straight."
Liz Moody, a 2004 graduate of Johansen High School, is a student at the University of California at Berkeley. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.